killer coleslaw – the perfect side to great BBQ

Sometimes I do blog posts just for me. This is one of those times. This is my go to coleslaw. Posted so I have always have it handy.

This isn’t even my recipe. It’s from The New York Cookbook by Molly O’Neill. That book has about a million recipes in it. I have no idea how I found this one.

But I did. About 300 years ago. And I’ve been making it ever since.

You’d think I would have it memorized by now. I almost do. But somehow I’m never 100 percent sure. The quantities are close. 1 cup vs 3/4 cup. Which is which?

So I’m writing it down. So I can always find it. Seriously. This one is for me. I’m not joking…

But you can make it too. I hope you do. It’s definitely worth making. I think anyway.

I wasn’t planning to post this. The notion just popped into my head as I was making it. I’m not even at home.

Grabbed the pics with my phone. I promise I’ll try harder next time…

Coleslaw shredded vegetables in a bowl from above

Coleslaw with a tangy bite

I love this coleslaw. Because it is the perfect counterpoint to big barbecue. I serve it with ribs. With brisket. Pulled pork. Anything fatty. If it doesn’t fly. Or swim. Then this is the one.

It works because it’s not creamy. It’s a little tart. And a little sweet. Has just the right amount of crunch.

Creamy coleslaws have their place. Creamy coleslaw is great with grilled chicken. Or turkey. A hamburger even. Kind of somewhere between salad and potato salad.

But for pork and brisket and beef ribs I always, always, always turn to this one.

Thinly sliced green cabbage on a cutting board

There are no secret ingredients in this slaw

This slaw is about cabbage. And Spanish onion. There’s a little green pepper. For a hint of flavour. And some carrot for colour.

I do swap in jalapeños for green peppers. Adds a nice bite. That’s my only twist on the original.

Nothing too unusual about the dressing either. A bit low brow. But it works. Somehow. Candidate for Ripley’s museum maybe?

Vinegar. Nasty white vinegar. The stuff you use to clean with. I’ve finally found a second use for it. Pickling. That’s a given. And this killer coleslaw.

Sugar. Plain white sugar. Refined sugar. Just sweet. Nothing fancy here.

Oil. Vegetable oil. Or canola. A neutral oil. The less flavour the better. Not olive oil. Absolutely not olive oil. That would suck. A lot.

Salt and mustard powder round out the list. Super simple. Crazy delicious. Not sure exactly why it works. But it does.

Thinly sliced onions on a cutting board

Hot dressing hits cool cabbage and magic happens

What makes this one a little different is how the ingredients come together.

Cabbage. Onion. Green pepper. Carrot. That’s every coleslaw ever.

The gee whiz here is the dressing. A hot dressing. Boiling hot in fact. Sounds crazy. But that little bit of insanity is what makes this coleslaw great.

Hot dressing wilts cabbage. A bit. Softens everything. Just enough. Pour it on and stir. Really stir. Toss it into the fridge and wait. 4 hours is good. Overnight is better.

And somehow, inexplicably, everything just comes together nicely. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Cliche. But true.

You won’t believe. Until you try it for yourself. And then you will be converted.

I don’t know when I became a coleslaw evangelist. But it seems it happened. When I wasn’t looking.

Pouring hot dressing mixture onto coleslaw vegetables from the front

It’s healthier than you think

There’s a lot of sugar in this recipe. And a lot of oil. Might seem alarming at first. But it’s necessary. Part of the technique. But it isn’t part of what you actually eat.

The key to this coleslaw is moving the cabbage mixture through the hot dressing. To get the wilting action. So you need enough hot dressing. It won’t work otherwise.

Most of that dressing is going to wind up in the bottom of the bowl. You’ll see. It’s not going in anyone’s mouth.

It’s a bit wasteful I suppose. But it’s also way less calories than the nutritional calculator spits out.

Unless you drink the dressing I guess. You do you though. It’s a free culinary universe. FWIW – I don’t drink it.

This is my one true coleslaw

I am always experimenting. Can’t help myself. Tinkering. Trying new things. That’s who I am. I can never leave well enough alone.

There’s always something I want to change. Evolve. Refresh. Renew. Or even just throw everything I think I know out the window. And try something completely different.

Which is why this coleslaw is special to me. I don’t mess with it. I just make it. Over. And over. And over.

I know I’m in a rut. There’s no doubt about it. But the wonderful thing is I just don’t care.

Because it’s part of who I am. This one stays forever.

Bowl of killer coleslaw from above
Print Pin
5 from 2 votes

Killer coleslaw

Simple, tangy and a little sweet. This coleslaw is perfect with richer BBQ
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword coleslaw
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Resting time 4 hours
Servings 8
Calories 325kcal
Author romain | glebekitchen


The dressing

  • 1 cup white vinegar – yes, the super nasty stuff. It works.
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup neutral oil
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt – plus maybe a bit more to taste once it's cooled
  • 1 tsp mustard powder – I use Keen's brand but any powdered mustard will do.

The coleslaw

  • 1 small green cabbage – sliced as thin as you can
  • 1 large spanish onion – sliced as thin as you can
  • 1 green pepper – julienned. If you like a little bite a couple large, seeded jalapeños are a nice touch.
  • 1 large carrot – shredded
  • 3/4 cup white sugar – in addition to the sugar in the dressing


Prep the vegetables

  • You want thin. As thin as you can. Grab a sharp knife. Core the cabbage. Set the flat side down and start shaving.
  • Same story for the onion. Except you don't need to core it.
  • Julienne the pepper and shred the carrots.
  • Put everything into a heat proof bowl and make the dressing.

Make the dressing

  • Combine the oil, vinegar, 1/4 cup of white sugar, salt and mustard powder in a small saucepan.
  • Bring to a gentle simmer. Make sure the sugar has dissolved.

Assemble the coleslaw

  • Pour the hot dressing over the vegetables.
  • Grab a set of tongs and mix everything together. Really mix. Keep the vegetables moving through the hot dressing for a minute or two.
  • Cover and refrigerate 4 hours. I like this slaw best the next day but it's nearly as good after 4 hours.
  • To serve use tongs to pull the coleslaw from the bowl. You'll leave all the excess dressing behind this way.


Serving: 8g | Calories: 325kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 896mg | Potassium: 237mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 1646IU | Vitamin C: 47mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 1mg
5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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