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How to Make Restaurant-Style Coleslaw at Home

Cholee is a stay-at-home mom who enjoys creating family and budget-friendly recipes from scratch.

Barbecue with homemade coleslaw

Barbecue with homemade coleslaw

Coleslaw Recipe

The perfect summer side dish can be yours in as little as 90 minutes. Learn how to make the best restaurant-quality coleslaw at home with this simple recipe; it pairs perfectly with barbecues, picnics, church potlucks, holidays, or any family gathering. My family loves it and often requests it for gatherings.

This "salad" has the perfect coleslaw taste and texture. It's creamy with a hint of sweetness and a nice tangy, crunchy bite—and it tastes like something you would get from a restaurant. You simply cannot go wrong with this recipe.

Cook Time

Prep timeReady inYields

1 hour 15 min

1 hour 15 min

Serves 15 to 20 people


  • 2 bags store bought shredded coleslaw mix, (contains cabbage, red cabbage, and carrots)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 6 tbs oil
  • 6 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar


  1. Combine the two bags of coleslaw in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, make the dressing: Combine the salt, vinegar, oil, mayonnaise, and sugar. Mix well.
  3. Toss dressing with coleslaw.
  4. Mix well and let coleslaw set in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Serve cold.

Coleslaw Variations

For those who like onion, you can add 2 tbs of minced onions or up to a quarter of a cup of finely chopped raw onions. Mix the onions with the 2 bags of coleslaw before adding the dressing.

Two other flavors that pair well with coleslaw are pepper and lemon juice. If deciding to add these, I'd recommend using 1/8 tsp of pepper and 2 1/2 tbs of lemon juice. You can combine the pepper and lemon juice right into the dressing mixture to ensure that the flavors will get incorporated throughout the whole slaw.

Miracle whip could also be substituted for mayonnaise. However, the taste will be different. The miracle whip is sweeter, and you could end up with a coleslaw that is too sweet. If using Miracle whip, I would slowly add the sugar because you cannot fix a too-sweet slaw.

For those who do not like or cannot have mayonnaise, you can substitute buttermilk and/or milk. The buttermilk adds a richer creamy taste with a bit of tang. If choosing to go this route, use 1/3 cup mayonnaise and 1/4 cup buttermilk. If completely taking out the mayonnaise, you can use 1/4 cup of milk and 1/3 cup of buttermilk.

You can substitute buttermilk for a creamy, tangy flavor.

You can substitute buttermilk for a creamy, tangy flavor.

5 Tips for Creating the Best Coleslaw

  1. Don't forget the salt and sugar! I like to use the pre-mixed bags of slaw, but if you are going to use heads of cabbage, be sure to add a little extra salt and sugar to them and let them sit for a while. This draws out any excess moisture and will keep your slaw crunchy longer. You could do this with the pre-mixed bags, but I have not found the bagged cabbage ever needed.
  2. Don't grate your carrots: Grated carrots become a soggy wet mess. Rather than grating, take the time to julienne your carrots or buy a julienne peeler. The carrots will stay crisp and firm and make a much better addition to your slaw.
  3. Get the ratio right: Always mix your dressing in a separate bowl and gradually add it to the cabbage. This ensures your coleslaw will not become too wet and soggy.
  4. Build on a great recipe: The recipe I provided above is a great way to do just this! The simple yet tasty slaw above can be tailored to your family's tastes in no time. Add extra veggies, some apples, or even a dash of other seasonings, and you have a meal created by you for you.
  5. Always chill your coleslaw: Chilling allows the flavors of the slaw to intensify and come together. A cold slaw will also help set the consistency of the dish. Always keep your coleslaw refrigerated until ready to eat.

© 2012 Cholee Clay