Sweet Coleslaw

6 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Sweet Coleslaw is a favorite Southern BBQ side. Creamy slaw with an easy mayo-based dressing with vinegar, celery seed, and sugar in minutes.

If you love this Easy Coleslaw recipe, but wish it was little more classic Southern style, aka with a lil’ more sugary sweetness, you’ll love this new summer Side Recipe. Southern Sweet Slaw is sure to be your new favorite cookout dish!

Sweet Coleslaw in white bowl

Coleslaw is one of those side dishes that can be really good or… well let’s just say a lot of people think they don’t like coleslaw based on a few bad bites. If you are a coleslaw skeptic, this is the slaw recipe you’ve been waiting for. Forget the soggy, soupy coleslaws of the past and get ready for crunchy, sweet, tangy goodness that’s the perfect side dish or condiment for any BBQ!

This Sweet Coleslaw has a creamy dressing that is just the right amount to lightly coat the shredded cabbage and carrots. With just 5 simple ingredients and less than 5 minutes, you get a delicious sweet slaw sauce. A bag of coleslaw mix makes this recipe even easier but if you want to shred your own veggies, we have the amounts you will need in the FAQ.

Sweet Slaw ingredients in large metal mixing bowl

Celery salt is the secret ingredient to make this Sweet Coleslaw recipe stand out. A small amount adds so much earthy, slightly bitter celery flavor that balances all the seasonings so each bite hits every taste bud. With the addition of the celery salt you’ll use poppy seeds to add the distinct look you get with Sweet Coleslaw.

If you prefer to skip the poppy seeds, you can use celery seed instead of celery salt in your recipe. Celery seeds will add a texture similar to poppy seeds. Make sure to use whole celery seed to make this substitution.

This Sweet Coleslaw is great for making ahead. Since your veggies aren’t swimming in dressing, they will stay nice and crunchy for a few days. Double this coleslaw recipe to feed a crowd or for leftovers to top sandwiches, hot dogs, or just as a cool, creamy summer afternoon snack.

Easy Summer Recipes to Serve with Sweet Coleslaw

Make it ahead of time!

If you are making Sweet Coleslaw in advance, simply prepare and cover tightly with plastic wrap in your serving container. Toss the coleslaw right before serving and enjoy! You should not freeze coleslaw since the sauce will separate during freezing and won’t come back together right when thawed. This is such a quick recipe, you should just make it the morning of your party without having to worry about thawing and a broken dressing.

Sweet Coleslaw is perfect as a cookout side dish or for topping Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches. Try this sweet slaw on top of some chili dogs (or Chili Dog Casserole) for a Southern ballpark inspired meal!

Sweet Coleslaw on Memphis BBQ Sloppy Joes

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make my own coleslaw mix?

Instead of store bought coleslaw mix, make your own with shredded 4 cups green cabbage, 1 cup red cabbage and 1 cup shredded carrots.

What additional vegetables can be added to Sweet Coleslaw?

Broccoli slaw mix, finely sliced red onions or yellow onions, diced green onion, and shredded zucchini can be used in coleslaw.

Can I add relish to Sweet Coleslaw?

Yes! Sweet pickle relish and dill pickle relish can be added to your coleslaw for more tangy sweetness. Use 2 tablespoon of each relish for perfect balance.

What other seasonings can be used in Sweet Coleslaw?

Use grated onion, onion powder, caraway seeds, poppy seeds, or mustard to add flavor to this creamy sweet slaw.

How can I make Sweet Coleslaw without mayonnaise?

For a lighter coleslaw recipe, swap ½ cup mayonnaise with sour cream or plain greek yogurt. If you want a no-mayo based dressing, use all sour cream or greek yogurt. Keep in mind it won’t be as creamy and much tangier.

More Summer Cookout Side Dishes

How to Store Sweet Coleslaw

  • Serve: This Sweet Cole Slaw gets better with time. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving and only keep at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
  • Store: Store your Sweet Cole Slaw in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week. As it breaks down, add more coleslaw mix to keep it fresh longer.
  • Freeze: You don’t want to freeze leftover prepared coleslaw. When the dressing thaws the texture will be off and separated.
Sweet Coleslaw from top down in white bowl

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Sweet Coleslaw

Sweet Coleslaw is a favorite Southern BBQ side. Creamy slaw with an easy mayo-based dressing with vinegar, celery seed, and sugar in minutes.
Yield 6 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 16 ounces coleslaw mix


  • Whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, celery salt, and poppy seeds in a large bowl.
  • Toss well with coleslaw mix.
  • Chill at least 4 hours to let the cabbage soften and the flavors combine, but the longer it chills the better.



Calories: 130kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 417mg | Potassium: 137mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 94IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 1mg
Sweet Coleslaw Collage

Photo used in a previous version of that post.

Sweet Coleslaw collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. I used 3/4 c of mayo (I like it creamy) and I used celery seeds instead of poppies and celery salt. It turned out great

  2. I just made this for lunch for my husband but did it dump style, leaving out the poppyseeds since we didn’t have any on hand, and mixing it all at once. I left it sit on the counter while I cooked up some stadium style brats with onions and a little bacon fat.

    My husbands response when I asked how it was, “ Wow babe, this is @&$?!&$ awesome! Best coleslaw I have ever had!” I made sure to ask if that comment contained sarcasm to which he insured me it did not.

    Thank you for sharing this recipe with us!

  3. Tablespoon of poppy seeds seems like a typo as that’s quite a lot! They started with half a tablespoon but that was way to much for us. I’ve cut it down to 1/2 a teaspoon and that seems to be the right amount.

  4. The very BEST coleslaw!!! I added raisins and changed the apple cider vinegar to white wine vinegar. It’s milder to me and my nose can’t let me get past the smell so white wine vinegar is a good substitute. Your recipe is so good I sent a group message on messenger to ALL my family and friends telling them how great it is and that they MUST try it! I’ve made it a lot of times since discovering it! Even in winter! I can’t thank you enough!!

  5. Very easy to put together. So easy you can’t believe that it can be that easy to make something that easy that tastes great!

  6. I have a silly question. By coleslaw mix, are you referring to something like Marzetti slaw dressing?

    1. No, it’s just a prepackaged mix of shredded cabbage (sometimes with carrot) which allows to get make coleslaw a lot easier and quicker. Enjoy!

  7. There are times when only a sweet slaw will do. This one is IT! Celery Salt is a ‘secret ingredient’ in many of my recipes. Whenever I use it, I omit adding any regular salt. It really ramps up the flavor, especially in cold side-dish salads. Well, I guess I just let the cat out of my bag, didn’t I? (LOL)

  8. I made this two nights ago and it’s so good! I’ll be making another batch this weekend.

  9. how long can the dressing stay in the fridge, i live alone so i don’t want to mix a whole batch of coleslaw and have to eat it every day, bit just when i want some.

    1. It’ll last up to about a week in the refrigerator. You can always use the slider tool on the recipe card to adjust the serving size and make a smaller batch if you’d like. Enjoy!

      1. Coleslaw mix is a prepackaged mix of shredded cabbage (and sometimes carrot) which just allows this dish to come together much quicker.

  10. My cabbage usually have a bitter taste and a particular smell after awhile in the refrigerator. What are my not doing right?

    1. When cabbage is cut it releases enzymes that can cause a bitter taste and pungent aroma. Try soaking the shredded cabbage in cold water for a half an hour. Hope this helps for next time.