Carolina Barbecue Coleslaw

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about


    servings as a side dish

Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

While Memphis-style, Alabaman, and even moist western North Carolinian barbecue is almost always served with a creamy or mayonnaise-based coleslaw, in the self-proclaimed barbecue capital of the universe, namely eastern North Carolina (Goldsboro, Rocky Mount, Raleigh, Wilson, etc.), tangy-sweet vinegar coleslaw remains the law of the land. “Honey, if you want salad dressing, order a tossed salad,” I was once told by an indignant waitress at Melton’s Barbecue in Rocky Mount when I asked, simply out of curiosity, if the slaw contained any mayonnaise. With fried fish, crab cakes, and barbecued ribs, I definitely prefer a creamy coleslaw, but when it comes to a chopped dry pork barbecue sandwich, this is the coleslaw I spoon over the meat inside the bun. Since both styles can be easily tested with a single bowl of shredded cabbage, why not just experiment to determine your preference?


  • 1 medium head green cabbage (about 2 pounds)
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Remove and discard any blemished outer leaves of the cabbage, cut the head into quarters, cut out and discard the hard inner core, and shred the quarters into a large glass bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients till thoroughly blended, pour over the cabbage, and toss till the cabbage is well coated with the dressing. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill 2 hours before serving with any barbecued meats or on a chopped pork barbecue sandwich.