Country Music Legend’s Recipe for Coleslaw is the Best You’ll Ever Make

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

She’s a country music legend, prolific and award-winning songwriter, theme park owner, actress, and cookbook author.

Is there nothing Dolly can’t do?

I’ve known about Dolly Parton since I was a little girl and she’s sort of always been a part of my life, whether listening to her songs on the car radio, watching her in the awesome movie “9 to 5,” to hear all of the jokes about her ample physique.  She has an impressive resume in the entertainment industry and comes across as a happy, sunny, positive person, but I never, ever knew that she is also an accomplished home cook, and has written several cookbooks to boot.

In looking into the world of Dolly’s cooking, I found time and time again people raving about one particular recipe that will change the way you think about this picnic and barbeque staple.

The staple? Well, it’s coleslaw, and it seems every respecting Southern cook has her or his own go-to recipe. In Dolly’s recipe for coleslaw, she does something a little different, elevating the cabbage and the veggies to another plane, and she uses a simple ingredient that you most likely already have.

Pickle juice.

Yes, pickle juice! Once you try coleslaw with pickle juice, you’ll never look back. In this recipe posted on, you have the option to make your own changes to Dolly’s base recipe. Perhaps you like things a bit sweeter, so opt for Vidalia onions instead of regular onions and apple cider vinegar instead of regular white vinegar for a fruitier bite. Spice it up if you want with a little minced jalapeño or spiked mayonnaise, and increase the amount of carrot and bell pepper if you’d like it a little bulkier.

Other than the pickle juice, one ingredient you should NOT substitute is full-fat mayo. Full fat is essential as it will hold up to the vinegar which starts to break it down. A low-fat mayo will be watery after contact with the vinegar, and that will leave you with a milky mess.

Serve this coleslaw alongside grilled sausages, ribs, burgers, salmon, or spicy shrimp. Or you can pile it atop a po’boy, a banh mi, or any baguette-type sandwich.


  • 1 medium head cabbage, minced or sliced finely
  • 1 medium onion, or Sweet Vidalia onion if you prefer a sweeter taste, finely minced
  • 1 carrot, minced (or grated)
  • 12 bell pepper, your choice of color (I like red), finely minced
  • 14 cup sweet pickle juice
  • 14 cup white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar if you like a sweeter flavor
  • 1 tablespoon dill pickles, minced or 1 tablespoon pickle relish
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (use full fat instead of light)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 14 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt


There’s really nothing to it. Go down the list and throw all of the ingredients in a large bowl, mix well. Then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it. The coleslaw will comfortably serve 10-12 people.  It will keep in the fridge for several days, so you can plan ahead and make it well ahead of your next gathering.

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