Classic Coleslaw Recipe

Spread the love

If you’re looking to whip up a classic coleslaw that will have everyone coming back for seconds, you’ve come to the right place! Whether you’re planning a summer BBQ or simply craving a refreshing side dish, this recipe will surely hit the spot. With its signature creamy dressing and crunchy cabbage, this classic coleslaw is both timeless and irresistible. So grab your apron and get ready to create a coleslaw that will become a staple in your recipe repertoire.


To make a classic coleslaw, you will need the following ingredients:


Cabbage is the main component of coleslaw and provides a crunchy texture and fresh taste. You can use both green and purple cabbage for added color and flavor.


Grated carrots add a touch of sweetness and bright color to the coleslaw. They also provide extra crunchiness and texture.


Chopped onion contributes a mild, tangy flavor to the coleslaw. It adds a nice contrast to the sweetness of the cabbage and carrots.


Mayonnaise is essential for the creamy dressing that coats the vegetables in coleslaw. It lends richness and binding to the salad.


Vinegar adds a tangy and slightly acidic taste to the coleslaw dressing. It helps to balance the flavors and provide a refreshing element.


Sugar helps to balance the acidity of the vinegar and adds a touch of sweetness to the coleslaw dressing. It enhances the overall flavor profile.

Salt and pepper

Salt and pepper are basic seasonings that add depth and flavor to the coleslaw. They help to bring out the natural flavors of the vegetables.


Before you can start making your coleslaw, you need to prepare the vegetables and the dressing.

Shred the cabbage

Start by shredding the cabbage into thin, uniform strips. You can use a knife or a mandoline slicer to achieve the desired thickness.

Grate the carrots

Next, grate the carrots using a box grater or a food processor. Aim for fine shreds that will mix well with the cabbage.

Chop the onion

Chop the onion into small, bite-sized pieces. You can dice it finely or leave it slightly larger for added texture.

Prepare the dressing

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and vinegar. Mix them together until they are well blended. Then add the sugar, salt, and pepper, and whisk until the dressing is smooth and all the ingredients are incorporated.

Making the Dressing

To make the coleslaw dressing:

Combine mayonnaise and vinegar

In a mixing bowl, pour the desired amount of mayonnaise and vinegar. The ratio of mayonnaise to vinegar can be adjusted to suit your taste preferences.

Add sugar, salt, and pepper

Next, add the sugar, salt, and pepper to the mayonnaise and vinegar mixture. The amount of sugar, salt, and pepper can also be adjusted to achieve the desired balance of flavors.

Whisk until well blended

Using a whisk or fork, vigorously mix the ingredients together until the dressing is smooth and well blended. Make sure there are no lumps or clumps of ingredients remaining.

Mixing the Coleslaw

Now that the dressing is prepared, it’s time to mix it with the vegetables to create the coleslaw.

Combine shredded cabbage, grated carrots, and chopped onion

In a large bowl, combine the shredded cabbage, grated carrots, and chopped onion. Mix them together gently to distribute the ingredients evenly.

Pour the dressing over the vegetables

Pour the prepared dressing over the vegetables in the bowl. Start with a small amount and gradually add more as needed, ensuring that all the vegetables are well coated.

Toss to coat evenly

Using salad tongs or clean hands, gently toss the vegetables and dressing together. Make sure all the vegetables are evenly coated with the dressing.

Optional Additions

To add variety and additional flavors to your coleslaw, you can include optional additions:


For a touch of sweetness and chewiness, add a handful of raisins to your coleslaw. They complement the crunchy vegetables and provide bursts of flavor.

Pineapple chunks

For a tropical twist, try adding pineapple chunks to your coleslaw. The sweet and tangy pineapple pairs well with the creamy dressing and adds a refreshing element.

Diced bell pepper

For added crunch and vibrant color, consider adding diced bell pepper to your coleslaw. Choose red, yellow, or orange bell peppers for a more visually appealing dish.

Celery seeds

To impart a unique and savory flavor, sprinkle some celery seeds into your coleslaw. They add a subtle, herby taste that enhances the overall flavor profile.


For a tangier and more pungent flavor, mix in some mustard into the coleslaw dressing. It adds a zesty kick and complements the creaminess of the mayo.

Chopped parsley

For a fresh and herbaceous taste, sprinkle chopped parsley over your coleslaw. It adds a pop of color and a delightful aroma to the dish.

Refrigeration and Serving

To ensure the flavors meld together and the coleslaw is at its best, follow these steps:

Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour

After making the coleslaw, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or transfer it to an airtight container. Place it in the refrigerator and allow it to chill for at least one hour. This resting time allows the flavors to meld together for a more delicious coleslaw.

Serve cold

Once the coleslaw has chilled, it is ready to be served. Scoop it onto plates or into bowls and enjoy the refreshing crunch and creamy taste of classic coleslaw.


If you want to switch up the flavors, try these popular variations:

Creamy coleslaw

To make a creamier coleslaw, increase the amount of mayonnaise in the dressing. This will result in a richer and more velvety texture.

Vinegar-based coleslaw

For a lighter and tangier coleslaw, decrease the amount of mayonnaise and increase the amount of vinegar in the dressing. This creates a refreshing and zesty flavor profile.

Spicy coleslaw

If you like a bit of heat, add some diced jalapeƱos or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper to your coleslaw. The spiciness adds a punch to the classic recipe.

Asian-inspired coleslaw

For an Asian twist, substitute soy sauce and sesame oil for the mayonnaise in the dressing. Add some grated ginger and chopped cilantro for extra flavor. This version pairs well with Asian-inspired dishes.

Coleslaw Tips

Consider these helpful tips to make the best coleslaw:

Choose fresh and crisp vegetables

To ensure the best texture and flavor, select cabbage, carrots, and onions that are fresh and crisp. Avoid using vegetables that are wilted or have soft spots.

Adjust the dressing to taste

Taste the dressing before adding it to the coleslaw and adjust the seasonings according to your preference. Add more sugar for sweetness, more vinegar for tanginess, or more salt and pepper for a bolder flavor.

Allow flavors to blend

Give the coleslaw enough time to rest in the refrigerator. This allows the flavors to meld together, resulting in a more cohesive and flavorful salad.

Make ahead of time

Coleslaw can be prepared a day in advance for convenience. When stored properly in the refrigerator, it can retain its freshness and flavors.


Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about making coleslaw:

Can I use bagged coleslaw mix?

Yes, using a pre-packaged coleslaw mix can save you time and effort. Simply add the dressing to the mix and toss to combine.

How long can I keep coleslaw in the refrigerator?

Coleslaw can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. However, it is best to consume it within 24 to 48 hours for optimal freshness and taste.

Can I make coleslaw without mayonnaise?

Yes, if you prefer a lighter coleslaw, you can substitute the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt or a combination of yogurt and sour cream. This creates a tangier and healthier version of coleslaw.

Can I use red cabbage instead of green cabbage?

Absolutely! Red cabbage can be used instead of green cabbage, or you can even use a combination of both for added visual appeal. Red cabbage adds a slightly sweeter and earthier flavor to the coleslaw.