Classic Coleslaw

Here's a classic coleslaw recipe made with thinly sliced cabbage, carrots, and green onions. Whip up a tangy dressing and you've got a perfect side dish for picnics, BBQs, and summer potlucks.

Bright Classic Coleslaw in a white bowl.
Kelly Hamilton

What Is Coleslaw?

The word "coleslaw" comes from the Dutch word, "koolsla," "kool" meaning cabbage and "sla" meaning 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.

Video: How to Make Classic Coleslaw


Classic Coleslaw

Ingredients for Easy Coleslaw

We have homemade coleslaw at least once a week, usually with fish, and often with burgers or hot dogs. This coleslaw recipe (our way of preparing it) is ridiculously easy with cabbage, carrot, and onions gently mixed and coated with mayonnaise, a dab of yellow mustard, vinegar, and black pepper.

Bright and fresh Classic Coleslaw in a white bowl.
Kelly Hamilton

Coleslaw Recipe Modifications

We also often make this coleslaw recipe without mayonnaise. Sometimes we dress it simply with seasoned rice vinegar. Sometimes we add some shredded green apple to the mix. You can easily adjust these coleslaw ingredients for your taste.

Are you a coleslaw eater? If so, what's your favorite way of preparing it?

More Easy Slaw Recipes

Forks lifting bright cabbage coleslaw out of a white bowl.
Kelly Hamilton

How to Cut Cabbage for Coleslaw

With a sharp chef's knife, slice the cabbage in quarters from the top through the core. Lay each wedge on its side and cut out its tough core. You can then use the knife to julienne the cabbage into strips or use a mandoline to slice the cabbage.

You can also shred the cabbage using a food processor with a slicing disc. Be sure to core the cabbage before feeding it into the food processor.

How to Store Coleslaw for Later

This coleslaw dressing will draw moisture out of the vegetables, eventually making the coleslaw watery. But sometimes freshly dressed coleslaw can be too firm and not as flavorful. Get that sweet spot by making this coleslaw a couple of hours ahead of time and refrigerating it until serving. If, after tasting it, you think it needs more salt, add it right before serving.

Refrigerate leftovers for 3 to 5 days; it will become water, but will still be enjoyable.

You can slice the vegetables and make the dressing a day before serving; store separately in covered containers in the refrigerator. About 2 hours before serving, toss and place back in the refrigerator. Taste and season with salt, if needed, right before serving.

What To Do if Your Coleslaw Vegetables Are Too Wet

Grating vegetables - particularly carrots - with a box grater can leave them wet and mushy. If your vegetables end up watery, use paper towels to absorb as much of the water as possible.

What Other Ingredients Work in Coleslaw?

You can add these other crispy fruits and vegetables to coleslaw.

  • Green apples
  • Jicama
  • Broccoli stems
  • Celery
  • Zucchini
From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Classic Coleslaw

Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Servings 4 servings

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 head 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 on the large holes of a box grater

  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise

  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard

  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar or wine vinegar

  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste

  • Salt, to taste


  1. Assemble the salad:

    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.

    Sliced green and purple cabbage in a glass bowl.
    Kelly Hamilton
    Sliced cabbage and carrots mixed to make Classic Coleslaw.
    Kelly Hamilton
  2. Taste, Season, and Serve:

    Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
140 Calories
11g Fat
11g Carbs
2g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 140
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 13%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 6mg 2%
Sodium 274mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 58mg 292%
Calcium 87mg 7%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 376mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.