Known for its slightly sweet taste and delicate crunch, this classic homemade coleslaw is made with a mayonnaise-based dressing and colorful shredded cabbage.

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Close up top down view of homemade coleslaw in a bowl.

About Homemade Coleslaw

No matter the occasion, traditional homemade coleslaw is a side-dish staple. It takes less than 20 minutes to make, tastes amazing, and travels well, making it the perfect choice for a dinner at home or as your contribution to a potluck.

What’s in homemade coleslaw?

  • Mayonnaise – The base of the creamy dressing.
  • Sugar – To give the coleslaw its classic slightly sweet taste.
  • Lemon juice and apple cider vinegar – For a little tartness and zestiness.
  • Ground mustard, celery salt, onion powder, pepper, salt – Delicious seasonings that help give coleslaw its unique flavor. Feel free to taste test and adjust these as desired.
  • Shredded cabbage – Makes up the majority of this trademark salad. You can either use green cabbage, red cabbage, savory cabbage, Napa cabbage, or any combination of these four.
  • Shredded carrots – Another classic ingredient in traditional coleslaw. Great for crunch and a pop of color.
Super close up top down view of homemade coleslaw, showing off the colors and dressing.

What else can you add to coleslaw?

If you want to make a coleslaw that’s uniquely yours, try adding any of these flavor additions:

  • Broccoli florets (1-3 cups)
  • Red onion (1/4 to 1/2 cup)
  • Sliced almonds or pine nuts (1/4 to 1/2 cup)
  • Sunflower seeds (1/4 to 1/2 cup)
  • Dried cranberries (1/4 to 1/2 cup)
  • Apple, chopped very small (1/4 to 1/2 cup)

Can you make coleslaw in advance?

Coleslaw can be made in advance, but with some small adjustments. This dressing has a tendency to pull the moisture out of the vegetables, which can water down the consistency and make the vegetables softer. You can avoid this by shredding the vegetables and preparing the dressing but storing these two items separately until ready to serve.

For best results, you can store the dressing and shredded vegetables in separate sealed containers in the refrigerator for up to two to four days. When ready to serve, mix the vegetables and dressing the night before or a few hours before eating. Coleslaw is best when the flavors can marinate together for at least an hour in the refrigerator.

How long is coleslaw good for?

Once prepared, homemade coleslaw can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two to three days. However, keep in mind that over time the dressing will become more watery (from pulling moisture from the vegetables) and the vegetables’ texture will soften.

Top down view of multiple plates served with coleslaw.

Can you freeze coleslaw?

Bad news here, guys. Due to the mayonnaise in this salad, I can’t recommend freezing it. Mayonnaise is an emulsion, and the consistency of an emulsion will completely break down during the freezing process. The flavor will remain the same but the texture will change in a way that many may feel is off-putting.

For best results, try to enjoy coleslaw when it’s freshly made.

How long can you leave out a side dish?

Whenever you serve a side dish for your guests to enjoy, you should always keep track of how long it sits at room temperature.

For most foods, the general rule of thumb is that a perishable item should not be in the “danger zone” for more than two hours. And by “danger zone”, this is usually at or just above room temperature. I recommend chilling this coleslaw salad before serving it, so it should already be pretty cool by the time your guests are digging in, giving you some extra time before it reaches room temperature.

So, in total, this dish can be left out for “about” three hours, depending on the start temperature and the temperature of the room. However, be sure to still check it every now and then – mayonnaise can be tricky like that.

Once you pass the recommended time, you can cover the coleslaw and place it back in the refrigerator. If your guests still want more salad, let it chill for at least 30 minutes before bringing it back out again.

Notes & tips for coleslaw

  • Feel free to use any color combination of cabbage that you’d like. Green cabbage is the classic choice for coleslaw, but you can also use 50/50 green and red cabbage (as pictured) or use all red cabbage for a more festive look.
  • You can also use other types of cabbage, such as savory cabbage or Napa cabbage.
  • You can also use pre-packaged shredded coleslaw to save on preparation time.
  • For a lighter recipe, you can use an equal portion of plain yogurt in place of the mayonnaise.
Top down view of coleslaw on a plate, with a fork holding a portion.

More delicious salad recipes

How to make coleslaw

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Step 1 – In a large bowl, whisk together the following ingredients: mayonnaise, sugar, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, ground mustard, black pepper, salt, onion powder, and celery salt.

Step 2 – Add the shredded cabbage and carrots to the bowl, then use a spatula to toss and coat.

Step 3 – Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Step 4 – Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Details

Close up top down view of homemade coleslaw in a bowl.
5 from 2 votes

Homemade Coleslaw

20 mins prep + 1 hr Marinating Time
245 kcal
Yields: 8 servings
Known for its slightly sweet taste and delicate crunch, this classic homemade coleslaw is made with a mayonnaise-based dressing and colorful shredded cabbage.

Ingredients 

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, mustard powder, black pepper, salt, onion powder, and celery salt until smooth.
    1 cup mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon onion powder, 1/8 teaspoon celery salt
  • Add shredded cabbage and carrots to bowl and toss thoroughly with dressing.
    1 medium cabbage, 1 cup shredded carrots
  • Refrigerate at least one hour so flavors can marinate.
  • Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 245kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 319mg | Potassium: 256mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2803IU | Vitamin C: 43mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 1mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy