Disney’s Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue Cole Slaw

by | Jun 7, 2012 | Family Traditions, Side Dishes, Travel

The Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue at Disneyland; an outdoor, sit down and be served, all you can eat family style restaurant

Every November my family and I go to Disneyland and California Adventure. We usually head down to Anaheim the first or second Thursday of November when the kids are out of school for a teacher workday or Veteran’s Day holiday. November has worked out well for us for a few reasons: cooler weather, the park is not too crowded, Christmas holiday specials are filmed during this time so we sometimes see stars performing, and the park is decorated for Christmas.

Cinderella’s castle decorated for Christmas

Disneyland’s Main Street decorated for Christmas

New Orleans Square

We especially like the Haunted Mansion at this time of the year because it is decorated in a Nightmare Before Christmas theme and it is a lot of fun to experience. One of my favorite parts on the ride is when we pass by a holiday party with a decorated Christmas tree and a festive table set for the party. Transparent ghosts dance around the room and you can smell gingerbread as you pass through the area. My youngest daughter had only seen the Haunted House decorated in this fashion until she went to Disneyland with a school group during the month of May a few years ago. She was disappointed by how drab it was in comparison to how it looks in November.

The Haunted Mansion decorated in the Nightmare before Christmas decor

We have encountered rain a few times, but rain usually means no crowds and shorter lines, so we almost welcome it. However, a lesson we learned several years ago is to bring a few pairs of shoes. If your shoes get wet, they are not going to be dry by the next day and a new pair of shoes at the park will cost you about the same price as a ticket into the park.

We usually park hop and eat most of our meals in California Adventure (besides good food you can also get craft beer, wine, and margaritas there), however, there are a couple of food stops that we make in Disneyland. Bacon wrapped asparagus is served at the Bengal Barbecue across from the Indiana Jones ride. Good stuff.  The other “must get once during our visit to Disneyland” is the Dole pineapple whip sold at the Tiki Room. More good stuff.

Two favorite foods at Disneyland:  bacon wrapped asparagus and pineapple whip

Last November we discovered the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue in Disneyland. I’m sure plenty of people had discovered it before us. It just had never caught our attention before. It is an outdoor, sit down and be served, all you can eat family style restaurant. Barbecued chicken and ribs, cole slaw, beans, and corn bread are served by some young folks in hokey western garb (but we liked the food anyway).  After hours of walking and standing in line, sitting down and being served is a welcomed relief. Reservations can be made in advance. If you go to Disneyland during peak season, you might want to make your reservations early in the day or before arrival. Click here to find out more about making advance reservations.

I had the recipe for the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue cole slaw and had been making it long before I ate there. I like the recipe a lot–it’s is not mayonnaisey and has a bit of a zip. I have provided the recipe for you below.

Guests at the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue sit at tables under canopies

Barbecued ribs and chicken (left), corn bread (right)

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.

Reporting from the happiest place on earth,