Vinegar Slaw

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A little bit sweet and a little bit tangy, my 3-ingredient quick and easy vinegar slaw recipe is a great alternative for those wanting coleslaw with no mayonnaise.

A bowl of vinegar slaw.

There is no telling how many different kinds of slaw there are in the world but I have posted a few on Southern Plate over the years: coleslaw, my burger slaw recipe, Asian slaw, and mustard slaw. But today, in order for you to be able to make the pulled BBQ chicken burgers I posted yesterday, I’m bringing you the recipe for vinegar-based coleslaw. It’s commonly served on top of a pulled pork sandwich in my neck of the woods. It’s cabbage slaw with a twist, as it doesn’t use mayonnaise like creamy coleslaw.

This recipe is easy as pie but I’m gonna make it a little bit easier for ya. The original recipe is done in proportions but I’m giving you exact measurements in case you’ve never made it before, then you can work with proportions later once you get more comfortable with it.

So, all you need is a head of cabbage, granulated sugar, and white vinegar. You can also substitute the cabbage for a store-bought coleslaw mix instead or use a combination of both. Whatever cranks your tractor! The instructions are as easy as… combining the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Yep, your easy vinegar slaw is done in 5 minutes flat. I recommend refrigerating it for a few hours up to overnight to let the vinegar and sugar soak into the cabbage for the most flavorful vinegar slaw. But if you don’t wait, I’ll never know!

This vinegar coleslaw recipe has equal parts sweet and tangy flavor and tastes so delicious with Pulled Pork Sliders Meatloaf Burgers North Alabama Style Pulled Chicken BBQ Slow-Roasted Beef Brisket in the Oven Easy Baby Back Ribs in Oven or Simple Southern Fried Catfish. Move aside coleslaw, no-mayonnaise vinegar slaw is in the house! 

Labeled ingredients for vinegar slaw.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Green cabbage/coleslaw mix
  • White vinegar
  • Sugar

Helpful Kitchen Tools

How to Make Vinegar Slaw

Chop up your cabbage.

Green cabbage version

Chop up your cabbage.

Note: I’m only using half of my head of cabbage. That yields about four to five cups and that is plenty for me.

You can use a sharp knife and chop it or shred it using a food processor, whatever cranks your tractor. Remember, no rules.

Add chopped cabbage to mixing bowl.

Now add your chopped/shredded cabbage to a large bowl.

Add sugar to mixing bowl.

Then add your sugar…

Add vinegar to mixing bowl.

And your vinegar.

The ratio here is equal parts vinegar and sugar.

Stir ingredients together.

Give it a stir.

If you like, season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Bowl of vinegar slaw.

Cover and refrigerate the cabbage mixture until ready to serve.

This will make more liquid after a while and it is better if you let it refrigerate for a few hours before serving it.

But if you need to eat it now go ahead. I’m not big on waiting myself. ~grins~

Add coleslaw mix to mixing bowl.

Coleslaw mix version

Add coleslaw mix to mixing bowl.

Add sugar to mixing bowl.

Then add sugar…

Add vinegar to mixing bowl.

And your vinegar.

Mix ingredients together.

Mix ingredients together.

Bowl of vinegar slaw.

As before, cover and refrigerate the coleslaw mix until ready to serve.

Vinegar slaw on plate with chicken and baked beans.

Serve on top of a pulled pork sandwich or as a side dish with grilled chicken and baked beans.

No rules!


Store leftover slaw in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes

  • You can use all types of cabbage in vinegar coleslaw, including green cabbage or red cabbage. Feel free to use a combination of both too.
  • If you want to add more veggies, opt for a large shredded carrot or two, a cup of sliced red or green bell pepper, and 1/2 a yellow or red onion, sliced. Another option is thinly sliced green onion (1 or 2).
  • If you make it ahead of time, don’t add salt until just before serving as it will wilt the cabbage.
  • For added flavor, you might like to add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard or wholegrain mustard, 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, and/or 1 teaspoon of celery seed.
  • Yes, you can use apple cider vinegar instead to make an apple cider vinegar coleslaw recipe.
  • For extra crunch, add sliced almonds or toasted sunflower seeds on top before serving.

Recipe FAQs

How do you serve vinegar slaw?

In case you missed them, here are my other slaw recipes:

The Best Coleslaw

Burger Slaw

Asian Slaw

Mustard Slaw

Vinegar slaw on plate with chicken and baked beans.

Vinegar Slaw

Equal parts sweet and tangy, my 3-ingredient quick and easy vinegar slaw is a great alternative for those wanting coleslaw with no mayonnaise.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: coleslaw, slaw, vinegar
Servings: 4
Calories: 62kcal


  • 4.5-5 cups finely chopped or shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar


  • Place chopped or shredded cabbage in a large bowl.
    4.5-5 cups finely chopped or shredded cabbage
  • Add vinegar and sugar, and stir.
    1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Cover the cabbage mixture and place it in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight before serving. Will make more juice over time.


Calories: 62kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!


“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.”

~ Sam Keen

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  1. I recently moved to Central Florida from North Alabama and I was amazed that NO ONE here knew what vinegar slaw was!!! I’ve got a Boston butt on the smoker and making this slaw for the pulled pork sandwiches we’ll be having this evening

  2. I wonder if that is the slaw my Aunt Ruth from Sand Mountain used to call freezer slaw… I know it didn’t have any mayo in it…

  3. I don’t know which has me salivating more, your Southern style Pulled Pork? or your Vinegar Slaw? What I do know is with me liking or should I say coming to love tangy and vinegary pulled pork which was called “Chopped BBQ” by the way, I could eat the two in this very moment.
    Craving that flavor is what landed me here on your page. I had the pleasure of eating this on Hawaiian Rolls minus the Slaw post Thanksgiving Day last year and for me out of all the tasty leftover fixings, that was the star dish. It’s something how food and music leave lasting impressions right?!
    After searching countless recipes online, I feel yours will come close to what I had and I will be making it with high hopes.
    Question: Does sauerkraut taste similar to your Vinegar Slaw? Just curious

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