Outer Banks Style Sweet Slaw: The Perfect Side Dish for Any Occasion

Nestled along the coast of North Carolina, the Outer Banks is not just known for its picturesque beaches and historic sites; it’s also home to a vibrant culinary scene that marries the flavors of the sea with Southern comfort.

Among the many dishes cherished by locals and visitors alike, the Outer Banks style sweet slaw stands out for its simplicity, flavor, and versatility. This blog post delves into the art of making this beloved side dish, ensuring you can bring a taste of the Outer Banks to your table.

A Simple Recipe with Complex Flavors

At first glance, the ingredients list for Outer Banks style sweet slaw is deceptively simple. Yet, it’s the balance of flavors and textures that makes this slaw a standout. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Green Cabbage: Fresh and crisp, forming the base of our slaw.
  • Carrots: Adding a splash of color and a hint of sweetness.
  • Mayonnaise: The creamy backbone of the dressing, lending smoothness and body.
  • Sugar: To sweeten the deal, balancing the tang of the vinegar.
  • White Vinegar: Introducing a zesty tang that cuts through the creaminess.

The Making of Outer Banks Sweet Slaw

  1. Prep Your Veggies: Begin by finely shredding the green cabbage and grating the carrots. The goal is to have a mix of textures that blend well together while still offering a satisfying crunch.
  2. Dress It Up: In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, sugar, and white vinegar. The quantities can be adjusted based on your preference for sweetness or tanginess, but a good starting point is a 2:1 ratio of mayo to sugar, with enough vinegar to achieve a pourable consistency.
  3. Combine and Chill: Mix the dressing with the shredded veggies until everything is well coated. For the best flavor, let the slaw chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. This resting period allows the flavors to meld together beautifully.

Serving Suggestions

Outer Banks style sweet slaw is incredibly versatile. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a variety of dishes, especially:

  • Seafood: From grilled fish to shrimp boils, this slaw adds a refreshing contrast.
  • Barbecue: A classic pairing, the slaw’s sweetness and acidity cut through the richness of meats.
  • Picnics and Potlucks: Easy to transport and always a hit, it’s a must-have for outdoor gatherings.

The Secret to Its Charm

What makes Outer Banks style sweet slaw so special? It’s all about the balance. The creaminess of the mayo, the sweetness of the sugar, and the sharpness of the vinegar come together in harmony, creating a side dish that’s both refreshing and rich. It embodies the spirit of Outer Banks cuisine: straightforward ingredients, combined in just the right way, to deliver flavors that are anything but simple.


Outer Banks style sweet slaw is more than just a side dish; it’s a celebration of balance and simplicity, a testament to the culinary heritage of the region. By following this recipe, you’re not just preparing a slaw; you’re bringing a piece of the Outer Banks into your home. Whether served alongside barbecue, seafood, or as part of a picnic spread, it’s guaranteed to elevate your meal with its refreshing taste and vibrant colors.