Southern Cole Slaw

Southern Salads & Slaws, Southern Sides, Vegetables

Cole slaw is a staple in southern kitchens. Whether you’re cooking it to go with BBQ, for a church potluck, or outdoor picnic, it’s a crowd pleaser.

Coleslaw started with the Dutch.

The word cole or “koolsla” means cabbage salad, or as we in the South like to call it… cole slaw or cold slaw.

It is a salad consisting primarily of finely-shredded raw cabbage. It usually has some type of dressing over it to add the “zing”!

5 ingredient cole slaw

This cole slaw is not only super tasty, but fast and easy to make with only a few ingredients, 3 of which you probably already have on hand!

If you want to add another salad to your menu… I suggest our creamy cucumber salad as well.

southern traditional cole slaw in bowls with black forks

What do you serve it with?

Here are some dishes that, we think, go well with cole slaw. Since it’s a staple side dish, you may find it goes with anything, but here are some more traditional meals in which you’d find cole slaw.

  • Southern Fried Chicken meal
  • BBQ meat plates
  • Great when paired up with BBQ beans its “sister side”
  • Use as topping on burgers, BBQ sandwiches, Roast Beef sandwiches
  • Add it to a hot dog with chili and mustard
white and red cabbage and carrots in a bowl cole slaw

What is the cole slaw dressing made of? Are there alternatives to mayo?

Coleslaw dressing is made with mayonnaise, a sweetener (such as honey or sugar), apple cider vinegar, and other spices as desired. Some coleslaw dressings are made with dairy (buttermilk), however, there are milk-free options for those that prefer.

If you aren’t a fan of mayonnaise, like my Auntie, there are substitutions you can use. You can substitute Greek yogurt for the mayo and get a creamy, tangy taste without the calories of mayonnaise.

You can also cut the mayo in half and use low-fat sour cream for part of the dressing, if you wish. Or you can just nix the mayo altogether and replace it with sour cream.

Does it matter what color of cabbage you use?

Although cole slaw is generally made with shredded green cabbage, but it can be prepared with red cabbage or a combination of both. To have the freshest slaw, pick the best quality cabbage that is firm, crisp, and of good color, regardless of the color.

For a coleslaw that is multi-colored and multi-textured, use a combination of two varieties. You can even add carrots for a splash of orange.

When you’re on a time crunch, you can buy bags of pre-shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix. They usually range between 10 and 16 ounces. While this option might not be the freshest, it will do in a pinch.

white cabbage and carrots and mayonnaise in bowl with wooden spoon


  • 1 medium head cabbage, shredded
  • 1 small package carrots, grated
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
bowls of southern cole slaw


  1. In a large bowl, mix together cabbage and carrots.
  2. Mix mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, and add to cabbage.
  3. Stir well and refrigerate until serving.

If you love this southern cole slaw recipe, you’ll love these traditional eats too!

This recipe was first published in Cancer Freeze: Cookin’ For A Cure. Printed with permission.

Southern Cole Slaw

Rachel Norman
Cole slaw is a staple in southern kitchens. Whether you're cooking it to go with BBQ, for a church potluck, or outdoor picnic, it's a crowd pleaser.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 minutes
refrigeration time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Southern
Servings 8 people
Calories 269 kcal


  • 1 medium head cabbage shredded
  • 1 small pkg carrots grated
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vinegar


  • In a large bowl, mix together cabbage and carrots.
  • Mix mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar and add to cabbage.
  • Stir well and refrigerate until serving.


Note: The sweetness of your slaw will be determined by the “sweetener”. Experiment with amounts of sugar/honey if you would like it less or more sweet. 
Refrigeration time: Make sure the salad is completely cold before serving. At least an hour is recommended, though you could prepare further in advance. 


Calories: 269kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 2gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 199mgPotassium: 199mgFiber: 3gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 150IUVitamin C: 42mgCalcium: 48mgIron: 1mg
Keyword bbq, potluck, slaw
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating