North Carolina Piedmont Slaw 6.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Smoke Signals Jun 25, 2014

In the 1920s, Miss Dell Yarborough was working in the Lexington, N.C., restaurant owned by her brother-in-law, Sid Weaver, when she introduced the barbecue-eating world to an unusual vinegar slaw based on what her family ate at home. Most of the barbecue-eating world wasn’t interested, but Miss Dell's "barbecue slaw" caught on in the North Carolina Piedmont, where it remains the side dish of choice to this day. (Stamey's in Greensboro still serves the original recipe.)

In most of the South, coleslaw serves as a cooling contrast to the heat of barbecue sauce, but Piedmont slaw is, in effect, made with barbecue sauce. This is a typical example, based on the one served at Lexington Barbecue.

Make Ahead: The slaw needs to rest in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours and preferably overnight.

6 - 8

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Tested size: 6-8 servings; makes about 4 cups

  • 1 medium head cabbage, cored and chopped (5 to 6 cups)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Generous dash hot sauce, such as Texas Pete Hot Sauce or Tabasco brand


Place the cabbage in a large bowl.

Combine the ketchup, sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper and hot sauce in a liquid measuring cup. Pour over the cabbage and toss to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, and preferably overnight, before serving.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from the forthcoming "Barbecue: A Cookbook," by John Shelton Reed (UNC Press, 2014).

Tested by Andrew Sikkenga.

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