Coleslaw With Vinegar or Creamy Dressing

Coleslaw with vinegar or creamy dressing recipe

​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 10 to 12 servings
Yield: 1 bowl
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
63 Calories
2g Fat
10g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 63
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 28mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Protein 1g
Calcium 25mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This coleslaw recipe offers two preparations. Make it with a basic vinegar dressing or add mayonnaise for a classic creamy dressing.

It's easy to tailor the ingredients to suit your taste. Feel free to reduce the amount of sugar if you like a less sweet coleslaw or use the equivalent sugar-free sweetener, such as stevia or erythritol. Some like the flavor of onion in coleslaw, but don't like big chunks. We sometimes use a dash of onion powder instead of freshly grated onions. If you aren't a fan of onions, omit them or serve some thinly sliced onions on the side for onion-lovers.

This version is dairy-free, but you may add a few tablespoons of sour cream or buttermilk along with mayonnaise for a tangy flavor. A slaw with buttermilk or sour cream pairs nicely with fried chicken or burgers. Whether vinegar-based or creamy, the slaw makes an excellent topping or side dish to serve with pulled pork or shredded beef pot roast, or brisket. Or use it to top tacos or hot dogs.


  • For the Slaw:
  • 4 to 5 cups shredded cabbage (about 1 medium head)
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 carrots, coarsely shredded
  • 2 tablespoons sweet onion, grated
  • For the Dressing:
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup white or apple cider vinegar vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Optional: mayonnaise

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for coleslaw with vinegar
    ​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  2. In a large bowl, toss the shredded cabbage, green pepper, carrots, and onion. Cover and chill thoroughly.

    Toss the shredded cabbage
    ​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, salt, vinegar, and oil. Blend well. If creamier coleslaw is desired, stir in some mayonnaise, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until creamy.

    Combine sugar, salt, vinegar, and oil
    ​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  4. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss before serving.

    Pour dressing
    ​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

How Do You Shred Cabbage for Coleslaw?

Shredding cabbage is easy. Just quarter the head of cabbage, cut out the core, and slice it thinly with a sharp knife or mandoline. You can shred cabbage a day or two in advance—store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the slaw.

How Do I Keep Coleslaw From Getting Watery?

Cabbage has a tendency to "weep" after it is dressed and can become watery, diluting the flavorful dressing. To reduce the weeping, shred the cabbage and vegetables 15 to 20 minutes before you plan to prepare the salad. Put the cabbage in a colander and set it in the sink. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and let it stand for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse the cabbage and then squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Pat the rinsed cabbage with paper towels to dry or use a salad spinner to remove the moisture. Make the slaw and dressing as directed, seasoning with salt, as needed.

How to Store

  • Transport the slaw in a cooler, and keep it cold until it's time to serve. If possible, serve it from a bowl nestled in a larger bowl or pan of ice. Whether the slaw is made with mayonnaise or not, never keep it at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If the temperature is above 90 F, refrigerate it after 1 hour.

Recipe Variations

  • Add about 1 teaspoon of celery seeds to the dressing or replace the salt with celery salt.
  • Add kale to the cabbage for a tasty cabbage and kale slaw.
  • Add about 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder in place of the grated onion.
  • Use about 1 1/2 pounds of commercial coleslaw mix in place of the cabbage and carrots. If desired, add the bell pepper and onion.
  • Replace the vinegar with lime juice for a tasty fish or chicken taco topping.
  • For lemony flavor, replace 1 or 2 tablespoons of vinegar with lemon juice.