See a letter from Ellen about the donation campaign. Your help matters!

Cole Slaw Tips and Recipes, including Lexington Slaw

Cole slaw is a shredded cabbage salad that can lighten any meal, but is especially popular with picnics and barbecued meats. Compared to tossed salads, it is cheaper, more nutritious, keeps better and can be made ahead.

Classic food combinations are vinegary cole slaw with barbecue or creamy cole slaw with fried fish or fried oysters. The creamy sauces may be sweet/fruity or tart. Both types of sauces are also offered with hamburgers.

Traditionally, people tend to spice slaw with black pepper, salt and some herbs and spices. A little caraway seed, celery seed, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes for heat, fennel, garlic, parsley, dill, oregano and basil are all seasonings found in Cole Slaw recipes. In addition to raw cabbage, both green and red, you may find shredded carrots or bell peppers, or even pineapple tidbits.

Lexington Slaw, named for Lexington, North Carolina, is a classic vinegar slaw, finely shredded and used to top BBQ pork sandwiches. The Lexington dressing has a vinegar-based dressing made slightly tomato-ey by adding some ketchup.




Have all your ingredients COLD. Cold cabbage, cold mayo or sauce ingredients, cold stainless bowl to work & stir/fold in, etc. Shread the cold cabbage & store in fridge while prepping dressing in cold bowl, etc. Shredding can be done the day before. Drain before adding the dressing.
By draining and chilling, you will be rewarded with very crisp cole slaw that, if kept cold, will stay crisp for the entire meal.


Allow at least 1 pound of cabbage for each 5 persons, or 20 pounds to make 3-4 gallons for 100 people.

Select very fresh, very firm head of cabbage with tightly packed leaves. You can tell a head that is tightly packed because it will feel heavier for its size than a loosely packed counterpart. Compare heads in the produce department to pick the best.

Smaller heads of cabbage (about 1 pound) have a milder flavor. Larger heads, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds, are easirer to prepare.

Peel the loose outer leaves from the cabbage until you get to the lighter, tighter, moister ones. Cut the cabbage in half and cut hand-sized chunks from it, setting aside the thick, solid core to make steamed hearts of cabbage as a dinner vegetable right soon.

These choice heads should be shredded coarse enough that the water stays in the cabbage. Use a sharp stainless steel knife or coarse grater. Then when chilled, it has a bit of crunch. Shredded too fine, it releases all its water and becomes limp and soupy, let's not even discuss the errors of grinding... Plan ahead: cole slaw tastes best if it is chilled for at least a couple of hours to allow the flavors to combine after it is mixed.

For the best result, place the huge mound of shredded cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle it generously with salt (about 1 tablespoon). Then cover it with boiling water. Let it stand for 1 hour. The cabbage will not be cooked, but it will be softened, and its natural flavor will be enhanced. Drain the cabbage very well and proceed with the recipe of choice.

You want a mild, light vinegar, 4% strength. Use white vinegar, cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar. If you have 5 1/2 percent, add 1 cup of water to 1 quart of vinegar to reduce the strength, then measure for the recipe. Save the balsamics and other flavored vinegars for another recipe.


Family BBQ Slaw

Not sweet but a little creamy, with a bit of mayo in the dressing

2 cups shredded cabbage
2 tablespoons minced onion
OPTIONAL 1/4 cup shredded carrot or 1 shredded red bell pepper
2 tablespoons white vinegar, cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together after shredding by the basic rules above and refrigerate for at least an hour after mixing.
Use about 1/3 cup on each pulled pork sandwich.


Lexington Barbecue Cole-Slaw for 500 sandwiches

This is the classic cole slaw used for topping pulled pork sandwiches. Changes for 5 to 8 sandwiches are in parentheses.

100 pounds shredded/chopped cabbage, (1 pound)
6 quarts ketchup, (1/4 cup)
10 pounds sugar, (3 tablespoons)
1/2 gallon vinegar, (4%) (1 tablespoon)
8 ounces salt, (1/2 teaspoon)
8 ounces pepper, (1/2 teaspoon)
Up to 2 ounces ground red pepper (1/4 teaspoon)

See the note about not shredding the cabbage too fine and NOT GRINDING.
Mix all dry ingredients into the chopped cabbage, and let sit for 20 minutes.
Then add the wet ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate as long as possible before serving.
NOTE: If you have 5% vinegar, dilute it before mixing with the cabbage: mix 2 quarts with 1 pint of water, then use only 2 quarts of the resulting mixture for the recipe.


Night Before Ginger Pickled Really Red Cabbage Slaw

Gorgeous! This really simple to make, but you need to make the ginger at least 24 hours ahead of the slaw and the slaw a day ahead of the planned serving.
16 servings. 6 times the recipe for 100 people

2 heads of red cabbage, about 3 pounds
2 1/2 cups of pickled ginger juice
2 1/2 tablespoons pickled ginger, minced
7 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon

Clean the cabbage of limp outside leaves and cut it into quarters, removing the core. Slice it on the slicer for very thin threads.
Combine the ginger juice, minced ginger, sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk to dissolve the sugar and salt. Add the cabbage and mix well, set aside for 20 minutes and mix again.
Press the slaw down firmly or weight it so that it is completely covered in the dressing and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Stir a few time during this day if possible.
Wrap tightly with plastic wrap or a fitted lid.


Pickled Ginger for Slaw

Make it at least one day before you use it.

3 pounds fresh young ginger root, peeled and sliced into thin coins
1 raw beet peeled and chunked (for color only)
2 quarts rice wine vinegar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup white vinegar
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup salt

See the discussion on selecting ginger in the pickled ginger recipe in the pantry section.
Put the ginger into a bowl and cover it with just enough boiling water to cover. Drain the water off the ginger after only 2 minutes and drain thoroughly. Put the drained ginger and the beet into a 1-gallon glass or plastic CLEAN container that has a lid.

Combine the remaining ingredients into a non-aluminum pan and heat over medium heat until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour over the ginger. Let it cool completely and chill for at least 24 hours before using.


Bachelor Slaw

A nice portion to take to the potluck. You can also buy all the ingredients on the way and mix on site.

1 package shredded cabbage/ slaw mix with carrots, from the salad department
1 smallest jar real mayonaisse (1 cup)
1 smallest can pineapple tidbits in juice
several shakes Crazy Jane salt, vegesal, or Greek seasoning salt

You can use crushed pineapple, but tidbits are better.
Mix everything up. Chill until served.


Eastern North Carolina Barbeque Sauce

2 cups

2 cups cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper flakes

Combine in a saucepan and stir to dissolve sugar. Bring to near boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.


Western North Carolina Barbeque Sauce

2 cups

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper flakes

Combine in a saucepan and stir to dissolve sugar. Bring to near boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.


South Carolina Vinegar Cole Slaw

This mild, relatively dry slaw holds on to a BBQ sandwich. It is also mild enough not to overpower the smoked pork.
about 1 quart

1 large head cabbage, chopped finely
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 sweet onion, chopped finely
1 carrot, grated
1 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Combine sugar, vinegar, oil, mustard, salt and pepper in a saucepan over a low heat. Stir until sugar disolves. Place vegetables in a serving dish and toss. Pour dressing over and toss until evenly coated. Chill at least 1 hour.


Savory Four Vinegar Cole Slaw

This gaudy California exception to the mild vinegar rule is great with grilled beef or fish.
about 1 quart

1 head cabbage, chopped fine
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped fine
OPTIONAL, 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1 cup celery, chopped fine
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons basil vinegar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons malt vinegar
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon nuoc nam (Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce)
2 tablespoons brown mustard seeds, crushed
black pepper, crushed dried Tabasco peppers
OR crushed dried Tabasco peppers, or 1/2 finely chopped jalapeno, to taste

Chop cabbage fine and soak in water and ice in the refrigerator for one hour. Drain. Place a small cloth towel in the bottom of a bowl. Line the bowl with paper towels and put the cabbage in. Chill for another one to two hours.
Meanwhile mix all the remaining ingredients together.
Bring out the cabbage, remove the towels, and combine cabbage thoroughly with other ingredients. Let warm to room temperature, and serve.