Vinegar Coleslaw


This quick and easy vinegar-based coleslaw features an apple cider vinegar dressing with crunchy, shredded cabbage and carrots. It’s flavorful, healthy and mayo-free.

If you’re anything like me you probably grew up eating creamy, mayo-based coleslaw.

Nowadays I much prefer a vinegar based coleslaw over one with mayo. The vinegar dressing is lighter and really lets the crunchy cabbage and carrots shine.

Serving bowl of apple cider vinegar coleslaw with wood serving spoons.

The version I’m sharing today is a pretty classic recipe seasoned with a simple six-ingredient vinegar based dressing. To really boost the nutritional content I used apple cider vinegar and instead of white sugar I went with maple syrup, one of my favorite natural sweeteners. Maple syrup is unrefined and has antioxidants, as well as, other vitamins and minerals including a good amount of zinc and manganese.

Person pouring apple cider vinegar dressing over a serving bowl of coleslaw.

What is Apple Cider Vinegar

First, let’s start with the basics, what makes apple cider vinegar different? Apple cider vinegar is a vinegar made from fermented apple juice. The process starts by adding yeast to crushed apples.

The yeast ferments the sugars and turns them into alcohol. At this point, bacteria is added which further ferments the alcohol and turns it into acetic acid… the main active compound found in most vinegars.

Acetic acid gives vinegar its pungent smell and flavor and is also responsible for many of the health benefits.

Ingredients to make apple cider vinegar coleslaw measured out on a table: cabbage, carrots, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and spices.

Ingredients in a Vinegar Based Coleslaw

Here’s everything you’ll need for this no-mayo, vinegar based coleslaw:

  • green cabbage – feel free to buy pre-shredded cabbage for a time-saving shortcut! You can also use a mixture of green and red cabbage for added color!
  • carrots – same as above, buy pre-shredded to save some time or look for a coleslaw mix that has both cabbage and carrots included. Just be sure to measure out about 5 cups so you have a good dressing to salad ratio.
  • apple cider vinegar – if you’re interested in learning more about why I love ACV, check out this post about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar.
  • maple syrup – this adds a touch of sweetness.
  • dry mustard – you can substitute 1 teaspoon of dried mustard for 1 tablespoon of prepared mustard.
  • ground celery seed – a must for coleslaw!
  • sea salt and ground pepper – to bring all of the flavors together.
Whisk in a bowl of apple cider vinegar coleslaw.

Can I Prep Coleslaw Ahead of Time?

Yes! I actually recommend making this recipe ahead of time so the flavors have time to marinate. I’ve enjoyed it right after making and it’s delicious, but the flavors seem to get better with time. After prepping, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. 

Cutting board with chopped cabbage and grated carrot.

How to Serve Vinegar Based Coleslaw

This salad is pretty low in calories, oil-free and perfect for serving as a light and refreshing side salad or as a crunchy topping for a variety of dishes. Here’s what I recommend pairing it with:

  • Grilled meat – Instantly level up a basic grilled meal with a side of fresh coleslaw. It’s amazing with grilled chicken.
  • Tacos – This the crunchy slaw is amazing as a topping for tacos. It would be delish on these fish tacos.
  • Burgers – You can’t go wrong adding slaw to any burger but I’m excited to try it on these black bean burgers.
  • BBQ sandwiches – Coleslaw and BBQ are the ultimate combo! Top a pulled pork or BBQ chicken sandwich with slaw or try my BBQ jackfruit sandwiches for a vegan option!

How to Store Leftover Coleslaw

Like I mentioned above, this coleslaw stores really well! Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Serving bowl of apple cider vinegar slaw. Wood serving spoons and a dish cloth are next to the bowl.

 More Cookout + BBQ Recipes 

Looking for more healthy cookout recipes? Try some of these: 

More Vinegar Recipes to Try:

If you try this apple cider vinegar coleslaw please be sure to leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how it turns out. Your feedback is super helpful for the EBF team and other EBF readers!

Vinegar Coleslaw

4 from 76 votes
A quick and easy vinegar-based coleslaw with shredded cabbage and carrots. It's flavorful, mayo-free and packed with nutrients.
Serving bowl of apple cider vinegar coleslaw.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 5 cups


  • 4 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper


  • Toss: In a large bowl toss together shredded cabbage and carrots.
  • Make dressing: Combine vinegar, maple syrup, dry mustard, celery seed, salt and ground pepper in a small bowl.
    Whisk in a bowl of apple cider vinegar coleslaw.
  • Mix ingredients: Pour dressing over cabbage mixture and toss to coat.
    Pouring apple cider vinegar dressing over a serving bowl of coleslaw.
  • Serve: Let mixture sit for at least 10 minutes in the fridge, stir and serve.


  • Cabbage – I used green cabbage, but feel free to use a mix of green and red. Red is so colorful and pretty!
  • Meal prep – This recipe can be made ahead of time and will taste better after having a little time to marinate.


Serving: 1cup Calories: 49kcal Carbohydrates: 12g Protein: 1g Sodium: 147mg Fiber: 2g Sugar: 8g
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: vinegar coleslaw


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Recipe Rating

    1. Bonnie
      May 2, 2022 AT 8:53 am

      5 stars
      I love the maple syrup & i add cilantro & fresh jalapeño —— super ez & delish ———- my go to slaw dressing

      1. Brittany Mullins
        May 2, 2022 AT 6:15 pm

        Yay! I’m so glad to hear that, Bonnie. Thanks for sharing your additions, they sound great!

    2. helene
      February 20, 2022 AT 4:38 am

      5 stars
      excellent post thank you for sharing

    3. Angie Taillon
      August 31, 2021 AT 11:19 am

      5 stars
      I just found my go-to slaw recipe! I just made this and have it sitting in the refrigerator so I can indulge in it. I like some added red onions. I’ve been wanting a mayo-less recipe, I found it! I wished I would have made this recipe for the cottage we stayed at with friends, it would have been a hit for sure!! Next time! Thank you for sharing, it’s a keeper!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 31, 2021 AT 1:51 pm

        So glad you loved this recipe, Angie! Thanks for making it, I so appreciate the review!

    4. Liz K
      May 26, 2021 AT 10:43 am

      5 stars
      Love this vinegar based slaw dressing! I use it all the time and get a ton of compliments. So easy and delicious!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        May 26, 2021 AT 1:36 pm

        Ahh yay, that makes me so happy to hear! So pumped you’re a fan of this recipe, Liz. Thanks for the review!

    5. Norma Teresa
      September 18, 2020 AT 5:17 pm

      5 stars
      Yum! While I have to admit I like mayo-based coleslaw, I was looking for something lighter to have with baked fish this week. This recipe is a winner! I followed Greg’s example and added a small apple for a little extra sweetness and color.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        September 18, 2020 AT 6:38 pm

        So glad this recipe was a hit, Norma!! Thanks for trying it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it. <3

Parchment paper lined with protein balls.


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