Memphis-Style Coleslaw

This is THE best classic, Coleslaw recipe.  It’s perfectly flavorful and tangy, with lots of crunch, and easy to throw together thanks to a combination of bagged coleslaw plus some extra fresh ingredients. It’s the perfect side dish for any BBQ as it goes perfectly with smoked and grilled meats, and stuffed onto sandwiches like BBQ Pork or Corned Beef.

coleslaw recipe

1. Start with a bagged coleslaw mix.

This is NOT a mix with a pre-made dressing pack inside.  Just the bag of shredded cabbage with carrots.  Make sure to not get the extra thin shreds, as those will get soggy in the dressing.

Bagged Coleslaw

2. Add some freshly chopped green bell pepper and shredded carrots.

Just a little bit of fresh veggies added to the bagged mix elevates everything and adds a lot of extra crunch.

coleslaw ingredients in a bowl

3. Whisk together dressing ingredients

Super simple. Mayo, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, grated onion, coarse grain mustard, and celery seed.

coleslaw sauce recipe

4.  Toss Coleslaw together

That’s it!  Just toss it all together and for best results, let it chill in the fridge for a bit to let all those flavors sink in before serving.

coleslaw recipe

The perfect coleslaw in a bowl

Memphis-Style Coleslaw

This classic coleslaw is the perfect side dish for a barbecue, alongside fried chicken, or on top of a classic pulled pork sandwich.
Prep Time 10 minutes


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon or whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 heaping tsp. Kosher salt or an even 1/2 tsp. of table salt
  • 1 tablespoons grated onion
  • 2-2 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1 16- ounce bag shredded cabbage with carrots
  • 1/2 minced green bell pepper
  • 1 carrot peeled and grated


  • In a small mixing bowl combine mayo, mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt, onion, and celery seed.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine shredded cabbage, carrots, and green pepper.  Toss with dressing and for best results refrigerate for 2-3 hours before using.
Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: BBQ
Keyword: bbq, cabbage salad, coleslaw
Author: Our Best Bites
Did You Make This Recipe?Snap a picture, and hashtag it #ourbestbites. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @ourbestbites!
woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

Read More

Join The Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Questions & Reviews

  1. This coleslaw was a HUGE hit!! I used canola mayo and replaced the sugar with some splenda. It is so NOT easy to keep my girlish figure! Thank you for posting this recipe. Yum!

  2. Nalley light mayo is the only I have found that tastes like regular mayo. It doesn’t taste fake.

  3. This is such a great website. You do a fantastic job with the photos!!! Are today’s recipes in your book, or are they new? They sound new, but just wanted to check! Keep posting!!

    1. Are you referring to the Memorial Day post? Some of those are in our new book, some in the current book, and some in no book 🙂

  4. Using mayo and making it not too sweet is a MUST for my coleslaw. I’ll be trying this version very soon!

  5. OOoooh, I am on the lookout for “the one” as far as coleslaw is concerned too! I will give this one a try, thank you very much for posting!

  6. First recipe I’ve found that is almost identical to the one my father used to make. A lot of restaurants leave out the onion and sugar – a must have for good slaw!

  7. Of all the wonderful recipes and ideas on this site that my family likes, I have to say this coleslaw recipe isn’t one of them. With the mustard in this dressing, it tasted more like a potato salad dressing on the cabbage. My family did not like it at all. I spent most of my life in the midwest, have ate several times in Memphis, never had coleslaw flavored like this. I appreciate all the work you put in this site, and most of your recipes are great. But this one……not a fan.

  8. I used this recipe for a St. Patty’s Day birthday party last year with corned beef sandwiches and never did I believe it would be such a HUGE hit! I will be making this every St. Patty’s Day.

  9. This was great! I used 1/2 the celery seed and didn’t add the carrot or bell pepper (none on hand) and it turned out great. I brought it to a family fish fryb& it got rave reviews! Thanks!

  10. I love this recipe! I made it for over 30 people at my daughter’s birthday party and I’m making it again for an Oktoberfest potluck tomorrow. What a quick and easy dish that comes together beautifully, full of flavor and fast!

    I think the issue with the celery seed is a personal preference, what may be too much for some, may be just enough for others. I use 2 tsp and think it tastes great.

  11. Interesting comment about the celery seed. I had the opposite experience. We had a cookout Saturday and the coleslaw was almost gone before the BBQ. It was great on the pulled pork BBQ. However, the quantity of cabbage I used was more so it may have effectively cut the amount of celery seed per serving.

    Instead of a bag of pre-shredded cabbage/carrots, I bought a head of cabbage (so cheap) and ran it through the food processor. I threw the carrots, bell pepper, and an onion through the processor too since it was already dirty. The cabbage came out to about 3 lbs so I doubled the ‘sauce’ recipe (5 tsp celery seed). Since the original recipe called for a 16oz (1 lb) bag of cabbage, technically I should have tripled the sauce recipe, but I didn’t want the cabbage swimming in liquid. Doubling it worked out just right. If you like math, I tripled the cabbage but only doubled the celery seed, so I really used 2/3 the amount of celery seed the recipe called for.

    I also added 1 tsp cayenne (in my doubled sauce) and it was just right. I threw away my old coleslaw recipe and replaced it with this one 🙂 Thanks Kate and Sara.

  12. I made this coleslaw to compliment a pulled pork sandwich. However, it did not go over very well. My guests found that it had way too much celery seed. If I were to make it again, I would cut back the celery seed by half.

  13. About how many do would you say this serves. I want to make it for my son and daughters cowboy/cowgirl birthday party this weekend and we have 45-50 people coming. P.S. I love you girls, you have THE BEST recipes. Ever. Can't wait to get my hands on your cookbook!!

  14. I never like coleslaw… until now – Sooo good!! I always stop at your blog first when looking for a recipe!

  15. AMAZING! Even my coleslaw hating husband was piling this on top of his BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich. So yummy!

  16. So, I think I may have said this before — but, you're blog is awesome! I love to cook and tweak recipes, but I seem to find myself not messing with yours because you've already tweaked them to perfection. Totally making this recipe to go with BBQ beef sandwiches and baked beans this week.

  17. I'm really not a big coleslaw fan, but my husband is and I thought I'd try this to go with our pulled pork sandwiches. I couldn't believe how much I loved it. Like, it was my favourite part of the meal! Now I'll be making coleslaw all the time and poor hubby will have to share. Thanks!

  18. Finally made this the other night and let me tell you it's my new favorite coleslaw! Delicious!!

  19. So guess what? I didn't know I liked coleslaw! I guess I've only had it at cheap-o restaurants and school cafeterias so after a few bad experiences I don't have a very good opinion of it. But I gave this one a shot today and it was SO good. I loved that it wasn't overly sweet like a lot of them are. It was so good in fact that I rushed out and bought some pre-made pork so I could make the pork sandwiches! I'm pretty sure it's my new favorite meal. YUM!

  20. Have you seen the new canola oil mayo? It has 1/2 the fat but tastes just as good as the real thing. It also does not have soy. 🙂

  21. Just made this a few hours ago to go on top of my BBQ shredded chicken sandwiches and OH MY it is delicious. Thanks so much my friend! YUM. I wanna eat it plain (and plan to) and lick the bowl (might do that too).

  22. Hey Sara,
    Thanks for stopping by my jewelry blog! If you are interested in a turquoise cross ring let me know 🙂
    Denissa ♥

  23. Looks great! Just wanted to let you know that I'm doing a post on my blog to brag about how AWESOME your blog is!! I have a link, hope you get a lot of new visitors!
    Keep up the amazing recipes, and most importantly thanks for sharing!! 🙂

  24. My husband tells me he doesn't like cabbage and doesn't like mayo but he loves coleslaw. Whatever! I've never found a recipe that I've liked but this one looks just perfect.

    1. I know your pain. I have a grand daughter that doesn’t like nuts or chocolate, but eats Nutella everyday for breakfast. What’s up with that!

  25. This looks like a Coleslaw I could live with! Especially on top of a yummy bbque pork sandwich–served on a crusty roll. Can I eat this for breakfast??