This homemade coleslaw recipe is creamy, tangy and loaded with all the good down-home crunch you’d expect from this classic side-dish. We use easy ingredients, easy steps and deliver a homemade taste that will make you the star of your next BBQ or social gathering.
Coleslaw is a favorite American staple that seems to accompany every family BBQ, church potluck, and anywhere you find people gathered to enjoy good food. Now you can be the one to say “I’ll bring the coleslaw”, and everyone will be happy you did!
What is Classic Coleslaw?
Traditional creamy coleslaw features shredded green cabbage in a mayonnaise based dressing. Often, it will contain shredded carrots and some shredded red cabbage to add additional color and crunch. The mayonnaise is accompanied with other ingredients to further bring out the flavors. Vinegar, sugar and pepper are usually the additional base for the dressing. For this recipe, we’ll follow the traditional ingredient assembly, and add just a couple of ingredients to give our coleslaw that extra tang and bite that makes it so good!
You can certainly shred some cabbage and carrots yourself. But I really love to use the 16oz bags of pre-shredded coleslaw. Its usually packaged a combination of green cabbage, red cabbage and carrots and is a huge time saver! For our dressing we use mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, buttermilk, sugar, white pepper, ground mustard and celery seed. Each one of these ingredients plays a role that leads to the signature creaminess and tanginess. And with most recipes, you can add some salt and pepper to taste. Generally you only need less than a ½ teaspoon of each if you decide to use them.
The mayonnaise is the base ingredient of the dressing and supplies the creaminess. The cider vinegar and buttermilk help create that slight tang that we love in a good coleslaw. The white pepper, ground mustard and celery seed further expand the flavor profile and help add a vibrance to the flavor.
Sugar? Yep. Sugar is actually a key ingredients in coleslaw. The sugar helps balance out the bitterness of cabbage and the acidity of the vinegar. It also accentuates the flavors of the other ingredients.
Allow me to cut right to the chase here… dump all the ingredients into a big bowl and mix it all up. Yeah, that’s really it. There’s no special method to this. In fact, the kids can help with this one too!
Use a wooden spoon or spatula to fold all the ingredients together until everything is very well blended. As you mix, the coleslaw will become a bit more creamy as the water is extracted from the cabbage. This is good! This is what we want.
Chill and Mingle
This recipe doesn’t include any actual cooking. It’s an assembly of ingredients. But, once we assemble those ingredients, we need a couple of things to happen. Coleslaw is best served chilled. There’s just something about biting into that cold coleslaw which makes it perfect alongside our main course. Also, while the coleslaw is chilling, we’re giving all of the ingredients an opportunity to mingle and come together to be even more delicious. The vinegar and tanginess of the buttermilk can really get to work and the flavors of the ground mustard and celery seed start to blend with the whole dressing and the cabbage to infuse their essence. It’s a magical dance at this flavor mingle, and we’re all the ones who get to enjoy it!
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it last?
Freshly made coleslaw is best enjoyed within 3 days. Keep it tightly sealed in the refrigerator.
Can coleslaw be frozen?
No. Coleslaw is is not freezable.
What substitutions can be made?
For this particular recipe, all of the ingredients play a key role. If you like it even creamier, feel free to add another ¼ cup of mayonnaise. White pepper has a unique character, but you can use black pepper as substitute. If you don’t have ground mustard, leave it out. You CAN use a dab of Dijon mustard if you’d like. About 1-2 teaspoons will add extra flare. Apple cider vinegar can be replaced with white vinegar.
Can I shred my own vegetables?
Absolutely! Use 1 medium head of green cabbage, remove a few of the outer leaves and cut in half. Then carefully cut out the core. We don’t want any of that in there as it’s quite bitter. Then use a sharp knife and thinly slice the cabbage into shreds. Use 2 medium sized carrots, peeled, and shredded on a box grater. For red cabbage, use just ¼ of the head. Shred it with thin slices cut with a knife.
Can onion be added?
Onion can absolutely be added and is found in many coleslaw recipes. You won’t need much. About ¼ of a small onion, grated on a box grater will yield the best results.