Classic Coleslaw

Classic Coleslaw

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 12 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 12 mins
Servings: 8 to 10 servings
Yield: 6 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
150 Calories
12g Fat
9g Carbs
2g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 150
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 7mg 2%
Sodium 130mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 45mg 225%
Calcium 59mg 5%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 242mg 5%
*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.)

A staple at cookouts, picnics, and potlucks, coleslaw is often thought of as a classic all-American recipe. But the beloved side dish originally came by way of the Netherlands—in fact, the term coleslaw comes from the Dutch term koolsla, which means "cabbage salad." It may also be called cole slaw (two words) or shortened to "slaw."

This versatile coleslaw is a reliable crowd-pleaser for a reason. With a simple mayo-based dressing that everyone will rave about, this recipe boasts the perfect balance of creamy, tangy, sweet, and crunchy.

It's easy to customize, too. Experiment with the sweetness level, starting with a small amount of sugar, then add more to suit your taste. For additional color and crunch, add a shredded carrot or use a combination of green and purple cabbage. Fresh parsley and celery seeds are excellent in coleslaw as well. If you like onion flavor, add a dash of onion powder or some thinly sliced or finely chopped red onion to the mixture.

How to Shred Cabbage for Coleslaw

To shred cabbage easily, remove the outer leaves and stand it, core side down, on a cutting board. Slice the cabbage into quarters and cut the core out of each wedge. Thinly slice the cabbage crosswise with a knife, or use a mandolin (make sure to use the hand guard!), which can be set for thick or thin shreds. A box grater is a good choice if you want finer, smaller shreds.

A Tip for Keeping Coleslaw Crunchy

Cabbage will weep and create extra moisture over time. For a crunchier slaw with less weeping, put the shredded cabbage in a large colander and toss it with 1 tablespoon of salt. Let the cabbage drain for about an hour, then rinse it with cold water to wash away the excess salt. Transfer the cabbage to a bowl and prepare the coleslaw as directed.

What's the Difference Between Celery Seeds and Celery Salt?

Most classic coleslaw recipes will call for celery seed, a spice that—as its name suggests—is made by drying seeds of the wild celery plant. Don't confuse it with celery salt, another ingredient you'll often find it next to in the spice aisle. Celery salt is a spice blend comprised of ground celery seeds and salt, most popularly used in the Bloody Mary cocktail.

When It Comes to Serving Coleslaw, the Possibilities Are Endless

Coleslaw isn't just for cookouts and summer meals—it's a fabulous topping for hot dogs, burgers, and sandwiches. A pulled pork sandwich wouldn't be the same without a generous heap of coleslaw. The tanginess of the coleslaw also marries well with fried fish and fried chicken, and it's a great addition to a bean dinner. Overall, coleslaw is a fantastic way to add pizzazz to just about any meal.

"This recipe is just the classic, all-American coleslaw to supplement your summer BBQ or cookout. I love that you can customize it as you see fit with different vegetables for some flavor and color combos. The recipe can also be modified to be made vegan or sugar-free." —Tracy Wilk

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 8 cups shredded cabbage

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise

  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, or to taste

  • 1 scant teaspoon celery seeds

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Classic Coleslaw ingredients

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. Put the shredded cabbage in a large serving bowl.

    Put the shredded cabbage in a large serving bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with apple cider vinegar and sugar. Add celery seeds, if desired, and then add salt and pepper to taste.

     mayonnaise with apple cider vinegar, celery seed and sugar in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. Add the dressing mixture to the cabbage and toss to coat.

    Add the dressing mixture to the cabbage

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  5. Refrigerate the coleslaw until serving time.

    Classic Coleslaw in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Recipe Variations

Once you have mastered basic coleslaw, you can change it up to suit your taste and purposes. Try these variations alone or in any combination you like.

  • Add one medium carrot, shredded.
  • Add one red pepper, thinly sliced.
  • Add 1/4 cup crumbled bacon.
  • Swap the green cabbage for some purple cabbage.
  • Combine red and white cabbages with apples and make the Everything Slaw.
  • Cut the regular salt in half and substitute 1/2 teaspoon celery salt.
  • Add extra tanginess with about 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard.
  • For onion flavor without raw onions, add about 1/2 teaspoon onion powder.
  • Replace about 1/4 cup of the mayonnaise with sour cream for an extra creamy coleslaw.
  • Cut back on the sugar, or if you like a KFC-style sweet slaw, add a bit more.
  • Replace the granulated sugar with a liquid sweetener or an equivalent amount of your favorite keto sweetener.
  • Replace 1 tablespoon of the vinegar with fresh lemon juice for subtle citrus flavor.

How to Store

Refrigerate leftover coleslaw in a covered container for up to 3 days.

Note: Do not leave coleslaw out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If the ambient temperature is above 90 F, refrigerate the coleslaw within 1 hour.