Coleslaw with Warm Bacon Dressing

My dad’s German family made this Coleslaw with Warm Bacon Dressing a tradition and I’m glad to carry it on with a few updates; even more delicious!

Coleslaw with Warm Bacon Dressing Served in a White Bowl

A couple of years ago when my youngest daughter Lauren was still living in Denver, she called me on her way to my house to get her dog after work and wanted to know if I had a good slaw recipe.

Something different she said; she was heading to a barbecue that night and slaw was a request from the hostess. I knew exactly what we would do; this Coleslaw with Warm Bacon Dressing

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It’s not like I’m the slaw queen exactly but I know why she asked..she knew she could count on something other than the typical mayonnaise mixture; that’s how we roll!

I recalled making a wonderful warm bacon slaw with my Dad once when I had visited my parents in St. Louis after moving to North Carolina. I have no doubt it was a dish from his mom; they were a German family and a warm slaw would be typical of their dinnertime dishes.

My Grandma Lizette prepared a lot of  German dishes that my dad made as well; making it warm reminded me a bit of his other favorite, Warm German Potato Salad. It had been a LONG time but seemed perfect for Lauren’s needs.

Coleslaw with Warm Bacon Dressing Ingredients; Purple and Green Cabbage, Onion and Garlic

Let’s call this Coleslaw with Warm Bacon Dressing my updated version of that creation. I’m certain my Dad did not use either balsamic vinegar or Ancho Chili powder then but I thought they added a nice ooomph to the dish. When Lauren took this dish to feed friends?

It was a huge hit and I had to PROMISE to get this recipe on my blog for them; the best music a cook’s ears ever hears.

Fast forward 5+ years and I realize everyone was happy but me. Not only did I want to make this again for a summer cookout but it would let me update a phIoto that was cringeworthy. When we made this for Lauren and her friends, she decided to pick up one purple and one regular head of cabbage that day and it was perfect; the combination of colors is so pretty.

I was lucky to find two small heads about the size of softballs but if you get regular size heads, either make it with just one color, double the recipe, or use the other halves to make a cold slaw as well; this Apple and Poppyseed Slaw with a Honey Mustard Dressing is my favorite for that type of slaw.

If you’re like me and think of cabbage cooking on the stove and recall a bad memory of your entire home smelling less than savory; no worries. This cabbage is cooked just a bit in a warm bacon dressing with brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and mustard only until it starts to wilt. Not until it gets mushy and decides to totally take over your home.

Of course there is the bacon…isn’t everything better with bacon?

Coleslaw with Warm Bacon Dressing Served with Pork and Green Peas on a White Plate

Truth? It is so not pretty. Do you know how hard it is to photograph some foods; especially brownish, cabbage like foods? Because seriously this Coleslaw with Warm Bacon Dressing is not an attractive dish; it’s just a yummy one. I threw in some gratuitous peas for the photo to help with color but on this one you’ll just have to trust me!

One thing I love about this Coleslaw for events is it’s portability…no mayo means no risk of spoilage so it’s perfect to bring to a picnic or barbecue.

My other personal favorite if it’s a cold slaw that you want? This Apple and Poppy Coleslaw with Honey Mustard Dressing! Need a dessert? Not really German but I thought it was until I was an adult…these German Chocolate Brownies. All the great flavor of German Chocolate Cake but SO much easier to make!

PIN IT! ‘Coleslaw with Warm Bacon Dressing’

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Join myself and the rest of the Food Network’s blogger crew for some great recipes to make fabulous slaw dishes this summer. Join us each week for our #SummerSoiree and be sure to visit our Pinterest board too.

Happy Eating!

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Creative Culinary: Coleslaw with Warm Bacon Dressing (You’re Here!)
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The Cultural Dish: Mac Nut Slaw (Hawaiian Cole Slaw)
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Apple and Poppy Seed Coleslaw in a White Serving Bowl

Coleslaw with Warm Bacon Dressing in a White Serving Dish
Coleslaw with Warm Bacon Dressing Served with Pork and Green Peas on a White Plate

Coleslaw with Warm Bacon Dressing

4.72 from 50 or more votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Salads, Dressings, Marinades and Sauces
Cuisine American
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 435 kcal


  • 1 head Cabbage I used 2 small heads of green and purple
  • Β½ pound bacon
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ΒΌ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 teaspoons Ancho Chili Powder optional…or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • Slice cabbage into 1/4-1/2″ strips. We used 6mm blade on the Cuisinart. Put into bowl.
  • Cut bacon into pieces and put into a large pot. Cook until fat has rendered and the bacon is starting to crisp up.
  • Add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add chopped garlic and saute until onions are soft but not caramelized, approximately 3 more minutes.
  • Add vinegar, sugar, mustard, chili powder, celery seed, salt and pepper to pan and mix well. Add cabbage, toss well and cook for 5-7 minutes til desired tenderness. I like mine with just a bit of crunch, but you can cook it until it suits your taste.
  • Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.


This is a great dish for group events, no need to keep cold!


Nutrition Facts
Coleslaw with Warm Bacon Dressing
Serving Size
1 Serving
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keyword bacon, coleslaw, salad, warm
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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  1. This recipe is delicious! I used half red cabbage and cooked it about 5 minutes before adding a package of angel hair green cabbage, then cooked about a minute or two longer…did not want it mushy. Yum! It’s not the prettiest of dishes (!!!) but my guests LOVED it! I added one teaspoon of the Ancho Chili Powder, and next time I will add two. Don’t skimp on the balsamic…it’s a perfect amount with the brown sugar and mustard. Definitely a keeper!

  2. Love love love non traditional slaw. The funny thing is that I don’t even like normal slaw that much…haha. My grandmother always used to make warm potato salad and this dish totally reminds me of this. Plus who doesn’t love bacon? πŸ™‚

    1. I don’t love slaw that much either; this is so much better. I mean grilled onions, brown sugar and balsamic? How could it not be right?

    1. 5 stars
      This is delicious and easy, especially when using packaged coleslaw. Mine had only green cabbage and carrots, so it was perfect, washed, and ready to go! My bacon seemed a little fatty so I did poor off some of the bacon grease after browning the onion and garlic, and before adding the rest of the ingredients This recipe is a keeper!

  3. Yum. I’ll have to try this. I made one that the boys all like that is similar but with ham instead of bacon, but bacon sounds so much better. It also uses sherry vinegar, but I like balsamic better, so I need to make this one. Mine is also topped with some goat cheese. Mmm, I need this. πŸ˜‰

    1. You must try it then…and be sure to let me know. Or hop on over; I still have leftovers. (if only it were that easy right?)

  4. Loving these flavours and a great low carb version instead of German potato salad. Your photos turned out gorgeous! I know how difficult it can be to photograph what I call “brown foods” Pinning and sharing, everywhere, of course! Take care

    1. I get this idea of something that tastes so good that I want to share and sort of forget about it’s photo worthiness…but I started a blog wanting to share foods I love and sometimes doggone it…they are brown! Yes, east to low carb, just sub out the sugars for something you would use instead.

  5. Barb,
    My family likes sautΓ©ed cabbage. We get so many varieties in the farm share that I had to find a way to enjoy it. I love the idea of this slaw, and it looks gorgeous!

    1. Thanks Kirsten…and you should try this, it’s different but so good. A nice change from the norm for sure!

    1. Yay…something for both of our seasons and it is a great winter salad too. I love it with bratwurst sandwiches especially.

    1. Thank you Lauren. I imagine the words warm and bacon would elevate a lot of dishes huh? πŸ™‚

  6. I know all too well how hard it is to photograph some foods! You did great with this. I’ve actually played around with this dish — inspired by German potato salad and spinach salad with hot bacon dressing. Your version looks fantastic! As in really good stuff. πŸ˜‰

    1. I must say I am now dying for a spinach salad. I feel certain this had to evolve from my German grandparents repertoire…seasoned a bit different now by their grand-daughter but still with many memories intact. Now that my dad is gone I wish I had more of these treasures.

  7. Mmm this sounds like the perfect barbecue side and really great with any roasted or grilled meat. Or by itself. Or would that be piggy? I love the sound of the dressing, salty, smokey, sweet. Perfect.

    1. We just love it Jamie and of course by itself too. Hope it’s not piggy because that was my dinner last night. Just slaw and it was perfect!

  8. This looks really awesome. I am so overwhelmed with cabbage right now! Lol. Looking at the ingredient list for this recipe is making me so hungry!! So glad you shared it! I just pinned it!

    1. I do different variations on this but it’s my favorite way to eat cabbage. Thanks for the Pin…even if I would replace that photo next go around. Ah..memories. Of photos from days past!

    2. Well I’m glad I could help Aggie…and if you’ve got cabbage, make a bunch; it cooks down a lot and it’s so good you will wish you had more no matter how much you make. I mean…bacon, brown sugar and more makes it a fantastic side dish.

  9. This slaw looks incredible – I can just about taste the bacon dressing and the still slightly crisp cabbage, and I love how you updated this with the balsamic vinegar and ancho chile powder – thank you for sharing, Barb!

  10. Another great recipe! And you’re right, perfect for that outdoor cookout with no chance of anyone getting sick since there’s no mayo. Definitely gonna have to give it a try.

  11. warm bacon dressing is seriously the only way i will eat salad, but i hadn’t thought of it for slaw- genius. And this rendition incorporates things I don’t- I can’t wait to try w balsamic instead of my typical sherry vinegar- bet it gives it depth. Ooh, better idea- you can bottle it and sell it, that would save us the work and make you rich beyond your wildest dreams- bwahaahhaaahaaa. xo, l

  12. Well of course you had a good slaw recipe! What was she thinking? πŸ™‚ This looks really wonderful Barb. Great photo with the addition of the purple cabbage. Balsamic and ancho chili powder, what an interesting combinations of flavors. Got to give this a try.

    1. So true; it’s actually the basis for a potato salad I love too and offers a nice bonus that you don’t have to worry about spoiling like you do with mayo based dressings if taking to an event like Lauren did.

    1. I’m thinking those early attempts must have been from my mom’s influence and I’m also sure a bit less exotic too, if by exotic we mean balsamic vinegar! That was most definitely not a part of our cooking experience.

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