The BEST Simple Southern Coleslaw Recipe


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Simple Southern Coleslaw has a light dressing and makes a great side dish or topping for a sloppy burger or BBQ sandwich! 

top view of southern coleslaw topped with black pepper in a black bowl

Coleslaw has always been a staple at our family gatherings. The one thing that I LOVE is that it goes with ANY dish. Need a burger topping? Grab some slaw.

I mean come on, is there really anything else to eat barbeque with? And what about seafood? See what I mean – it’s a go-with-anything side dish. 

One reason why I’m saying this coleslaw is southern is because you HAVE to use real mayonnaise. That means NO Miracle Whip. And if you want to be really southern, it can only be Dukes Real Mayonnaise

Okay, I’m going to share something with you that is a little weird. But if you do this too, please let me know! My mom adds mini marshmallows to her coleslaw recipe. It gets weirder…it’s actually really good! 

So if you are feeling a little brave and want to try that, you have my approval! 

Ingredients For The Best Southern Coleslaw Recipe 

Shredded cabbage – I like to use a blend of cabbage and add regular green along with purple. 

Vinegar – Use apple cider vinegar. If you are running low you can absolutely use white vinegar too, just taste as you go. 

Cracked Black Pepper – You can get disposable/ reusable grinders in your local spice section. If you really like cracked pepper and want to step it up a notch, I recommend these automatic grinders. They are a little fancy, but won’t break your wallet! 

Other Ingredients: Celery seed, onion powder, carrots, and salt.

shredded carrots, red cabbage, and regular cabbage in a white bowl ready to make southern coleslaw

Can I Use Bagged Cabbage for Southern Coleslaw?

Yes! If you’re short on time grab a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw mix at the grocery store. You can use shredded or chopped, whichever you prefer. 

What’s The Best Way to Chop Cabbage?

That’s a trick question! Everyone has their own method. For starters be sure to peel off all of the outer layers of the cabbage. You don’t need these for slaw and they’re actually a little tough. 

Cutting with a Knife – Slice the cabbage in half using a sharp chef’s knife. Then be sure to cut the core out on both sides. Then slice longways and cut sideways to the length and size you would like. 

Food Processor- Most food processors have an attachment that shreds. Just check your manual before you start. You still need to core it first and not use the outer layers. Then you would cut pieces to fit your machine.

Can You Add Milk? 

Yes! This is just another variation of coleslaw. I know some southern recipes call for buttermilk. I recommend just pouring in a little at a time. Remember the flavor changes the longer it is chilled.

Here’s a buttermilk hack if you don’t have any on hand: pour a little regular milk in a cup, and add a dash of lemon juice and let it set for several minutes. This will give off the same flavor as buttermilk. 

You can use regular milk as well. The only thing I don’t recommend using is sweetened milk (like almond or oat). Yes, I know people who have ruined slaw like that! 

Just be sure you don’t add too much milk or it will get a little soggy. 

Simple southern coleslaw topped with black pepper after it has been mixed.

Help! I got my slaw too salty! 

You are not alone – I’ve made this mistake. Here’s a little trick. Add just a little lemon juice at a time. It will level out the saltiness. Then after it has chilled a little bit, see if it needs a little more sugar. 

Recommendations for What I Should Serve Southern Coleslaw with? 

** Pin the BEST Southern Coleslaw Recipe for Later **

coleslaw in a black bowl on top of a striped dish towel with a text over lay

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close up of slaw in a black bowl with text overlay

The BEST Simple Southern Coleslaw Recipe

Simple Southern Coleslaw has a light dressing, is great for a side dish, or topping for a sloppy burger or BBQ sandwich! 
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 128kcal
Author: Lori @ A Reinvented Mom


  • 6-7 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup mayonnaise, NOT Miracle Whip
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • ¼ tsp celery seed
  • tsp onion powder
  • tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cracked black pepper


  • Combine shredded cabbage and shredded carrots in a large bowl.
  • Using a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients.
  • Blend until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Pour the dressing over vegetables and toss to combine.
  • Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes. Toss again before serving.
  • Store leftovers in refrigerator.


  • Substitute a bag of shredded coleslaw mix for the cabbage and carrots if you’re short on time.
  • Keeps in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
  • Nutritional information is provided as a reference. We encourage you to verify the information independently.
Tried this recipe?Mention @AReinventedMom or tag #areinventedmom!


Calories: 128kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 141mg | Potassium: 115mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1397IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is provided as a reference, using an online calculator. We recommend verifying the information independently for accuracy.

Keyword: easy side dish for BBQ, party food, potluck dish

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