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Classic Creamy Coleslaw

This Classic Creamy Coleslaw with a homemade mayonnaise-based dressing is sweet, tart, crunchy, simple, and so delicious. It’s the perfect side dish for any occasion!

When it comes to summer picnics, potlucks, and backyard barbecues, you’ve got to have some coleslaw. A side of slaw is also welcome for all kinds of lunches and dinners. And there’s nothing better than homemade coleslaw!

Not only is it great alongside ribs, burgers, hot dogs, grilled or fried chicken, fish and chips, and most any kind of sandwich. It’s also good on sandwiches – like my Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Chicken sandwiches – or in a wrap or on tacos.

So skip the trip to the deli counter and make some coleslaw yourself instead. It’s quick, easy, super fresh, so good, and so much better!

It only takes a few minutes to shred the veggies and mix up the dressing. If you’re really in a hurry, you can take a shortcut and cut down on the prep time by using pre-shredded bagged coleslaw mix.

This recipe is for a traditional coleslaw with a very simple dressing that uses mayonnaise as the base for creaminess. Some sugar makes it sweet, a splash of vinegar adds just the right amount of tart to balance it out, and a little minced onion gives it extra flavor.

For the slaw, it’s mostly green cabbage with a little red/purple cabbage and some carrots thrown in for color.

Just toss everything together and then let it sit in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours before serving to let all the flavors blend. That’s it!

Ever wonder why it’s called coleslaw?

According to Merriam-Webster, the word coleslaw is derived from the Dutch word koolsla (a combination of kool, which means cabbage, and sla, which means salad). So cabbage salad.

Cole refers to cole crops, which are cool-weather vegetables in the mustard family (others are broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, kohlrabi, and kale). And there you have it!

a bowl of classic creamy coleslaw with a spoonful being lifted out

Ingredients you need:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Light-tasting olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • Sugar
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Salt
  • Onion
  • Green cabbage
  • Red/purple cabbage
  • Carrots

Here’s a look at how to make Classic Creamy Coleslaw:

2 images; one of coleslaw dressing in a bowl with a whisk with text that says combine mayonnaise, oil, sugar, vinegar, salt, and onion in a large bowl; the other of a bowl of cabbage, carrots, and dressing with a spatula with text that says add cabbage and carrots, toss to coat with the dressing
two images; one of a refrigerator with text that says cover, refrigerate 1 to 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend; the other of a bowl of the finished coleslaw with a serving spoon on the side with text that says transfer to a serving bowl, enjoy

Tips & Tidbits:

  • Use a light-tasting olive oil for this recipe. You don’t want the strong taste of extra-virgin olive oil here. You could also use vegetable oil or any other neutral-tasting oil that you prefer.
  • Be sure to finely mince the onion so you get that flavor throughout the slaw, but no one will be biting into large pieces of raw onion. You could even grate it if you’d like.
  • For creamy coleslaw, I like to use mostly green cabbage with just a little bit of red/purple cabbage and carrots sprinkled in for a little extra color.
    • If you use too much purple cabbage, it could turn the dressing pink. You can skip the purple cabbage and just use 7 cups of green cabbage if you’d like.
  • To use pre-shredded bagged coleslaw mix, you’ll need one 14 to 16-ounce bag (I can usually find a tri-color mix with green and purple cabbage and carrots, but use whatever you like or can get).
  • To ensure you serve a fresh, crisp and crunchy slaw (no one wants soggy slaw), make this and put it in the fridge for just an hour or two (tops) before serving to let the flavors blend.
    • The slaw will get softer the longer it sits, and the dressing may start to get watery as the cabbage starts to release its liquid.
  • Since this slaw has a mayonnaise-based dressing, don’t let it sit out at room temperature for more than two hours (even less time if it is very warm/hot). Keep it refrigerated or on ice to keep it cold while serving, if you can.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days (coleslaw is not freezable).
two small cups of classic creamy coleslaw with two forks on the side

If you’re a fan of or would like to try a vinegar-based coleslaw, check out the recipe for my Sweet and Tangy No-Mayo Coleslaw. It’s different and delicious!

I hope you try this Classic Creamy Coleslaw recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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Classic Creamy Coleslaw

This Classic Creamy Coleslaw with a homemade mayonnaise-based dressing is sweet, tart, crunchy, simple, and so delicious. It's the perfect side dish for any occasion!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 8 (about 1 cup each)
Estimated Calories: 155

Ingredients

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon light-tasting olive oil, or vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced onions
  • 6 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded red/purple cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, oil, sugar, vinegar, salt, and onions until well-combined.
  • Add the green cabbage, red/purple cabbage, and carrots; toss until evenly coated in the dressing.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend (if I'm around, I will stir it occasionally during this time).
  • Give the slaw a final toss, transfer to a serving bowl, and enjoy!

Notes

  • This coleslaw is at its fresh and crunchy best when enjoyed 1 to 2 hours after it is made. It will get softer and more watery the longer it sits. 
  • If you’d like to skip the purple cabbage, use 7 cups of green cabbage instead.
  • To use pre-shredded bagged coleslaw mix, you’ll need one 14 to 16-ounce bag.
  • Since this slaw has a mayonnaise-based dressing, don’t let it sit out at room temperature for more than two hours (even less time if it is very warm/hot). Keep it refrigerated or on ice to keep it cold while serving, if you can.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
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