Vinegar Coleslaw (No Mayo)


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Vinegar Coleslaw is an excellent no mayo coleslaw recipe for those who love coleslaw but don’t love mayonnaise. This vinegar based coleslaw is tangy, not overly sweet and provides the perfect crunch with its combination of green cabbage, onion and carrots.

I bring this slaw to BBQs and parties as it pairs great with Carne Asada, Honey Mustard Chicken and BBQ ribs. It’s also a delicious side to my BBQ Chicken Sweet Potatoes.

Vinegar based coleslaw in a white bowl.

I love a classic Coleslaw recipe with a creamy, mayo dressing. But I also love this vinegar coleslaw that’s got a stronger bite of flavor (thanks to the apple cider vinegar). It’s always great to have options and you really can’t go wrong with either recipe. So do what I do and alternate them for a little variety!

Vinegar Coleslaw Recipe Video

It’s quick and easy to make this vinegar coleslaw recipe, but it always helps to watch a step-by-step video tutorial. Give it a watch below!

Benefits of Eating Cabbage

One reason you should eat more coleslaw is the amazing health benefits of cabbage! You can boil cabbage, sauté it, ferment it or enjoy it raw, like in this tasty coleslaw recipe. However you eat it, you’ll be absorbing plenty of necessary nutrients from cabbage.

Cabbage comes from the same plant family as kale, cauliflower and broccoli. And like broccoli, cabbage has a similar anti-inflammatory profile. Chronic inflammation over time is associated with heart disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), cancer and diabetes. In other words, eat more cabbage and other veggies!

Cabbage has a ton of Vitamin C which is an antioxidant that protects cells from harmful free radicals. In turn, Vitamin C has been linked to lowering high blood pressure and boosting your immunity (and you know I’m all about boosting the immune system).

This crunchy vegetable is also high in Vitamin K. Just one cup of cabbage is 85% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin K, which is essential to help with blood clotting. So much goodness from one simple vegetable.

Vinegar coleslaw ingredients in a mixing bowl with dressing on the side.

Vinegar Coleslaw Ingredients

One of the things I love about coleslaw recipes are how easy they are to whip up. It’s just a handful of ingredients. Here’s what’s in this oil and vinegar based coleslaw recipe:

  • Green Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Onion
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Honey
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Celery Seed
  • Salt and Pepper

Vinegar coleslaw in a white bowl.

Why Does Everyone Say Coleslaw is So Bad for You?

There’s a lot of dairy and sugar in store-bought coleslaw and restaurant versions. But this recipe is dairy-free, paleo, low carb and can easily be made vegan by simply swapping the honey for maple syrup.

I’ve also limited the honey to one tablespoon for this big batch of coleslaw. So that’s very little sugar per serving. And trust me, you won’t be missing it in this easy, ultra-flavorful recipe.

Vinegar coleslaw piled on a spoon.

More Healthy Sides for a BBQ or Picnic

Vinegar coleslaw in a white bowl.

Vinegar Coleslaw Recipe (No Mayo Coleslaw)

4.92 from 153 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


Vinegar based coleslaw is an excellent no mayo coleslaw recipe for those who love coleslaw but don't love mayonnaise. It's an easy combination of cabbage, carrots and onion mixed with an apple cider vinegar dressing.



  • 1 head of green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1/2 yellow or red onion, finely sliced



  • Add the shredded green cabbage, carrot and onion to a large bowl.
  • In a smaller bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, olive oil, celery seed, salt and pepper to create the dressing. Taste the dressing and decide if you'd like to add more honey.
  • Add about half of the dressing to the cabbage, onions and carrots and gently toss. Slowly add more dressing until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Lisa's Tips

  • This recipe makes approximately 12 cups of vinegar coleslaw.
  • You can also store it in the fridge for 3-5 days. 


Calories: 62kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 74mg | Potassium: 156mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 925IU | Vitamin C: 28.3mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: No Mayo Coleslaw, No Mayonnaise Coleslaw, Vinegar Based Coleslaw Recipe, Vinegar Coleslaw
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Except for the Dijon, this is pretty much my Mom’s freezer coleslaw recipe (green pepper instead of onion. My bet is that it freezes pretty good if you heat the dressing & pour over the slaw while hot. It wilts the cabbage, but it’s still crunchy.4 stars

    1. Hi Karen – this coleslaw is meant to be tangy as it’s a vinegar coleslaw. Perhaps you’d prefer my regular creamy coleslaw recipe instead.

  2. I have made this coleslaw at least 3 times now. My daughter and I just love it. It is light, crispy and healthy! We always make extra, as it is just as good, if not better the next day.

    Thanks Lisa!!5 stars

    1. Hi Tyler – there is a “jump to recipe” button at the top of every recipe if you’d like to jump past my extra tips in the post.

  3. Had a head of cabbage I needed to use. Found this recipe and added a fresh jalapeno. It’s DELICIOUS! Can’t stop eating it

  4. I generally dislike mayo, so I’ve never eaten cole slaw in my life. I love mustard and vinegar based things, so I’m excited to try this at some point.

    Question; how well does this recipe do with more honey? Does it make it way too sweet, or would it be appropriate if you 1) Have a bit of a sweet tooth and/or 2) you’re not too concerned with how healthy this is?

  5. I think that this recipe is delicious. I didn’t have Dijon mustard…so I used some spicy brown mustard. It was too spicy…ugh…so, I used a tad more honey…It was yummy!! Thanks so much…Will be buying Dijon mustard for this recipe…Bet it is better…!5 stars

  6. This no mayo cole slaw is very tasty and easy. To me, the celery seed makes this recipe. I do add the dressing and refrigerate, however, it does start getting a little soft after 1st day so don’t forget to eat the next day. Or, put dressing on only to amount you will be eating 1st day, refrigerate in air tight container the remaining.5 stars

  7. This is my new favorite coleslaw! I was searching for a vinegar-based coleslaw recipe where the vinegar wasn’t overwhelming. We truly enjoyed this refreshing coleslaw. Thank you!5 stars

  8. Used this recipe to make cucumbers and onions I used red wine vinegar instead of the apple cider vinegar and added a quarter teaspoon of Dill my family loved it

  9. I haven’t made this yet but (and this is just not you, but many) probably today.  When listing the nutritional values at the end, it’s per serving but what is a serving?  1/2 c, 1 cup?  I’m never sure.  It would be great if recipes said per 1/2 c serving or whatever it is.  Thanks

    1. In the recipe notes, I mentioned this recipe makes about 12 cups. So each serving is about one cup :)

      1. It will depend on what size your cabbage is. But if yours is on the larger side like mine was, it’s possible!

    2. My new go-to recipe. I have always made the mayo kind of dressing and while it is good, this is better. Not only are healthy ingredients used but it is also lighter with better taste. My husband loves this dressing. I like to cheat by using bagged shredded cabbage. (Albertson’s has one of the best with lots of carrots!) Thank you!!5 stars

  10. Love this recipe. The flavor of the oil is wonderful with all these combined ingredients. Well done! This will now be a go-to recipe for me as it has lots of fiber, lots of healthy vegetables, and a healthy dressing.

    I did one thing a little different, though. I used purple cabbage, green cabbage, carrot, and one medium-sized shallot. The shallot gives it a nice pickle-like sweetness that I enjoy.5 stars

  11. This recipe is another one of my favs always pull it out for my Spring/Summer meal prep rotation. Even when I don’t feel like cutting the vegetables I buy the prepackaged coleslaw mix and make the dressing according to the recipe. Always a hit for meal prep and when I have to take to an event.

  12. Made this and added 3 tbsp of honey and used red onions instead. Such a delicious recipe! I ate a bowl of it while waiting for the rest of the food lol. Will 100% make again and again!5 stars

  13. I just made this AGAIN. I used half-red cabbage. This is better than creamy coleslaw to me.5 stars

  14. Can you out make this recipe without the honey? I don’t (never have) liked sweet tastes in my food. For me, food is food and it should be savoury, sweet stuff doesn’t belong on my food/ dinner plate. Anything sweet tasting belongs in a dessert bowl.

  15. Thanks, great recipe. My friend is allergic to honey so I made a smaller salad for her using maple syrup, and it turned out great. Also, some vegans don’t eat honey so the maple is a good alternative.  5 stars

  16. Made this as written, but it was a half batch. If you are thinking about leaving out the honey, reconsider because it took the edge off the vinegar. Cannot wait to try this tonight.

  17. Very simple easy recipe for delicious slaw dressing! I love this recipe and make it all the time…thank you for posting it! 5 stars

  18. Simple, delicious and healthy! Made it today and served it with our chicken fajitas . It has a great sweet and tangy flavor that was a hit with me and my friends! Thank you.5 stars

  19. One more thing that help, grab a handful of the slaw and squeeze the heck out of it until the whole recipe has been squeezed. It makes a difference!,

  20. My mother made a slaw very similar to this. The only difference is she boiled the dressing and poured it over the slaw. She would toss it all together and let it sit overnight! It gets better the longer you let it sit.5 stars

  21. I thought the dressing was perfect! It added flavor w/o killing the natural flavor and sweetness of the vegies. I used half a head of cabbage, because they grow ’em big here in Michigan.

    I can relate to part of your story. I worked in IT for corporate America for 33 years, then in 2022 I developed stage 4 throat cancer from smoking cigars. The chemo and radiation killed part of my memory( as well as other things), but saved my life. I am unable to work, but can’t say I miss it( except for the $$). The further you are up the corporate food chain, the more you are a target of personnel and accounting.5 stars

    1. This looks so good and I have some cabbage I need to use but I read in the comments that the celery seeds makes the vinaigrette and I don’t have any – any recommendations for a substitute?

  22. I’ve never loved coleslaw – the mayo kind – so I looked up this recipe a year ago. We’ve made it at least five times when we’ve had company or a potluck. Love the addition of celery seeds. I usually pre-salt the cabbage and rinse/dry before step 1.

  23. Love thus recipe! I always follow the Basic recipe and swap out different vinegars and mustards for flavor changes. The recipe is simple and quick and I probably make it 7 or 8 times each summer for”dish to pass” get togethers. It goes great with brats, burgers, hot dogs, steaks, etc..Don’t use cheap vinegar!5 stars

  24. Delicious recipe! The only “tweak” that I included was a little more honey and some lemon juice. Will absolutely make again. Thanks for sharing!!4 stars

  25. I absolutely love this slaw. Today I made it for the third time. I didn’t have any regular honey. All I had was Mikes Hot honey with chiles. I used it and can’t tell any real difference. Tasty as usual!5 stars

  26. Wow…first time making and it was outstanding. Paired up perfectly with pulled pork. 

    Made a full batch and it was gone!5 stars

  27. May be a dumb question, but if use a 16 oz. bag of pre-shredded tri-color coleslaw mix (red, green cabbage, carrots) would that be the equivalent or would two bags? Thank you in advance! 

  28. I loved the recipe. Was looking for a flavorful diet friendly recipe without tons of fat, sugar, or dairy. Checks all the boxes. Didn’t add all the vinegar, and omitted the honey, came out fantastic!!!5 stars

  29. I made this coleslaw tonight as a trial run. I wanted to find a vinegar base coleslaw that can be put to gather on sight, and with no refrigeration this is the only recipe I tried. It is great and I will be making it again for a family reunion this month. I will also make extra dressing to go with collared green.

  30. I live in Northeast Florida and I was lucky to get a head of locally grown cabbage (last of the crop) and locally grown carrots at my Farmer’s Market this morning. I used those along with a Vidalia onion, and local honey. Wow! So fresh and delicious. Thank you for an awesome recipe.5 stars