Say goodbye to the stale, mayonnaise-drowned grocery store coleslaw. This Coleslaw recipe is crisp and refreshing, with just enough creamy dressing to bring it all together. It’s a great side for dishes like Smoked Pork Butt and Fried Chicken, and it’s picnic and potluck friendly!

Coleslaw - with Shredded Green and Purple Cabbage and Carrots in White Bowl

Coleslaw is one of those recipes that gets written off as nothing to get excited about, but I think much of the reason is because of how it’s typically encountered.

Many of the pre-made coleslaws you can buy are a couple days old, drowning in mayonnaise, and made of machine-cut confetti pieces of cabbage, instead of crunchy, thin, and long strands of fresh cabbage. These things all make a big difference.

Why This Recipe Is So Great

It went through many rounds of recipe testing – Over the years I’ve experimented with many different versions of coleslaw, and I truly think this is the best. I know what aspects of this dish truly matter, such as how the vegetables are cut.

Minimal ingredients – Fortunately, I’ve figured out that the best coleslaw is actually pretty simple and minimal in ingredients.

Perfect texture – Many people don’t realize that with a dish like this, the texture is incredible important. The thin, uniform ribbons here are delicious, and I think more enjoyable than confetti-style.

The natural sweetness of the cabbage comes through – Yes, there’s a creamy dressing here, but the star of the show is really the freshness and flavors of the cabbage and carrots. This is how I think it should be.

How to Make It Step by Step:

To take the coleslaw start to finish, we’ll need to prep and cut the vegetables, make the dressing, then toss it all together. Let’s get into it!

Cut the Vegetables

One of the most important elements of a fantastic cole slaw is how the vegetables are cut.

I believe the best coleslaw is made using cabbage that’s sliced with a mandolin. It slices the cabbage into even pieces that are long and crunchy.

Coleslaw Vegetables - In Mixing Bowl with Purple and Green Cabbage and Carrots

In my post for How to Cut Cabbage, you can see the difference between the hand cut cabbage on the left, and the mandolin cut cabbage on the right:

Shredded Cabbage - Side by Side Mandolin vs Hand Cut

It’s the exact same head of cabbage, but the eating experience between those two textures is quite different, all based on how it’s cut. I use an inexpensive mandolin (affiliate). That post will also walk you through how to core and prep the cabbage.

If you want to use purchased pre-cut coleslaw mix, I suppose that will work here too, but I really do think it’s worthwhile to cut your own if you have a few minutes to spare. It will taste so much fresher, and the texture will be better too.

Because the pre-shredded coleslaw mixes are machine cut, you can get a lot of “confetti” pieces.

Make the Dressing

Combine a good quality mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, and an optional whole grain mustard:

Coleslaw Dressing - In a Glass Bowl with Mayonnaise, Apple Cider Vinegar, Mustard

I enjoy the little pops of the mustard seeds, and mustard has a flavor affinity with cabbage, so I like adding it. If you don’t like mustard, leave it out.

Whisk that all together, then add salt and pepper:

Coleslaw Dressing Recipe in Glass Mixing Bowl with Pepper

It will have a very pourable texture, with a consistency between buttermilk and ranch dressing.

Combine the Dressing with the Veggies

Pour the coleslaw dressing all over the prepped vegetables:

Pouring Dressing Over shredded Veggies

You’ll see that I only include three in my mix: green cabbage, red cabbage, and carrots.

And actually, I really only use two types of cabbage because I think it looks pretty.

There are a lot of extras that I see people adding to cole slaw, like bell pepper, red onion, and heck, even parsley.

If you want to add these things, I won’t stop you, but I really don’t think that adding them makes coleslaw better. I actually find their strong flavors to be a bit distracting.

Toss the vegetables and dressing together for a good minute or so, until combined:

Coleslaw Recipe - Tossed in Stainless Bowl with Fresh Cabbage and Carrots with Dressing

Then I like to let the coleslaw rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving, so the flavors can meld.

Admittedly, there are plenty of times when I dive right in, and it’s still delicious.

Cole Slaw - with Green and Purple Cabbage and Carrot Shreds in White bowl

This coleslaw is a great side dish to bring to summer potlucks, and pairs well with recipes like Slow Cooker Pulled Pork, Spatchcock Chicken, tacos (especially fish tacos), lunch wraps with deli meat, hot dogs, and more. Enjoy!

Recipe FAQ:

Can coleslaw be frozen?

I don’t recommend it, as raw cabbage does not freeze well.

How long does coleslaw keep?

About 3 days in the fridge, then it starts to go downhill after day 4. It will still be edible, but the texture starts to break down too much.

Can coleslaw be made in advance?

Yes, a few hours before is best, but a day ahead is the most I’d do for optimal texture.

Did you enjoy the recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page. Or, follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest!

Coleslaw in White Bowl

Coleslaw

This Coleslaw recipe is crisp and refreshing, with just enough creamy dressing to bring it all together.
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Ingredients

  • 6 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard optional
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions 

  • Place the cabbage and carrots in a very large mixing bowl.
  • In a small bowl, whisk to combine the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, mustard if using, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour the dressing all over the cabbage, and toss well to combine.
  • Let the cole slaw rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving, then enjoy!

Notes

Here’s a quick visual guide for How to Cut Cabbage
Storage: Keep the coleslaw in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Technically it will be edible for more like 5 days, but the texture really starts to go downhill. Do not freeze.

Nutrition

Calories: 171kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 8mg, Sodium: 326mg, Potassium: 194mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 2985IU, Vitamin C: 32.8mg, Calcium: 38mg, Iron: 0.5mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.