You’ll never see an authentic barbecue restaurant or bustling church fish fry without it. Coleslaw is a staple side dish and for good reason. It’s fast and easy to prepare and adds a light crispness to many of your favorite hearty dishes. Once you master this easy coleslaw recipe, it’s easy to customize it with your favorite add-ins like spicy jalapenos, tart berries or crispy bacon bits for starters.
Styles of Coleslaw Recipes
There are so many ways to spice up this backyard barbecue favorite; here are a few of our favorites.
Vinegar coleslaw: This classic coleslaw recipe keeps things simple with ingredients like cabbage, carrots and vinegar, plus sugar for the dressing. The sweet, tangy slaw is the perfect complement to a heavier dish like tangy pulled pork sandwiches or Texas-style beef brisket.
Creamy coleslaw: To make creamy slaw, start with vinegar slaw as a base and mix in mayonnaise. Try pairing your creamy slaw with crispy fish tacos for a crisp bite with out-of-this-world flavor. Keep scrolling for our easiest creamy slaw recipe ever.
Red coleslaw: Red slaw gets its creaminess not from mayo but from ketchup. Red slaw is a Louisiana favorite so try serving it as a side dish with Creole jambalaya.
Tips on Selecting Ingredients
When choosing ingredients, save yourself a step by buying chopped cabbage and shredded carrots; this will cut your prep time in half. Look for a mix of green and red cabbage for a vibrant, colorful dish.
Once you remove your chopped cabbage from its bag (or chop your own), pat it dry with a paper towel. The less moisture in the cabbage before you start, the crunchier your slaw will be. To really get a serious crunch, toss the cabbage with salt and allow it to sit for about an hour. Then use a paper towel to wring out the excess moisture.
Essential Tools You’ll Need
Prevent your coleslaw from becoming overly soggy by serving it with a quality slotted spoon ($6). The longer your cabbage and carrot sit in the dressing, the soggier they’ll become. That’s why it’s important to remove excess liquid when serving.
Keep your coleslaw prep easy peasy when you choose a beautiful mixing bowl ($17) that can double as a serving bowl. Look for a large bowl with interesting colors and patterns that will pop on the picnic table.
If you have leftover coleslaw, keep it as fresh as possible with a salad saver container ($15). It comes with a built-in strainer to remove excess water, keeping your coleslaw crunchy and party-ready.
How to Make Easy Coleslaw
- 6 cups shredded cabbage
- 3 medium carrots, shredded
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
Step 1: Prepare the vegetables
Finely chop the cabbage and shred the carrots. In a large bowl, combine cabbage and carrots.
Step 2: Make the dressing
In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar. Whisk until combined.
Step 3: Combine ingredients
Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Serve with a slotted spoon.
Pro tip: Let this recipe sit for a few hours, or overnight to help the flavors meld together.
Tips for Storage
Let’s be honest; coleslaw is not exactly an all-star leftover. The crisp vegetables become limp and soggy over time, robbing you of that tangy bite you crave. Keep coleslaw in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 5 days and drain the excess water before serving. Soggy coleslaw also makes a great sandwich topper.
To preserve your coleslaw in advance, salt the cabbage before preparing to keep it fresh. Be sure to refrigerate your slaw once it’s been sitting out for two hours.
How to Make a Healthy Coleslaw
To boost the health factor of your coleslaw, stick with a simple vinegar slaw to avoid extra fat and calories from mayo. Add extra nutrients with more veggies like broccoli slaw, chopped Brussels sprouts and spiralized zucchini.
For sweetness, mix in dried fruit like raisins or dried cranberries. Fresh herbs like cilantro or basil can add big flavor and health benefits. To get an extra crunch, add nuts, seeds or toasted quinoa.
Our creamy coleslaw recipe has 177 calories, 8 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein per serving.