This healthy coleslaw with a sweet vinegar coleslaw dressing is a no-mayo alternative to the classic coleslaw version, covering all the potluck salad bases.
Opposites do attract. It’s why anything that’s both sweet and tangy always taste so good. And when you try this healthy, vinegar coleslaw recipe made with apple cider vinegar and sweetened with just a bit of sugar, you’ll believe it with each and every forked bite.
I’m a fan of any crunchy slaw that comes together fast and balances out a meal, and this recipe is right up there with my best creamy coleslaw recipe. But sometimes I’m more in the mood for a lighter zesty bite than a creamy one.
This coleslaw’s tangy dressing lightens bbq sauced slow cooker pulled pork sandwiches and is the crunchy compliment to classic potluck salads like my mom’s recipe for the best potato salad or the classic macaroni salad.
It’s time to round out the bevy of side dish salads and add this one to your bookmarked recipe list.
How to Make Sweet Vinegar Coleslaw
Dutch in origin and popular in England, this basic shredded cabbage salad is called “cole”slaw, not “cold”slaw, and has so much flavor it’s not really that basic at all.
Most cooks will use a coleslaw mix straight from the bag, which is totally fine. But adding a few more freshly shredded veggies to the mix for color and even more healthy crunch makes it so much better.
Here’s what’s in this coleslaw recipe:
- Shredded coleslaw mix
- Shredded carrot
- Shredded purple cabbage
- Thinly slivered red onion
At first glance this will seem like a large amount of cabbage and veg, but because cabbage shrinks in the dressing as it sits, 10 cups compacts to about 6 cups within an hour’s time.
My Favorite Gadgets for Shredding and Slicing Vegetables
I like my veggies in coleslaw crunchy and finely sliced so they meld together and have an equal presence in each bite.
Use a super sharp chef’s knife like this one to thinly shave the red onion and red cabbage. Or, use one of my favorite kitchen gadgets, this handheld mandoline with an adjustable blade to cut and shred both consistently whisper thin without any effort at all.
I use this set of 3 vegetable peelers to easily peel and then julienne the carrot into long strips.
And then, I also use this vegetable peeler/shredder I bought at a market in Vietnam. It’s the same one all of the women making fresh Vietnamese noodle salads used, so of course I had to have it. Word to the wise however, it is NOT dishwasher safe.
The Secret to the Sweet Tang in Coleslaw
I’ve replaced the classic mayo-based coleslaw dressing with a simple and somewhat sweet vinegar-based dressing to give this salad it’s signature tang.
The ingredients in the dressing are:
- canola oil
- apple cider vinegar
- caraway seeds
- celery seed
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Because of its neutral flavor, canola oil is best in this dressing recipe.
Of the many varieties of vinegar, I use apple cider vinegar in this recipe for it’s more pronounced tang. White vinegar, champagne vinegar or lemon juice can be substituted for apple cider vinegar but won’t carry quite the same tangy pucker.
Just a dash of sugar adds the right amount of sweetness to the dressing. You can substitute honey if you’d like, but I suggest warming the honey a bit before mixing so it whisks together evenly and not clumpily.
Two seasonings to be sure are included in this vinegar-based coleslaw are caraway seeds and celery seeds.
Gently crush the celery seeds between your fingers before adding to the dressing to release the oils and bring out the flavor.
The celery seeds will soften slightly in the dressing, adding flavor as they do.
As always, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper finish off the job.
Refrigerate the coleslaw for about an hour before serving for the flavors to meld. Coleslaw will last in the refrigerator for 3-5 days—if it lasts that long :)>.
Recipe Ideas to Serve with Coleslaw
- Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Crunchy Slaw
- How to Make the Best Grilled Salmon
- Baby Back Ribs In the Instant Pot
- Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- Slow Cooker Smoky Pulled Pork Tacos
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram or Twitter with #foodiecrusheats.
Sweet and Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw
For the Crunchy Coleslaw
- 10 cups shredded coleslaw mix or 1 16-ounce bag
- 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1 carrot thinly slivered
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- In a large bowl, combine the coleslaw mix with the red onion, shredded red cabbage, and carrot. In a small bowl, whisk the canola oil, apple cider vinegar, sugar, caraway seeds, celery seed, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour over the cabbage mixture and toss. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour for flavors to blend.
More Salads With Crunch to Make Too
- How to Make the Best Creamy Coleslaw
- Asian Ramen Noodle Salad Recipe
- How to Make the Best Broccoli Salad
- Easy Mexican Coleslaw Recipe
- Chopped Mexican Kale Salad
- Kale and Cabbage Coleslaw with Marcona Almonds
- Fresh and Easy Vietnamese Noodle Salad
Craving more life balance, less stress, and better health? Check out my Nourished Planner, the daily planner to help create simplicity and under-schedule your life.
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I used olive oil and honey, in the dressing and added a grated Fugi Apple to the slaw. I call it, “Don’t Kill Your Friends Cole Slaw. The temperature in the Cotton Mission of Utah’s Dixie with temperatures of 115…you don’t want mayo. Great with pork butt, brisket, ribs, chicken, burgers or hotdog. A FANTASTIC side for a BBQ.
So glad you liked it Mike, and yes, it’s perfect for hot weather temps!
Love it! Foodie crush.com. Thanks Heidi!
This was a really great recipe. I’m going to make this for my 28th birthday soon but I just wanted to make sure I get this right.
This recipe was great and everyone loved it! I added jicama which gives a wonderful crunch. Adding just a little sesame oil gives a really nice flavor too! This one’s a keeper!
I’m so glad you enjoyed Kim!
Didn’t have caraway seed, but it was still delicious.
Ashley @ Foodie Crush
I’m glad it was still great without!
I ALWAYS use an oil and vinegar dressing for slaw. As much as I love mayo, I just find this a little “lighter” on the palate.
thank you for giving me a coleslaw recipe that’s got some great taste and isn’t just a bland throw-away superfluous side dish, and mayo, no thank you,, but thank you for this recipe!
Sarah | Well and Full
This coleslaw looks so flavorful and delicious! I love the sound of all those spices in the dressing :)