Old Fashioned Poppy Seed or Coleslaw Dressing

Old Fashioned Vinegar Based Cole Slaw

I have to admit to being a little nuts about slaw and I have quite a few on my site. Enough, anyway, that I started collecting them together on a one-page menu so I could keep track of them all! See Slaws, both Cabbage & Other if you’d like. Hands down my favorite Slaw of all time is this one, this Old Fashioned Vinegar Based Cole Slaw. It was passed down to me from my Mom and I’ve literally been making it for close to 50 years.

Old Fashioned Vinegar Based Coleslaw

Vinegar Based Coleslaw with Old Fashioned Poppy Seed or Coleslaw Dressing


This is actually a coleslaw that I don’t see that often anymore. It seems to have been eclipsed by the creamy, mayo-based slaws. I love those, too (again, see the menu linked above) but this slaw will always have a special place in my heart…and on my table.

About Old Fashioned Vinegar Based Cole-Slaw:

Tangy, sweet, complex, with just a bit of the bite, the dressing used for this slaw can be made with caraway or celery seed. Either one complements red or green cabbage beautifully.

Just toss together the dressing with your favorite cabbage, red or green, maybe a few carrots (onions if you’d like, although they can get very strong and are best put only in the portion you’ll eat that day) & a few herbs. Let it sit in the fridge for about an hour then enjoy.

Although this slaw may suffer in the looks department after a day or two, the flavors just keep getting better!

One of my favorite ways to serve slaw is with a Pulled Pork Sandwich – right on top or on the side. A big pet peeve is when the slaw is sliced too thick to go on a sandwich – it pokes out, falls off and it’s hard to take a bite.

Old Fashioned Poppy Seed or Coleslaw Dressing

Old Fashioned Poppy Seed or Coleslaw Dressing.

Making Old Fashioned Vinegar Based Cole Slaw:

If your slaw is going on top of something, consider using a mandolin to shave the slaw to wafer-thin slices. If you have one with different blades, that’s how to get those lovely little carrot shreds. Mine came from Goodwill, but even when buying new, prices have decreased on these handy tools.

A food processor or a good sharp knife does the job, too, especially if you’re not worried about plopping this on a sandwich.

About Coleslaw:

If you are interested in the history of coleslaw, don’t rely on the Wikipedia article which is confusing, muddled, and incorrect! Coleslaw (which used to also be spelled, in American English at least, as cole slaw or cole-slaw,  as well as the proper (according to  Merriman Webster dictionary) spelling of Coleslaw. You may notice I used the two-word spelling in this post in some areas as well as the hyphenated; I just relied on my recipe card when I posted this!

The long and the short of it is that Coleslaw can be divided into two camps. The cabbage mixture can be dressed with a Vinaigrette as in this recipe (commonly known in the Midwest where I grew up as “Vinegar based”) or dressed with a creamy dressing. The creamy dressings are usually based on Mayonaisse but can be cut with sour cream or milk and usually rely on a little vinegar for tang. Both dressings tend to have some sugar involved as well as other seasonings, often celery seed or caraway.

Coleslaw is a cabbage salad, and is made primarily from raw cabbage thinly sliced or shredded, sometimes carrot or onion. (Now and then you may come across other variations.) Cabbage salad includes coleslaw in its ranks but also includes many other recipes based on fresh cabbage that go way beyond Coleslaw. There are other salads that are called “slaws” that have very little in common with coleslaw other than they contain shredded vegetables. A rose by any other name…

Saving Money on Vinegar Based Cole-Slaw:

Cabbage, Carrots, and Lemon are really some of the most basic, common vegetables and fruits you can find just about anywhere in the States. They’re all so good for you, especially the cabbages, and all so inexpensive, so why not serve them often? Just keep playing up the flavors in different ways and get creative and you won’t get bored.

Shop Aldi or Lydl, if you have one nearby; they really do have great prices on their veggies. I don’t know if I’ve actually seen a sale on cabbage and carrots in years, except maybe around St. Patrick’s Day, but be mindful of the cabbage and whether it’s sold by the head or the pound. If your cabbage is priced by the head, get the largest one you can find. If priced by the pound, you may wish to weigh it to avoid any surprises at the register.

Cabbage stores well, and even if the head develops a little greying around the edges, it’s harmless. Just cut it off, cleaning your knife between cuts. If there is a lot of greying, discard the cabbage. It will have worked its way through most of the vegetable.

Don’t buy those bags of dried-up, shredded slaw mix at the store if you can help it. I know, they’re so easy – the problem? They might not seem too expensive but in reality? Four to 10 times the cost of buying cabbage and shredding your own! Yeah, shocking.

The absolute same goes for carrots. It may look convenient to buy shreds in a bag but they probably contain more than you might need for a dish. It’s a simple thing to shred up a carrot or two. Carrots will last for a long time in the veggie drawer of the fridge. Make sure the package has holes so air can circulate. If your drawer has ridges at the bottom, set the carrot package at right angles so the carrots have some circulation.

Those wily grocers often price out the package per ounce so it’s a bit harder to compare to the per pound price of a simple cabbage – they’re sneaky like that! Most people will need a calculator to compare.

Old Fashioned Poppy Seed or Coleslaw Dressing

Vinegar Based Coleslaw


Old Fashioned Vinegar Based Cole Slaw

  • Author: Mollie Kirby
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings 1x
  • Category: salad
  • Cuisine: German




Toss ingredients together, refrigerate. Best if sits for at least one hour before serving.

Keywords: Cabbage, cabbage slaw, Carrots, Family Recipe, German, Salad, Side, Slaw, Vegetable Side, Vinegar

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can't wait to see what you've made!

Old Fashioned Vinegar Based Cole Slaw is absolutely fabulous. Cool and refreshing on a hot day. Bonus: it stores and serves better than a mayo bases slaw, making it ideal for potlucks and picnics! #VinegarColeslaw #Coleslaw #VinegarBasedColeslaw #Slaw #CabbageSalad #Salad #SummerSide

8 thoughts on “Old Fashioned Vinegar Based Cole Slaw

Hearing from you makes my day! Comment below.

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