Some things in life are difficult: taxes, air travel over the holidays, mastering the perfect kouign amann. Coleslaw is not one of those things. Classic creamy, crunchy coleslaw is easy. Coleslaw is effortless. Coleslaw asks for nothing beyond a serving bowl and a backyard party that requires its presence.
It follows that dressing your homemade coleslaw should also be easy. Here are three different dressings — mayonnaise, buttermilk, and sour cream — that are so easy, you can make them in under a minute.
Mayonnaise, Buttermilk, or Sour Cream?
It is my firm belief that all coleslaw dressings, no matter what else you may add, require a solid base of mayonnaise. The salad is 99% cabbage, so let's not quibble over a heathy dose of mayo. Just let it happen.
Classic mayo dressing is made entirely with, yes, mayonnaise. It's rich and delightfully creamy against the cool crunch of the cabbage in a coleslaw. It goes great with a plate of smoked ribs — or fish tacos, for that matter. These other two dressings, buttermilk and sour cream, opt for half mayo and half dairy. They're both a bit thinner and a bit less rich, but they bring a great tangy zing to the coleslaw.
How does one choose, if one does not already owe allegiance to a particular type of coleslaw? Personally, I'm #TeamButtermilk all the way, and you're welcome to share my preference. Beyond that, I say that as the summer months stretch onwards, why not give them each a try? If you're a food-pairing type, I recommend the richer mayo-dressed slaw with leaner foods — like grilled fish and vegetable kebabs (smoked ribs not withstanding) — and I like the bright tanginess of buttermilk and sour cream coleslaws with things like cheeseburgers and fried chicken.
Making the Coleslaw Dressing
A gal — or a bowl of coleslaw — cannot live on mayo alone. It's called a "dressing," after all, so it stands to reason that a few other ingredients are required. A splash of vinegar loosens up the dressing and adds brightness to the salad. A spoonful of sugar might sound like an odd choice here, but it really helps balance everything else — it's not so much that the salad is "sweet," but just enough to mellow the edges. Salt is also here, performing its usual salt duty of propping everything else up and making each bite more addictive than the last.
Whisk these dressings together in a bowl, or shake them up in a Mason jar for easy transport to your coleslaw's destination. Throw in any fresh herbs you might have around for some extra panache. These recipes all make enough dressing for one typically sized salad, which in our world means one small head of cabbage and a few carrots.
Alrighty! It's probably taken you longer to read all these words than it will to actually make your dressing. Time to get to it — your coleslaw awaits.
Choose your dressing, then head here!
How To Make 3 Easy Coleslaw Dressings
What You Need
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sour cream dressing:
Small mixing bowl
- Combine the dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
- Whisk to combine.
- Pour over coleslaw and toss lightly to combine.
- For more on making coleslaw, see: How To Make Creamy Classic Coleslaw
Nutritional information is calculated using mayonnaise dressing.
Updated from post originally published July 4, 2015.