Coleslaw is a favorite side for picnics or BBQs and it’s easy to make ahead of time!

In this coleslaw recipe, crisp and colorful shredded cabbage is tossed in a very simple creamy dressing with a hint of sweetness.

With some cabbage (or coleslaw mix) and a few basic ingredients, this will be a go-to side dish for almost any occasion.

a prepared coleslaw recipe in a bowl

A Classic Coleslaw Recipe

This is the best coleslaw recipe, perfect for parties and summer potlucks and it is so simple to make.

  • You need just a few ingredients, most of which you likely have on hand.
  • Use green and red cabbage or coleslaw mix to make it even easier.
  • The creamy coleslaw dressing takes just 2 minutes to make.
  • This is great for gatherings since it is best made ahead of time.

Ingredients

BASE: We use a mixture of regular green cabbage, a bit of red (or purple) cabbage, and shredded carrots. You can swap this out for a bag of coleslaw mix but don’t limit it to cabbage try any “slaw” that your store carries.

DRESSING:  Homemade coleslaw is so good because of the zesty creamy dressing. If you’re short on time (or ingredients) store-bought dressing can be used, you’ll want something tangy and sweet.

How to Make Coleslaw

Colorful coleslaw can be made so quickly! Just 3 simple steps to the perfect creamy side dish.

  1. Shred Cabbage: Finely shred cabbage using a mandoline, a food processor, or make thin slices with a knife. For the carrots, I grate them on the larger side of a box grater.
  2. Prep Dressing: Whisk the dressing ingredients in a large bowl (per the recipe below).
  3. Combine & Chill: Add the cabbage and carrots to the dressing and stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

ingredients in bowls to make The Best Coleslaw Recipe

Variations

  • Swap the cabbage for pre-shredded cabbage or slaw mix in the produce section of the grocery store.
  • Finley cut an apple (toss it in a bit of lemon juice) to make it into a Creamy Apple Slaw Recipe.
  • Use the creamy dressing in the recipe below or the vinaigrette dressing in the notes.
  • To make this recipe lighter, use yogurt in place of some or all of the mayonnaise.

The Best Coleslaw Dressing Ingredients

How to Make Coleslaw Dressing

The creamy dressing for this easy coleslaw recipe is homemade but ready in about 2 minutes. It’s so good!

What’s in Coleslaw Dressing? This coleslaw recipe uses mayonnaise as a base for a creamy slaw (my favorite kind) but I’ve included a vinaigrette-based dressing in the notes too.

Mayonnaise adds a creamy texture while the vinegar adds a slight tang. The small amount of sugar balances the dressing. Make sure you don’t skip the celery seed, it really adds a lot of flavor to this dish. This dressing is great on coleslaw but it’s also perfect on broccoli salad. Mix the dressing well before adding to the cabbage mixture. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.

Overhead shot of Coleslaw with coleslaw dressing on top ready to mix

Holly’s Tips

  • Don’t skip the celery seed, it adds flavor to this classic coleslaw recipe.
  • Whisk the dressing in a large bowl (instead of a small bowl) and add the cabbage to toss it all together, one less dish to wash!
  • Coleslaw is best once it’s chilled for at least a couple of hours.
  • If serving at a potluck or summer event, ensure the slaw isn’t left out in the sun. Place the bowl of slaw in a larger bowl filled with ice to keep it chilled.

What to Serve with Coleslaw

We know that KFC coleslaw is great with chicken but we love this fresh crisp version even more. We love it with any kind of bbq dish.

serving a coleslaw recipe with wooden spoons

How to Store

Store this coleslaw in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. After a couple of days, it may release a bit of water, drain it away (and add a tiny bit of mayonnaise if needed).

Unfortunately, coleslaw made with a mayonnaise base will not freeze well.

More Easy Sides You’ll Love

Did you make this Coleslaw recipe? Leave us a rating and a comment below!

a prepared coleslaw recipe in a bowl
4.99 from 561 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

The Best Coleslaw Recipe

This creamy coleslaw is the best salad or sandwich topper. It's the perfect make-ahead dish, ideal for a BBQ or potluck!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Chill Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients  

  • 3 cups green cabbage finely shredded
  • 2 cups purple cabbage finely shredded
  • 1 cup carrot finely shredded

Dressing

  • ½ cup mayonnaise/dressing
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon celery seeds
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Combine all dressing ingredients in a bowl.
  • Toss with cabbage & carrots. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving to allow flavors to blend.

Video

Notes

Cabbage and carrots above can be replaced with coleslaw mix.
 Don’t skip the celery seed, it really adds a lot of flavor to this dish.
This dish is best after the flavors have had a chance to blend. Resting in the fridge also helps to soften the slaw.
Option 2: Vinaigrette Coleslaw Dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seeds
  • salt & pepper to taste
4.99 from 561 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 160 | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 148mg | Potassium: 207mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 3942IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American

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Coleslaw in a white bowl with spoons and writing
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homemade coleslaw in a white serving bow with a title
coleslaw in a white bowl with wooden spoons and writing

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Comments

    1. I have only tried this recipe as written Sandy so I can’t say for sure. If you try it I would love to hear how it turns out!

  1. Hello,

    I am looking forward to trying this. Is “cider vinegar” above the same as apple cider vinegar? I just want to make sure. I am adding shredded apples to this recipe but am using the regular coleslaw dressing.

    Thank you

  2. Followed the directions…3 cups of green cabbage, 2 cups of red, 1 cup of carrots. Mine came out a lot “darker than the photo… hard to believe there are 2 pieces of red cabbage to every 3 pieces of green in that photo. The dressing was tangy though.3 stars

    1. Hi Julie, I would store this coleslaw in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

      Unfortunately, coleslaw made with a mayonnaise base will not freeze well.

  3. I just made this coleslaw for the first time. It was super easy to make!! I used a bag of coleslaw mix and added green onion. I chopped the whit end of the green onion finely and cut the green end normally. It added just the right amount of onion flavor. Not to strong and not too lite!! I will definately be making this again!!5 stars

  4. Excellent slaw. Takes little time and taste fabulous. Took to a work function and it was gone before I knew it….. Definitely will make again….5 stars

  5. So I have tried so many recipes for creamy cole slaw and I’ve never found one as good as this. I’ve made this twice. Last time I didn’t have celery seed and it was good but missing something. I’m so glad I tried it again and got the celery seed. It’s a must. I like mine really soaked in this dressing so I removed some of the shredded cabbage mix. This by far pairs perfectly with my pulled pork better than any Cole slaw out there!5 stars

  6. This cole slaw isn’t bad, but it’s not the best. I added about a Tbsp. of mayo, a tsp. of apple cider vinegar, and a generous Tbsp of honey. Much better!
    Note: You can leave out the celery seeds, but it’s better with them.4 stars

    1. Thanks for trying it Nikki. We definitely think it’s the best ;) but your additions sound great too!

  7. I think I’ve tried every coleslaw recipe out there. This is the first one that my husband made multiple happy comments about during dinner. Finally, a keeper! I did add some finely chopped red onion and celery salt instead of celery seed. Delicious!5 stars