Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw for Your 4th of July Barbecue

Crunchy cabbage gets slathered in a honey-sweetened vinegar sauce for a barbecue salad recipe that is equal parts crunch and tang, and just slightly sweet.
Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw Recipe via FoodforMyFamily.com

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

The 4th of July, Independence Day, July the 4th, however you choose to style it, rather than be a celebration of independence for the United States (what is independence, really?) has turned its focus to barbecues and swimming. Don’t deny it. When’s the last time you sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” (Saturday here) or hummed a few bars of “I’m Proud to Be an American”? Mm-hmm. Cue the fireworks.

Still, the barbecues and swimming, the explosions of color in the night sky, and general freedom that the 4th of July brings signifies the independence of the country in their own special way. Whether you choose to hit up the ocean beach or canoe across a lake, eat potato salad with or without eggs or forego the potatoes and just go for the pasta salad, slather your beef ribs in tangy sauces or douse pork in mustard sauce, you are free to do as you please.
Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw Recipe via FoodforMyFamily.com
Likewise, you can choose the mayonnaise-based coleslaw or its tangy cousin. You know you want to invite this one to the party.
Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw Recipe via FoodforMyFamily.com
Coleslaw is more than just a barbecue side. It functions as barbecued pork sandwich topping, chili dog garnish, pita stuffing, or as a stand-in for sauerkraut. This Carolina-style vinegar slaw is a pickled variety, with a vinegar-based sauce sweetened with a touch of honey (white sugar, if you prefer, can be used here – 1/3 cup), and given depth and bite by adding dry mustard and celery seeds. It’s a nice divergence from the everyday reprise of creamy sweet slaw, and the lack of creaminess means it can stand up to the heat on even the hottest of summer days.
Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw Recipe via FoodforMyFamily.com

1 head green cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 head red cabbage, finely shredded (or 1 head radicchio for a spicy kick)
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white vinegar*
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery seed

In a large bowl toss the green cabbage, red cabbage, and red onion until mixed. Set aside.

In a small saucepan combine the vinegar, honey, and oil. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, dry mustard, and the celery seed. Allow the dressing to cool slightly. Pour the dressing over the cabbage. Toss to combine.

Allow the slaw to cool, then refrigerate until cold. Serve chilled.

*Apple cider vinegar gives this a slightly sweeter note, if you prefer.

Makes 10-12 servings
Copyright © Food for My Family.


  1. This coleslaw and dressing looks amazing! I love that you swapped out the mayo-I’m always worried about it sitting out in the heat. Will have to try this!

  2. I love that this has no mayo! I really do not like mayo! Looks delicious!

  3. I’ll take a tangy slaw any day over a mayo based one!

  4. I love the addition of celery seed, Shaina, and skipping the mayo. I’ve never been a fan of mayo based coleslaw, but vinegar ones are always lovely.

  5. John LOVES vinegary coleslaws. Totally making this! And I have a soft spot for apple cider vinegar so I’ll be swapping in per your suggestion too 🙂

  6. Coleslaw could be it’s own food group at my house and I love the tangy sauce you created!

  7. Perfection! I’m a fan both mayo based and vinegar based (ideally, one that’s a mixture of the two), but on a hot day spent over the grill, I’d go with something like this.

  8. I’m in the tangy sauce camp so love this!

  9. This is my kind of cole slaw, I love it!

  10. Great light salad for any summer BBQ Shaina – love it!

  11. This looks so packed with flavor!

  12. Honey. Sweetened. Vinegar. It’s all I needed to hear.

  13. Vinegar coleslaw is ALWAYS invited to my party – it’s how we Pittsburghers roll.

  14. I’ll always go for the vinegar coleslaw, too. 🙂

  15. I love a tangy vinegar dressing for my coleslaw, too. Especially in the summer if you’re taking it outdoors or to a friend’s house. No worries about the mayonnaise!

  16. Great way to lighten it up but not compromise on flavor. Well done!

  17. This recipe looks really good. I can’t wait it give it a try.

  18. I will definitely have to try this recipe. My hubby loves coleslaw but he is also incredibly picky! This non mayo version sounds like something he will really like.

  19. We love serving coleslaw over our veggie burgers and this recipe looks like a winner! It’s on our “must do” list!

  20. Oh, I was so hoping you’d post this recipe after seeing it in your previous posts!

  21. Oh! Really This is nice for Coleslaw Apple slaw. Its possible to mix coconut with this recipes

  22. Lucinda says:

    Can I make this coleslaw day ahead a d chill in fridge for 25 hours?

  23. Lucinda says:


  24. Why does the recipe say to boil the dressing? What does that do to the salad?

    • You boil the dressing to dissolve the sugar and combine the ingredients fully. You then cool slightly before adding it to the cabbage and then chill completely. I hope this helps!

  25. Catherine shaw-kilpatrick says:

    My Grandmother made this all my life. My Grandpa had a good name for it..”The Best Coleslaw In The World” !!
    I lost her recipe card and have searched for something similar. You nailed it! The secret is the dry mustard, celery seed, and boiling/cooling. The hot dressing wilts the cabbage/onion just a bit. Still crunchy but not raw tasting.
    It’s even better the next day…thank you, Shaina!!!

  26. If I want to just use coleslaw bag (from store) instead of cutting cabbage how much do I need? Thanks!!

  27. I am not a fan of the traditional coleslaw, so I thought I’d try this. This coleslaw was out of this world! Loved it, and so did the family!! Thank you! (I used the apple cider.)

  28. Ming Storm says:

    Just made it and it is super delicious. Added golden raisins as I like a little sweetness, sliced almonds – I think it goes very well with this tangy coleslaw. Thank you and hope you try my version.

  29. What type of oil are using? i’m assuming not EVOO? as you don’t normally boil that? i’m looking for the cleanest option if you have suggestions


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