Recipes,  Salad,  Side Dishes

Classic Coleslaw Recipe

Classic Coleslaw Recipe
Classic Coleslaw Recipe

Labor Day is soon upon us and with it the last hurrah of summer. It’s time for one last picnic, one last barbeque, and one last salad, before Autumn sets in and with it the warming soups and stews of colder weather.

What better to go with that picnic or barbeque than the classic coleslaw? Mix up some crisp cabbage with a creamy and tangy dressing to offset that pulled pork, sticky ribs or barbecued chicken.

The origin of coleslaw comes from the Dutch word koolsla which literally translates to cabbage salad. Dutch settlers brought cabbage to the new world with them and settled in New Amsterdam which eventually became New York’s Manhattan. Coleslaw’s long history in the US makes it an American dish in its own right.

Tip for crisp coleslaw: Cabbage contains a lot of water and once dressed will exude liquid and make the salad soggy if left to sit too long.  One option is to “purge” the cabbage by tossing it in salt and allowing it sit for 10 minutes and then rinsing it. This process forces some of the water out of the cabbage and also gives it a softer texture. If you like the crispness of raw cabbage and are planning on eating the salad right away then there is no need to purge the cabbage.

Classic Coleslaw Recipe

Classic Coleslaw Recipe

Classic Coleslaw

Classic cole slaw, an American summer favorite!
Prep Time20 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: coleslaw, side dish


For the slaw:

  • 1 pound green head cabbage shredded (about 8 cups)
  • 4 ounces red cabbage shredded about 2 cups
  • 1 each large carrot peeled and shredded (about 1 cup)
  • ½ cup sweet white onion thinly sliced

For the dressing:

  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Thinly slice the both the green and the red cabbage and place in a large bowl.
  • Optional: Purge the cabbage. Combine the cabbage in the bowl with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and allow it to sit for ten minutes to purge some of its water and soften the cabbage. Rinse well in a colander. Dunk the cabbage in ice water to crisp it up, drain, and spin in a salad spinner to remove excess moisture.
  • Shred the carrot on a box grater or mandolin slicer with the medium toothed insert. Cut the onion in half and thinly slice into half rounds, separating the pieces.
  • Combine the cabbage, carrot and onion in a large bowl.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, celery seed, salt and pepper until smooth.
  • Slowly add the dressing to the cabbage mixture until you have the desired about of dressing. If you have purged the cabbage you may find you need less dressing. With completely raw fresh cabbage, you may need all of it. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
  • Options: Add red onion, thinly sliced green apple, celery or fennel to the slaw mix. In the dressing, add mustard, horseradish, or hot sauce for extra flavor.

Classic Coleslaw Recipe


  • Susan De Masi

    I have always said that I don’t like coleslaw, and yet I can’t remember ever eating it! I like every ingredient in your recipe, so maybe it’s time I make it and decide if I was right all along, or if I was too influenced by watching people eat that truly disgusting-looking slop from a well-known fried-chicken franchise which shall remain nameless.

    • formerchef

      Oddly enough, I felt the same way about cole slaw until I made it myself. It’s totally different. I made a huge batch today for a party we’re having tonight and I’m looking forward to it.

  • Barbara | Creative Culinary

    I’m habing a Labor Day BBQ of a different sort. It’s a baby shower too so hoping it doesn’t REALLY become labor day! I don’t want to be grilling while company is here so I’m making some pulled pork for sandwiches this week and I’ll be making coleslaw too. I saw your post and had to peek…pretty much exactly what I would do though I admit a tiny bit of mustard does have to go into mine. I’ve always loved coleslaw; never so much as a side dish but a must have for a barbecue pork sandwich!

    • formerchef

      Hmmm….I don’t know. It might have been a temporary error. When I clicked on it first, I got the same 404 error, but now it seems to be working. Would you try again please?

Make my day! Leave a comment.