How to Make Coleslaw

Easy Tips to Making Homemade Slaws

Coleslaw in a bowl

Michael Piazza / Getty Images

Most slaws are made with shredded cabbage and called coleslaw, but any shreddable vegetable can be made into a crunchy, yummy salad and called a slaw (as evidenced by these Delicious Cole Slaw Recipes).

The Benefits of Cole Slaw

Since coleslaw is made with hearty cabbage or other similarly sturdy vegetables, they can stand up to being dressed ahead of time, making them perfect for toting to picnics, bringing to potlucks, or making for crowds when you want to make dishes beforehand.

Much like Tossed Green Salads, slaws and coleslaws are very flexible, and a great dish to play with, even for novice cooks. As long as you follow these principles, and keep tasting as you go, you can create your own coleslaw or adjust any recipe to your taste:

Step 1: Make the Dressing

The heartier veggies in slaws stand up well to sharp dressings. Use a ratio of one part oil (olive oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil—nut oils are lovely, too, like almond oil or walnut oil; heavy cream will make a deliciously creamy slaw) to one part acid (cider vinegar, white or red wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, or lemon juice), plus salt, pepper, and any other seasonings. Note that a bit of sugar can balance out this bracing dressing without additional oil (and pairs nicely with the char on grilled meats). A total of about 1 to 2 tablespoons of dressing for every 1 cup of shredded vegetables is a good rule of thumb.

Step 2: Shred the Vegetables

Use a kitchen mandoline, if you have one, but a sharp knife will do the job just fine, and "shred" the vegetable—cabbage, peppers, and kale are all good options—by cutting them into fine threads. Harder vegetables like carrots or kohlrabi can be more literally shredded on a large-hole grater if you like.

Step 3: Toss the Dressing and Vegetables

Add a bit of dressing at a time, and toss the vegetables with the dressing, tossing and adding dressing a bit at a time until the vegetables are evenly but completely coated with the dressing.

Step 4: Add Herbs or Other Garnishes

After the main vegetables are well coated with the dressing, add any herbs, aromatics, or other additions to the coleslaw and toss the slaw to combine them evenly as well.

Serve Your Slaw

Serve coleslaw immediately or store it, covered and chilled, for several hours. Many slaws can even be stored overnight. They will wilt a bit, but not necessarily in a completely unpleasant way.