Homemade Coleslaw for BBQ

Homemade Coleslaw for BBQ is undeniably a staple side dish for barbecue gatherings. It adds a refreshing crunch to the predominantly meat-heavy meal. Its fresh, vibrant colors and crisp textures bring a delightful contrast to smoky, savory BBQ flavors.

Furthermore, the light, tangy dressing of this Homemade Coleslaw for BBQ recipe perfectly complements the rich, bold tastes of grilled foods. Plus, its simplicity and versatility make it a beloved choice for cooks of all levels.

The Importance of Coleslaw for BBQ Dishes

Certainly, the importance of homemade coleslaw for BBQ gatherings cannot be overstated. For starters, it introduces a crucial element of balance. While BBQ dishes often lean towards the rich and hearty side, coleslaw cuts through the heaviness with its crisp, light texture and tangy flavor.

Then there’s the aspect of color. A bowl of vibrant coleslaw adds a pop of color to your BBQ spread, making the meal visually appealing and inviting. Most importantly, it’s a celebration of freshness. Amidst all the grilled items, coleslaw brings a refreshing break, encouraging you to enjoy your meal down to the last bite.

Plus, it’s incredibly easy to customize, ensuring there’s a version to suit every palate. Preparing coleslaw is a breeze, and it’s a surefire way to add a touch of homemade charm to any BBQ.

Essential Ingredients for Homemade Coleslaw

Coleslaw begins with a symphony of fresh ingredients. For this masterful recipe, you’ll need:

  • 6 cups of shredded green cabbage to provide that classic coleslaw crunch.
  • 2 cups of shredded purple cabbage to add a pop of color and a slightly different flavor texture.
  • Half a sweet onion, shredded, to bring a subtle sharpness that complements the sweetness of the other vegetables.
  • 3 carrots, shredded, for their vibrant color and sweet, earthy taste.

Now, about dressing your homemade coleslaw for bbq, it boils down to personal taste. You have two routes for mayonnaise – the classic store-bought or the more adventurous homemade route.

Homemade mayonnaise brings a richness and depth of flavor that’s unbeatable, but it does require extra effort. Store-bought mayonnaise, on the other hand, offers convenience and consistent taste, making it a reliable choice for those looking to save time.

Whichever you choose, you’ll need 1/2 cup to achieve that creamy dressing we all crave.

Step-by-Step Recipe

Making this homemade coleslaw for bbq is as easy. Here’s how you can whip it up in no time:

  1. Prep the Veggies: Start by finely shredding both green and purple cabbage, sweet onion, and carrots. A good tip is to use a sharp knife or a mandolin slicer to get those perfect thin slices. The thinner the veggies, the better they’ll soak up the dressing.
  2. Mix the Slaw: In a large mixing bowl, combine the shredded green cabbage, purple cabbage, onion, and carrots. Toss them until they’re well mixed. The mix of colors will look stunning, and you’re already halfway there!
  3. Whisk the Dressing: In a separate bowl, blend the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and celery seeds until smooth. This concoction is what brings the magic to the slaw, adding that creamy texture and tangy flavor that we all love.
  4. Combine and Chill: Pour the dressing over the slaw mixture and toss gently until all the veggies are coated evenly. This step is crucial for making sure every bite is as delicious as the last. Once mixed, cover the bowl and refrigerate it for 1 to 2 hours. This chilling time allows the flavors to meld together beautifully.
  5. Serve and Enjoy: After chilling, give your coleslaw one last mix and then it’s ready to serve. This refreshing side dish will be the perfect complement to your BBQ feast.

Remember, the key to a fantastic coleslaw is in the freshness of the ingredients. This simple, yet delightful recipe will enhance your BBQ dishes. Your guests are also sure to be pleased with all the delicious flavors.

Tips for Customizing Your Coleslaw

Customizing your homemade coleslaw for bbq can transform this classic side dish into a tailored complement to your BBQ spread. Here are some creative tips to help you personalize your coleslaw:

  • Incorporate Fruit: For a sweet twist, add shredded apple or pineapple. The natural sweetness of fruits can offer a delightful contrast to the tangy dressing.
  • Add Nuts and Seeds: For extra crunch, consider tossing in some toasted slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds. These can introduce a new layer of texture and a nutty flavor.
  • Play with the Dressing: Beyond the traditional mayonnaise base, you can experiment with using Greek yogurt or sour cream for a lighter option. Adding a hint of honey or maple syrup to the dressing can also give your coleslaw a pleasant sweetness.
  • Spice it Up: If you enjoy a bit of heat, try adding some finely chopped jalapeños or a dash of hot sauce to your dressing. This can give your coleslaw a spicy kick that’s perfect for BBQs.
  • Herbal Touches: Fresh herbs like cilantro, dill, or parsley can add a burst of freshness and elevate the overall flavor profile.
  • Colorful Vegetables: Don’t shy away from adding other colorful vegetables such as bell peppers, radishes, or beetroot. These not only add visual appeal but also diversify the flavors.

Remember, the key to a great coleslaw is finding the right balance of flavors and textures that suit your taste. Feel free to experiment with these tips to create a coleslaw that’s uniquely yours.

a bowl of homemade coleslaw for bbq

Serving and Pairing Suggestions

When it comes to serving and pairing your homemade coleslaw, the possibilities are as varied as they are delicious. This versatile side dish pairs beautifully with a wide range of BBQ favorites, enhancing the overall dining experience. Here’s how you can create perfect pairings:

  • With Grilled Meats: Coleslaw is a classic accompaniment to grilled meats. Whether you’re serving up smoked brisket, juicy burgers, BBQ ribs, or pulled pork a side of coleslaw provides a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors of the meat.
  • Fish and Seafood: Elevate your seafood dishes by pairing them with coleslaw. Grilled salmon, shrimp skewers, or a classic fish fry can all benefit from the crisp, tangy flavors of coleslaw, offering a delightful balance to the palate.
  • Sandwiches and Wraps: Add a spoonful of coleslaw inside your pulled pork sandwiches, fish tacos, or wraps for an extra layer of flavor and crunch. It’s a simple addition that transforms a good sandwich into a great one.
  • Picnics and Outdoor Dining: Coleslaw is the perfect take-along for picnics and open-air gatherings. It’s light, easy to transport, and can be served cold, making it ideal for outdoor dining scenarios.
  • Vegetarian Options: For a vegetarian BBQ, serve coleslaw alongside grilled portobello mushrooms, veggie burgers, or as a topping on veggie hot dogs. It adds a much-needed freshness and texture that complements vegetarian dishes wonderfully.

In terms of beverages, coleslaw’s versatility shines through. Choose light, refreshing drinks such as Hibiscus iced tea, lemonade, or crisp white wines. Crafting the perfect BBQ menu is all about balance, and with these serving and pairing suggestions, your homemade coleslaw is sure to be a hit at any table.

Storage and Make-ahead Tips

Coleslaw is a fantastic side dish that can easily be prepared in advance, making your BBQ or any gathering a breeze. To ensure the best quality and taste, here are some essential storage and make-ahead tips:

  • Refrigeration is Key: Once you’ve mixed your coleslaw, it should be stored in the refrigerator. Use an airtight container to keep it fresh. Properly stored, coleslaw can last for 3 to 5 days.
  • Keep the Dressing Separate: If you’re planning to make your coleslaw a day ahead, consider keeping the dressing separate from the veggies until a few hours before serving. This prevents the vegetables from becoming soggy and maintains their crispness.
  • Reviving Your Slaw: If your coleslaw has been sitting in the fridge and you notice it’s lost a bit of its crunch, a quick tip is to add a splash of apple cider vinegar and give it a mix before serving. This can help revitalize the flavors and texture.
  • Freezing is Not Recommended: Due to the high water content of the vegetables and the creamy nature of the dressing, freezing coleslaw is not advised as it can significantly alter the texture, making it soggy upon thawing.

By following these tips, you can enjoy fresh and flavorful coleslaw at your convenience, enhancing your meals with minimal effort.


Coleslaw undoubtedly enhances any meal with its fresh, tangy charm, providing a delightful crunch and a burst of flavor that complements a variety of dishes. Whether it’s a casual backyard BBQ or a formal dinner, coleslaw stands as a versatile side that appeals to different tastes and dietary requirements.

With the tips and variations shared, anyone can master the art of making homemade coleslaw for bbq, turning a simple mix of cabbage and carrots into a culinary delight that guests will remember.

Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a review. I would love to hear what you think!

Happy cooking and bon appétit!

a bowl of green and purple homemade coleslaw with carrots for bbq

Homemade Coleslaw for BBQ

It’s the perfect complement to any summer barbecue or grilled meat dish. Crispy cabbage coated in the yummiest, tangy and creamy dressing—the perfect balance of texture and flavor!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 8


  • 6 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded purple cabbage
  • 1/2 sweet onion thinly sliced
  • 3 carrots shredded


  • 1/2 cup cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds


Slaw Mixture

  • Finely shred the cabbage, onion, and carrots. Toss together and set aside in a large mixing bowl.


  • Combine the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper until well combined.
  • Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours before serving before serving.


Calories: 160 | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 148mg | Potassium: 207mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 3942IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg
Keyword coleslaw, homemade coleslaw for bbq

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