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Marinated Cole Slaw

Mayonnaise free and full of flavor, this Marinated Cole Slaw is tangy, sweet and crunchy and is perfect to make for any BBQ or picnic. The flavors go great with pulled pork, burgers, hot dogs and grilled chicken!

‘NO MAYONNAISE NEEDED’ COLE SLAW

Marinated Cole Slaw (sometimes called vinegar slaw) is a really simple side dish (or topping) but you get a lot of bang for your buck! They seem like such basic ingredients that it makes you wonder how it can taste SO good. Well, it’s all about the marinading. After you combine all the ingredients, it has to hang out in the refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours. No cheating! And no tasting either until it’s ready! Because it doesn’t have mayonnaise included, it’s perfect for picnics or potlucks because you aren’t going to worry about it sitting out too long. Now, let’s dig in!

A bowl of homemade Marinated Cole Slaw.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:  

What makes this cole slaw different?

This cole slaw is different than regular cole slaw because it doesn’t have mayonnaise in it so it is good for taking to potlucks and parties where it may sit out for a little bit. However, it still (in my opinion) tastes better when it is cold but that is personal preference. Also, the marination makes it different from your traditional cole slaw recipes.

What kind of flavor does this Marinated Cole Slaw have?

It’s different than your traditional slaw. It’s slightly sweet, tangy, with onion and garlic flavors throughout, but not overpowering at all.

How long does this slaw need to marinate?

The vinegar slaw pictured marinated for 48 hours. It really does get better with time. It does need to marinade for at least 24 hours though. The 24 hours really is needed to let all the flavors meld and the juices release. I cannot stress that enough! But the good part about this is you can make it ahead of time and it’s ready for you when you are ready for your BBQ.

Do I have to use the garlic cloves?

I use them because they give such a great flavor. First, I carefully crush the garlic just so it splits open slightly in a few different places and then add them into the cole slaw. This gives you that garlic flavor without it being too overpowering. But don’t forget to take out the cloves before serving! You can also skip this step and add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder to the liquid mixture instead if you don’t want to use the cloves. But if you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know how I feel about fresh garlic. I am all about those short cuts but there is just something about fresh garlic that gives food so much flavor!

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes! The earlier the better. This can last up to a week in the fridge!

Do I have to use premade slaw mix?

No, if you want to make your own mix, you can. You can shred the cabbage yourself. You ‘ll need approximately 2 pounds. To prevent color bleeding (if you aren’t a fan of the pinker color), try using shredded white cabbage instead of the tri-color cole slaw mix that has red cabbage in it. You can also opt for white onion over red to avoid any color transfer. If you prefer, you can also add a few handfuls of matchstick carrots as a substitute for the carrots in the prep-packaged cole slaw mix.

Can I make this spicy?

Absolutely! For a kick of spice, try adding some sliced chili peppers to the mix or some red pepper chili flakes.

How do I store leftover marinated cole slaw?

Marinated Cole Slaw needs to be covered and should be stored in the fridge. It’ll keep for up to a week. You can freeze for up to 3 months.

A white bowl of Marinated Cole Slaw.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)

  • cole slaw mix – you can shred the cabbage by hand if you prefer. See my FAQ (frequently asked questions above) for more detail on that.
  • red onion – a small thinly sliced shallot would also work very nicely here too.
  • garlic cloves – I really love fresh garlic cloves here. It doesn’t overwhelm the other flavors of the cole slaw because we just smash them gently and let them marinate in the coleslaw then pull them out later. Garlic powder can be substituted. See my FAQ above for more detail.
  • white vinegar – you can use apple cider vinegar too if you prefer.
  • granulated sugar – marinated cole slaw is supposed to be a mix of sweet and tangy. I have not tried this with a sugar substitute.
  • kosher salt, black pepper, celery seed – there is not a ton of seasoning in marinated cole slaw. If you want some spice, you could add some red pepper flakes.
Cole slaw mix, red onion, garlic, white vinegar, sugar, vegetable oil, kosher salt, celery seed and black pepper.

HOW TO MAKE MARINATED COLE SLAW

Place the cole slaw mix, red onion, and garlic into a large bowl and set aside. In a small sauce pot, add the vinegar, sugar, oil, salt, celery seed, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it comes to a simmer and the sugar has dissolved. Immediately pour the liquid over the slaw ingredients and stir well so it is coated in the liquid.

a collage of two photos: A small saucepan with vinegar, sugar, oil, salt, celery seed, and pepper; vinegar mixture being poured on the slaw ingredients.

Cover and place in the fridge for at least 24 hours or up to 48 hours if you have the time; stir once or twice a day so it is evenly coated in the sauce.

collage of two photos: vinegar coated mixed slaw in a bowl; marinated cole slaw after it has been sitting in the refrigerator for 48 hours.

Before serving, take out the garlic cloves and discard; enjoy immediately.

Looking down on a marinated cole slaw in a white glass bowl.

CRAVING MORE RECIPES?

A large bowl of marinated cole slaw.

Marinated Cole Slaw

Mayonnaise free and full of flavor, this Marinated Cole Slaw is tangy, sweet and crunchy and is perfect to make for any BBQ or picnic. The flavors go great with pulled pork, burgers, hot dogs and grilled chicken!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 16 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Place the cole slaw mix, red onion, and garlic into a large bowl and set aside.
  • In a small sauce pot, add the vinegar, sugar, oil, salt, celery seed, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it comes to a simmer and the sugar has dissolved.
    A small saucepan with vinegar, sugar, oil, salt, celery seed, and pepper.
  • Immediately pour the liquid over the slaw ingredients and stir well so it is coated in the liquid.
    Vinegar mixture being poured on the slaw ingredients.
  • Cover and place in the fridge for at least 24 hours or up to 48 hours if you have the time; stir once or twice a day so it is evenly coated in the sauce.
    Marinated slaw in a bowl.
  • Before serving, take out the garlic cloves and discard; enjoy immediately.
    Looking down on a marinated cole slaw in a white glass bowl.

Notes

  • Please refer to my FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions.
  • The slaw pictured was marinated for 48 hours.
  • I very gently crush the garlic just so it splits open slightly in a few places and then pop them into the cole slaw, this way you will get that garlic flavor without it being overwhelming. Do not forget to take out the cloves before serving. You can also skip this step and add 1 teaspoon garlic powder to the liquid mixture.
  • It will seem like there is not enough dressing at first, but as it sits the cabbage releases it’s juice along with the dressing we add so it is plenty!
  • It really needs AT LEAST 24 hours to sit in the fridge for all those flavors to develop.
  • This will last up to 1 week in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 106kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Sodium: 447mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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