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Homemade coleslaw is a creamy, tangy side dish you’ll enjoy all summer long! Made with crunchy fresh veggies and a tangy dressing, this coleslaw is delicious alongside burgers or atop fish tacos.
I make coleslaw all year long, but in the summer it feels like I crave it.
Maybe it’s because creamy coleslaw goes with basically everything we love to eat in the summertime (hello, bison burgers), but it could also be because it’s such a quick dish to prepare.
While you can buy prepared coleslaw from the grocery store, you can’t beat the fresh, crisp flavor of this side.
Plus, this is such an easy coleslaw recipe to prepare! It’s sure to be the star of your next cookout.
Ingredients for homemade coleslaw
Green cabbage – Look for a firm cabbage that is heavy for its size. If there are any wilty leaves, remove them from the outer layers before cutting. The interior of the cabbage should still be crisp under the layers!
Red cabbage – Red cabbage is also sometimes called purple cabbage, depending on where you live. The outer leaves will be a deep purple, while the interior is brighter. Remove any wilted outer leaves.
Carrots – You’ll need 2-3 medium carrots for this slaw, depending on the size of your carrot.
Green onion – Green onions, also called scallions, add a nice bite to the coleslaw without overpowering with onion flavor. If you want a lighter taste, use only the green parts of the onion.
Mayonnaise – Mayo is used to create the creamy base of the dressing. Use your favorite brand (mine is Duke’s).
Cider vinegar – Also labeled as apple cider vinegar, this adds tangy flavor to the dressing.
You can also use white wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar.
Granulated sugar – Classic coleslaw has some sweetness. If you prefer, you can leave out the sugar, or try it with maple syrup.
Celery seed – Celery seed adds a savory, bitter flavor.
Dijon mustard – For another layer of tang, I like to add a bit of dijon mustard to coleslaw. You can also use classic yellow mustard, stone ground mustard, or your favorite variety.
Salt and pepper – Add to taste.
How to make this recipe
Make the dressing first in a large bowl. It should be big enough for you to easily mix in all of the veggies.
To the bowl, add the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, celery seed, mustard, and salt and pepper.
Whisk until blended and smooth, then taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
Set the bowl aside while you prep the veggies.
Cut the cabbage into thin shreds, or shred in a food processor. It’s easiest if you cut the cabbage into quarters before removing the core and slicing.
Grate the carrots using a flat or box grater, or use a food processor grating blade.
Add the shredded cabbage and carrots to the bowl with the dressing and toss with a pair of tongs until evenly coated.
Mix in half of the chopped green onion, reserving the other half for mixing in just before serving or to use as garnish.
Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Coleslaw benefits from resting in the fridge to let the cabbage soften slightly and for the flavors to meld, so give it at least 30 minutes to chill before serving.
You can always add other ingredients to customize this homemade coleslaw to your liking.
Whisk in curry powder, ground cayenne pepper, or a bit of hot sauce for a spicier take.
Add lemon juice for a burst of citrus.
Mix in thinly sliced almonds or chopped pistachios for a nutty crunch.
Use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise for a tangier taste.
Mix in chopped celery, parsley, or cilantro.
Coleslaw is a great make-ahead dish. In fact, I think it’s actually better when it’s had a chance to rest a few hours in the refrigerator, letting the flavors meld together.
Store it in an airtight container or a tightly covered bowl, making sure to re-seal it after serving.
Stored properly in the refrigerator, homemade coleslaw will last for about 3 days.
Make sure to not leave coleslaw out at room temperature for more than 2 hours to prevent any food-borne illness.
If you’re serving at a cookout, keep it in the refrigerator as long as possible, or on ice in a cooler, until ready to serve.
Store any leftovers promptly.
How do you keep coleslaw from being watery?
While coleslaw can be made ahead, the longer it sits, the more liquid can form from the vegetables.
If you find your coleslaw gets too watery, you can pre-salt the cabbage and carrots before adding to the dressing.
Place the vegetables in a large colander and sprinkle a teaspoon of salt on them. Toss to coat, then let the veggies sit over a bowl for 1 hour to extract excess liquid.
Gently squeeze out extra liquid and pat dry, then add to dressing and mix.
How do I cut the cabbage?
To cut cabbage for coleslaw, first cut it down the middle from top to bottom. Then, slice it again down the middle so you have four quarters.
Cut out the thick core carefully. From there, you can either use a knife to cut the cabbage into thin pieces, or you can chop the cabbage in a food processor.
I prefer thin shreds for coleslaw, so I cut it by hand.
What’s the best cabbage to use for coleslaw?
Classic coleslaw is made from a mix of green and red (purple) cabbage. These cabbages have crisp leaves that stand up to the dressing even after sitting, keeping the dish full of crunch.
You can use just green cabbage if you prefer. Note that cut red cabbage can color the dressing as it sits.
What can I do with leftover cabbage?
You’ll likely have extra cabbage from making this recipe.
You can also sauté cabbage with bacon for a savory side dish, or add cabbage to your favorite salads.
What to serve with homemade coleslaw
We make coleslaw for so many meals, but we especially love it with turkey burgers or grilled bratwurst.
If you’re making pulled pork, coleslaw is an excellent crunchy topping that contrasts the pork well.
Coleslaw is also delicious on fish tacos, both grilled or fried!
Round out the meal with a bowl of baked beans and mason jar margaritas. Summer dining? Set.
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It means so much when you enjoy my recipes, so let me know how it goes and leave a comment if you have any questions.
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 8 ounces green cabbage
- 8 ounces red cabbage
- 6 ounces carrot
- 2 green onions, diced
- In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, celery seed, salt, and pepper until smooth and blended. Set aside.
- Quarter cabbages and remove core, then cut into thin shreds or use a food processor. Grate carrot using a box grater or food processor.
- Add shredded cabbage and carrots to the bowl with the dressing and use tongs to mix together until vegetables are evenly coated. Add the green onions (reserving some for garnish if desired) and toss again.
- Cover bowl and chill coleslaw until ready to serve.
- You will need approximately 3 cups of each shredded cabbage, plus 2 cups of shredded carrot.
- Coleslaw benefits from chilling, so let rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate based on online calculators. Any nutritional information found on Stetted should be used as a general guideline only.
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