Sweet Coleslaw

Sweet Coleslaw is a favorite Southern BBQ side dish. Creamy coleslaw with an easy mayo-based dressing with vinegar, celery seed, and sugar made 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 variations.

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 we use poppy seeds to add the distinct look you get with sweet cole slaw.

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 cool, creamy summer afternoon snack.


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 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


    • 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.
    • Veggies: Broccoli slaw mix, finely sliced red onions or yellow onions, diced green onion, and shredded zucchini can be used in coleslaw.
    • Relish: 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.
    • Seasonings: Use grated onion, onion powder, caraway seeds, poppy seeds, or mustard to add flavor to this creamy sweet slaw.
    • Mayo: For a lighter coleslaw recipe, swap 1/2 cup mayonnaise with sour cream or plain greek yogurt. If you want a no-may based dressing, use all sour cream or greek yogurt. Keep in mind it won’t be as creamy and much tangier.



  • 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 Cole slaw in bowl
5 from 2 votes

Sweet Coleslaw

Sweet Coleslaw is a favorite Southern BBQ side dish. Creamy coleslaw with an easy mayo-based dressing with vinegar, celery seed, and sugar made in minutes.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword Sweet Coleslaw
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 130 kcal
Author Sabrina Snyder


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


  1. Whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, celery salt, and poppy seeds in a large bowl.

  2. Toss well with coleslaw mix.

  3. Chill at least 4 hours to let the cabbage soften and the flavors combine, but the longer it chills the better.

Nutrition Facts
Sweet Coleslaw
Amount Per Serving
Calories 130 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 4mg1%
Sodium 417mg18%
Potassium 137mg4%
Carbohydrates 18g6%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 15g17%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 94IU2%
Vitamin C 28mg34%
Calcium 35mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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.

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. 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!

  1. 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)

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.