This South Carolina coleslaw may not be recognizable as a slaw to those who’ve never experienced slaw minus the mayo. Instead, it boasts a sweet vinegary tanginess that we consider a must alongside any sort of barbecue.

david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

Our testers were smitten with the zippy, tangy dressing in this Carolina-style coleslaw. Tamomori P. describes the salad as “nice and tangy and crisp” with just enough dressing “to coat the slaw so that it was not too soggy.”

Several of the testers proclaimed that this would be their new “go-to salad for summer barbecues.”

What You’ll Need to Make This

Ingredients for South Carolina Slaw--cabbage, vinegar, mustard, carrots, sugar, oil, and spices.
  • Cabbage–You can use green or red cabbage for this slaw recipe. However, if you use red cabbage, the color may bleed slightly.
  • Carrots–If you are making carrot ribbons, fat carrots work best as they are the easiest to shave.
  • Apple cider vinegar–The addition of vinegar gives this salad its tang. If you want a slightly less tangy dressing, you can reduce the vinegar to 1/3 cup.

How to Make This Recipe

A large bowl of shredded cabbage and shaved carrot and a person whisking a pot of vinegar dressing.
  1. Combine the shredded cabbage and carrots in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk the remaining ingredients in a small pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat and immediately remove from the heat.
Dressing poured into a bowl of shredded cabbage and carrot and a person tossing the salad.
  1. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and carrots.
  2. Toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Common Questions

What is the best way to make carrot ribbons?

First, peel your full-size carrots with a standard vegetable peeler. Then, still using the same peeler, place the carrot on your cutting board and peel the length of the carrot, making ribbons. Turn the carrot and keep peeling until you have all that’s left is a nubbin.

 If you want your carrot ribbons to be crunchy and curly, stick them into a bowl of ice water and put them in the fridge for a couple of hours.

When you’re ready to add them to the slaw, pull them from their ice bath, and dry them on paper towels. Don’t feel like peeling? Just use a bag of shredded carrots.

How long will vinegar-based slaw last in the fridge?

If your slaw is dressed, you can expect it to last 3 to 5 days in the fridge. (Note: if you use some red cabbage, the color may bleed after a day or so). If you store your slaw and dressing in separate air-tight containers, your cabbage will last a few days, but your dressing should be good for up to two weeks.

What should I serve this with?

This vinegar-based coleslaw is an excellent side dish at any summer barbecue, and we love it alongside slow-grilled beef back ribs or smoked pork shoulder, smoky mac and cheese, and buttermilk cornbread. We also love piling it atop slow-cooked pulled pork sandwich.

Helpful Tips

  • To make this in advance, store the cabbage and carrots separately from the dressing and toss them together just before serving.
  • This recipe is suitable for vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free diets.
A bowl of South Carolina slaw on a wooden table with a fork and knife on the side.

More Great Coleslaw Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

A bowl of South Carolina slaw on a wooden table with a fork and knife on the side.

South Carolina Slaw

4.89 / 9 votes
This easy slaw is made with cabbage and carrots and a sweetly tangy dressing based on apple cider vinegar and mustard is a summer must. No mayo required, so it’s safe for those with egg allergies.
David Leite
Servings6 to 8 servings
Calories133 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time15 minutes


  • 1/2 head (about 1 lb) cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shaved carrot, (from 2 to 3 carrots; just grab a veggie peeler and run it lengthwise along the carrot to form long, lovely ribbons)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup mild olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Place the cabbage and carrots in a large bowl.
  • In a small saucepan off the heat, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, oil, Dijon mustard, dry mustard, celery seeds, kosher salt, and pepper until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Immediately remove from the heat and either pour it over the cabbage mixture right away if you prefer slightly wilted coleslaw or let it stand for anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to cool before pouring it over the cabbage mixture if you prefer a crunchy coleslaw. Toss to coat. Serve immediately.


  1. Save time–Instead of creating those gorgeous carrot ribbons, simply julienne or shred the carrots and toss them with the cabbage.
  2. Make ahead–To make this in advance, store the cabbage and carrots separately from the dressing and toss them together just before serving.
  3. Dietary–This recipe is suitable for vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free diets.
The Southern Vegetable Book

Adapted From

The Southern Vegetable Book

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 133 kcalCarbohydrates: 11 gProtein: 1 gFat: 10 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 7 gSodium: 461 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 10 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2016 Rebecca Lang. Photos © 2016 Angie Zoobkoff. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This salad is a nice alternative to a mayonnaise-based slaw. The long strands of carrots make for a very attractive dish.

The dressing on its own is delicious, and I’m hoping to find other uses for it. My carrots really looked beautiful.

This South Carolina slaw was fantastic! We could not stop eating it until it was completely gone. The salad was crunchy, and the dressing light and tangy. This will be my go-to salad for potlucks and summer barbecues.

I did cool the dressing to room temperature before adding it to the salad. We just kept eating it until it was gone.

The Carolina coleslaw was nice and tangy and crisp. The vinegar-based dressing was just enough to coat the slaw so that it was not too soggy. I did let the liquid cool for 10 minutes before tossing everything so as to not wilt the cabbage.

The next time I make this, I will add another teaspoon of sugar.

My fiancée is a fanatic when it comes to coleslaw, so anytime a new recipe comes my way, I make sure he tries it first. This had a lovely tang to it and perfectly accompanied the pulled pork I had made with it. Perfection!

The vinegar-based Carolina slaw recipe was quick and easy to put together though I would warn people that making long carrot ribbons isn’t as easy as it seems. I would try combining green and red cabbage next time.

This South Carolina coleslaw recipe won me over! I had my doubts about whether I would like this coleslaw because I’m a diehard creamy coleslaw fan. One bite and all I could think was, “That’s lovely!”

I liked it served both cold and warm, but I must confess my preference was warm. My recipe came very close to the picture, but my carrot ribbons did not curl at all (it must be in the wrist technique). However, I did have some nice carrot snacks as I attempted to make the curl.

I really like this slaw! We have two kinds of slaw in this house: regular, which has a mayonnaise base; and BBQ slaw, which is vinegar-based. The mustard in this BBQ slaw is outstanding and really drives home the South Carolina theme.

I love South Carolina mustard BBQ sauce, and this gives the same flavor in slaw form. I did prepare the slaw mix and dressing separately and let it chill in the refrigerator, combining them about an hour before serving. Slaw was crisp and delicious.

It was still great the next day—the slaw remained crisp without being watery. Just toss lightly to redistribute the dressing before serving. A very unique flavor to liven up an old favorite!

Generally, I’m not a fan of mayonnaise-heavy slaw, so this vinegar-based slaw recipe fit the bill.

It was a bit sour for my taste, so next time, I’ll bump the apple cider vinegar down to 1/3 cup. To make the recipe even easier, I’ll just grate the carrots in the future.

At first, I debated scaling down the mustard as it seemed like a lot, but in the end, I used the written amount, and I’m glad I did.

I followed the recipe exactly, which involved pouring the piping hot dressing over the cabbage. This way, the cabbage wilted a bit, and I actually preferred the taste compared to completely raw cabbage. I will be making it again as an accompaniment to summer barbecues.

This was a huge hit at our friend’s bbq last night, where (as it turns out) everyone hates mayo-based coleslaw. The mustard-to-vinegar balance was great.

The most time-consuming part of this was attempting to get the carrot to look right. I spent like 25 minutes making log strips of carrot with my potato peeler. I should have just used the pyramid-shaped cheese grater and called it a day.

I made the dressing, chilled it, and then we added the dressing when all the BBQ meats were ready—so it was fresh. No idea how it would have kept because it was all ravenously devoured.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This dressing is absolutely fantastic. If I could eat as much sugar as I wanted I would be eating this with a spoon. I’m so glad I followed the instructions and brought it to a boil because it turned thick and beautiful. I was afraid this would be too strong mustard wise but the flavor was like a honey mustard it was absolutely fantastic!

    I let the dressing cool completely and I added it to cold slaw that had been previously cut the day before. I used a food processor and processed one head of cabbage and about 4 carrots grated. Using the food processor made the work of the slaw super easy.

    The amount of dressing I made was enough 1 whole cabbage. I use just over 1/3 of a cup of vinegar, And I tossed everything with dressing About 30 minutes before serving.

    By the 3 hour mark there was a pool of liquid in the bottom but this was fantastic and I would make it again in a heartbeat.

    I would follow the directions and keep dressing in cabbage separately until serving.

    1. Dawn, thanks so much for all of these helpful details. This is one of my favorite recipes, too, and we enjoy it frequently.