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Southern Style Cole Slaw

When it comes to beloved side dishes this type of Southern Style Cole Slaw is a shoe-in. You can whip-up a batch in no time flat, and the uses for it are endless. Enjoy it on hot dogs, with beef or pork barbecue, Southern fried chicken or as the side kick for a simple bowl of pinto beans and cornbread.

Southern Style Cole Slaw

Easy Southern Cole Slaw Recipe

Cole slaw is one of those simple side dishes that goes with so many entrees. In North Carolina, we love our Carolina red slaw which features a tangy tomato vinegar based dressing. It’s most often served with Lexington style pulled pork barbecue famous for it’s vinegar mopping sauce. Mayonnaise dressed cole slaw is classic, and the dressing for this is made from scratch.

Step-by-step preparation images and ingredients for cole slaw

What is Southern Style Cole Slaw?

To make this slaw, the cabbage and carrots are chopped rather than shredded, think Chick-fil-A style cole slaw. It’s a style that’s commonly found in the South, and can be done quite easily using a food processor. If you’re fortunate enough to have it already chopped and available in the produce department of your local grocery store, even better, you’ll have a little less prep time.




How to Make the Best Southern Style Cole Slaw Recipe

  • Ingredients you’ll need to make Southern Style Cole Slaw: For the cabbage mixture you’ll need chopped green cabbage, chopped carrots and chopped green onions. For the creamy dressing: Mayonnaise, buttermilk, apple cider vinegar, granulated sugar, granulated garlic, ground mustard, onion powder, lemon pepper and celery seeds.
  • Kitchen gadgets you’ll need: A food processor, sharp knife and cutting board, measuring cups and spoons, a whisk, large bowl and airtight container for storing in the refrigerator.
  • A food processor is handy for chopping the vegetables for this slaw. While often cabbage is grated on a box grater, this is a chopped slaw. You could also go old school and use a chef’s knife to chop the veggies.
  • Due to the fact that the sweet coleslaw dressing is homemade, you can adjust the salt and seasonings to your taste, should you desire to do so.
  • In place of lemon pepper, you can use a splash of fresh lemon juice and plain black pepper to taste.
  • You can also use a sugar free alternative to sweeten the dressing. Granulated sugar substitutes such as Swerve (affiliate) or Splenda work well and keep this in the lower carb category, too.
  • I highly recommend using buttermilk but, if you don’t have any, whole milk will work in a pinch.
  • Can you make your own buttermilk? Yes, you can! To do so to every one cup of whole milk, add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or white distilled vinegar. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir and proceed with the recipe as written.
  • What do I do if the dressing becomes runny after the cole slaw sits? This can naturally happen to cole slaw as the cabbage releases it’s juices. Don’t fret, you can usually drain it off carefully and then give the salad a good stir before serving.
  • This cole slaw needs to chill  in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours prior to serving to give the flavors time to marry. If you have time, overnight is even better.
  • Store leftover slaw in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.


Dishes to Serve with Southern Cole Slaw

This cole slaw is a delicious choice to serve alongside many Southern comfort food favorites or served on hot dogs at your next cookout. It’s a natural fit for dishes such as Carolina Pulled Pork Barbecue sandwiches, finger licking good Southern Fried Chicken, homestyle Southern meatloaf, pinto beans, baked bbq chicken and cornbread and beer battered fish. You may also like this recipe for Purple Cabbage Slaw from Self Proclaimed Foodie.

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Southern Style Cole Slaw recipe
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5 from 4 votes

Southern Style Cole Slaw

Prep Time10 minutes
Chill time6 hours
Total Time6 hours 10 minutes
Course: Salad, Salad Dressing, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best-southern-cole-slaw, cole-slaw-recipes, southern-style-cole-slaw
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 143kcal


  • 1 medium head green cabbage (about 2-3 lbs) cored and chopped
  • 1 medium carrot chopped
  • 3 medium green onions chopped
  • 1 cup real mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (Or, equivalent of sugar free sweetener)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp celery seeds
  • 1/2 tsp lemon pepper (may use black pepper and fresh lemon juice)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground mustard


  • In a large mixing bowl, toss together cabbage, carrot and green onion.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, buttermilk, vinegar, salt, celery seeds, lemon pepper, onion powder, garlic and mustard.
  • Pour dressing over cabbage, mix until fully blended.
  • Chill in an airtight container for at least 6 hours prior to serving garnished with green onion and additional celery seeds, if desired.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 143kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 538mg | Potassium: 270mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 1478IU | Vitamin C: 43mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @melissassk or tag #melissassk!


  1. 5 stars
    This coleslaw is fabulous and I am a big critic of coleslaw! I will say I did not use the green onion in the coleslaw or on top of it. I like green onion, but not in my coleslaw. Also my husband and I dove right in and ate a small bowl as soon as I made it, we both loved it. Understanding 6 hour refrigeration will develop the flavors more, but it isn’t 100% necessary as it tastes good after about 30 minutes which allows the sugar to dissolve. Thanks for sharing this yummy coleslaw.

  2. 5 stars
    Love your recipes. Tried several different ones. I used splenda instead of suger because of diabetes. Still recipes are great. Thank you these.

  3. I have never made coleslaw before. This recipe looks so good. I like the fact that it has buttermilk and lemon pepper, two of my favorites. I know I will love this recipe.

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