Classic, creamy, homemade Coleslaw is an amazing and refreshing side dish that is perfect for summer barbecues and cookouts. Crispy and crunchy mixed cabbage is topped with a zesty, creamy dressing.
Did you know that this American classic has Dutch roots?
The term coleslaw comes from the Dutch word 'koolsla'. 'Kool' means cabbage ('Kohl' in German) and 'Sla' means salad.
Having worked in a number of restaurants I learned many years ago that are a lot of coleslaw recipe variations. This is my favorite.
It's easy to make and my friends and family have loved it for years. Learn how to make your own restaurant-quality coleslaw in no time.
At the most basic level, there are two types of coleslaws: creamy and oil-based. In this recipe, we'll make classic creamy coleslaw.
What You'll Need
You can shred your own cabbage and carrots, but for this recipe, I've used pre-shredded store bought cabbage and carrots.
- 1 cup MAYONNAISE - for this recipe, I recommend this slightly tangy mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons LEMON - fresh lemon juice + the zest of the lemon (don't skip this!)
- 2 tablespoons MUSTARD - yellow or dijon mustard
- ¼ cup SUGAR
Salt Water Bath
- 4 cups WATER
- 2 tablespoons SALT
How To Make It
Making homemade coleslaw is super easy and takes just a few minutes.
The most important step is to make sure that you allow the cabbage mixture to sit in the salted water. See Recipe Success Tips for more information.
- Add shredded cabbage and carrots to a large bowl. Pour about 4 cups of very cold water over the cabbage mixture and add 2 tablespoons of salt.
- Allow the cabbage to sit for 1 hour in the saltwater.
- Drain well and pat dry. Make sure the cabbage mixture is very dry. You can use a salad spinner like this one to speed up the process.
Making The Dressing
- Whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest (don't skip!), mustard, and sugar until well combined.
- Pour the dressing over the coleslaw and combine well.
- Chill 15-30 minutes before serving.
📌 PIN THE CREAMY COLESLAW
HERE TO SAVE FOR LATER!
Tips for Success
So why do you need to soak the cabbage in salted water? Why not just add the dressing and call it a day. The answer is simple but maybe surprising.
Cabbage contains 93% of water!
I remember being so surprised when I learned this little factoid. You know that cucumbers have over 90% water, but cabbage, who'd have thunk it?
Having such a high water content means that your coleslaw can easily become watered down. Maybe you've had this experience before where you picked up a side of slaw and it was all watery.
Bathing the cabbage in salted water solves this problem.
How long does Coleslaw last?
Once prepared you can keep the coleslaw refrigerated for 3-5 days. Simple store it in an airtight container.
If you decide to buy a head of cabbage and shred it yourself, you will have extra cabbage. Use the leftover cabbage to make this delicious fried German cabbage noodles dish called Krautfleckerl.
Craving More Side Dishes?
- Honey Roasted Sweet Potato - Reader Favorite
- German Tomato Salad - made with smoked sweet paprika
- Pea Salad - revival of a classic side dish
- Spätzle - German egg noodles
- Cucumber Salad (classic or creamy)
- 12 ounces cabbage shredded
- 4 ounces carrots shredded
Salt Water Bath
- 4 cups water cold water
- 2 tablespoons salt
Salt Water Bath
- Combine shredded cabbage and carrots in a large bowl. Pour 4 cups of cold water over the mixture and add two tablespoons of salt. Soak cabbage mixture for 1 hour.
- Whisk together mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice and lemon zest. Set aside
Making The Slaw
- Drain cabbage mixture well and pat dry. Be sure to remove as much moisture as possible.
- Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and combine well. Store in the fridge for 30 minutes.