Classic Coleslaw

The word “coleslaw” comes from the Dutch word, “koolsla”, “kool” meaning cabbage and sla, lettuce or salad. The word entered our English language from the Dutch in New York in the late 1700s. Since then it has been a featured side dish at almost every picnic or barbecue in America.

We have coleslaw at least once a week, usually with fish, and often with burgers or hot dogs. Our way of preparing it is ridiculously easy, with mayonnaise, a dab of yellow mustard (which by the way is just Dijon mustard with some added turmeric), vinegar, and black pepper.


We also often make coleslaw without mayonnaise. Sometimes we dress it simply with seasoned rice vinegar. (See links at the bottom of the recipe for more coleslaw ideas.)

Sometimes we add some shredded green apple to the mix. Are you a coleslaw eater? If so, what’s your favorite way of preparing it?

Classic Coleslaw Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

If you are making a lot of coleslaw, it's easiest to use a mandoline to slice the cabbage.

However you slice the cabbage, you'll have an easier time of it if you cut the heat first in quarters, from the top through the core. Then lay a quarter wedge of cabbage on its side and cut out the core.



  • 4 cups thinly sliced cabbage (green or purple, or a mix)
  • 1 carrot, grated (large holes of a box grater)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 4 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar or wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (more to taste)



Place the cabbage, carrot, and onions in a large bowl. Add the dressing ingredients and gently mix so that all of the shredded cabbage is coated with the dressing.

Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve immediately.

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Southwestern Coleslaw - a great no-mayo version that includes cilantro, here on Simply Recipes

Asian Coleslaw - another no-mayo version, with napa cabbage, rice vinegar and sesame oil

Broccoli Slaw - a coleslaw made with broccoli stems, carrots and cabbage

Kale Slaw with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing - tangy coleslaw with the addition of shredded kale

Citrusy Cabbage Salad with Cumin and Coriander - a Middle Eastern inspired salad

Fennel Slaw with Mint Vinaigrette - great with seafood!


Showing 4 of 61 Comments

  • Pam

    Thank you so much for your website. I volunteer to feed shut-ins from our church and I was supposed to make coleslaw and couldn’t find a recipe in my cookbook. You were a lifesaver. Again thank you and may God Bless you.



  • Cheryl

    Hi Elise, your coleslaw recipe is excellent! I was worried that we wouldn’t have any salads for our Australia day bbq. Your recipe is so simple to make and tastes just great :)

  • Nancy

    Try celery seed in coleslaw recipes. It adds a nice punch.

  • mary

    I adore coleslaw. I worked as a waitress for two summers at a Greek diner when I was in college. It was my job to make the coleslaw. It was a fairly traditional recipe, but there was sugar in there with the mayo and lots of celery seed (I agree with Nancy). Needless to say I make coleslaw with no actual recipe, but it comes out best when I make it in a 10 lb. batch. Unfortunately my husband won’t touch the stuff.

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