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Sweet Coleslaw Recipe

Want to recreate that sweet coleslaw recipe from your favorite fried chicken joint?

Then you’ve come to the right place!

Creamy coleslaw in a bowl.
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There’s just something about sweet coleslaw that makes fried chicken (or any BBQ food) sing. 

It’s perfect for piling on burgers, dogs, or pulled pork. Honestly, this sidekick pairs perfectly with any grilled meat!

This simple, classic coleslaw recipe will be the breakaway hit at your next summer potluck. 

Grab the potato salad, fire up the grill, and let’s dive into some sweet coleslaw!

Sweet Coleslaw Recipe 

There’s nothing better than sweet, creamy coleslaw and rich BBQ foods.

With this classic recipe, we aren’t reinventing the wheel here. It combines crisp cabbage, creamy mayo, sugar, vinegar, and simple seasoning. 

While the sugar adds a burst of sweetness, it’s slightly muted with a hit of white vinegar and onion. 

But the secret ingredient taking this recipe over the top is poppy seeds!

They add a hint of nutty flavors, delicate sweetness, and a bonus crunch. 

This recipe for sweet coleslaw is super simple. It goes great with any savory BBQ food, and it’s even terrific piled high on a hot dog!

Coleslaw mix, dressing, pepper, salt, diced onion, poppy seeds and white sugar.


  • Coleslaw mix – You can save yourself a lot of time using pre-chopped coleslaw mix. Sometimes, it also included chopped carrots for even more sweetness. 
  • Onion – Finely chopped onion adds a burst of acidity and flavor.
  • Salad Dressing – Save the mayo for your burger and opt for salad dressing, like Miracle Whip. Miracle Whip is slightly tangy, making it the perfect choice for this sweet coleslaw recipe. 
  • White Sugar – Simple, run-of-the-mill granulated sugar is all you need in this recipe. Of course, you can also use raw or cane sugar for more sweetness. 
  • Vegetable oil – It will help all those ingredients stick together and boost the coleslaw’s creaminess factor. 
  • White Vinegar – There’s a lot of sweetness happening in this recipe. So, a touch of white vinegar offers a sharp acidity to mute the sweetness. 
  • Poppy seeds – Behold: the secret ingredient. Poppy seeds help elevate all the flavors in this sweet coleslaw. They’re sweet, nutty, and deliver a fantastic crunch (and a pop of color).  
  • Salt – A pinch of salt draws out the flavor in the veggies, salad dressing, and poppy seeds. 

How to Make Sweet Coleslaw 

You can whip this recipe together faster than the burgers finish cooking on the grill. 

1. Combine the veggies. In a large mixing bowl, combine the coleslaw mix and chopped onions.

2. Make the coleslaw dressing. In a separate bowl, combine the salad dressing, vegetable oil, poppy seeds, salt, and sugar. Mix everything until it’s combined. 

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3. Toss everything together. Pour the salad dressing mix into the veggies and toss them to combine. Be sure the salad dressing mix evenly coats the veggies. 

4. Chill. Cover and place it in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours. Enjoy!

Coleslaw mix with dressing and poppy seeds on bowl.

Tips for the Best Coleslaw

Here are some quick tips to ensure your coleslaw is burger-worthy. 

  • Give it ample chill time. The longer your coleslaw marinates in the fridge, the better. Thirty minutes is the minimum to ensure the flavors are bright and bold. Ideally, let it sit for at least 2 hours or overnight. 
  • Fresh is always best. For that patented coleslaw crunch, always opt for fresh veggies. If your cabbage (or coleslaw mix) seems brown or soggy, toss it.
  • Do a taste test. Coleslaw isn’t an exact science. Be sure to taste as you go. If it’s a little too sweet, toss in a little more vinegar. 


Here are some great tips to jazz up this simple recipe. 

  • Make it a full meal. If your love of coleslaw runs deep, you can transform it into an entire meal! Add some leftover shredded chicken and BBQ sauce to take it to a whole new level. 
  • Broccoli-ify it. Try shredded broccoli to add more nutrition and extra greens to your coleslaw. You can find it near the coleslaw mix in the grocery store. It’s just as affordable and packs a lot of bonus flavors and nutrition. 
  • Give it a ranch kick. Add a 1/4 cup of prepared ranch, broccoli, and sunflower seeds to this recipe for a flavor explosion. You won’t be disappointed!

What to Serve with Coleslaw 

Coleslaw is a fantastic side dish that goes with just about anything. Pair it with these fantastic main courses to make those tastebuds dance. 

  • Crisco Fried Chicken. This recipe for mouth-watering crispy fried chicken demands one thing: sweet coleslaw. It recreates the experience of your favorite chicken joint right at home!
  • Slow Cooker Texas Pulled Pork. There’s no turning back once you put this sweet coleslaw on a pulled pork sandwich. The smoky flavors from this pulled pork recipe pair so well with this sweet coleslaw recipe. It’s a match made in BBQ heaven. 
  • Air Fryer Hot Dogs. You can make summer BBQ hot dogs in the bleakness of winter with your handy air fryer. They’re crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and go great with sweet coleslaw. 
Top view of coleslaw mix on a bowl.

Make Ahead and Storage

Making this recipe in advance is easy if you want to get ahead of the game. But you have to follow a few rules. 

To Make Ahead: Always keep the salad dressing and veggies separate for the freshest-tasting coleslaw. If they mingle for too long, they’ll become soggy. 

To Store: If you have any leftovers, place them in an air-tight container in the fridge. They’ll stay fresh for 3 days. 

Never allow this coleslaw to sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

Sweet Coleslaw



Prep time





This is the best sweet coleslaw recipe you’ll ever have! With Miracle Whip and white sugar, the dressing is just to die for!


  • 1 (16-ounce) bag of coleslaw mix

  • 2 Tablespoons diced onion

  • 2/3 cup creamy salad dressing

  • 1/2 cup white sugar

  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar

  • 1/2 Teaspoon poppy seeds

  • 1/3 Teaspoon salt


  • Combine the coleslaw mix and diced onion in a large mixing bowl.
  • Using a separate bowl, combine the salad dressing, poppy seeds, salt, white sugar, white vinegar, and vegetable oil. Stir until it’s combined and creamy.
  • Pour the salad dressing mix into the bowl with the coleslaw and onions, and stir until it’s combined.
  • Chill it in the fridge for 2 hours to marinate. Dig in!
Sweet Coleslaw Recipe

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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