Classic creamy coleslaw is an excellent side dish for summer picnics, potlucks, and barbecues. This classic coleslaw recipe is an adaptation of my grandmother’s recipe. It’s made with a mix of green cabbage and carrots tossed in a tangy, creamy dressing.
The best coleslaw recipe
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Perfect balance of creamy and tangy.
- Easy coleslaw recipe. For a shortcut, use a pre-shredded cabbage mixture.
- Use this recipe on top of a turkey, corned beef, or brisket sandwich to take your sandwich to the next level of deliciousness and crunch.
I came across my grandma’s coleslaw recipe, but realized it was really just a list of ingredients with no measurements or directions. I decided to do some research and recreate an updated version of her homemade coleslaw recipe.
Grandma was famous within the extended family for making her coleslaw. People would request that she bring it to potluck parties. I knew I had a winning recipe on my hands if I could just get some guidance on the proportions.
Kenji Lopez-Alt’s coleslaw recipe was used as a guide to help figure out the measurements for my grandma’s recipe. I decided to swap out the miracle whip for mayonnaise, and add a bit of dijon mustard for more flavor. The result is a delicious and creamy and tangy coleslaw with a crunch. My family said I nailed Grandma's recipe.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
See the recipe card below for a complete ingredient list and measurements.Jump to Recipe
- Shredded cabbage and carrots - Grocery stores usually carry a pre-shredded coleslaw mix with cabbage and shredded carrots. There are also varieties with purple and green cabbage mixed together. You can shred your own too. Use ½ a small head of cabbage with one medium carrot and shred with a food processor or box grater, or slice thinly with a sharp knife.
- Green onion - A substitute for green onion is chopped chives.
- Mayonnaise - Although my grandma’s recipe uses Miracle Whip, I prefer to make this coleslaw recipe with mayonnaise instead. If you do prefer miracle whip, use less sugar. I have also used vegan mayonnaise in place of regular mayo with success. If you like a creamier coleslaw, add another dollop of mayonnaise.
- Apple cider vinegar - This coleslaw uses a mayo-based dressing, but adding apple cider vinegar adds a nice acidity. If you prefer a more zingy coleslaw, try white distilled vinegar instead.
If you have leftover cabbage, try out this Thai Chicken Salad.
Step by Step Directions
See the recipe card below for complete directions.Jump to Recipe
Mix together dressing ingredients until all are well incorporated.
Toss together cabbage, carrots, green onions with the coleslaw dressing to combine.
For best flavor, let sit in the refrigerator for 1-3 hours before serving.
- Dress the cabbage about 2 hours before you want to serve it. This coleslaw recipe tastes better after it marinates together for a while, and the cabbage softens.
- If you shred the cabbage yourself, it may have more moisture than bagged shredded cabbage. You can lay it out on paper towels to help absorb excess moisture.
- For a more colorful coleslaw, use a mix of green and purple cabbage.
- A fun variation is to make this salad Asian style with Napa cabbage, which is more delicate in texture and mild in taste. Add in sesame seeds and replace mustard with sesame oil. Use rice vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar. Cilantro and water chestnuts make fun additions.
- If you like a stronger onion flavor, replace the green onions with thinly sliced red or sweet onion.
- Mix in other shred vegetables or fresh herbs like baby sweet bell peppers, sugar snap peas, broccoli, or parsley.
The dressing can be made one day ahead of time. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. Make the coleslaw 2 hours in advance for best results.
Storage and Reheating
How to store: Store leftover coleslaw in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
How to freeze: Do not freeze coleslaw.
What to serve with coleslaw
Coleslaw is a classic side dish to serve for a backyard barbecue or summer potluck. Here are some other dishes to serve with coleslaw.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use Miracle Whip in place of regular mayo for this coleslaw recipe. Use less sugar since Miracle Whip is sweeter than regular mayonnaise.
It is not recommended to freeze coleslaw, as the texture will be ruined and be soggy after defrosting.
Grandma's Coleslaw Recipe
- Sharp knife
- 1 pound bag shredded cabbage and carrots
- 3 stalks of green onion white and green parts, sliced thinly
For the dressing
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise or a heaping ⅓ cup if you like to wing it
- 1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- generous grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
- Measure all the ingredients for the dressing into a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake the jar until all the ingredients are well-incorporated. Make sure there are no mayonnaise lumps.
- In a large bowl, toss together the shredded cabbage, carrots, sliced green onions, and the dressing. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours before serving.
- If you like a creamier coleslaw, add another dollop of mayonnaise.
- Swap the apple cider vinegar for white vinegar for an extra zing.
- Make your own cabbage mix - Use ½ a small head of green or red cabbage with one medium carrot, and shred with a food processor or box grater, or slice thinly with a sharp knife.
- How to store: Store leftover coleslaw in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
- How to freeze: Do not freeze coleslaw.
- Make ahead: The dressing can be made one day ahead of time. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. You can make the coleslaw 2 hours in advance for best results.