Our coleslaw recipe gives you simple instructions for the quick and tasty salad you’re looking for. It has bite-sized crunchy vegetables drenched in a creamy, sweet, and tangy dressing.
If you’re a busy person, this salad will save you plenty of time because you can keep it in the fridge for days. It’s best when allowed to chill, and it goes well with almost any savory dish.
You can click here to go straight to the ingredients list and instructions for coleslaw. Or, read on to learn more about this dish.
What Is Coleslaw?
Coleslaw is a salad made with shredded vegetables in either a mayonnaise- or vinaigrette-based dressing. The term “coleslaw” is said to derive from the Dutch word, “koolsla,” which means “cabbage salad.”
Typical vegetable choices for coleslaw are green cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, and sometimes corn and bacon. Interestingly, this modern version differs significantly from its first appearance in a 1770 Dutch cookbook.
The original recipe calls for only cabbage and a dressing made of melted butter, vinegar, and oil. This beautifully simple salad soon became popular and took on different forms.
In today’s coleslaw recipe, we’re tackling the most popular form — cabbage coleslaw with mayonnaise dressing. We’ve paged through plenty of online recipes for mayonnaise coleslaw and noticed a clear need for improvements health-wise.
Is Coleslaw Healthy?
Coleslaw can be a healthy salad — it contains plenty of nutrients from the cabbage, after all.
One cup of cabbage contains impressive amounts of vitamins K and C. Vitamin C supports our immune system, while vitamin K plays an important role in clotting blood, preventing excessive bleeding.
Cabbage is also a good source of fiber, which helps to improve digestion.
However, in order to truly make coleslaw a healthy part of your diet, you need to keep an eye on the mayonnaise dressing.
According to the USDA’s dietary guidelines, we should all try to limit our sodium and saturated fat intake. The sodium you consume on a daily basis should not exceed 2300 mg and saturated fat should make up less than 10% of your total calorie count.
Mayonnaise happens to have these nutrients in abundance, and many recipes we saw use plenty of it in the dressing. The result might look appealing, but it’s often unhealthy to consume the designated portion size.
We chose to cut back on the mayonnaise and added a touch of salt, heavy cream, and milk. The dressing in our coleslaw recipe thus remains rich and flavorful but has acceptable amounts of sodium and saturated fat.
Coleslaw is usually made using green cabbage (plus a small portion of red cabbage and carrots for vibrant colors). Occasionally, chefs will use just red cabbage .
Other types of cabbage can be used in coleslaws, too. Juicy napa cabbage and leafy savoy cabbage are perfect candidates.
How to Cut Cabbage for This Recipe
If you want to recreate a KFC experience, chop the carrots and cabbage into fine pieces. You can speed things up by using a box grater.
We chose to slice our vegetables instead, but with a mandoline rather than by hand. Dealing with the cabbages that way was fun and took less than a minute.
If you also use savoy or napa cabbage, note that there’s no way to cut them using a mandoline or box grater. A sharp knife and a clean cutting board are the tools you need in that case.
The mandoline can’t slice carrots into strips either, so we sharpened our trusty knife and got busy. We sliced the carrots (on a bias) into thin slices, then stacked the slices up and cut them into thin strips.
We could have sliced the onions as well, but having tried coleslaw with diced onions and loving its occasional pungent bites we decided to go that direction instead. You can choose either way.
We are coating our coleslaw with a mayonnaise dressing. It’s creamy, bright (from the lemon juice), and lightly sweet, much like KFC’s version.
You can switch this dressing for a simple vinaigrette if you want a less creamy alternative. Here’s our vinaigrette recipe that works with any salad:
In a bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp lemon juice, and 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar. When the sugar is dissolved, toss this dressing with the vegetables.
Going for the vinaigrette dressing, you practically have to add a handful of cilantro on top. Its freshness perfectly complements vinaigrette coleslaws.
How to Make Coleslaw
After you’ve got the vegetables all measured and prepped, here are the next steps:
Whisk the dressing ingredients in a salad bowl.
Toss the vegetables with the sauce in the same bowl.
Allow it to sit in the fridge for at least 10 minutes before serving.
For the full ingredient list, refer to our coleslaw recipe card down below.
Can You Freeze Coleslaw?
Yes, you can, at least if you didn’t use mayonnaise.
If your coleslaw has a vinaigrette dressing, you can pop it straight into the freezer.
If it’s dressed in mayonnaise, you can’t freeze it because mayonnaise contains eggs, which don’t thaw well. Mayonnaise coleslaw should be stored in the fridge only.
How Long Does It Last?
Our mayonnaise coleslaw stays good for two days. Be sure to cover the salad bowl with cling wrap or place it in an airtight container before refrigerating.
What to Eat With Coleslaw
There are many things you can serve with coleslaw.
The most popular pairings with coleslaw are fried chicken and fries — the classic KFC combo. You can make the healthier, grease-free versions of these fried foods by checking out our buttermilk chicken and fries, all made using an air fryer.
Coleslaw also goes well with burgers. Typical beef burgers are great matches, but if you want something else, our salmon burger and chicken burger might be helpful.
Vinaigrette-based coleslaw also goes great with fish tacos. If you haven’t got something in mind, this salmon taco recipe might be up your alley.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Lizzie Streit is a Minneapolis-based dietitian and founder of It’s a Veg World After All. She completed her MS in Human Nutrition from Drexel University, and is an expert in culinary nutrition, recipe development, and nutrition communications. Lizzie’s philosophy is centered around making nutrition recommendations, and especially the advice to eat more vegetables, approachable and realistic. She is excited to be working with the team at Healthy Recipes 101 to ensure that their recipes are both nutritious and delicious.
Coleslaw is always a great choice for a potluck or family gathering - it's so easy to make and always tastes delicious! This classic recipe looks like the perfect way to enjoy the traditional flavor of coleslaw with none of the guilt.