Easy Cole Slaw (Coleslaw)

This traditional coleslaw recipe is an easy side dish made with shredded cabbage mix and creamy dressing – ready in 5 minutes!

Cole Slaw is the quintessential Summer Side Dish for your backyard barbecue. Other summer essentials include the best Milk Boiled Corn, Crispy Sweet Potato Fries, and the yummiest BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad ever!  

Cole Slaw in white serving bowl

Easy Cole Slaw, also known as Coleslaw, made in just 5 minutes with the perfect homemade dressing, is the ultimate side dish for summer because it gets even better the next day. Perfect for cookouts and planning ahead!

This classic Cole Slaw recipe is an easy barbecue side dish. Instead of spending a lot of money on grocery store Cole Slaw that could have been sitting there a week, you can make it at home with ingredients you can control!

If you speak to the head of deli department in your local grocery store, they’ll likely tell you that Cole Slaw comes in either pre-made or in two parts, mix and dressing. This is a way to have fresh Cole Slaw without the added preservatives you’ll find in packaged Cole Slaw dressings.

This recipe is loved so much that there are multiple creamy coleslaws on the site! One is KFC Coleslaw (Copycat) and the second is a personal favorite and unique cole slaw, Tony Roma’s Coleslaw made with a teaspoon celery seeds. 

How to Make Easy Cole Slaw

Making your own Coleslaw from scratch can be as easy as pouring and mixing! And all the ingredients are pantry staples which means you’ll likely have the already at home! If not, you can easily find the ingredients in your local grocery store. 

  • Step One – Sauce: First, combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl. 
  • Step Two – Slaw: Mix the cabbage mixture into the sauce and voilá, cole slaw!
  • Note: While this is technically ready to eat, we suggest letting it rest in the refrigerator for a few hours to really let the flavors set into the cabbage.

More Delicious Cabbage Recipes

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I buy pre-shredded cabbage mix?

The time required for chopping plus the leftovers of the cabbage make it an easy swap. In addition to that, sometimes buying the vegetables whole can costs almost twice as much as buying the pre-shredded bag. This recipe shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to put together the morning of your bbq, or the night before.

Why do I have to let Cole Slaw sit before serving?

While this recipe takes only five minutes to put together, one of the most important things about Cole Slaw is letting it sit so that the dressing can soften the crunch of the cabbage. We recommend 2-4 hours. Even better if you can do it the night before. It’s a great dish to make ahead of time. 

Where does Cole Slaw come from?

Cole Slaw is a dish that comes from the Netherlands. Its first presentation showed up in a cookbook there in 1770. 

Bowl of Cole Slaw

Key Ingredients in Cole Slaw

Homemade Cole Slaw is made with just a few basic ingredients you probably already have! Check it out!

  • Cabbage: We are using a pre-shredded cabbage mix in our recipe here. You can make your own using green cabbage, purple cabbage, and carrots. See below for the instructions on how to do this. 
  • Mayonnaise: This recipe calls for regular mayo. Some people prefer using Miracle Whip over mayo in this recipe which is fine. 
  • Vinegar: While the tablespoon vinegar used in this recipe is regular white vinegar since it is a bit stronger than others, you can used distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar if you prefer. 
  • Sugar: You can use white sugar or brown sugar. We are using white sugar in this recipe. Granulated sugar should be used with caution since the larger crunchy sugar crystals will need to dissolve really well before adding in the cabbage. 
  • Lemon Juice: We only use fresh squeezed lemon juice as it has the best flavor. The pre-bottled lemon juice can be used in a pinch, as can lime juice. 

Can Cole Slaw be Made Ahead of Time? 

The beautiful thing with Cole Slaw is that you can make it in advance! While it is still really yummy as soon as it is mixed together, making your Cole Slaw a day or two earlier and keeping it in the fridge will help bring all the flavors together and help them get into the cabbage mixture. Make sure it is sealed in an airtight container. 

How to Make your own Cabbage Mixture for Cole Slaw

If you want to use your own mix for the coleslaw, follow these instructions.

  • Green Cabbage: Cut up a full head of green cabbage into 4 large quarters using a sharp 8 inch chef’s knife. (There are a couple of branded DTD Knives left in stock – my personal favorites. Get one before they’re gone!) Taking care, thinly slice each of the quartered cabbage pieces. Discard the thick root part. One head of cabbage should make about 8 cups of shredded cabbage.
  • Red Cabbage: Next, shred enough red cabbage to make 1 cup shredded red cabbage, about a 1/4th of a red cabbage head.
  • Carrots: Lastly, using the julienne setting on your kitchen mandolin (or or one of the sharp chef knives mentioned before) slice 4 carrots into short, thin strips.

Variations and Substitutions on Cole Slaw Ingredients

Cabbage mix, mayo, lemon juice, and a touch of sugar are the basis for a good Cole Slaw. You can add or substitute  other ingredients to make it your own! 

  • Fresh Herbs: Adding a few teaspoons of fresh mint chopped and diced green onion or sliced white onion will give this recipe a fun and herby kick! 
  • Mustard: Some people have found that adding a bit of mustard seeds or a tablespoon or two of dijon mustard to the mix really adds a wonderful depth of flavor. 
  • Mayo vs Miracle Whip: Mayo is really creamy while Miracle Whip is a bit sweeter. You can substitute Miracle Whip without issue if you prefer. 
  • Vinegar: You can use dill pickle juice as a really nice substitute for vinegar. If you have absolutely no other options, just use extra lemon juice. 
  • Sugar: Stevia is a good sweetner substitute, as is dark brown sugar. 
  • Salt: Celery salt is an incredible way to give this dish more flavor without overpowering the tastebuds. 

More Great Summer Side Dishes

How to Store Cole Slaw

  • Serve: For best results, make sure to refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving, serve chilled, and don’t leave it out longer than 2 hours.
  • Store: Cole Slaw can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week. If it starts to break down, add more coleslaw mix to keep it fresh longer.
  • Freeze: Coleslaw doesn’t freeze well, so just throw it out and make a fresh batch when needed.
Cole Slaw

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Easy Cole Slaw Recipe (Coleslaw)

This traditional coleslaw recipe is an easy side dish made with shredded cabbage mix and creamy dressing – ready in 5 minutes!
Yield 8 Servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 14 ounce coleslaw mix with red cabbage and carrots*
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Add the mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice, white vinegar, salt, and pepper to a large mixing bowl and whisk together until fully combined.
  • Add in the coleslaw mix and stir well to combine.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Video

Notes

* If you want to use your own mix for the coleslaw, use 8 cups shredded cabbage, 1 cup shredded red cabbage, and 4 julienned carrots.

Nutrition

Calories: 120kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 170mg | Potassium: 84mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 60IU | Vitamin C: 19.2mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 0.3mg
Keyword: Easy Cole Slaw
bowl of cole slaw pin 1

Photos used in a previous version of this post:

Cole Slaw collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.

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Comments

  1. I’m not a cole slaw lover since I hate mayo but this is so good I can even eat it! My family loves it and the lemon cuts the flavor of the mayo. Just really a great recipe.

  2. I tried this recipe this morning and I am going to Barbacue a turkey and Deer ? sausage for this afternoon. I am putting Cole slaw in refrigerator. I don’t like Mayonnaise so I used Miracle Whip Salad dressing and I didn’t have white distilled Vinegar so I used Apple Cider Vinegar

  3. I usually don’t like most coleslaw’s so I was just making it like why not try it. I didn’t have lemons so I used 2 limes so they didn’t go to waste, added a bit more salt and it was so good! Made me want to eat it all. I did not shred the cabbage just bought some coleslaw bag. Would make again ??! Gonna have it tomorrow with pulled pork sandwiches ???? bye!

  4. Great Recipe! Easy to make and taste way better then any jar. My husband’s new favorite coleslaw recipe.

  5. I made your coleslaw with fresh cabbage and carrots from my garden. Refrigerated for 4 hours. Served with barbecued chicken. The coleslaw was a hit. Thankfully I doubled the recipe.

  6. I love your recipes looking forward to trying it. I am guessing it’s bottled lemon juice?

  7. I made this a few times recently, it’s really tasty. Added a grated apple, some dijon mustard and garlic pepper to taste.

  8. Delicious!
    Couldn’t find my moms recipe but this one was spot on
    I substituted sugar with 1 1/2 packets of zing, and instead of kosher salt I added celery salt.

  9. replaced the Vinegar with pickle juice and halfed the sugar amount using dark brown sugar, yum.

    1. Thanks for posting your comment here about subbing dill pickle juice & dark brown sugar. I was reading the comments to see what recommendations were suggested to sub for the white vinegar because II’m running too low on it before next shopping trip to buy more. You have a GREAT solution. I can’t recall what happened when I made a similar recipe with acv (which I have more of in the pantry), but it doesn’t matter now. I’ll follow your resolution to my dilemma.

  10. I ‘ve been making this recipe since it was published. I love this recipe. Today, I’m going to try it with Broccoli slaw.
    It came out just as good as regular coleslaw!

  11. this is perfect!!!!!! My Mom always made her own dressing for cole slaw & it was great. Finally I found the one that tastes just like what she made…….thanks so much….have been buying bottled stuff that never pleases me.

  12. Super easy and Super delicious! Can’t buy a better coleslaw from the deli. We make it 2 times a week at least.

  13. Easy recipe and it’s tastes good ! I made a batch and will have with pork chops and I can eat it alone as a salad.

    Thanks ?

  14. Easy, quick and delicious! Tonight with bbq pulled pork sandwiches and left~overs tomorrow with cheeseburgers and fries! Always perfect!

  15. This was a huge hit at my house. I made this to top off my homemade pulled pork sliders with. I’m thrilled with the way the slaw pulled it all together. YUM! It’s definitely on my list for making in the future and can’t wait to make it for a party.

  16. Great quick recipe. Kept the dressing in a glass jar and mixed it with the cabbage just before serving. Coleslaw stays crisp and it keeps a bit longer this way. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. I’ve been making this recipe since it was published. I love this recipe. Today, I’m going to try it with Broccoli slaw.

  17. I started using this recipe a few years ago. I’ve never wanted to look for another one! This has the perfect balance of everything. I don’t like celery in coleslaw but I DO like the flavor. After making this a few times as is, I decided to add celery seeds. IF you’ve never cooked with celery seeds, please note that a little goes a long way…my first batch using it was overpowering.

    Also, my brother won’t eat coleslaw anywhere else cause it’s not as good as ‘mine’! Glad I found this recipe!

    1. that’s how my mom always made it, just reduce any vinegar by the taste test. Also, you can add a small amt of grey Poupon.

  18. Easy to follow and put together. I use apple cider vinegar instead of plain while vinegar. Salad tastes great! This is my go to cole slaw recipe! Thanks.

    1. I use apple cider vinegar too – love it! No sugar for us (diabetic) but everything else the same. My go-to recipe for life!

  19. Hello Sabrina, I’ve been making your cole slaw recipe for several years now, every time I make cole slaw I go right to yours, it’s easy and taste very good my family and friends enjoy it. Thank you for all your great recipes.

  20. Double the sauce if you like it saucy. Also substituted celery salt for salt, lime for lemon (what I had), and added teaspoon of dijon mustard. Turned out great!

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