Just in Time for Your July 4th Picnic: Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue Cole Slaw

Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue Cole Slaw

“This is not your normal cole slaw,” says Chef Sean Layne, the area chef for Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue in Frontierland in Disneyland park. He serves a whopping 1,000 pounds of the crunchy, sweet ‘n spicy slaw every week at Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue, along with barbecued chicken, ribs, sausage, cornbread, ranch beans and delicious desserts.

Since guests are constantly asking for the recipe, we thought we’d share it with you – just in time for your own Fourth of July barbecue. It’s great to pack for a picnic since the base is vinegar (no mayo) and also gluten, dairy and egg free. And if you don’t want to shred the cabbage, just pick up the ready-made version in the produce section of most grocery stores – two 1-pound bags are just enough.

If you’d rather enjoy Chef Sean’s version, you can make a reservation for family-style lunch or dinner by calling 714-781-DINE.

Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue Cole Slaw

Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue Cole Slaw

Serves 6 to 8

1/2 cup white-wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound shredded green cabbage (about 1/2 large cabbage)
1 pound shredded purple cabbage (about 1/2 large cabbage)
2 carrots, shredded

  1. Combine vinegar, sugar, salt, celery seed, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne in a blender; blend on low speed until sugar is dissolved.
  2. With blender running, slowly pour oil through top of lid, processing until dressing is combined. Set aside.
  3. Combine shredded cabbage and shredded carrots in a separate large bowl. Add dressing, tossing to combine. Refrigerate for 2 hours, tossing occasionally, before serving.


  • I made this for our neighborhood block party on July 3. It was a huge hit! I just made another batch for another gathering tonight. DH doesn’t like mayonnaise-based coleslaw but loves this. Thanks for a great recipe that I will use a lot.

  • Just made this for dinner tonight and it was great. Thanks for the recipe I know I will be making this for all the family get togethers. Thank you and Happy 4th of July to all!!!

  • I just made this about three hours ago, and I served it to my grandkids with BBQ pork, and Ranch Style Beans. Thumbs up to Chef Sean Layne, the grandkids loved it and went back for seconds, thirds, and fourths. Awesome recipe.

  • Well this Irish girl LOVES this slaw just as it is, carrots and all!!!! I am sooooooooooooooo EXCITED to get this recipe!! I’m making it this weekend for our July 4th party, it’s going to be a HIT! This is the best cole slaw ever, my sweetie doesn’t eat slaw, but he devours this!! As do I! I can’t wait! Thank You Thank You!! And yes, the BBQ beans recipe would be great too, I don’t like other BBQ beans, just these! 🙂

  • This is great!

  • Love this mayo-free option while dining in BTR. One of the best values in the Park (great food, service and entertainment).

  • I made this today and it was a BIG HIT!! Thank you so much! I would love to see more recipes on the blog please! We have a trip planned to WDW in October for the Food and Wine Festival, and I told my husband I wanted to make a new Disney recipe each week until the trip! It would be great if you could post a few each week. The cole slaw will be the new standard around here though.

  • This is great to have, being a Big Thunder Ranch fan. Being strong Irish, my grandfather and father, would never let us put orange carrots in the slaw however, but will try the rest and maybe use Splenda instead of sugar. The Irish at Paris Disneyland would love this minus carrots at their Cowboy Cookout.

  • Sounds like the sort of thing an old grandpa would enjoy with a chef grandson. congratulations Sean.

  • THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS!! I can’t tell you how excited I am! I tried this for the first time in April and haven’t stopped talking about it! The funny thing is, I have never liked Cole Slaw…never ever have been able to enjoy it. My husband was raving so much while at Big Thunder I agreed to try a small taste. I was instantly in love and must have had at least 3 huge servings! I can’t wait to try this at home and see if I can even come close. Of course, the ambiance here at home, wont be quite as exciting, but we’ll do our best! 🙂 Thanks again! 🙂

  • WOW, that was the best Cole Slaw ever! It was worth the wait when we to the park last year.

  • I love how you’re sharing recipes with us on the blog! I save them and try them when the opportunity presents – please keep it up. I also vote for the cheddar cheese soup!

  • You had me at Slaw…

  • Looks yummy! I’m totally going to try this!

  • Got the ingredients, I’ll try it tonight 🙂
    More “secret” Disneyland recipes for us East-coast WDW folk!…Soft Mint Julep, maybe?
    (Or how about cheddar-cheese soup from Epcot?)

  • Oh yay! I LOVE this cole slaw. Thanks for sharing. Happy 4th to you all!!

  • Sean is a great friend of mine.. and a wonderful cook!!!! We love heading to thunder mt ranch bbq everytime we get to CA to play at disney!!! we LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe for cole slaw!!! and we LOVE SEAN!!!!

  • We ate there last week, and my husband, who normally detests coleslaw, loved it! Thank you for the recipe!

  • Thank you!!! I can’t wait to make this for our big family party. More recipes please!

  • Yummy Yummy . We are trying it, Thanks

  • Thank you so much for the recipe! This is the best cole slaw and I can’t wait to make it.

  • This is delicious! We ate it last year when we went to Big Thunder Barbecue and it was FANTASTIC! 🙂 Happy 4th of July everyone!

  • i love the coleslaw at big thunder ranch! thank you so much for this recipe. i may just try it out tonight. i’d love the recipe for the bbq beans too 🙂

  • Looks GREAT! I am going to try it. Thank you for sharing it.

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