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This quick and easy Classic Southern Coleslaw recipe comes together in minutes using only a handful of ingredients. The cold, tangy flavors are perfect for pairing with smoky BBQ meats as a side dish or piled on a sandwich.
This classic coleslaw is one of my favorite BBQ side dishes. It’s quick and easy to make, it’s crisp, creamy, and tangy. It pairs perfect with the rich smoked meats that Texas BBQ is known for. It’s great as a side dish to some smoked brisket, grilled chicken, or pulled pork.
Ingredients Needed to make Coleslaw
- Cabbage: either red or green work well, or you can do a combination. If you’re using a pre-made mix from the store most likely it will be a mix with shredded carrots also.
- Sour Cream & Mayonnaise: using a combination gives a nice creamy dressing with a slight tang.
- Lemon Juice & Vinegar: adds tanginess and a light refreshing citrus flavoring.
- Salt & Pepper: classic seasonings, add more or less to your preference.
- Sugar: can use regular white sugar, or swap with honey to sweeten the coleslaw.
How to make Southern coleslaw
- Shred the cabbage: You can slice your own cabbage, best results come from using a mandolin. Or save time by using a bagged coleslaw salad of precut cabbage. I prefer getting a Tri-Color coleslaw mix, which includes red cabbage, green cabbage, and carrots.
- Prepare the dressing: combine all of the ingredients needed to make the dressing in a bowl or a jar. Stir or whisk together until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings, or vinegar as needed.
- Dress the Coleslaw: Drizzle dressing over the cabbage, stir together.
- Chill: This salad needs to chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before being served.
The dressing for this coleslaw is classic and simple. Not too much to where our cabbage will be drowning and soggy. And not too little where our cabbage is sad and dry. This dressing makes the perfect amount for the amount of cabbage.
The dressing has just the right balance of creamy from the mayonnaise, the tang of the vinegar and sour cream, a hint of sweetness thanks to using some sugar, and lemon juice to brighten it all up.
How to Store
- Refrigerator: store leftover coleslaw in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Make Ahead: if you are preparing this dish ahead of time, you can store the cabbage and the dressing separately. Storing separately will prevent the coleslaw from becoming soggy before being served.
- Freezing: with this mayonnaise based dressing it is not advised to freeze this coleslaw.
This is a great base recipe. However, if you want to add to yours feel free! Here’s a list of some great additions/substitutions you can make. Plus you can check out our Fish Taco Slaw which has cilantro and lime added to pair with the Tex Mex flavors of tacos.
- Celery seeds
- Grated onion
- Jalapeño or Serrano peppers
- Worcestershire sauce
- Honey/Maple Syrup
- Blue Cheese
- Chili Powder
- Fresh Herbs: Dill, Parsley
Classic Southern Coleslaw
- Add the coleslaw mix to a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, sugar, salt, and lemon juice. Stir to combine.
- Drizzle the coleslaw dressing over the cabbage.
- Stir to combine.
- Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.*
- Add fresh ground black pepper just before serving if desired.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Make ahead: this recipe can be made in advance, a couple hours is best, this gives time for the salad to chill and the flavors to meld. To keep the coleslaw crisp though, it is recommend to serve this dish the same day it’s prepared.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe first published March 3, 2020 updated July 17, 2023 with new images and information. Recipe is unchanged.
Photography by the talented ModernFarmhouseEats.com