Classic Homemade Coleslaw Recipe

5 from 5 votes
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 If there is one summer salad skill that you need, it’s how to make Classic Homemade Coleslaw.  There’s nothing fancy here, no wine vinegar or crazy spices, this is just a homemade coleslaw like your Grandma used to make! 

Kitchen tongs on Classic Homemade Coleslaw in a white plate

Traditional Homemade Coleslaw Recipe

This really is as traditional as you can get – except I tell you that you can use bagged coleslaw instead of chopping fresh! Yes, a modern cheat for modern busy people. I find it a lot easier than cutting up half a purple cabbage and half a green cabbage. That said, I do have fresh cabbage in the house almost all the time -to make my Bacon Wrapped Cabbage Wedges of course- so I’ll use fresh or bagged cabbage mix when it comes down to it. The real treasure in this recipe is the dressing!

How do you make American coleslaw dressing?

This is the only part of making homemade coleslaw that people find intimidating – the coleslaw dressing! Now I call this American dressing because Mexican coleslaw has a tangy lime and oil-based dressing, nothing like the heavier mayonnaise-based American-style coleslaw dressing. The basic ingredients for a mayonnaise-based coleslaw dressing are:

  1. mayonnaise
  2. vinegar
  3. white sugar

That is really the basics. Now, you can add in yellow mustard, dill, celery seed, and pickle juice but the tried and true old-fashioned homemade coleslaw dressing is those three ingredients and you build on your own recipe from those three ingredients.

Want to try a lighter coleslaw recipe? Try my Mexican Coleslaw, it has lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, and more!

Close up of classic homemade coleslaw on a white plate

Can you make coleslaw ahead of time?

While you can definitely prepare the vegetables ahead of time, I wouldn’t recommend combining the cabbage, etc. with the coleslaw dressing until the morning of the day you’re going to eat it or a few hours ahead. Coleslaw gets watery in the refrigerator if it’s kept in there too long. I would err on the side of caution if you are making this for an event and make it the morning of. I know, it’s not exactly the easiest but the hardest part is chopping the cabbage. Mix the dressing together and store it in a closed container until you need it, prep the cabbage and really, all you have left is 5 minutes of tossing the salad together!

How long can you store coleslaw?

While you can store coleslaw in the fridge, the quality does deteriorate as I mentioned above. The cabbage loses its crunch and the dressing goes watery. I have completely eaten coleslaw and enjoyed it a day or two later, don’t get me wrong, but it just isn’t as good as the day of. Try to make it close to the amount that you are going to eat. However, according to food safety standards, you are totally safe storing the coleslaw in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Dishing up homemade coleslaw with turquoise tongs

Now, cutting up the fresh cabbage! This is easily explained via video so here you guys go. If you are cutting up fresh cabbage this how-to video will help you out!

How to Cut up a Cabbage Video

Does it come as any surprise that this Ukrainian girl loves to add a bunch of dill to hers? It shouldn’t! Dill is much better than the usual parsley in my opinion, as parsley really doesn’t have a special taste like dill does. I don’t know, parsley to me seems like a good garnish for color and that’s about it, so go with dill for the flavor! Also: celery seed. My coleslaw has to have celery seeds! It really just brings together the flavors.

Low Carb Coleslaw Dressing

To make this low carb simply replace the white sugar with Splenda or other sweetener of choice.

Now, what ingredients do you add to your homemade coleslaw? What does your family traditionally add to your coleslaw? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments below!

Happy cooking!



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This Classic Homemade Coleslaw Recipe tastes just like Grandma used to make! The secret is always using celery seeds, I just can't have coleslaw without them! #coleslaw #salad #BBQ #picnic #cabbage #carrots #vegetables
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Classic Homemade Coleslaw Recipe

This Classic Homemade Coleslaw Recipe tastes just like Grandma used to make! The secret is always using celery seeds, I just can’t have coleslaw without them! 
5 from 5 votes
Dishing up homemade coleslaw with turquoise tongs
Prep Time
20 minutes
Total Time
20 minutes
Karlynn Johnston


  • 8 cups thinly sliced cabbage (you can use bagged coleslaw for a fast trick!)
  • 1 carrot grated coarsely
  • 2 green onion, sliced into thin pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill OR parsley

Homemade Coleslaw Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard ( more to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar or apple cider vinegar ( more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar (more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Prepare a Small Fresh Cabbage

  • Cut the cabbage into four quarters, and then cut out the core in each section. Cut each quarter crosswise in half. Cut the cabbage pieces into long, thin ribbons like shown in the photo. You most likely will have more than 8 cups, cabbage is hard to gauge! Simply store the extra cabbage.
  • Place 8 cups of the cabbage in a very large bowl ( I use my huge Tupperware dough bowl). Add the shredded carrot, green onion and dill/parsley to the cabbage and toss to mix.

Prepare the Coleslaw Dressing

  • In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, sugar celery seeds, salt, and pepper together. Taste test and add more vinegar and mustard if desired. Add more sugar if you prefer a sweeter coleslaw dressing.
  •  Pour the dressing over the coleslaw and mix – I find a fork does a better job than a spoon. Serve right away or refrigerate for a few hours. Store in a closed container in the fridge for up to 3 days, but the quality will deteriorate.

Recipe Notes

You can use a 397 (g) bag of shredded cabbage mix, which ends up being almost exactly 8 cups.
To make this low carb simply replace the white sugar with splenda or other sweetener of choice.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 121kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 5mg, Sodium: 267mg, Potassium: 162mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 1495IU, Vitamin C: 27.9mg, Calcium: 38mg, Iron: 0.6mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. Haze says

    This is a great start for any coleslaw recipe! I like to add some onion/garlic powder, crushed garlic cloves, craisins, sunflower/pumpkin seeds. Yum ! 😋

  2. Patricia Sue Aaron says

    I love the old fashion coleslaw the way it’s cut up course not soupie with dressing.

  3. Lorraine Murdoch says

    Why have I never thought to add dill. I’m Ukrainian too. Next time for sure. I use sweet onion, sliced thinly and I do make this dressing but I use brown sugar. Delish!

  4. Jenny says

    I LOVE coleslaw. I always cheat and get the store bought Cole slaw dressing. I didn’t realize it was that easy! I like to add fruit, mandarin oranges, shredded apples or pineapple. Maybe even dried cranberries. It’s one of my favorite side dishes.5 stars

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