A Vinegar-Based Version of a Summer Classic
When most of us think coleslaw, we picture Creamy Coleslaw — the kind made with mayonnaise. It’s exceptionally good stuff.
But have you ever tried a vinegar-based coleslaw? It’s usually made with a classic vinaigrette dressing — you know, one made with oil, vinegar, and seasonings.
I flavor my version of this coleslaw with garlic (lots and lots of garlic). That’s because cabbage and garlic have a natural affinity for each other, as you’ll discover when you taste this. Combine them with vinegar and just a touch of red (fully ripe) jalapeño pepper, and you’ve got a flavor explosion happening on your tongue.
With Labor Day weekend coming up in the US, it means we’ve got another great cookout opportunity. We’ll all want to serve coleslaw, no? I mean, what goes better with grilled and barbecued meats?
And when your guests taste this garlic coleslaw? Well, they’ll be urging you to open your own restaurant.
Recipe: Garlic Coleslaw
This coleslaw is great with burgers, hot dogs, and grilled or barbecued meat or fish. It’s also terrific with fried foods like chicken or seafood.
You can use as much or as little garlic in this dish as you like. I suggest between 3 to 6 good-sized cloves. With 3, you’ll notice the presence of garlic, but it’ll be somewhat faint. With 6 (what I prefer) the garlic is very much evident, but not overwhelming.
The other big decision is how much vinegar to use. In this recipe, I recommend 2 parts of vegetable oil for each part of vinegar (a 2:1 ratio). I think this will please most people. I actually prefer a bit more vinegar than that — almost a 3:2 ratio. But I’d start out with less vinegar the first time, because you can always add more.
I suggest making the vinaigrette dressing at least several hours before you make the coleslaw (even a day ahead) in order to let the flavors mingle. But if you don’t have time to do that, the coleslaw will still be delicious.
This recipe makes enough to serve about 10. Leftovers stored in an airtight container will keep for 2 or 3 days in the refrigerator (they’ll be safe to eat for up to a week, but after 3 days or so the quality deteriorates markedly). Preparation time is about 20 minutes, plus at least an hour to let the coleslaw crisp in the refrigerator.
For the Garlic Vinaigrette:
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar (white or wine vinegar also work; I usually increase this to 4 tablespoons)
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ~1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- ~1 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
- 2 teaspoons celery seed
- ~1½ pounds of green or savory cabbage, shredded (about ½ of a large cabbage)
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 1 green or red jalapeño pepper (optional but tasty)
For the Garlic Vinaigrette:
- Peel and crush the garlic cloves to a pulp; or mince fine (I usually use a mini food processor).
- Add garlic to a bowl or small plastic container with a lid. Add the vinegar, vegetable oil, salt, pepper, and celery seeds.
- Whisk together if using bowl; or if using plastic container, put the lid on securely, and shake so ingredients form an emulsion.
- Refrigerate for a few hours (or overnight) to develop flavor. Or, if you’re short on time, just continue making the coleslaw.
- Wash cabbage, remove outer leaves if necessary, and cut into quarters. Remove woody core. Either shred cabbage (a food processor makes this easier) or cut each quarter into 3 pieces, then cut into strips — starting at one end, cut 1/8-inch strips of cabbage (cut crosswise). Put the shredded cabbage in a large mixing bowl.
- Wash and peel carrot, and grate in food processor or chop in mini food processor. Add to the bowl with the cabbage.
- Wash jalapeño pepper and cut lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds (be careful, the oil on these is hot; keep fingers away from your eyes). Chop into very small dice (or use mini food processor). Add to the bowl, and then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot jalapeño oil from your skin.
- Add the garlic vinaigrette to the bowl, and toss thoroughly to blend with the cabbage mixture. Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary, and put in a covered container in the refrigerator to crisp for at least an hour.
- Making the vinaigrette ahead really helps the garlic flavor to meld with the vinegar and oil. Alternatively, you can make the entire dish ahead of time, and let it rest in the refrigerator for several hours (or overnight). The flavor will be good, but not quite as intense as it would be if you aged the vinaigrette separately.
- If you make the vinaigrette using the 2:1 oil-to-vinegar ratio, and later determine you want a bit more vinegar, you can add it directly to the coleslaw as you prepare it. The flavor won’t be quite as good as if you’d added it to the vinaigrette right up front (it won’t be as well blended), but it’s definitely OK.
- I like to use cider vinegar when I make this dish, but — as indicated — white vinegar or wine vinegar (either red or white) also work fine.
- Although I specify green or savory cabbage, red cabbage works fine in this dish too. In fact, some people may prefer it.
- There are several ways of cutting cabbage for coleslaw. I like reasonably large pieces because I think you get more of the cabbage flavor, so I always cut it with a knife. Lots of people grate cabbage, but I find that makes the cabbage a little watery.
- Speaking of which, here’s a way to correct watery cabbage: After you cut or shred it, toss it with about a tablespoon of salt, then let the cabbage sit in a colander for an hour or two. Then rinse and squeeze dry (or put it in a kitchen towel and pat dry). Then proceed with your recipe.
- The jalapeño pepper adds the barest touch of hotness to this recipe. If you want more, you can double or triple the amount of jalapeño. But be careful — I think too much throws the balance of flavor out of whack (and I speak as someone who usually likes spicy).
- You can also add sweet green peppers to your coleslaw. I’d add a whole small pepper or half a large pepper, chopped or grated.
- You can omit the celery seed if you wish, but I think it combines beautifully with cabbage. You may want to experiment with other herbs and spices. Caraway seed would be an interesting option.
- I like my coleslaw without sugar. But if you want it sweeter, add a bit of sugar to the vinaigrette (I wouldn’t add more than a tablespoon or two, but that’s me).
- Some recipes for vinegar-based garlic coleslaw suggest heating the vinaigrette, adding a tablespoon or two of sugar, and then pouring it over the cabbage mixture. You can serve it hot or cold.
- In fact, some kinds of German coleslaw are made this way. I’ve seen people substitute bacon fat for the oil (as you’d do in a Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing or German Potato Salad with Bacon). I’ve never done that with coleslaw. You’d probably want to serve the slaw warm if you made it this way — the thought of cold, congealed bacon fat doesn’t seem all that appealing (although it doesn’t create a problem when you serve German Potato Salad cold).
Is Garlic Coleslaw Better than Creamy?
To me, yes. But it’s a dish I almost forgot about! I was reminded of it earlier this year when I did a post on Creamy Coleslaw. At the time, I mentioned to Mrs. Kitchen Riffs that, IMO, garlic coleslaw beat creamy. She had never heard of the garlic version — because I’d never made it. I just hadn’t thought about it for years.
I actually discovered garlic coleslaw ages ago, when I used to travel extensively for work. At one period, I occasionally found myself in Pittsburg, Kansas — home of Pittsburg State University, in case you’re wondering. When you travel you have to eat, right? In Pittsburg, a couple of fried chicken places were my favorites: Chicken Annie’s and Chicken Mary’s (sorry, I couldn’t find a link). Their chicken was good, though not great. But their garlic coleslaws? Outstanding. That’s what kept me coming back to both establishments.
As I was recounting all this to Mrs K R, she nodded her head in agreement. “Yes, I’d say this stuff is definitely outstanding. Best coleslaw I’ve ever eaten. So how could you forget about it?”
I shrugged my shoulders sheepishly. “You know — other stuff to eat, and most coleslaw is creamy, so I guess that’s how I always thought of making it. Besides, I’ve never seen a recipe that really duplicated the flavor I was after, so I had to make one up. Just never got around to doing it.”
Mrs K R finished her coleslaw and pushed her plate over for seconds. “Well, now that you’ve figured it out, you can make up for lost time. We’re going to have this often — right?”
Somehow, I don’t think that was really a question.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Creamy Cole Slaw
Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
German Potato Salad with Bacon
Mustard Potato Salad
French Potato Salad
American (Mayonnaise) Potato Salad
German Potato Salad with Bacon
Potato Salad Basics
Edamame and Bean Salad
Hungarian Cucumber Salad
Pineapple, Coconut, and Carrot Salad
Barbecued Pork Steaks
Mayo coleslaws are not big in our house, but this will pass the test because we really really love garlic. Never have had such a combination. Thanks for sharing. Looks delicious.
Hi Alex, it's super! And welcome - thanks for dropping by and commenting.
Hi Denise, this is a terrific recipe, if I do say so myself! Since you like garlic you'll really enjoy this. Thanks for your comment.
Oooh, yum. I LOVE garlic. There was actually a garlic festival around where I live the other day. I didn't think that many people liked garlic that much. This sounds awesome!
I love light vinegar-based coleslaw like this! Garlic will be a fantastic addition :)
A garlic coleslaw?? Yum!!! I love the vinegar base idea considering I am one of those few people who is anti-mayo ;)
Thanks so much!
Choc Chip Uru
I do enjoy a good mayo cole slaw but all too often way too much is used to dress the cabbage. Lucky for me, I enjoy a vinegary slaw, too. Like you, I'd probably use a 3:2 ratio for the dressing and definitely use all of the garlic. At some point, I'm sure I'd use it to top off a burger rather than serving it on the side. No matter, though, this is a great recipe for a classic barbecue dish.
Perfect. I have been looking for a cole-slaw recipe with out mayo for a while now. Sounds too easy.
Hi Cathleen, doesn't garlic have a wonderful flavor? This recipe really showcases it. It would have been perfect for that garlic festival! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Yudith, although mayo-based coleslaw is tasty, the vinegar versions have really won me over. And the garlic makes it superb! Thanks for your comment.
Hi CCU, if you're anti-mayo, this is the coleslaw for you! The garlic puts it over-the-top. Good stuff. Thanks for your comment.
6 garlic cloves? I can't wait to try this. I like vinegary coleslaw too. This looks great.
Hi Chicago John, this would be great on a burger, on barbecue (pulled pork especially) or on top of a fried fish sandwich. And probably lots of other ways, too. The 3:2 ratio is magic for me in this, but you definitely taste the vinegar! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lizzie, it does sound too easy, doesn't it? But it's so good - I think you'll like it. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Maureen, 7 will work too. ;-) That's getting pretty garlicky, though. Thanks for your comment.
Believe it or not, I have this coleslaw planned for tonight and with a vinagrette rather than the usual mayonnaise for the whole weight issue. Jamie Oliver has one he adds mustard to, but I quite like the more Thai flavours of red chili and perhaps some coriander. The vinegar could also be replaced by lemon juice.
I ask those "questions" to my husband a lot too :) Or he has learned that when I say "we will do", he knows he will do it:)
I like vinegary coleslaw and prefer it over creamy any day, normally it is called "red" slaw here and they serve with bbq pulled pork. But I doubt they have garlic in it :)
I really like the idea of adding garlic and jalapeno. Love the spicy kick in the flavor! This will make much lighter coleslaw than the mayo version which I will love. Thanks for the great recipe!
Hi Suzanne, I've had this type of slaw with mustard but no garlic before - I think the combo of both could be interesting. Coriander could be a really fun addition. Slaws are great to play with - almost anything goes. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Ilke, ;-) We're easily trained, your husband and I. Garlic is not typically found in the coleslaw you find in the Carolinas, at least I don't think it is. But vinegar-based slaws are pretty common, I believe. Coleslaw and bbq pork is good stuff. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Holly, these are great flavors, and from reading your blog I can totally see that you'd find this recipe appealing. I'll bet you like this! Thanks for the comment.
I love the sound of this - addding it to my Labor Day menu! Thanks :)
This coleslaw looks delicious. I make one that is similar but I don't use the garlic. I think the garlic would add a wonderful flavor.
This coleslaw is delicious! Love the addition of garlic.
Hi everydaymaven, I think you'll be happy with it - it's a really tasty dish. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Words of Deliciousness, the garlic really adds a lot (assuming, of course, that you like garlic!). It's good stuff. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Asmita, it's really great - something I think you'd enjoy. Thanks for commenting.
Oh this cole slaw looks fabulous! I think I have eaten cole slaw for a side dish for just about every other meal I've made this summer! So I am more than ready for a new version! Love the garlic and cabbage together. And I'm with you...I think I'd use more vinegar, too! What a great recipe and some fabulous photos! : )
Lots of garlic in your coleslaw! That will keep the vampires off - just kidding!
Jokes aside... love your version of coleslaw with the extra "kick" :D
Ditto to the comment about a garlic festival--always looking for a way to use up the surplus garlic! If you've never tried garlic ice cream, you should definitely give it a whirl. (Or better yet, make a trip to Gilroy, Garlic Capital yourself when you can in the summer and let me know how you like it!)
I love the vinegar based coleslaws, I love it tangy rather than creamy
Fantastic! I am a sucker for garlicky food. This coleslaw would be perfect in hot dogs and burgers or with puled pork.
That's a great looking coleslaw and I have made it before with a vinegar dressing rather than the creamy option and I prefer it. Have a great Labor Day xx
What a gorgeous coleslaw! Would pair perfectly with burgers!
Hi Anne, this is a nice change of pace from other versions of coleslaw. I really love the flavor of vinegar, so I always add lots; but I realize many people prefer a more subdued taste. Thanks for the kind words and the comment.
Hi Zoe, LOL, it will indeed keep the vampires away. This is one of those dishes that everyone at the table has to eat, so no one will notice the garlic on anyone's breath! Thanks for your comment.
Hi wallflourgirl, I've actually driven through Gilbroy before, but alas, never when the garlic festival was underway. Garlic ice cream actually sounds as if it could be pretty good. I'm actually thinking I had some way back when - maybe at the Stinking Rose in San Francisco (a restaurant that's garlic-crazed)? But if I've had it, I clearly don't remember the details, so I need to make some! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Raymund, tangy really works for me. I like to notice what I'm eating! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Rosa, since you like garlic, you'll definitely like this! I haven't tried it, but I'll bet this would also go well with sausages or some of the foods one traditionally pairs with sauerkraut. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Hotly Spiced, I do like creamy coleslaw, but the vinegar-based really delivers a nice crisp flavor. And with the garlic! So nice. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Baker Street, this is terrific with burgers. Or hot dogs. Or BBQ. Or fried chicken. Or . . . well, you get the point! Thanks for your comment.
No, I have never tried a vinegar based coleslaw. I think I would like this version better than the creamy one. Thanks for sharing, I have to add it to my repertoire.
Hi John! This is my first time seeing garlic in the coleslaw and I love it! There are always some space for modification to classic recipe and I love how you added "everyone's favorite" garlic flavor in the salad! I already wonder when YOU are opening your own restaurant? :)
I LOVE garlic and I'm not a huge fan of creamy coleslaw, so I would definitely enjoy this recipe. Thanks for the inspiration!
Hi Spicie Foodie, this is a really nice recipe - I think you'll like it. I may never make creamy coleslaw again! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Nami, isn't it fun to play with recipes? You sometimes come up with really good stuff that way. Thanks for your very kind words, and your comment.
Hi Jeanne, since you love garlic, you'll definitely love this recipe - the garlic flavor is evident, and it combines beautifully with cabbage. Thanks for the comment.
I love your version of coleslaw with the garlic/vinegar dressing. Thank you for your reminder of the coming Labor Day weekend. This is perfect for that important day. Have a great week, John! :)
Hi Ray, isn't this a nice combination? Great for a celebration, or just for a nice casual dinner. Thanks for your comment.
I bet this is one flavorful slaw. Plus, the bonus is it will keep vampires away. ;)
Hi Carolyn, it's great. Some of Mrs K R's ancestor hailed from Transylvania. I wonder if that's why she's so fond of this coleslaw? ;-) Thanks for your comment.
I've been dying to try the Stinking Rose! My friends are never down to spend an entire night smelling like vampire wards with me, though, but any recommendations?
Hi John, Oh I love this recipe! And if I let it stand overnight, then we have to fight for the leftover! My recipe doesn't have celery seeds but has a little sugar, and a little water. I'l make two bowls, and see what my men have to say. I bet they'd love your version! :) And just for the time for Labor Day I got a grill, come see it...:)
It's been years since we were there and I don't remember what we had. However, most of their dishes were actually not particularly garlicky. They certainly had garlic in them and you could taste it, but overall pretty mild.
Hi Mariana, I'll be curious to see what you think about using celery seed vs. no celery seed. And to be fair, maybe you should make a version with some dill too? ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Love this coleslaw with all the garlic!!!! I would probably choose the white vinegar because cider vinegar is too strong for me and I have to add a lot of oil to decrease the acidity. But I do love the idea of a vinaigrette coleslaw rather than mayonnaise. Thanks for sharing!
I could eat coleslaw all the time, and the addition of garlic would be even better.. plus healthier:)
Hi MJ, interesting point about the cider vinegar - I'm glad you brought that up. I like the mayo in the creamy version of coleslaw, but sometimes it can be a bit much - this has a much brighter flavor. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Tania, this version of coleslaw really is a bit healthier than the mayo version - good point. And the garlic has such great flavor! Thanks for commenting.
I actually have never been a huge fan of the regular creamy coleslaw but this crunchy version looks delicious! This garlic coleslaw reminds me of the Sichuan pickled cabbage I make all the time. I love the all the flavorful ingredients you put in the vinaigrette. Will be sure to make this soon!
Hi Yi, I can definitely see how this could remind you of Sichuan pickled cabbage. I've had that, although I've never made it - I need to sometime! This coleslaw is well worth trying - I think you'll like it. Thanks for your comment.
I am loving your recipe because I can't stand mayonnaise!! It's the reason I don't like coleslaw. You have now given me an alternative! Thanks :)
Hi Amanda, I'm glad I've given you a coleslaw alternative! Actually I'm a little surprised at the number of comments where people said they weren't that enthusiastic about creamy coleslaw, because of the mayo. I like mayo OK (homemade stuff is superb) but I sure could live without it - I should look at converting more mayo-heavy recipes to something else! Thanks for your comment.
I love vinegary cole slaw, and the garlic sounds great in this one. Love the hot chiles too! This is perfect for Labor Day weekend parties.
Hi Lisa, the garlic really adds a lot of pizazz, as do the chilies. It's a good recipe - hope you enjoy it. Thanks for your comment.
This is perfect for a Labor Day BBQ - no mayo so no worries. I've shared your recipe with my readers. Love it. :)
Hi Mother Rimmy, isn't it a nice coleslaw? Thanks for sharing this, and for taking time to comment.
I like the idea of powering the coleslaw with garlic...and I think I would like a hint of chile as well...great for this coming Holiday...
Thanks for the recipe and hope you are having a wonderful week :)
I never used to like Coleslaw that much in the past, perhaps it was because of all the KFC varieties that I got so sick of but I've been loving it recently! Garlic is something that I like to put in anything and everything if I could, so this recipe sounds perfect! :D
I actually prefer vinegar based slaw. It's usually accompanying something heavy so I like coleslaw to be refreshing, not heavy. Love this.
Hi Juliana, garlic is good stuff, isn't it? Its taste is wonderful in this dish. I like the chile, too, although you taste just a hint of it (you could increase it if you'd like). Thanks for the comment.
Hi Jenny, I do like the mayo coleslaw but this is better, IMO. And if you like garlic, you'll love this! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Jen, vinegar-based anything tends to be pretty good! But I'm a real fan of vinegar. And this coleslaw is definitely lighter than the mayo-based. Thanks for your comment.
yum, I love garlic! I'm really in the mood for grilling now!
Hi Jen, this is the perfect food to accompany anything grilled! It's crisp flavor goes so well with meat and fish. Thanks for taking time to comment.
I love your garlic coleslaw!
My mum makes one with vinegar, mustard and herbs and it is amazing too.
I, too enjoy my coleslaw with a little more vinegar. it makes it more refreshing
Hi Sawsan, I'll bet this coleslaw is pretty similar to your mom's (the garlic being one obvious difference). I've eaten mustard coleslaws but haven't made one - thinking about playing with that! Thanks for the comment.
I've never had garlic slaw, obviously I've been missing out. Yours sound really zingy too.
Hi Gina, you have been missing out! And yes, it's pretty zingy - good stuff. Thanks for your comment.
This is the only kind of cole slaw I'll eat! We call it "health salad" after the Second Avenue Deli in nyc. I love all the garlic here, and will definitely be making it this way from now on. My husband will go nuts for this. Really.
Hi Katherine, I didn't know that the 2nd Ave. Deli made a garlic coleslaw! Anyway, you've mentioned before that your husband is a garlic fiend - this really is perfect for me. Thanks for your comment.
This is one of the most flavourful 'salads' I've ever eaten. I had a head of cabbage and one carrot left (imagine my luck!) and stumbled onto your recipe. I am also anti-mayo, and I've got to say, this was phenomenal. I love vinegar and cabbage as it is - when I made the vinaigrette, I couldn't help but dip my finger in to taste, it smelled soooo good! This is an easy, delicious recipe. I will be making this again for sure.
Fun fact - I didn't have celery seed, so I used one teaspoon of caesar rim, and no salt - very very flavourful!
Hi Anonymous, Caesar Rim, as the salt mix one uses to rim the edge of a glass for a Bloody Mary (like rimming a glass with salt for a Margarita)? I'm kinda sorta aware of the product, but never used it - interesting idea. Glad you like the coleslaw. Thanks for the comment.
Yes, yes, yes, tomorrow we will have your coleslaw salad - with ALL the garlic.
And I do like your photography? Just a hobby, or...?
I happily subscribe today - don't want to miss the next page!Ciao, Carina
Hi Carina, thanks for subscribing! The photography is just a hobby. And if you go back and look at some of my early photos, they are horrible! Starting out I thought that food was so interesting you could just take a picture - not so! Hope you enjoy the coleslaw - it's really delish. Thanks for your comment.
THANK YOU! I have been scouring the internet for a recipe similar to the German Slaw served in SE Kansas Chicken Restaurants. My family is from Girard and I love the vinegar based coleslaw. I can't stand sweet coleslaw and this is the ONLY recipe I have found without sugar. I can't wait to try it. I will probably get the dressing going tonight. Also, if I like this recipe, I will probably attempt a German Potato Salad with it. Just found your site, so I'm looking forward to seeing what other great recipes you have!
Hi Em, I hope you enjoy this! It's been years since I've eaten at those restaurants and my memory of the coleslaw might not be totally accurate, so do let me know how this compares. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Small world!! I was just mentioning to my husband that I would like to find a coleslaw recipe close to Chicken Annie’s/Mary’s to take to a fish fry this Saturday! Thanks so much for posting this. I can’t wait to try it!
Hi Anonymous, hope you like this! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Post a Comment