Coleslaw

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This easy coleslaw recipe is perfect for summer parties, potlucks, and barbecues. It’s refreshingly crunchy, perfectly creamy, and flavored just right with my tangy-sweet coleslaw dressing. 

A bowl of creamy coleslaw.
Photo: Gayle McLeod

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

When peak summer BBQ season hits, this creamy coleslaw gets rave reviews every single time (along with my potato salad, of course). It’s great as a fresh and simple BBQ side dish paired with slow cooker pulled pork, topped on BBQ chicken, and so much more. Here are a few other reasons why you’ll love this coleslaw: 

  • The dressing is perfectly balanced. Creamy coleslaws, like KFC’s, are drowned with a dressing that contains more processed sugar and fat than necessary (as many contain buttercream). My coleslaw dressing is made with fresh ingredients that’s still creamy and delicious, yet have a subtly sweet flavor.
  • It’s more crunchy than saucy. My cabbage is coated in the dressing, but it’s not swimming in it. This keeps it healthier and with a little more crunch. Plus, cabbage is a great healthy ingredient, so let’s keep that theme going with this recipe!
  • There’s room for customization. If you want it creamier, just add more of the dressing. If you want a no-mayo coleslaw, opt for this vinegar coleslaw with similar ingredients. 
Ingredients for coleslaw on a table.

Coleslaw Ingredients

  • Vegetables: A classic coleslaw mix includes shredded green cabbage, purple cabbage and carrots. And you know my thoughts — fresh veggies rather than a bag of pre-chopped coleslaw mix will always have the best flavor!
  • Mayonnaise: You can use your preferred mayo. But if you’d like to make it at home, I’ve got a super easy mayonnaise recipe that’s a great option with a clean ingredient list. 
  • Honey: Traditional coleslaw has quite a bit of processed sugar. So, I’m opting for a smidge of honey for a subtle, and naturally sweet taste.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Vinegar is an essential ingredient for that hint of tanginess. 
  • Celery Seeds: These little seeds give this coleslaw salad an aromatic punch! If you can’t find them, you can just omit them, but it will alter the taste a bit.
  • Quick Tip: This recipe makes quite a bit of coleslaw (about 12 servings) which is perfect for a party. For a smaller portion, just halve the recipe, and use any leftover cabbage to make sautéed cabbage.

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

Shredded coleslaw ingredients in a bowl.

How To Make Coleslaw

  • First, chop the cabbage into quarters. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and give them a good wash. Chop off the stem at the end, slice the cabbage in half, and then into quarters. Then, diagonally cut out the area where you see the stem or core on the inside.
  • Second, shred the cabbage. To shred, you can use a knife, a spiralizer, a mandoline, or the large hole side of a box grater. You can make the cabbage as thin or thick as you desire, but thin cabbage is much easier to eat and layer in sandwiches. If you feel the cabbage is a little too long, cut the shredded cabbage in half. 
  • Make the dressing and toss everything together. Here comes the good stuff, the dressing! Stir the ingredients and toss it with the cabbage and carrots until well coated. 

Coleslaw Storage Tips

  • Make-ahead option: Yes, you can make coleslaw the day before! This is especially helpful when planning for an event. Also, I love it when the cabbage and carrots marinate in the dressing overnight. They become so much more flavorful than the first day. However, you can keep the veggies and coleslaw dressing separate and mix them the day of as well. 
  • For storing leftovers: Once the veggies are mixed with the dressing, it will last about 4 to 5 days in the fridge in a sealed container. 
A white bowl of coleslaw.

Ways To Enjoy This Coleslaw

  • Enjoy with grilled BBQ meats: This is the quintessential side dish for things like BBQ chicken, grilled shrimp, barbecue ribs, chicken kabobs – any BBQ dish you can imagine!
  • Pair with tender, slow-cooked pulled pork: Coleslaw with my slow cooker pulled pork is the ideal summer meal, especially in pulled pork sandwiches or sliders.
  • Add it to juicy turkey burgers: Add a fresh bite to these juicy turkey burgers or simply enjoy with the patties themselves!
  • Top onto tacos: I love this coleslaw paired with fish tacos like my grilled fish taco or shrimp tacos.  
Coleslaw in a bowl.

More BBQ Side Dishes

I can’t wait for you to try this coleslaw recipe! If you make it, I’d love to know how it turned out in the comment box below. Your review will help other readers in this community. 

A white bowl of creamy coleslaw.

The Best Coleslaw Recipe

5 from 31 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

This easy coleslaw recipe is perfect for summer BBQs and potlucks, whether it's served as a side dish or layered in pulled pork sliders. Watch the video below to see how I make this in my kitchen!

Video

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

  • ¾ green cabbage, finely shredded
  • ¼ red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 3 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey, (or more for desired sweetness)
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

  • Prep the coleslaw. Add the shredded green cabbage, red cabbage, and carrots to a large bowl. 
    Shredded coleslaw in a bowl.
  • Make the dressing. Combine the mayonnaise, honey, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and celery seeds in a small bowl and whisk together. (If you want the dressing to be sweeter, add more honey.)
    Coleslaw dressing in a container.
  • Stir it all together. Pour about half of the dressing onto the cabbage and carrots and toss. Slowly add more dressing until you’ve reached your desired slaw-to-dressing ratio.
    A bowl of coleslaw with a spoon.

Lisa’s Tips

  • This recipe makes approximately 12 cups of coleslaw (based on the size of the cabbage you see in my video). If your cabbage is larger or smaller, this may vary. 
  • Other ingredients to add to this coleslaw: Chopped spring onions, sliced apples, or even dried raisins will be a delicious touch to this recipe!
  • To store for the week: Once the veggies are mixed with the dressing, it will last about 4 to 5 days in the fridge in a sealed container. 

Nutrition

Calories: 159kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 193mg | Potassium: 197mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 2811IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Coleslaw, Coleslaw Recipe, Homemade Coleslaw
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




63 Comments

  1. This is the best slaw recipe I have made. I made it for a group of slaw lovers and they agree this is the best they have tasted in a long time. The only thing I added was a hot sauce to my liking.5 stars

  2. Extremely flavorful!! Thank you Lisa! I cannot believe that I made the mayo myself and it turned out how I wished for!!!! Thank you! :-)

  3. delicious… I have put cut up celery as well as celery seeds in the past, and a small amount of onion … doesn’t matter, this recipe is delicious!5 stars

  4. A very nice tasting, healthy recipe. This is a good cole slaw recipe. I just made a big batch and thought I’d leave a reply. The next time, I’ll add maybe a 1/4 cup more of the “sauce,” but overall, it’s a great, simple, healthy, and good recipe.

    Thanks for posting this. Kudos to you.5 stars

  5. Delicious! Thank you for the easy recipe. I made this slaw and served on some grilled burgers with homemade French fries. My kids asked for seconds of cole slaw! Great way to get kids to eat some cabbage.5 stars

  6. Lisa this dressing is the bomb! I live in SC -had a massive stroke in 2020 and NOTHING tastes good any more – made 1/4 recipe of this dressing – 2cups slivered cabbage , 1/2 carrot grated and 2 chopped spring onions- truely the best thing I’ve tasted in 2 years!! Thanks for sharing! I also enjoy all you put out about Vitamix- best hummus maker!5 stars

    1. I agree and I live in SC too :) can I ask – how to you get your hummus out of the bottom of the Vitamix? Do you find you lose some of it because of the blades? Thanks!!

  7. Made it today and the ACV, the celery seed and the touch of honey really make it terrific. It will be my go-to for coleslaw. Thanks bunches.5 stars

  8. I only have purple cabbage in my house. Can I use that for all of the cabbage instead of using green and purple?

    1. Hi Elisanna – Traditionally coleslaw is a blend of different cabbages, but if you only have purple – that’s fine too :)

  9. Hi Lisa, I just made Coleslaw first time for this Easter. Without honey because I was afraid it would be to sweet and without celery seeds because I don’t have them. It’s a acceptable new idea of how to eat cabagge. I did put some parsley (to avoid to go bad in my fridge). Actually I tried to translate the name Coleslaw to Croatian but no success so I just call it American cabagge salad.5 stars

    1. Hi Marina – Congrats on making your first batch of coleslaw! I’m glad you loved this recipe as this is definitely a delicious and refreshing recipe to make use of cabbage :)

  10. I made this as written and it was very good. My husband and son really liked it. I think next time just a little more apple cider vinegar.5 stars

    1. Peggy, my Mom used to put Pineapple in her coleslaw so that is how I always make it. Adds just that little bit of extra sweetness!!! I have not made this recipe but it includes all that I use in my coleslaw..and it is delicious

  11. OMG so delicious!!!
    Made half batch for weekly meal prep, let’s see if it lasts past Tuesday (and I only cook for myself!)5 stars

  12. Definitely a hit during holidays. I use whole30 approved mayo and it was still super creamy. Looks good, feels light and delicious!5 stars

  13. In your Coleslaw recipe we found a comfort food for us! The dressing is super delicious, my family loves it!5 stars

    1. Hi Katharina – So glad you and your family love this coleslaw :) It’s one of my favorite side dishes as well!

  14.  Both recipes are great! I’d like to add cilantro and a red, yellow or red bell pepper into the vinegar version !   And you can put it on tacos as well as eat it as a salad! 5 stars

    1. Hi Barbara – Thank you! Any of those additions would be amazing… Especially on tacos or a salad! Would love to see your interpretation as well :)

  15. Hi Lisa, I make an even simpler coleslaw recipe devised by mum when we were children and she had a difficult time trying to get us to eat salad-type stuff! It’s just shredded white cabbage, grated carrot, a good handful of sultanas and some small cubes of apple on the top. No quantities given as I just alter the amounts according to how many I’m providing for and use a bowl of the right size and fill it.5 stars

  16. Do you think it would be okay to use maple syrup instead of honey? I make the sub in baked goods all the time but with this I can’t decide if it would affect the flavor very much.

  17. Made the Vinegar-based cole slaw today, it is fabulous! What a great taste: the fresh sweet cabbage and carrots with the tart-sweet dressing. We mounded it on your Pulled Shredded Pork for a bbq brunch salad, just delicious. We loved it! Thank you for sharing this great recipe with us!5 stars

    1. Oh yay! I’m happy you loved the recipe Tricia. And that sounds like a perfect combo with the pulled pork recipe. Enjoy!

    1. Yes! It’s amazing and super easy. If you haven’t watched my spiralizer video yet, than make sure to watch as I show you how to spiralize cabbage. :)

  18. This looks so light and crunchy. Not soaked in a mayonnaise. I need to make this for my BBQ this weekend.5 stars

    1. Yes, exactly! It’s the perfect balance of crunchy and creamy (without being soaked in dressing). I hope you enjoy the recipe Andrea!

  19. What a great side for any summertime gathering. I also love that it has less sugar than most coleslaw recipes.5 stars

    1. You really don’t need that much sugar in coleslaw. Might as well let the cabbage and natural flavors shine I say! ;)

  20. Oldie but a good one to have at hand. We love coleslaw to go with grills and burgers. The use of red cabbage makes the salad looks colorful. :)5 stars

    1. Thanks Anita! Coleslaw is definitely in heavy rotation this time of year and this version sure is vibrant with the red cabbage and carrots. Enjoy!