Crunchy, refreshing, and creamy Coleslaw prepared with just a handful of pantry ingredients. Enjoy it as a side dish to grilled meats and savory dishes, or mound some on top of hamburgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches.
What Is Coleslaw?
Our Coleslaw recipe is a crisp salad featuring shredded cabbage and carrots tossed in a sweet and tangy mayo-based dressing. The cabbage used in coleslaw is raw, and its shredded form offers a delightful crunch that’s central to the texture of the salad. While green cabbage is most commonly used, purple or red cabbage can also be incorporated for color contrast or a slightly different flavor profile.
There are countless versions of coleslaw recipes based on regional and personal preferences. While most coleslaws are made with a mayonnaise-based dressing, there are also vinegar-based (sometimes called “barbecue slaw”) and sour cream-based varieties. Some recipes incorporate buttermilk, mustard, or yogurt into the dressing. In addition, the salad can include other ingredients such as onions, bell peppers, pickles, or apples.
Though several variants exist – see my awesome recipe for Red Cabbage and Carrot Slaw – our recipe here captures the essence of classic Southern coleslaw.
Coleslaw is not just versatile in its ingredients but also in its uses. Enjoy it alongside burgers, hot dogs, BBQ meats, or fried chicken – it’s an American favorite that’s a staple at potlucks and summer picnics.
Ingredients For A Classic Coleslaw Recipe
- For convenience, I use a pre-made 14-ounce bag of shredded coleslaw mix, though fresh shredded cabbage and carrots work just as well.
- The dressing calls for mayonnaise, sugar, white vinegar, celery seed, dried dill weed, salt, and fresh ground pepper.
This easy coleslaw reaffirms that the simplest ingredients often lead to the most flavorful dishes.
How To Prepare Southern Coleslaw
- Begin by whisking the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Next, mix the shredded coleslaw with the prepared dressing in a large salad bowl. If you prefer to shred your own mix, thinly slice about 6 cups of green cabbage and 2 large carrots, using a Mandoline or a Food Processor for evenly sliced pieces.
- Cover and refrigerate for an hour before serving to enhance flavors.
Make Ahead Coleslaw
- You can prepare this coleslaw a day ahead and refrigerate it until needed. I often prepare the dressing a day or two in advance and mix it in an hour before serving for maximum crunch and freshness.
Tips and Varieties
- Flavor: Coleslaw is a balance of sweet, tangy, and creamy flavors. Don’t hesitate to taste and adjust the seasoning of your dressing before adding it to the cabbage mix.
- Shred your veggies: While a store-bought coleslaw mix is convenient, you can often achieve a fresher taste and crunchier texture by shredding your own cabbage and carrots.
- Using a food processor or mandoline: If you do choose to shred your own vegetables, a food processor with a shredding blade can make this task quick and easy.
- Soak the cabbage: If you find raw cabbage too crunchy or slightly bitter, you can soak shredded cabbage in cold water for about an hour before draining and using it. This will tenderize it slightly.
- Refrigerating before serving: Allowing the coleslaw to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving can help the flavors meld together, resulting in a more balanced and flavorful dish.
- Experiment with additions: While our coleslaw recipe is delicious as it is, you can enhance flavors and textures by adding green onions, diced apples, dried cranberries, chopped almonds, or pumpkin seeds.
- Serving options: Besides serving as a side dish, coleslaw can be used as a topping for BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, or hot dogs for added crunch and flavor.
What To Serve With Coleslaw
- Barbecue Ribs
- Instant Pot Barbecue Pulled Pork
- Beer Battered Yogurt Fried Chicken
- Grilled Chicken Thighs
Classic Southern Coleslaw Recipe
- 14 ounces Shredded Coleslaw Mix
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon celery seeds
- ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- chopped fresh parsley, for garnish, optional
- fresh cracked pepper, for garnish, optional
- Add shredded coleslaw mix to a large salad bowl and set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl combine mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, celery seeds, dill, salt, and pepper; whisk until thoroughly combined.
- Pour dressing over cabbage mixture and toss until well incorporated.
- Taste for seasonings and flavor; adjust accordingly.
- Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
- Garnish with parsley and fresh cracked pepper.
- Flavors: Adjust the sweet and tangy balance in your dressing to suit your taste.
- Fresh Veggies: Consider shredding your cabbage and carrots for extra crunch and freshness.
- Soak Cabbage: If the cabbage is too crunchy, soak it in cold water for an hour before using.
- Chill: For a better flavor blend, refrigerate coleslaw for an hour before serving.
- Prepare Ahead: Make coleslaw a day ahead for deeper flavors, but mix in the dressing closer to serving time to retain crunch.
- Experiment: Add ingredients like red cabbage, apple, jalapeños, or nuts for variety.
- Use as Topping: Coleslaw adds excellent flavor and crunch when used as a topping on sandwiches, tacos, or hot dogs.
- Keep any leftover coleslaw in an airtight container in the fridge, and consume it within three days.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.