A lighter dressing for cole slaw?

Joined Sep 5, 2008
I am looking for a lighter way to do a dressing for my cole slaw. Something that doesn't involve that much oil or mayo...? I've read somewhere that mayo as a dressing for cole slaw was an American invention, if that's true, what was the original dressing like?

My cole slaw has:

- Napa Cabbage

- Red Cabbage

- Granny Smith

- Pineapple

- Roasted peanuts

- Red onion

- Scallions

- Red or green bell peppers

Joined Feb 13, 2008
Mix a little sugar into some vinegar so you have a "sweet and sour" on the sour side, and dress it with that, salt and raisins.  Cider vinegar is the traditional choice, but rice or white wine vinegars will do quite nicely as well.

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Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
there are a number of sweet ones as BDL mentioned, something I mostly see from people with some Southen background.  Use a light hand with the dressing and dress just before serving tends to be my preference with this style as I find it more easily overpowers the slaw.
Joined Jan 5, 2007
WOW... that's a lot of ingredients in a coleslaw!

I use:  white cabbage, sweet onion, and carrots.  I make some french dressing (not a lot) and add a spoonful of home-made mayo.

I HATE drenched coleslaw... I like it almost 'dry'.
Joined Sep 5, 2008
Thanks - actually I forgot two more ingredients, carrots and cliantro! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

I have to say I'm not a huge fan of the classic coleslaw with pretty much just cabbage, and I found this recipe by Bruce Aidells, and liked it a lot! But the seasoning called for a cup of mayo, 1/4 cup sour cream, etc... and that sounded too scary to some of the others in the household. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lookaround.gif
Joined Dec 20, 2008
Years ago when my son graduated from H.S. we had a backyard BBQ celebration, I was doing pulled pork and pulled chicken sandwiches with slaw.  However I wasn't happy with my slaw and was looking for a non-mayo tangy slaw.  A week or two prior to the big BBQ party, I happen to be watching Martha Stewart when she did her show from her house.  That show was all about BBQ, smoking ribs, pork butt, and pork loin.  Martha had some BBQ-Smoking expert (competition winner) and they shared a recipe for cold slaw to go with the pulled pork.  The recipe was simple but really tasted good.  I used it all that summer.  I had the recipe on my computer.  During the winter my computer hard drive failed and I bought a new one, thus losing the recipe.  I have tried several times to go through Martha Stewarts show archives to find that show and recipe, but no luck.

I have several recipes, I mostly use versions of boar_d_laze's when he answered a my post asking for cold slaw recipes...
recipe source: boar_d_laze

Here are typical recipes for stand alone slaws of each type. The white is adapted from a recipe which I found in a women's club from Yadkins NC; while the red is my version of a slaw recipe which supposedly originated at Monk's in Lexingtion, NC. I'm giving you amounts for a good sized mob, but you can adjust as needed. I'm also going to give you a third suggestion.

1 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup white sugar
3 heads cabbage, green, napa or mixed (napa or mixed is best), but absolutely not red
1 tbs celery seed
2 tbs salt
1 tbs black pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper

Bring the vinegar and sugar to heat, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.

Using a knife or a coarse grater, shred the cabbage, and put into a large mixing bowl. Chop the bell peppers fine, and add to the cabbage. Add the celery seed, salt and pepper. Pour the cooled dressing over and mix thoroughly. Allow to sit for at least two hours, or preferably overnight.

3 heads cabbage, green, napa or mixed (napa or mixed is best), but absolutely not red
2 cups ketchup
1-1/2 cups cider vinegar
1-1/2 cups white sugar
2 tbs salt
2 tbs black pepper
2 tbs grated, sweet onion
2 tbs (about) hot, red pepper sauce

Core and quarter the cabbage. Wash and chill.

Mix the remaining ingredients together, cover and allow to stand at least half an hour so the sugar has time to dissolve.

Shred or cut the cabbage into small pieces. You may use a food processor (ala KFC) if you desire. Mix in the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably overnight, before serving.


Carolina style barbecue sauce, red or mustard as used for the pork, in a goodly amount.
Cabbage, in an amount neeeded
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

Make your preferred barbecue sauce, allowing extra for the slaw.

Chop the cabbage fine, salt it, pepper it, then dress with barbecue sauce.
Tangy Slaw....  This recipe I have used a couple of times, I didn't post any results notes in my recipe DB, so just give it a try and let me know what you think.

8 cups cored and shredded or chopped green cabbage (about 1 head)
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced red onion

1 cup granulated sugar
2 tblsp garlic salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp celery seed
1 cup cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon

Mix dressing in container (non-reactive). Combine all dressing ingredients and wire wisk until pieces are dissolved. Pour dressing over slaw ingredients and gently mix together. Cover and chill for several hours before serving.
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Interesting thread.

I think our take on 'slaw is a bit different here.  No sweet ingredients except for the apple which is mostly tart anyway, and haven't seen raisins being used locally.  I cannot get to grips with the need for sweetness in so many dishes - that's just me. And no peanuts at all have I seen.

The only sweet part is the mayo and (for me) sour cream dressing About 2:1 parts, with a dash of lemon.  I like to soak the slaw in the dressing whilst chilling for a few hours prior to serving.  But it is not swimming in dressing, it is only just coated, so you don't get a messy gloop at the end.

French Fries, I like your list of ingredients.  You could try a viniagarette (sp?) dressing, or experiment with Greek yoghurt and mustard.

Joined Apr 3, 2010
It used to be when made like this , a lot of places and people called it Health Slaw.(no mayo, or sour cream )  Like BDL' S  way listed above.


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
The one I've liked best in the sweet/sour vein is a simple syrup with rice vinegar instead of water, and a few other goodies to spice it up a bit.

My favorite though is still dressed in a mayo base with rice vinegar, and dijon.
Joined Aug 13, 2006
My favorite is boiled dressing from fanny farmer's cookbook.  You cook egg, milk, oil (they say butter, but butter on salad is beyond my weird-level) a hint of mustard, sugar  and vinegar and flour together.  I add celery seed and dill seed and mustard seed. 

if you want the proportions i'll send them.  It's creamy but light and goes over very well. 
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