Coleslaw

published Jul 1, 2024
summer
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Coleslaw is the ultimate summer side dish. It goes with everything because it serves multiple purposes. It can be a salad, a side, and a topping (think: fried chicken sandwiches). It’s crunchy, creamy, and tangy, but it’s also mild enough (in a good way) to go with most meals. It’s one of the many reasons I keep cabbage in my fridge — I’m always ready to slaw.

You can use green or purple cabbage, or a combination of the two. Personally, I like to use a ratio of 3 parts green cabbage and 1 part purple for just a little extra flair. And while it isn’t strictly necessary, I salt my cabbage and squeeze out the excess liquid if I’m making the side in advance. This keeps everything crunchy and creamy instead of soggy and watery.

Why You’ll Love It

  • It stays crunchy for days. Salting the cabbage releases excess moisture before dressing it so it will stay crunchy — even if you make it in advance.
  • It’s creamy, but not heavy. A combination of mayo and buttermilk keeps this dressing luxe but still light.
Credit: Photo: Erik Bernstein; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Key Ingredients in Coleslaw

  • Cabbage: Use green, purple, or a combination of the two for an extra-colorful coleslaw.
  • Carrots: Shredded carrots are a coleslaw classic that add color and crunch.
  • Scallions: While optional, sliced scallions add some allium flavor to the slaw.
  • Mayo: Creamy-rich mayo is the base of the dressing.
  • Buttermilk: Combined with mayo, buttermilk lightens things up and adds some tang.
  • Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar brightens up the dressing and adds a subtle fruity note.
  • Celery seeds: These tiny seeds add a delicious savory flavor that take the dressing up a notch.

How to Make Coleslaw

  1. Shred and salt the cabbage. Shred cabbage using a knife, a mandoline, or the shredding disc of a food processor. Then, place in a colander and toss with kosher salt. Let the cabbage rest, then squeeze excess water out. Meanwhile, shred the carrots and slice the scallions.
  2. Make the dressing. Whisk together mayo, buttermilk, apple cider vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, celery seeds, salt, and pepper. Combine the dressing and the vegetables, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Helpful Swaps

  • Add fresh herbs like dill, chives, parsley, or cilantro.
  • Swap vinegar for freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  • Use maple syrup instead of granulated sugar or honey.

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

The vegetables and dressing can be prepared and refrigerated in separate airtight containers for up to 1 day ahead. Alternatively, the coleslaw can be dressed, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 hours before serving. Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

What to Serve with Coleslaw

Coleslaw Recipe

It’s a classic for a reason.

Prep time 20 minutes

Makes 10 to 13 cups

Serves 10 to 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the coleslaw:

  • 1

    small head green or red cabbage, or a combination (2 to 2 1/2 pounds)

  • 1 tablespoon

    kosher salt (optional)

  • 3

    large carrots

  • 1

    medium bunch scallions (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup

    mayonnaise

  • 1/2 cup

    buttermilk

  • 2 tablespoons

    apple cider vinegar

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons

    honey or granulated sugar

  • 2 teaspoons

    Dijon or coarse ground mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    celery seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

Instructions

  1. Quarter 1 small head green or red cabbage through the core and peel off and discard a few of the thin outer layers. Cut out the tough core in the middle. Slice each quarter crosswise into thin shreds, or process the quarters through the shredding disc of a food processor (about 10 cups).

  2. Place in a large bowl. Alternatively, salt the cabbage (optional, but it helps it stay crisp a little longer): Transfer the cabbage to a colander, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and toss to combine. Place the colander on a plate or in the sink and let the cabbage sit for 30 to 60 minutes. Squeeze as much moisture as you can from the cabbage with your hands, then transfer to a large bowl.

  3. Peel 3 large carrots, then grate on the large holes of a box grater or process through the shredding disc of the food processor (about 3 cups). If desired, thinly slice 1 medium bunch scallions (about 1 1/2 cups). Add both to the bowl of cabbage.

  4. Place 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey or granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons Dijon or coarse ground mustard, 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

  5. Add the dressing to the cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Taste and season with more salt, pepper, and up to 1 tablespoon more granulated sugar or honey as needed. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours before serving.

Recipe Notes

Coleslaw mix: About 13 cups coleslaw mix can be substituted for the cabbage and carrots.

Make ahead: The vegetables and dressing can be prepared and refrigerated in separate airtight containers for up to 1 day ahead. Alternatively, the coleslaw can be dressed, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 hours before serving.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.