This traditional Southern coleslaw recipe is a sweet and tangy, creamy coleslaw that is sure to be the hit of your next backyard BBQ!

Southern Coleslaw on a plate

If you’ve ever had KFC coleslaw, then you’ve had a slaw very similar to this classic coleslaw recipe.

Southern coleslaw is traditionally a sweet coleslaw with sugar added to the dressing. We add vinegar and lemon juice help to balance sweetness with a lovely tang.  It’s all whisked together with mayo to make the perfect creamy coleslaw. 

You can serve this slaw with a million dishes. Traditionally, slaw and BBQ are frequently paired together so it goes perfectly with BBQ pulled pork sliders, instant pot pulled pork, and slow cooker BBQ pulled pork. Whatever your tastes, this easy coleslaw recipe will compliment your dish well!

Also try it with air fryer fried chicken or as a topping in some pork belly tacos.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Thank you!

ingredients for Southern Coleslaw

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Shredded cabbage – You can use a green cabbage, red cabbage, or a mix of the two if you prefer.
  • Carrot – Grated; you can use rainbow carrots for some added color to your dish.
  • Kosher salt – You can modify the amount of salt you use if you are trying to watch your sodium intake.

Save time and purchase a few bags of coleslaw mix. This usually has a mix of green and red cabbage and shredded carrots all already mixed together. Often it comes as a kit with a premade dressing but you’re going to want to skip that and make our homemade coleslaw dressing for the best flavor.

Creamy Coleslaw Dressing

A delicious blend of sweet and tangy, this dressing is what gives Southern coleslaw it’s signature flavor. What you’ll need:

  • Mayonnaise – You can sub with miracle whip or plain Greek yogurt if needed, but be warned it will change the flavor.
  • Buttermilk – Gives the slaw it’s creaminess.
  • Spices – Sugar, onion powder, Kosher salt, and black pepper for some extra flavor.
  • Lemon juice – Gives a tang to the slaw.
  • White vinegar – Helps to balance out the sweetness.
glass bowl of Southern Coleslaw

Instructions

Step 1 – Shred cabbage. Thinly slice cabbage, then roughly chop it into shorter pieces. 

Step 2 – Salt cabbage. Place shredded cabbage mixture in a strainer in the sink and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Toss with the salt and let sit for 2 hours. 

When the time is up press down on the cabbage to remove any excess moisture and then rinse with cold water. Pat the rinsed cabbage dry with a paper towel. This step helps to keep your slaw from being too watery.

Note: Step 2 is not required if you are short on time. If you are not able to let your cabbage sit for 2 hours, simply toss the cabbage and carrots with 1 teaspoon of salt, and move on to the next step. 

Step 3 – Add carrots. Place shredded cabbage and carrots in a large mixing bowl. 

Step 4 – Make dressing. In a small bowl make the dressing by combining the mayonnaise, buttermilk, sugar, lemon juice, onion powder, white vinegar, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well combined. 

Step 5 – Dress and toss. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and carrot mix and toss together. 

Step 6 – Chill. Cover your large bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour. After coleslaw is chilled, stir well and serve with a slotted spoon to strain out any excess liquid. 

holding a black bowl of Southern Coleslaw

What is the easiest way to shred cabbage for coleslaw?

Pre-cut – The easiest way is to buy bags of coleslaw mix at the grocery store. These can be found near the bagged salads and it is usually a mix of green and red cabbage and carrot.

Sharp Knife – This is the way I prefer to do it. It is the easiest way to do it yourself and least amount of clean-up. Make sure to use sharp knife to cut cabbage in half and remove core. Thinly slice each half. After slicing, use knife to roughly chop the cabbage to cut them into shorter pieces. Some people like to use a box grater, but I find that just chopping it by hand is much easier and faster.

Food Processor – You can use the slicer attachment on your food processor to cut the coleslaw into thin slices. If you do this, you’ll want to roughly chop slices with knife afterwards to cut the slices into smaller pieces.

Alternately, you can place chunks of cabbage in your food processer and chop them into small pieces. Some people like their cabbage broken down this way. I prefer slightly longer pieces.

Southern Coleslaw on black fork

How do you keep homemade coleslaw from being watery?

Your coleslaw will always have a little excess liquid. Cabbage has a lot of water and when combined with salt it begins to release that water. To help reduce the amount of water in the cabbage, you can follow the steps below. Just make sure to do this before mixing with the dressing.

  1. Place shredded cabbage in a strainer in the sink and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Toss with the salt and let sit for 2 hours. 
  2. When the time is up, press down on the cabbage to remove any excess moisture, then rinse with cold water. Pat the rinsed cabbage dry with a paper towel. 

I still suggest serving your coleslaw with a slotted spoon to strain out any extra liquid but if you follow these steps your coleslaw is guaranteed to be much less watery!

Is It Healthy?

I’m not sure you can call anything with mayonnaise “healthy” but it does have some health benefits. Coleslaw has a decent amount of calcium, potassium, and fiber and thanks to the cabbage and carrots, a 100g serving of coleslaw can give you a healthy dose of vitamin A and your daily recommended amount of vitamin E. Cabbage is also high in vitamin C and helps to lower cholesterol!

Southern Coleslaw on a black plate with pulled pork sandwich

What goes with coleslaw?

This is a great side dish for BBQs, picnics, and potlucks. You can use it as a topping for burgers, hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches or BBQ chicken.

Serve it alongside other classic sides such as baked beans, macaroni salad, and mustard potato salad.

How to Store It

You can store your slaw in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Make sure to stir it well before serving.

Looking for more slaw recipes?

Like this recipe?
Make sure to follow us on Instagram and Pinterest for more recipes like this.

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 2 hrs 15 mins
Total Time: 2 hrs 15 mins

Homemade Coleslaw

This traditional Southern coleslaw recipe is a sweet and tangy, creamy coleslaw that is sure to be the hit of your next backyard BBQ!

Ingredients

Slaw

  • 20 ounces Shredded cabbage, can use a mix of green and red if you prefer
  • 1 Grated carrot
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt

Coleslaw Dressing

Instructions

  • Thinly slice cabbage and then roughly chop to cut into shorter pieces.
  • Place shredded cabbage in a strainer in the sink and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Toss with the salt and let sit for 2 hours. (See Note 1)
  • When the time is up press down on the cabbage to remove any excess moisture and then rinse with cold water. Pat the rinsed cabbage dry with a paper towel.
  • Place shredded cabbage and carrots in a large bowl.
  • In a small bowl make the dressing by combining the mayonnaise, buttermilk, sugar, lemon juice, onion powder, white vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir until well combined.
  • Pour the dressing over the cabbage and carrot mix and toss together.
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour.
  • After coleslaw is chilled stir well and serve with a slotted spoon to strain out any excess liquid.

Notes

  1. Steps 2 & 3 are not required if you are short on time. If you are not able to let your cabbage sit for 2 hours simply move to step 4 and toss the cabbage and carrots with 1 teaspoon of salt.

Nutrition

Serving: 4ounces, Calories: 175kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 0.03g, Cholesterol: 9mg, Sodium: 1317mg, Potassium: 232mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1821IU, Vitamin C: 38mg, Calcium: 61mg, Iron: 1mg
Nutrition Disclaimer: We are not certified nutritionists. Nutrition facts are an estimate and are provided as a courtesy. They are generated by an online API which recognizes ingredient names and amounts and makes calculations based on the serving size. Results may vary.
Author: Kat Jeter & Melinda Caldwell
Course: Side
Cuisine: American
Keyword: coleslaw for pulled pork, coleslaw ingredients, creamy coleslaw, homemade coleslaw, southern coleslaw