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An easy coleslaw recipe that’s a perfect side dish for summer parties, potlucks and barbecues. My recipe is light, flavorful and has far less sugar than you’ll find in store-bought versions or from KFC.

This homemade coleslaw is amazing when paired with my Slow Cooker Pulled Pork, Honey Mustard Chicken or BBQ Ribs

Coleslaw in a white bowl.

Coleslaw is one of the quintessential summer salads and side dish recipes, along with Potato Salad, Cucumber Salad and Broccoli Salad. As a kid I ate the KFC version more often than not, but as an adult I realized how easy it was to make from home and I’ve never looked back.

The other bonus of making coleslaw at home? You can control the quality of ingredients, keep it healthy and make it as creamy (or less creamy) as you’d like. Personally, I prefer coleslaw that’s a little less creamy and more crunchy. But you can always tweak it to your liking!

Homemade Coleslaw Ingredients

Coleslaw is very easy to make at home and this version is “light” compared to most recipes. Traditional coleslaw has quite a bit of white sugar and many versions contain dairy, in the form of buttercream. My version is dairy-free and the only sugar is a smidge of honey.

As for the other coleslaw ingredients, everything else is fairly standard:

  • Green cabbage
  • Red cabbage
  • Carrots
  • My homemade mayonnaise (you can use store bought too)
  • Honey
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Celery seeds
  • Salt and pepper

Watch my Coleslaw Recipe Video

In this quick video I’ll show you how to make both this classic coleslaw recipe and my vinegar based coleslaw. Give it a watch!

How to Make the Best Coleslaw Recipe

I recommend you use fresh cabbage and carrots, rather than a bag of pre-chopped coleslaw mix for the best flavor. Sure, it’s a little bit more work to slice everything, but it’s very fast. Promise.

To shred the cabbage by hand:

  1. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage. Wash the cabbage (there can sometimes be a little dirt), then remove the outer leaves.
  2. Chop off the stem at the end. There’s more of the stem on the inside but we’ll get to removing that.
  3. Chop the cabbage in half, then into quarters. Then diagonally cut out the area where you see the stem or core on the inside.
  4. Thinly shred the cabbage with a knife. You can make the cabbage as thin or thick as you desire. I personally like my cabbage to be thin. If you feel the cabbage is a little too long, then cut the shredded cabbage in half.

Alternatively, you could use a spiralizer to shred the cabbage. You can view my post and video on how to spiralize cabbage (carrots too). A mandoline would also be a great tool for shredding cabbage and carrots.

If you don’t have a spiralizer or mandoline to shred the carrots, use the large hole side of a box grater. It works perfect for this coleslaw recipe.

Once the cabbage and carrots are shredded, just mix it with the Coleslaw Dressing and enjoy!

Coleslaw ingredients in a mixing bowl with coleslaw dressing on the side.

Coleslaw in a white bowl.

Can Coleslaw Be Made the Day Before?

Yes, you can make coleslaw the day before! This is especially helpful when planning for an event. I personally love when my cabbage and carrots marinate in the dressing overnight. They seem to be so much more flavorful than the first day I tossed. However, you can also keep the veggies and coleslaw dressing separate and mix them the day of. Once mixed together, coleslaw lasts about 3 – 5 days in the fridge.

Is Coleslaw Bad For You?

While coleslaw is veggie-packed, many recipes are drowning in dressing that contain more sugar and fat than necessary. The base of my dressing is my Homemade Mayonnaise (linked in the recipe), which is made from higher quality oils and contains no sugar. It’s much healthier than store-bought. So if you’ve never made mayo at home, you must give it a try. I also don’t add any dairy or extra sugar.

You can see that my cabbage is coated in the coleslaw dressing but it’s not swimming in dressing. This also keeps it healthier and with a little more crunch. That’s why you should make my version (wink). Cabbage is extremely healthy for you, so let’s keep this version of coleslaw that way too!

Coleslaw on a fork.

More Recipes Perfect for a Party

More Coleslaw Recipes to Enjoy

One last tip: this coleslaw recipes makes quite a bit of coleslaw (about 12 servings) which is perfect for a party. If you’d like less coleslaw, just halve the recipe. And use any leftover cabbage in my sautéed cabbage recipe.

Coleslaw in a white bowl.

The Best Coleslaw Recipe

5 from 29 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


Coleslaw is so easy to make at home. It's just a mix of cabbage, carrots and creamy coleslaw dressing. Watch the video above to see how quickly it comes together!



  • 3/4 green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1/4 red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 3 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey, (or more for desired sweetness)
  • 1 tsp celery seeds
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


  • Add the shredded green cabbage, red cabbage, and carrots to a large bowl. 
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • Serve and enjoy!

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. 


Calories: 159kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 193mg | Potassium: 191mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 2810IU | Vitamin C: 31.6mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 0.6mg
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


  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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!!

  5. 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

  6. 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 :)

  7. 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 :)

  8. 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

  9. 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

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

  11. 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!

  12.  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 :)

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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. :)

  16. 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!

  17. 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! ;)

  18. 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!