This Homemade Coleslaw recipe is the perfect side dish for your next picnic or barbecue! It's easy to make and packed with flavor. In this post, you'll learn how to make traditional coleslaw from scratch. This easy recipe only takes a few minutes and the results are delicious! Serve this classic coleslaw recipe at your next picnic or potluck and everyone will be asking for the recipe!
Coleslaw is one of those delicious summer salads or side dishes that taste awesome with just about anything. This recipe is my take on the traditional classic coleslaw!
What Ingredients are used to make Coleslaw?
There are so many different ways to make coleslaw but the most consistently common coleslaw ingredients seem to be cabbage and carrots. This coleslaw is a combination of green shredded cabbage, julienned carrots, and thinly sliced red onion.
I use a whole green cabbage for this recipe, but you can certainly use a bag of pre shredded coleslaw mix (or pre shredded cabbage) to save time if you like, then all you have to do is combine it with the easy coleslaw dressing recipe in this post.
Another point worth mentioning is that when you look at the amount of dressing compared to the number of veggies you might think the ratios are a little off – you might think you won't have enough coleslaw dressing!
This is an illusion! lol
After the coleslaw is combined with the dressing and it chills, the veggies will release some of their moisture and integrate more with the dressing. It becomes creamy and super yummy, with just the right amount of dressing.
What is used to make homemade Coleslaw Dressing?
This homemade coleslaw dressing is made up of a combination of mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, whole-grain Dijon mustard, a little bit of sugar, a little bit of pepper, and some seasoning salt.
This mixture of dressing ingredients makes for a deliciously crunchy and zesty coleslaw!
You could use the typical Dijon mustard that you find in the grocery store for this recipe, but I really like to use the whole-grain Dijon mustard since it looks so pretty when combined with the coleslaw. I just find that using this kind of mustard gives the coleslaw a little yummy boost!
If you plan on using regular Dijon mustard, you might want to reduce the amount used since it’s a little more concentrated.
Why do people put vinegar in coleslaw?
Vinegar cuts the sweetness of the cabbage and it also adds tang to the coleslaw. Apple cider vinegar is my favorite to use as its flavor is more balanced and not nearly as sharp as white or red vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar incorporates better with the coleslaw flavors, adding a sweet and sour element injected with fruity, tangy and warm notes. Apple cider vinegar gives this tangy dressing its tanginess and it is a key part of this coleslaw dressing recipe.
How do I keep my homemade coleslaw from getting watery?
If you follow the ratio of this recipe exactly, your cole slaw shouldn't get too watery. Basically, my philosophy is that you need a lot less coleslaw dressing than you think because a lot of moisture naturally releases from the cabbage as the ingredients settle together.
There is another optional step you can take to prevent your creamy coleslaw dressing from getting too watery. Keep in mind though, that if you follow the ratios for the dressing in this recipe, you likely won't need to do this step!
After shredding the cabbage, put the cabbage into a colander and throw a tablespoon of salt into the cabbage. Toss the cabbage to distribute the salt evenly. Place the colander above a bowl or a pot to drain into. Wait at least one hour (or longer) then check up on your cabbage. By now a lot of the water should have drained out. Quickly press down on the cabbage to drain out more water and pat down the cabbage with paper towel to remove the remaining water. Your coleslaw will remain crisp while drying out.
Another way to keep your coleslaw from getting watery is to add a thickening agent such as mayonnaise, sour cream, or Greek yogurt.
How to make Coleslaw from Scratch – Overview
The Best Coleslaw Recipe
You can find the full recipe details, including ingredient amounts and the full instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but first, here's a quick overview of how to make homemade coleslaw from scratch!
In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the dressing (mayonnaise, sugar, seasoning salt, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, freshly ground black pepper) Use a whisk to ensure everything is well combined.
Now thinly slice your red onion, green cabbage and carrot. Combine shredded carrots, sliced cabbage and sliced red onion.
Into your bowl, combine and toss the creamy dressing with the cabbage mixture until everything is evenly coated. Mix in some salt and pepper or seasonings to taste.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or the containers lid) and set in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. 30 minutes should be fine, but if you can wait longer it'll taste even better! If possible, let the coleslaw sit in the fridge for a few hours after making it so that the flavors have a chance to meld together.
- If you want to add some crunch to your coleslaw, try adding chopped up apples, grapes, or celery.
- Add in some shredded cheese for a cheesy coleslaw.
- If you want a bit of heat, add in some diced jalapeños or red pepper flakes.
- Make a fruit coleslaw by adding in diced pineapple, mango, or oranges.
- Toss in some toasted nuts or seeds like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or chopped up peanuts.
- Add in some canned chickpeas or black beans for extra protein.
- For a tangy coleslaw, add in some diced pickles or more cider vinegar or some lemon juice.
Other Veggie Ideas:
- Try using different types of cabbage like Napa cabbage, savoy cabbage or red cabbage for a change.
- Try also adding some chopped celery or even some sliced red and yellow bell peppers
- Try swapping out half of the cabbage and use shredded apple to make an apple slaw!
- Add some fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, or dill.
- Add in some spices like curry powder, celery seeds, cumin, or smoked paprika.
- For a creamier coleslaw, replace half of the mayonnaise with sour cream.
- You can replace the mayonnaise with plain Greek yogurt for high in protein, diet friendly option.
Alternatives to sugar:
- Swap out the white granulated sugar for maple syrup, brown sugar, honey, or agave nectar.
Can I make Coleslaw ahead of time?
Coleslaw is one of those salads that's actually even better when made ahead of time. The flavors have a chance to marry and meld together, making for an even tastier dish packed with so much flavor!
How to Store Leftover Coleslaw and how long is it good for?
Leftover coleslaw will keep in the fridge, stored in an airtight container, for 5-6 days. Give them a good stir before serving as the dressing will have settled on the bottom.
Can I freeze Coleslaw?
No, you shouldn't freeze coleslaw. The dressing in mayonnaise-based coleslaws will separate and curdle when thawed, and the cabbage will become mushy. So it's best to make coleslaw fresh and enjoy it within a few days.
What to Serve Coleslaw with?
Homemade coleslaw tastes amazing with so many different dishes! Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Coleslaw is very popular served in a big bowl as a side dish in a summer picnic, potluck, buffet style BBQ or any big gathering.
- Try this coleslaw as a topping for my pulled pork sandwiches or coleslaw works well with pulled pork in general.
- BBQ chicken and grilled fish work great with coleslaw. Really, anything off the grill would be delicious paired with this refreshing slaw.
- Coleslaw is also a great topper for hot dogs and hamburgers
- As a side, coleslaw does a great job of complimenting the richness of fried, heavy and rich foods.
Other Recipes You'll Enjoy
- 1 green cabbage, medium sized and thinly sliced into strips
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into julienned strips
- ¼ cup red onion, halved then thinly sliced
- 1 cup of mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp seasoning salt
- 1 tbsp +1 tsp cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard (this is the kind with the seeds in it – you can substitute regular Dijon if you choose, but you may want to use a little less.)
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the dressing. Use a whisk to ensure everything is well combined.
- Into the bowl, combine and toss the dressing with the cabbage, carrots and red onion until everything is evenly coated
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or put on a lid) and set in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Please note that when you mix this up in the beginning it may seem like there isn't enough dressing – this is an illusion! lol As the coleslaw chills in the fridge the cabbage and veggies will release come of the moisture and become one with the dressing. The little bit of salt and cider vinegar in the recipe helps draw out the moisture.