Austin, Texas: Coleslaw with Light Vinegar Dressing

Hello everyone,

So John and I took a nice quick weekend trip to Austin TX. A weekend trip to Austin you say? Sounds like an awfully short trip to go so far. Well, as most of you know our trip was cut short as we had to frantically make our way back to Edmonton. I was called back to town to receive a cornea! And yes, I can see much better now. Life is good 😉

Salt LickOur two days in Austin were a whirlwind of activity… hot sauce shopping, barbecue sauce shopping, sunglasses shopping, touring gas stations, observing bats, observing gangstas and hos, counting IHOPs and Ford dealerships, biking and paddle boarding on the river, oh and did I mention John even two-stepped with me to a live country band? Yay! What a guy.

Of course, being in barbecue country, we also had the chance to indulge in a wee bit of Texas barbecue. This is what we came all this way for. After picking up some PBR at a gas station ( where John had to break into our car because the keys were locked in) we made our way to Driftwood, a small town about 40 minutes outside of Austin. Here, we went to a local barbecue establishment called the Salt Lick (BYOB!). Unlike the town, there was nothing small about this place. The place seats hundreds, and they reportedly serve around 600,000 people a year. The place was so packed we had to wait over an hour to get seated. We spent that time running around the restaurants taking pictures of all the glorious brisket, buying Salt Lick barbecue sauce, running back to the car for beer, and buying Salt Lick T-Shirts. We were like 2 kids in a candy store, except the candy was replaced by delicious smoked meat.

We indulged in the all you can eat brisket, sausage and ribs, and I’m pretty sure John consumed enough to feed a medium sized African village all to himself. It was the best smoked BBQ either of us had ever tasted.

So as a result of this momentous occasion, John is now inspired to create the best smoked meats that Alberta has ever seen. Equipped with his 300+ page Salt Lick cookbook, he is planning to tackle a brisket this summer. Brisket is the king of BBQ in Texas (contrary to the hype here, pulled pork definitely takes a back seat in Texas.) If you are in the right place at the right time, you just might be lucky enough to come over for some this year.

Barbecue RibsAs the brisket is at least a 24 hour commitment, John decided to takcle something a little quicker on the smoker last week. Salt Lick ribs was the project. After purchasing 4 racks of side ribs from Costco, John fired up the smoker to make enough ribs to feed a small army. That small army consisted of John, Cody and myself. Yes, we had leftovers. And yes, the ribs were as good as they were at the Salt Lick. Pat on the back for John! John also smoked portobello mushrooms for Jackie.
When John smokes, I am in charge of the sides. This time, I went with the classic sides: baked beans, coleslaw, and cornbread (sweet, not savoury.) I got the coleslaw recipe from our Salt Lick cookbook, a recipe which I will share with you today.

Before I go on, I would like to state that yes, it is sad that an entire email about smoked Texas BBQ has come down to coleslaw. But alas, most of us don’t own smokers, so I thought I would provide a nice side for when you decide to do your own BBQ this summer. If you would like to learn more about smoking, please consult John.

What I really liked about this coleslaw recipe is that it is not your typical coleslaw, slathered with mayonaise. The Salt Lick says they want to keep their recipes traditional, and Americans settling in Texas back in the day didn’t have mayonaise. This is a classic coleslaw where the dressing is primarily made from white vinegar and sugar. A nice light salad to enjoy.

– Serve this coleslaw immediately after dressing! The cookbook emphasizes this over and over, and I think they are on to something. I tried my coleslaw fresh and the next day for lunch and this recipe was definitely best fresh (however I enjoyed it the next day too!)

Ingredient I can’t live without:

I don’t know if this counts as an ingredient, however I am always happy when John adds it to food. Corn, cheese, salmon, ribs, portabello mushrooms, hamburgers, pulled pork … the list is long and flavourful!

Spice of the week:

This coleslaw recipe calls for white pepper. You don’t need much, it has a very unique flavour. Admittedly, this spice is new to my cupboard and I need to learn how to use it.

If you are reading this, thank you, this means you made it to the end and read my entire long email. There is just so much to talk about when it comes to Texas, BBQ (and coleslaw!)

Be sure to stay tuned for John’s rib recipe!

Bon Appetit!


Click here to view printable Word version of recipe:


By the Salt Lick

Vinegar Mix

1 1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper


1 Head cabbage, shredded
2 tbsp oil
Pinch of celery seeds
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
Vinegar mix

Directions: Salt Lick Vinegar Mix

  1. Place vinegar in heavy saucepan and bring to boil.
  2. Add sugar and salt, stiffing consistantly until disolved. Turn off heat.
  3. 3. In a mixing bowl, place white pepper and slowly pour vinegar mizture into white pepper while whisking. Mix well. Cover.

Directions: Coleslaw

  1. Place shredded cabbage in large mixing bowl, sprinkle oil over top and mix thouroughly.
  2. Sprinkle celery and sesame seeds overtop of cabbage and mix.
  3. Add salt lick vinegar mix, and combine well.
  4. Place in serving bowl, scrape all remaining seeds and dressing from mixing bowl and add overtop of salad in serving bowl. Serve immediately!

5 thoughts on “Austin, Texas: Coleslaw with Light Vinegar Dressing

  1. Pingback: John’s Smoked BBQ Ribs | Julie's Kitchen Adventures

  2. Terrible, not even remotely close to Salt Lick coleslaw. I should know I live 8 miles from the restaurant and have been eating there for over 30 years. I didn’t know what this concoction is, but it ain’t Salt Lick.


    • Lucky you, 8 miles! I would eat there everyday. Not sure why you bothered making this recipe when you live so close to the source.

      This recipe is from their cookbook, so either they lied, I made a typo, or you failed at following directions. I guess we will never know.


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