Make this creamy coleslaw recipe for your next potluck, picnic, or backyard bbq. Made with a crisp coleslaw mix and a sweet yet tangy homemade dressing, this classic coleslaw hits the spot!

A bowl of creamy coleslaw with a silver spoon on a grey counter.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Coleslaw can elicit some serious love or hate feelings in a lot of people. When it’s done well you get crisp bites of cabbage tossed in a not too sweet, but deliciously tangy dressing that holds its own when paired with pulled pork or tacos. This homemade creamy coleslaw strikes the perfect balance between sweet and tangy, yet crisp and fresh. No soggy slaw here!

I love this coleslaw recipe because it’s creamy but not in that gloppy mayonnaise-y way.

Whether you eat it as a side dish or on sandwiches, this is such an easy, basic coleslaw dressing to keep tucked away for whipping up a batch in a hurry. No store-bought bottle necessary!

Ingredients You’ll Need

The ingredients for coleslaw with purple label saying what each ingredient is.

Coleslaw Dressing

A couple of quick notes:

  • Mayonnaise: Use your favorite brand or variety!
  • Sugar: You can adjust the amount to make your dressing more or less sweet.
  • Vinegar: Like the sugar, you can adjust this to make your dressing as tangy as you’d like. Some folks like to use up to a ¼ cup of vinegar.
  • Celery seed: This is optional, but adds a warm bitterness that pairs perfectly with the slaw.

Coleslaw Mix

I’m a big advocate of saving time by buying a 14-ounce bag of coleslaw mix from the grocery store to toss with the dressing, but if you want to make your own, you’ll need the following:

  • Cabbage: Green cabbage works best in this recipe. You will need about 4 cups of shredded cabbage if you are making your own mix.
  • Shredded Carrot- Add about ½ cup of freshly shredded or packaged shredded carrot to the cabbage.

Other Add-Ins to Try

If you are looking for ways to switch up your coleslaw recipe, here are a few different mix-ins you might want to try:

  • Apple: Green apple adds a wonderful tart bite to the coleslaw. Slice it into matchstick pieces.
  • Green Onion: Chop into small pieces.
  • Purple Cabbage: For a little added pop of color swap out one cup of the green cabbage for shredded purple cabbage.
  • Dried Cranberries: Adds a nice tart but sweet bite to the coleslaw.
  • Sliced Almonds: For an added crunch.
  • Sunflower Seeds: Another good option for crunch!

How to Make It

Step #1: Make Your Coleslaw Mix

If you are making this recipe from scratch here are the steps to prepare your own coleslaw mix. Skip this section if you plan to use a pre-made coleslaw mix bag and move to the directions for making the dressing.

  • Prepare the cabbage: Wash and drain the head of cabbage. Quarter the cabbage vertically from the top to the core at the bottom.
  • Cut out the core: Remove the core from each of the quarters by cutting a V-shape along the left and right side of the core to cut it out.
  • Shred the cabbage: Rotate the cabbage quarter and slice it from the short edge to produce small thin shreds of cabbage. Repeat with the remaining quarters until you have about 4 cups of shredded cabbage.
  • Shred the carrot: Use the large holes on a standard box grater. You could also use a shredding disc for a food processor and follow the instructions in the manual for shredding carrots. You will need about 1 medium-sized carrot to get ½-cup of shredded carrot.

Step #2: Mix the Coleslaw Dressing

  • Mix together the dressing: In a large bowl stir together mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper, and celery seed if using.
  • For immediate use: Keep the dressing in the bowl if you are planning to mix up the coleslaw right away.
  • For future use: If you are making the dressing in advance, transfer the homemade dressing to an airtight container and store for up to 3 days.
Glass bowl with a whisk on a grey counter with the coleslaw dressing before whisking.

Step #3: Mix Together the Coleslaw

  • Add mix to the bowl: In a large bowl with the dressing add the homemade or pre-made coleslaw mix.
  • Coat with dressing: Stir until the coleslaw is evenly coated with the dressing.
  • Chill: Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Storing and Making Ahead

  • Storing: Store this creamy coleslaw in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
  • Freezing: Since the dressing contains mayonnaise, I would not recommend freezing coleslaw for longer storage. The mayo will separate in the thawing process and leave you with a soggy slaw.
  • Making Ahead: If you are looking to save some time and prep in advance I would suggest making the coleslaw mix and storing it in an airtight container separate from the dressing. They can be prepped up to 3 days in advance. Toss the dressing with the mix at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours before you plan to serve.
Glass bowl on the counter with a whisk with the coleslaw dressing after mixing.

Serving Suggestions

This easy, creamy coleslaw makes the perfect addition to a weekend BBQ, potluck, cookout, or picnic. Serve it up with one (or more!) of these main dishes for a filling meal.

Some other sides that go well with coleslaw include:

Coleslaw FAQs

Is coleslaw better the next day?

This is really based on personal preference. The longer coleslaw sits in the dressing the soggier the cabbage and other vegetables get. For the freshest coleslaw mix the dressing and mix together about 1 hour before serving. If you prefer a softer coleslaw, letting it sit longer will soften up the vegetables. See make-ahead tips above for suggestions for making 1 or more days in advance.

How far in advance can you make coleslaw?

You can prep the ingredients for coleslaw up to 3 days in advance but I would not mix the slaw and the dressing together more than 8 to 12 hours before serving.

What is the best cabbage for coleslaw?

Green (also called cannonball) cabbage is the most frequently used cabbage for making coleslaw.

A sandwich with coleslaw inside on a brown plate.

More Quick Coleslaw Recipes

This delicious side dish comes together in 5 minutes and is the perfect addition to a burger, hot dog, pulled pork sandwich, or tacos! Make this homemade coleslaw for your next potluck, picnic, or backyard bbq.

If you make this recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️

A white bowl with creamy homemade coleslaw and a silver spoon on the right side of the bowl.

Creamy Coleslaw Recipe

Crunchy coleslaw tossed in a creamy homemade dressing makes this 5 minute coleslaw recipe a must make dish!
4.43 (21 ratings)

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (168 g) mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons (1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar, cider or rice, preferably
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon (453.59 g) celery seed, optional
  • 1 14-ounce bag coleslaw mix

Instructions 

  • In a large bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper, and celery seed, if using.
  • Add the coleslaw mix to the bowl and stir until it is evenly coated. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Notes

  • Homemade Coleslaw Mix: In lieu of bagged coleslaw mix, you can use 4 cups of shredded green cabbage (about 1 head) and add ½ cup shredded carrot.
  • Sugar and Vinegar Adjustments: Both of these ingredients can be scaled up or down to suit your personal preference. Make it a sweeter or tangier dressing easily!
  • Add-ins: Optional add-ins for different flavors and textures could include chopped apple, green onion, purple cabbage, dried cranberries, sliced almonds (or other nuts), and sunflower seeds.
  • Storing: Store this creamy coleslaw in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
  • Freezing: Since the dressing contains mayonnaise, I would not recommend freezing coleslaw for longer storage. The mayo will separate in the thawing process and leave you with a soggy slaw.
  • Making Ahead: If you are looking to save some time and prep in advance I would suggest making the coleslaw mix and storing it in an airtight container separate from the dressing. They can be prepped up to 3 days in advance. Toss the dressing with the mix at least 1 hour (or up to 8) before you plan to serve.
Nutritional values are based on one serving
Calories: 74kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 3mg, Sodium: 261mg, Potassium: 170mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 75IU, Vitamin C: 27.6mg, Calcium: 43mg, Iron: 0.4mg

Did you make this recipe?

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