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In our family, we can’t have a backyard barbecue or a picnic without a traditional coleslaw recipe! It goes with everything from burgers to ribs to grilled chicken. My kids love making  coleslaw for pulled pork sandwiches. This Southern coleslaw recipe is going to be your new go-to recipe with simple and fresh ingredients that literally take less than 10 minutes to put together and puts that grocery store coleslaw to shame!

Best coleslaw recipe

Best Coleslaw Recipe

Do you still buy pre-made coleslaw from the store? Stop! This is the best coleslaw recipe you’ll find, and it’s made with just 4 simple ingredients. No weird preservatives or anything like that. You can celebrate with a clear conscience, knowing you’re giving the people you love something wholesome that tastes great.

Easy Coleslaw Recipe

Did I mention this simple coleslaw recipe has just 4 ingredients? 6 if you count the optional ones. But still! And it takes 8 minutes to make. That means you can throw it together right before friends and family come!

Ingredients for making coleslaw

Coleslaw Ingredients

  • Cabbage – Coleslaw can be made with green or purple cabbage, though it looks prettiest with both.
  • Carrots – These add more color (and nutrition!) in your coleslaw.
  • Mayonnaise – This condiment is what lends that creamy coleslaw dressing texture.
  • Apple cider vinegar – A known probiotic, apple cider vinegar adds flavor to the coleslaw dressing.
  • Honey – Use this to tame the acidity of the apple cider vinegar for balance.

How do You Make Coleslaw from Scratch

Coleslaw is generally a mixture of both red and green cabbage and carrots with a mayonnaise-based dressing. You can cut up whole heads of cabbage yourself, or you can grab a bag of coleslaw mix ready to go. All you have to do is make the coleslaw dressing recipe and mix it up!

What is coleslaw sauce made of?

Coleslaw sauce or dressing is made of mayo, vinegar, and honey in its most basic form. Some seasonings give it more dimension. You can also make a dressing without mayonnaise for a non-creamy version.

How to make coleslaw from scratch

Expert Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Coleslaw

  • Opt for vinegar – Some recipes for coleslaw will call for lemon. While I adore lemons and think they add great flavor to many things, vinegar is best for coleslaw. It adds that perfect tartness without throwing everything off balance.
  • Salt & pepper works wonders – Don’t skip the salt either, though you can use less if you want to watch your sodium. It helps to let the coleslaw sit in your fridge a bit after making it and then give it a taste-test to see if it needs more salt and pepper or if it’s just right!

The most universal summer side dish!

How to Cut Cabbage for Coleslaw

A mandolin will help you slice cabbage into those nice thin ribbons that are perfect for coleslaw. If you don’t have one though and you’re slicing whole heads of cabbage to make your coleslaw, core the cabbage. Then stack the leaves and start slicing thinly in a diagonal way.

Dressing for Coleslaw

In the world of Southern coleslaw, you’re either a creamy person or a vinaigrette person. This recipe uses the traditional creamy version with mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, and honey for a homemade coleslaw dressing. You can also shake things up and use an Asian dressing to complement any exotic meal.

If you are vegan or are having vegan guests, you should use a vinaigrette dressing instead. Or a vegan friendly mayonnaise if you really want to maintain the creamy coleslaw recipe flavor. Or if you are just wanting a healthy coleslaw recipe with less calories you can opt for a vegan friendly or light mayo.

How to cut cabbage for coleslaw

How do you keep homemade coleslaw from being watery?

Watery coleslaw will ruin any picnic or barbecue. You can keep that from happening by adding your shredded cabbage to a strainer or colander atop a big bowl. Then you’ll add salt. It’s recommended you use one teaspoon per pound of cabbage used. Shake it so it distributes evenly. It will draw out excess water and then you can proceed with the rest of the homemade coleslaw recipe.

Dressing for coleslaw

What is coleslaw mix made of?

Coleslaw is a type of side salad dish that is made with fine shreds of raw cabbage and topped with a dressing. The dressing is usually made from a base of mayonnaise though some versions use a vinaigrette dressing instead.

How can I make my coleslaw better?

With coleslaw, you need more than just mayonnaise for the creamy dressing. Adding apple cider vinegar gives it that tang it needs. Honey balances that with a bit of sweetness. You can also add salt to taste as well as onion powder which will fully round out the flavors.

What is the difference between salad and coleslaw?

While they are similar, there are key differences between salad and coleslaw. Salad uses raw or chilled vegetables, usually with a base of lettuce, spinach, kale, or mixed greens. Other accoutrements are often added to it including tomatoes, lettuce, beans, seeds, cheeses, cucumbers, and plenty more. It can be topped with any variety of dressing.

Meanwhile coleslaw uses finely-shredded raw green cabbage or red cabbage and while not always, often contains shredded carrots too. Coleslaw usually is dressed with a mayonnaise-based dressing though there are variants with a vinaigrette dressing which is best for anyone following a vegan lifestyle.

What is the difference between slaw and coleslaw?

There’s absolutely no difference between slaw and coleslaw except in your chosen preference on what to call this shredded cabbage side!

How long before serving should you put dressing on coleslaw?

You should never mix your dressing onto your coleslaw too far in advance or the veggies will lose their crunchiness. I’d say 20 minutes in advance of serving is the longest, though once you add the dressing, try to serve it immediately.

Can I substitute apple cider vinegar for white vinegar in coleslaw?

I think that apple cider vinegar is even better than white vinegar in coleslaw. Either way, you can choose either vinegar to add the tanginess in your coleslaw.

Easy homemade coleslaw

How to Store Coleslaw

Coleslaw must be refrigerated when you store it. Keep it in an airtight container in there where it should last between 3 to 5 days. If you’re keeping it out for a party, consider putting it on ice. Coleslaw can spoil and you certainly don’t want sick guests!

Watch How To Make Coleslaw (Video)

Easy Classic Coleslaw Recipe

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 8 minutes
Total Time 8 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 101
This super easy coleslaw recipe only has 4 ingredients and takes less than 10 minutes to make! If you've never had creamy coleslaw its so refreshing on a hot summer day and is the perfect side dish for all those BBQ favorites!


  • 1 14oz bag shredded coleslaw mix
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • salt to taste (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder (optional)


  • In a large bowl, stir the mayonnaise, honey, apple cider vinegar, salt, and onion powder until smooth.
  • Add in the bag of coleslaw mix. Mix thoroughly until the coleslaw mix is thoroughly coated. Serve immediately.
Calories: 101kcal
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American


Calories: 101kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 210mg | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 20IU

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I’m a mom of two, food and wine lover, and recipe creation enthusiast. Good food brings families together. Which is why I’m devoted to sharing my best recipes that are simple enough for even the beginner cook that your family will love!

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