The Secrets to Delicious Memphis Style Slaw

Are you craving some mouthwatering Memphis style slaw? Look no further! In this article, we will reveal the secrets to creating a delicious and authentic Memphis style slaw that will leave your taste buds begging for more. Whether you’re a fan of the tangy vinegar-based dressing or prefer a creamier mayonnaise-based one, we’ve got you covered. With a perfect balance of crunch, flavor, and a hint of heat, this slaw recipe is sure to elevate any meal. So grab your cabbage, put on your apron, and get ready to discover the keys to making the best Memphis style slaw you’ve ever tasted! ✨

The Secrets to Delicious Memphis Style Slaw | 101 Simple Recipe
Image Source:

Exploring Memphis Style Slaw

Discover the origins and unique characteristics of Memphis style slaw, a delicious and tangy barbecue side dish.

The History of Memphis Style Slaw

Memphis style slaw, also known as Memphis coleslaw, is a famous dish that originated in Memphis, Tennessee. This tangy and flavorful slaw has become an integral part of the region’s barbecue culture. The history of Memphis style slaw is closely intertwined with the history of Memphis barbecue itself.

Back in the early 20th century, Memphis was emerging as a hub for the barbecue scene. Pitmasters in the region were known for slow-cooking succulent meats and serving them with a variety of sauces and sides. It was during this time that Memphis style slaw was born.

What sets Memphis style slaw apart from other coleslaw variations is its distinctive flavor profile. Unlike traditional creamy coleslaw, Memphis style slaw is tangy and slightly sweet. The dressing typically consists of vinegar, mustard, sugar, and a blend of spices. This combination gives the slaw its signature tangy and bold taste.

Over the years, this unique style of slaw has become an essential component of Memphis barbecue. It is typically served as a side dish alongside ribs, pulled pork, or smoked chicken. The refreshing and tangy flavors of the slaw help cut through the richness of the meats, providing a perfect balance of flavors.

The Ingredients That Make It Stand Out

Memphis style slaw is known for its simple yet flavorful ingredients. The key ingredients that make it stand out are cabbage, vinegar, mustard, sugar, and a blend of spices. These ingredients work together to create the distinctive taste that Memphis style slaw is known for.

  • Cabbage: The base of Memphis style slaw is shredded cabbage. The crunchiness of the cabbage adds a satisfying texture to the slaw.
  • Vinegar: Vinegar is the primary ingredient that gives Memphis style slaw its tangy taste. It provides a refreshing acidity that complements the richness of the barbecue meats.
  • Mustard: Mustard adds a subtle tang and depth of flavor to the slaw. It balances out the sweetness and enhances the overall taste of the dish.
  • Sugar: Sugar is used to balance out the acidity of the vinegar and mustard. It adds a touch of sweetness to the slaw, making it even more flavorful.
  • Blend of spices: A secret blend of spices, which can vary from recipe to recipe, is added to the slaw to enhance the flavors. This blend often includes ingredients like celery seed, black pepper, and paprika.

By combining these ingredients in the right proportions, Memphis style slaw achieves its distinct flavor profile that pairs perfectly with barbecue.

The Perfect Texture and Consistency

Memphis style slaw is known for its perfect balance of texture and consistency. The cabbage should be finely shredded, creating a delicate crunch without being too overpowering. The dressing should coat the cabbage evenly, ensuring that every bite is bursting with flavor.

Whether you prefer a creamier slaw or a slightly drier variation, the texture should be consistent throughout. Some recipes call for a shorter marinating time to maintain a crunchier texture, while others suggest longer marination to allow the flavors to meld together.

Regardless of personal preference, the key to achieving the perfect texture and consistency lies in preparation and attention to detail. By finely shredding the cabbage, evenly coating it with the dressing, and finding the right balance between tangy and sweet flavors, you can create a memorable Memphis style slaw that will elevate your barbecue experience.

Note: It’s important to note that there are no fixed rules when it comes to Memphis style slaw. Different pitmasters and home cooks may have their variations and secret ingredients, but the essence of this barbecue side dish remains the same – a delicious, tangy complement to smoky and savory meats.

A Tangy Twist on Traditional Slaw

When it comes to slaw, Memphis style stands out with its unique flavor profile and delightful tanginess. The origins of Memphis style slaw can be traced back to the barbeque pits of Tennessee, where it perfectly complements the smoky flavors of slow-cooked meats. If you’re a fan of coleslaw but crave something a little different, Memphis style slaw is sure to satisfy your taste buds.

The Tangy Vinegar-Based Dressing

One of the key elements that sets Memphis style slaw apart is its tangy vinegar-based dressing. Unlike the creamy dressing typically used in traditional slaw recipes, Memphis style slaw features a dressing that is light, refreshing, and packed with flavor. The tanginess of the vinegar adds a zesty kick, balancing out the richness of the meat and adding a bright, acidic note to each bite.

The tangy vinegar-based dressing is the star of Memphis style slaw, providing a refreshing burst of flavor.

To make the dressing, a combination of white vinegar, sugar, and vegetable oil is typically used. The vinegar provides the tang, while the sugar helps to balance out the acidity and adds a touch of sweetness. The vegetable oil helps to create a smooth and silky texture that coats the shredded cabbage and other ingredients perfectly.

The vinegar-based dressing enhances the texture of the slaw, ensuring every bite is both crisp and flavorful.

The Secret Ingredient: Mustard

Another secret to the deliciousness of Memphis style slaw is the addition of mustard. Mustard adds depth and complexity to the flavor profile, elevating the slaw to new heights. The slightly spicy and tangy notes of the mustard intertwine with the tangy dressing, creating a harmonious blend of flavors.

Mustard is the secret ingredient that gives Memphis style slaw its distinctive and addictive taste.

Traditionally, yellow mustard is used in Memphis style slaw, but you can also experiment with Dijon or whole grain mustard to add a unique twist. Whichever type of mustard you choose, be sure to balance the amount so that it enhances the overall taste without overpowering the other ingredients.

The addition of mustard adds complexity and depth to the slaw, delivering a flavor experience like no other.

A Touch of Spice: The Chili Pepper Connection

To give Memphis style slaw a little kick, chili peppers are often added to the mix. The heat from the peppers helps to cut through the richness of the meat and adds a spicy element to the slaw. Whether you prefer milder flavors or enjoy the burning sensation of a hot chili, the choice is yours.

The chili peppers bring a touch of heat to the slaw, creating a perfect balance of flavors.

Common chili pepper varieties used in Memphis style slaw include jalapeños, cayenne peppers, or even a dash of hot sauce for an extra fiery kick. The heat from the peppers complements the tanginess of the dressing and the mustard, creating a symphony of flavors in every bite.

The addition of chili peppers adds a spiciness that elevates the slaw and provides a tantalizing heat.

Now that you know the secrets to creating delicious Memphis style slaw, it’s time to gather your ingredients and start experimenting in the kitchen. Whether you’re planning a barbeque feast or simply craving a tangy and flavorful side dish, Memphis style slaw is sure to impress with its unique twist on traditional slaw recipes.

For a refreshing beverage to enjoy with your Memphis style slaw, check out this peach lemonade recipe. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and citrusy.

Pairing Memphis Slaw with Barbecue Masterpieces

When it comes to enjoying mouthwatering barbecue dishes, one can’t help but appreciate the perfect accompaniment of Memphis style slaw. This traditional Southern side dish adds a refreshing and tangy element that complements the richness and flavors of barbecue meats. Whether you’re indulging in some smoky ribs, pulled pork, or brisket, Memphis style slaw is sure to elevate your barbecue experience to new heights.

Enhancing the Sweetness of Ribs

There’s nothing quite like sinking your teeth into a tender and juicy rack of ribs. The combination of succulent meat and a finger-licking sauce is enough to make any barbecue lover swoon. However, by adding a scoop of Memphis style slaw to your plate, you can take this delectable experience to the next level.

The cool and tangy flavors of the slaw provide a refreshing contrast to the rich and sweet flavors of the barbecue sauce. The crispness of the cabbage and the creaminess of the dressing create a harmonious balance that cuts through the richness of the ribs, intensifying their flavors. It’s a match made in barbecue heaven!

The Perfect Balance for Pulled Pork

When it comes to pulled pork, the tender and succulent strands of meat are usually the star of the show. However, the addition of Memphis style slaw can elevate this classic barbecue dish and take it from great to extraordinary.

The creamy and tangy slaw provides the perfect counterpoint to the rich and savory pulled pork. The contrast in textures, with the softness of the meat and the crunchiness of the slaw, creates a delightful mouthfeel. The combination of flavors enhances the overall taste, making each bite a tantalizing experience for your taste buds.

Complementing the Smokiness of Brisket

Brisket, with its smoky and intense flavors, is one of the most beloved barbecue meats. To truly enhance the smokiness and complexity of brisket, pairing it with Memphis style slaw is highly recommended.

The cool and tangy slaw acts as a palate cleanser, cutting through the richness of the brisket and refreshing your taste buds. This allows you to fully savor the smoky flavors without feeling overwhelmed. The combination of the tender meat, the crunchy slaw, and the smoky undertones creates a culinary masterpiece that will leave you craving for more.

So, the next time you indulge in a barbecue feast, don’t forget to add a side of Memphis style slaw. Its tangy and refreshing qualities are the perfect complement to the mouthwatering barbecue dishes you’ll be enjoying. Whether it’s enhancing the sweetness of ribs, finding the perfect balance for pulled pork, or complementing the smokiness of brisket, Memphis style slaw is the secret ingredient that takes your barbecue experience to the next level. Give it a try and prepare to be amazed!

The Art of Making Memphis Style Slaw

When it comes to Memphis style slaw, there is an art to creating the perfect balance of flavors and textures. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a novice cook, these step-by-step instructions and insider tips will help you master the art of making this authentic southern dish. From choosing the right cabbage and vegetables to perfecting the essential dressing techniques, and understanding the importance of chilling, let’s dive into the secrets of delicious Memphis style slaw.

Choosing the Right Cabbage and Vegetables

To create a truly authentic Memphis style slaw, start by selecting the right cabbage and vegetables. The key lies in using a combination of both green and purple cabbage. The crispness of green cabbage provides a satisfying crunch, while the vibrant color and slightly sweet flavor of purple cabbage adds visual appeal and a delightful taste. Additionally, you can add other veggies like carrots, bell peppers, or onions to enhance the overall flavor profile of the slaw. These vegetables provide a satisfying crunch and refreshing taste that complement the cabbage perfectly.

The Essential Dressing Techniques

The dressing is a crucial component of Memphis style slaw, as it adds the necessary tang and creaminess to the dish. The secret to a mouthwatering dressing lies in the perfect blend of ingredients. Start by combining mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, mustard, sugar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk until the ingredients are well incorporated and the dressing is smooth and creamy. This tangy and flavorful dressing perfectly complements the crispness of the cabbage and vegetables, creating a tantalizing taste sensation.

For an extra kick of flavor, you can experiment with different variations of the dressing. Add a hint of hot sauce or a splash of Worcestershire sauce to give your slaw a spicy or smoky twist. You can also add a touch of BBQ sauce or pickle juice for a unique and delicious flavor profile.

Letting the Flavors Marry: The Importance of Chilling

Once you have prepared the cabbage, vegetables, and dressing, it’s essential to let the flavors marry by chilling the slaw. Place the slaw in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together and intensify, creating a harmonious taste that will elevate your slaw to new heights. The chilling process also enhances the crispness of the cabbage and vegetables, adding a refreshing and satisfying texture to each bite.

Remember, patience is key when it comes to chilling the slaw. The longer the slaw chills, the better the flavors will develop. If possible, consider preparing the slaw a day in advance and letting it chill overnight. This extra time will allow the flavors to fully harmonize, resulting in a truly delicious Memphis style slaw.

Now that you’ve mastered the art of making Memphis style slaw, you can confidently serve this classic southern dish at your next barbecue or family gathering. Remember to choose the right cabbage and vegetables, perfect the essential dressing techniques, and let the flavors marry through chilling. Celebrate the flavors of Memphis with each bite of this delicious slaw.

If you’re in the mood for a tasty dessert to go along with your Memphis style slaw, you should try these peanut butter cup cookies. They’re sure to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Adding a Personal Touch: Creative Variations

When it comes to creating delicious Memphis style slaw, adding your own personal touch can take it from ordinary to extraordinary. Get creative by experimenting with various twists and additions to elevate this classic dish and make it your own.

Adding Fresh Fruits and Nuts for Extra Crunch

One way to add a refreshing crunch to your Memphis style slaw is by incorporating fresh fruits and nuts. Consider adding diced apples or ripe pineapple to bring a burst of sweet juiciness to contrast with the creamy slaw dressing. The addition of sliced almonds or chopped pecans can also provide a delightful nuttiness and added texture. These fruity and nutty elements add depth of flavor and create a unique twist on traditional slaw.

Exploring Different Vinegars for Unique Flavors

Vinegar is an essential ingredient in Memphis style slaw, as it provides a tangy flavor and helps balance the richness of the dressing. To infuse your slaw with unique flavors, experiment with different types of vinegars. Try using apple cider vinegar for a slightly sweet and fruity taste, or balsamic vinegar for a rich and complex flavor profile. White wine vinegar can add a subtle acidity, while rice vinegar offers a milder and sweeter option. These vinegars can elevate the flavor of your slaw and add a delightful twist to the classic recipe.

Experimenting with Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices are a fantastic way to bring depth and complexity to your Memphis style slaw. Add a kick of heat with a dash of cayenne pepper or a sprinkle of paprika. Freshly chopped cilantro or parsley can add a refreshing herbal note, while dried oregano or thyme can bring a savory undertone. Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with different combinations to find the perfect blend of flavors that suits your taste. Adding herbs and spices allows you to personalize your slaw and make it stand out.

By adding your personal touch to Memphis style slaw, you can create a dish that is unique to your taste and preferences. Whether it’s the addition of fresh fruits and nuts, exploring different vinegars for unique flavors, or experimenting with herbs and spices, these creative variations will elevate your slaw and leave a lasting impression on your taste buds.

If you’re looking for a delicious side dish to pair with your Memphis style slaw, you should try this dog food recipe. It’s easy to make and full of flavor!

Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for reading our article on Memphis Style Slaw. Here are some common questions you may have:

No. Questions Answers
1. What is Memphis Style Slaw? Memphis Style Slaw is a unique coleslaw recipe that originated in Memphis, Tennessee. It features a tangy and creamy dressing with a hint of sweetness, and is often served as a side dish with barbecue.
2. What makes Memphis Style Slaw different from other coleslaw? Memphis Style Slaw stands out with its distinctive dressing, which includes ingredients like mustard, mayonnaise, vinegar, and a touch of sugar. This combination gives it a unique flavor profile that sets it apart from traditional coleslaw.
3. Can I customize Memphis Style Slaw? Absolutely! Memphis Style Slaw is a versatile recipe that can be adjusted to suit your taste preferences. You can add or remove ingredients, adjust the dressing’s sweetness or tanginess, or even experiment with different types of cabbage or vegetables.
4. How long does Memphis Style Slaw last? Memphis Style Slaw can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Just make sure to keep it in an airtight container to maintain its freshness.
5. What can I serve Memphis Style Slaw with? Memphis Style Slaw pairs perfectly with barbecue dishes such as pulled pork sandwiches, ribs, or grilled chicken. It also makes a delicious addition to burgers, tacos, or as a side to any Southern-inspired meal.
6. Can I make Memphis Style Slaw in advance? Yes! In fact, making Memphis Style Slaw in advance can enhance its flavor as the dressing has time to meld with the cabbage and other ingredients. Just keep it refrigerated until ready to serve.

Closing Thoughts

Thank you for taking the time to read about Memphis Style Slaw. We hope you found this article informative and inspiring. Whether you’re planning to make this delicious slaw for your next barbecue or to accompany your favorite dishes, we’re confident it will be a hit. Remember to visit our website again for more mouth-watering recipes and culinary tips. Enjoy your culinary adventure!

Jump to Recipe

The Secrets to Delicious Memphis Style Slaw | 101 Simple Recipe

Memphis Style Slaw

Learn how to make the tangy and creamy Memphis Style Slaw, a perfect side dish for your barbecue meals. Customize the dressing to suit your taste!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 120 kcal


  • ½ medium cabbage shredded
  • ½ medium red onion thinly sliced
  • ½ medium green bell pepper thinly sliced
  • ½ medium red bell pepper thinly sliced
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a large bowl, combine the shredded cabbage, red onion, green and red bell pepper.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss until well coated. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
  • Cover the slaw and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.
  • Serve chilled and enjoy with your favorite barbecue dishes!
Keyword Memphis Style Slaw, coleslaw recipe, barbecue side dish