not your mama’s coleslaw

Look, I understand that it’s too in the day early to start talking about mothers. And, at the age of 30, when I say mother, what I really mean is “me, sooner than later” so it sounds a particularly ill-chosen term, not to mention that my mother is a wonderful cook, as is my husband’s mother as was her mother and what I really actually mean is “this is not your (fill in the blank) deli’s/lunch room’s typical, watery/soggy/oily/white/mysterious two-ounce Solo container of forgettable and soon-to-be-chucked coleslaw.” But that makes for a terrifically bad headline.

Like most of us, I’ve never been a fan of coleslaw, as nearly every one I had ever tried was god-awful. I thought it was because I didn’t like cabbage, but this has turned out not to be the case. Then I thought it was because I didn’t like mayonnaise, but this, too, turned out to be a farce. (An aside: have you ever made mayo? It’s really easy! We should totally do it some time.) As it turned out, it was coleslaw, the way it is typically prepared (read: scooped from bucket of mysterious origin and packing date), that I loathed. Ding, ding, ding; we have winner!

what you'll needready to mixdressingthis dressing keeps foreverbarbecue/picnic preppretty

As is an all-too-common theme on this site, Ms. Contessa saved the day with her fresh take on everything you’ve grown bored with. Don’t think coleslaw, think cabbage salad. Don’t think white, as these pictures show it to be anything but. Soggy? No, the trick is to keep the dressing and the veggies separate, as you would with any other salad. Dull? Heck no. Forgettable? Anything but, though you’ll have to try it for yourself to believe me. Now, the recipe does makes an excessive volume of dressing, but it keeps forever (or, as long as that jar of mayo does), and doubles excellently as a dip for raw veggies. In addition, cabbage, when bought fresh, keeps for weeks and week in the refrigerator. (I wasn’t going to bring this up, but we used a half-head to make this in June, and in August, found the remainder wrapped, flawless, unbruised and age mark-free, in the back of the crisper. I’m going to leave the jury out on whether we dug in.)

add dressing to taste
not your mama's coleslaw

Not Your Mama's Cole Slaw

Here’s how I get this salad ready for picnics, potlucks, and other summer flings: I prepare the cabbage and carrots and keep them in a big container or gallon bag. I make the dressing and keep it in a big jar. And when needed, I assemble what we need with chopped parsley. The parsley doesn’t add a significant flavor, but it does make the salad look like a show-stopper. You could also use ribbons of kale for a modern twist. I don’t use the blue cheese as often, but if you’ve got friends and family who like it, they will love it here.

The prepared vegetables without dressing will keep for 5 days in a bag. The dressing without blue cheese keeps… well, I can’t say forever, but there’s honestly not one thing in there that shouldn’t keep for a month or two. We keep it in an airtight jar in the fridge. With blue cheese, I’d use it within a week.

This makes too much dressing for this quantity of salad, we have never used it all. But it keeps well (see above) and also makes an awesome dip for crudités.

Refreshed in 6/17: With fresh photos, weights, and more detailed notes.

  • 2 cups (415 grams or 15 ounces) mayonnaise, low-fat is fine, as is swapping half with yogurt
  • 1/4 cup smooth (60 grams) Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) whole grain mustard (I use whole grain Dijon)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups (170 grams or 6 ounces) crumbled blue cheese (optional)
  • 1/2 of a small head (about 430 grams or 15 ounces for half) green cabbage
  • 1/2 small (about 375 grams or 13 ounces for half) head red cabbage
  • 1 giant carrot (about 6 ounces) or 4 slim ones, scrubbed or peeled and shredded
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves or 1 cup slivered kale leaves

Make the dressing: Mix the mayonnaise, mustards, vinegar, celery seed, salt, and pepper in a smaller bowl. Stir in blue cheese, if using.

Prepare the vegetables: Halve the cabbage halves and cut out the cores. Slice the cabbage as thinly as you can with a sharp knife, on a mandoline, or with a food processor’s slicing blade (lay the cabbage horizontally in the feed tube). Transfer chopped cabbage into a large bowl, fishing out any very large pieces and slicing them thinly by hand. Stir in the shredded carrot. If you’re going to dress this later, this is the best stopping point.

To serve: Up to an hour before you’ll eat the slaw, toss the cabbage mixture with dressing to taste –- you will want to start with half and add more as needed — and parsley. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Note: No matter how gargantuan the salad looks right now, it will soon wilt down a bit and yield moderate portions for 8 to 10 people.

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117 comments on not your mama’s coleslaw

  1. Can i brag about an e-mail i got from Ina?

    Ok OK it was a response from 1 i had sent to her.. BUT STILL.. I wanted to cry.. I didnt think she’d actually write back to lil ol me.

    She did an episode (about a year ago) on truffle making and me being a fan of all things milk chocolate, wanted to know how to make them more “milk-chocolately”. She gave me a few suggestions and said to e-mail her back the results. I decided I’ll leave truffle making up to the chocolate professionals.

    You want to try something warm and comfy of hers that she makes try the chicken stew with biscuits… I’ve made it a bazillion times and have found my own ways to tweak it so its not as fattening.

    Oh and the lentils.. soo yummm.

  2. I have recently found my love for coleslaw, as I too thought I hated it before. There’s a little pub in the next town over that serves terriffic coleslaw along side their incredibly tasty burgers. I was trying to figure out what they used so that I could try to make it at home, and to my surprise, they include shredded green pepper in their slaw. I’d never seen that before. It’s delicious and adds a hint more sweetness.

  3. Yvo

    Mm, cole slaw! I just was over at Pearl Oyster Bar and they have this re-interpretation served with their crab cake that was to die for. I think it was jicama. So good. Thanks for the recipe.

    As for NaBloPoMo, I’m doing NaNoWriMo, as well, so NaBloPoMo will probably get shafted when I’m busy at work (since I am refusing to engage in NaNoWriMo at work, I have precious time to spare…). Good luck!

  4. Marce

    wow, you are actually going to try NaBloPoMo thing, that´s awesome for us… probably not so much for you hahaha

    I´m anti cabbage (except for chinese spring rolls), but I´m thinking of giving this a try.

    About the mayo, I did try it once (a garlic version) and loved it. I made it with a hand blender, so it was a breeze.

    I´ll try to do my part to give you ideas of stuff to write about and act as a personal blogger-cheerleader, but I can´t promise anything :P

    I´ve just received a book called The Booklover´s Cookbook, which has 200 recipes inspired or mentioned in famous books and it looks great so far, so I might get some material from there.

    An idea: you can make something with the dulce de leche recipes I sent you a while ago. That looks like quite a challenge and if you pull it off I can give you around 50 ideas to use it with/for ;)

  5. I’m impressed you’re doing the NaBloPoMo thing!

    And I love this batch of pictures; they’re particularly vivid. Your pictures are always good but these really jumped out at me.

    I also love coleslaw and right now when cabbage is so cheap is a good time to make it.

  6. meghan

    Cupcakes – I’ve made Ina’s truffles and they’re actually super-easy & yummy. as long as you don’t mind your hands being completely covered in chocolate (and, really, how bad is that?) – I gave them as extra-Christmas presents last year & everyone loved. Recipe suggestion!!

  7. bawdy penguin

    i know a while back you made, pierogies (sp?). your recipe is much different than my mother’s. her heritage is russian and she also makes something called a haluski but she uses a potato base instead of the traditional cabbage. i’ve never had any other haluski, than her’s, and i thought maybe this recipe would be fun to work on.

    awesome that you are doing the nablopomo! can’t wait to try out the recipes. good luck!

  8. Susanne

    Deb, do you have any Turkey Day recipes to suggest? By the by, the Wash Post had a great article about dessert recipes from pastry chefs home cooks could undertake. I thought you might be interested.

  9. C

    Here’s my chef pet peeve. When they say “good” something. LIke “good” olive oil or “good” mayo – I know they can’t hawk stuff on tv, but at least kind of show me so I can guess. I don’t really love mayo all that much but I adore cole slaw, so what constitutes “good” mayo? There’s a post for nablopomo (or whatever the acronym I’m too lazy to scroll up and see is).

  10. C

    Ha! Your site forces me to do my homework. Our favorite kitchen goddess says:

    What is “good” olive oil?

    I use Olio Santo olive oil from California which is available at Williams-Sonoma and specialty food stores. I think it’s light and flavorful and a perfect all-purpose oil for cooking, salads, and dipping bread.

    What is “good” mayonnaise?

    I prefer Hellman’s mayonnaise which is called Best in the Western part of the US. If you live in the South and can buy Duke’s, it’s also terrific.

  11. Shelly

    I want to make my husband a really nice French meal for his birthday next week and the first person that popped into my head to ask was you! I’d like to make an entree, main and a beautiful dessert. Can you give me an idea for a menu and recipes? Do you have any favorites/suggestions?

    I hope I’m not being to presumptuous!

    Thanks Deb

  12. Rebecca

    The lentil and tomatoe stew? DEEEEELISH!

    Thanks for making fall a little sweeter.

    Love the blog (thought I would miss the old one, but I am so into this one now!).

    Recipe Ideas:
    A yummy casserole (lame?)
    Some easy pasta (so lame?)

    – ok, so I’m not a foodie, but you sooooo are.

    Thanks for all the smiles (and full bellies)

  13. i love lentils… and cole slaw.. and pumpkin spice muffins!! you make everything i wish i had the time, drive and kitchen utensils to make. big cheer for deb! :)
    and another for keeping her big russian man well fed YAY!

  14. Speaking of registries – you wouldn’t happen to have the list of essential home cook/baker items that I should put on my wedding registry would ya?

    I’ve registered for everything I THINK I want/need but probably have forgotten something wonderfully exciting and important. Plus – the registry, she is getting low, and needs replenishing for the day is not even here yet.

    LOVE the food pics by the way – everything looks perfectly yummy.

  15. adrienne

    I’m a big fan of your recipes and your photos. Excellent site, I must thank Julia for pointing it out.

    Howabout some sort of stir fry? Or, I don’t know if this is a bit too midwest for you, but a kind of pasty?

  16. E.

    Good luck with NaBloPoMo, Lady. I am so glad you’re doing it, as I love reading your posts. I actually hate cooking and am really, really bad at it, but after reading pretty much every entry you write, I think, “Hmmm . . . if I ever try to cook anything, it will be that.”

    So: you’re my hero, Deb! Good luck this month!
    the cheering section

  17. Jenifer from Memphis

    Don’t be afraid of the candy people, it will only love you back if you make it…and your thighs!

    I’m always looking for better coleslaws, especially ones that have red cabbage in them. I think it gives the ‘slaw a better, crisper texture. Also, it’s pretty! *read with a southern accent for effect*

    Also, I made the mac and cheese recipe from a few posts back…EXCELLENT! I’m going to make a tomato soup tonight to eat with the leftovers.

    Deb, how would you like us to submit recipes to you? Also, what kind of copy right information would you need?

  18. deb

    Cupcakes – Love it. Chicken stew sounds great, too. As for milk chocolate, I was surprised to learn back when Jacques Torres had his odd little show on the Food Network that he just works with dark and white, mixing the two at different levels to achieve everything in between. Have you ever tried adding white to dark to make it more milk chocolate-like?

    Jessie – That sounds great, the green pepper. I like the idea of bulking it up with vegetables. I know it’s not traditional, but this coleslaw reminds me that it really is a salad + dressing, so anything should go.

    Yvo – Yum. I have seen more interesting cabbage salads with crab cakes, too, on menus, I guess people like the flavors and textures together. Should I mention I don’t like crab cakes? Er, nah.

    Marce – I should try those recipes. I have to admit being a wee bit put off by the stuff since we had a dulce du leche-filled doughnut forced on us (woe is us) at the Doughnut Plant a few weeks ago. I know it sounds good, but it turned my stomach for some reason. I will persevere! Your suggestion has been noted.

    Julie – Don’t be impressed yet. :) The first days are easiest. Heh.

    Jessica – Mrs. Kennedy of fame spearheaded NaBloPoMo to encourage participants to post every day for a month, that month being November. Sort of like forcing the wheels into action, getting those juices flowing, etc. For me, it’s more like Finally Proving Once and For All That I Am Batshit Insane.

    Meghan – I haven’t made truffles – though, I’ve always wanted to make the ones from La Maison du Chocolat (the recipe used to be on Epicurious but I can’t find it; if anyone has it please, please, can you send it to me?). It’s not supposed to be hard at all. I just don’t know how I could trust myself not to eat all of them. Even from the freezer. Heck, especially from the freezer.

    Amy – We do not judge people for their food preferences at Smitten Kitchen. That said, if you want to “whiten” or “watery” it up, just leave the dressing on and use most of it. You can even replace the red cabbage with white.

    Bawdy – Ohh. Hm. Were those the Russian ones, more bready and filled with cabbage? I actually didn’t love them. They were good, but my mother-in-law does a much better job, and uses phyllo for wrappers, saving much time. A second time, I used mushroom pierogie filling to make dumplings, which were awesome and my husband still asks for them. I’d love to see your haluski recipe.

    Susanne – For now, I would start by recommending the wild mushroom galette, the acorn squash with chili-lime vinaigrette and the squash soup, but I promise to add more, as well as pie and cranberry tips, as the month passes.

    Sarah – Oh no! That’s, uh, terrible, those, uh, other people who do not like cilantro, what terrifically bad taste those, you know, people who are NOT me have in finding it, possibly, to taste a little like dirt. Blasphemy, indeed.

    C – I agree, “good” is a pretty annoying term. Like it’s all going to go to hell if you don’t use $15 fleur de sel or something. I mean, I’m all for quality ingredients, but I’m even more for getting by humbly, and making the best of what’s in your pantry.

    In addition, cooking (as in sautéing, frying) in expensive olive oil is, I’m sorry, pretty silly and my eyes roll when I hear FoodTV people suggest it. The flavor gets more bitter over heat, and it makes more sense to use either a less flavorful olive oil, like one that is not extra virgin, or a neutral oil, and save the fancy stuff for things like drizzling at the end or salad dressings, places where it’s delicate flavor will come through.

    Shelly – Yes! I can. But, I haven’t cooked them here, yet, so you’ll just have to trust me. First, you should make French Onion Soup, because it’s amazing, and not particularly hard. I love Julia Child’s recipe. In fact, I love all of her recipes and might you consider buying her first cookbook? I promise you won’t regret having it. In it, her Coq au Vin and Beef Bourginon are unparalleled in their tastiness. As sides, you can lightly dress some greens with a quick oil/champagne vinegar/Dijon vinaigrette or briefly steam some haricot vert. Finally, for dessert, you should make Molly’s Tarte Tatin. Tarte Tatin is ludicrously delicious, not very hard to make, and very showy.

    Rebecca – Yay, glad you liked it. Casseroles are not lame. I didn’t eat them growing up, but now see how they can work. Easy pasta is a definite. I will just be forced to actually write down what I do since I often just ad-lib sauces. The work I do for you guys! :)

    Mary – Why thank you. But Alex prefers the term “like bear” over “big.” And yes, I am just kidding.

    Suzanne – Eeks. Really depends on what you, personally, like to make the most. But, a good, large old-school sauté pan, and a big Dutch oven are two essentials. After that, one chefs knife. (I hate to use the term “good” – see above comment – but in some things, like knives and pots, the money you invest will be the money you get back from them when they never need replacing.) A couple standard-sized baking pans and, well, a Microplane grater and an immersion blender. I can’t live without either.

    Adrienne – Sounds good, re: stir-fry. Did you mean pastry? I can do that; I certainly don’t mind making them, as long as they are not more about appearance than taste, as many of the fusspot things in bakery windows appear.

    E – Thanks for the cheering section!

    Jenifer – If you want to send me a recipe, though I can’t make any promises of getting to them, just let me know where you got it, magazine, cookbook, etc. I just like to source things when I mention the recipe. [Anyone cookbook author who wishes to get up in a twist that I wrote about, cooked and publicly promoted their recipe, thereby encouraging others to buy their books, is one I don’t care to showcase, anyhow.] As for tomato soup, my new America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook has a classic tomato soup recipe that’s supposed to be like Campbell’s but way better, and I have been ITCHING to make it since I saw it last night.

    Maggie – Then do I have good news for you! Her original recipe for this slaw calls for 6 oz. of crumbled blue cheese mixed into the dressing. I left it out because it seemed a little heavy for what I wanted. I’m sorry to have kept that from you!

  19. Suki

    First, I love reading your site and impressed by your ambitious daily posting attempt! Now, can we talk Thanksgiving? Or more importantly, what to bring to the ever-present office pot luck deal? I typically bring something traditional (yawn) but would like to shake thing up this year….course, the main stipulation being that it has to keep well. Sure others have encountered this problem, any suggestions would be welcome! Thanks.

  20. Susan

    Hey Deb,
    How about a photo tour and description of your kitchen before and during a cooking session. Just an idea to keep ya blogging.

  21. Samma

    That floral photo is easily the best ever. Your pic skills keep getting better, and I really am enjoying the transition from Smitten to Smitten Kitchen. Thanks!

    (PS, next time, try the nutmeg in the macaroni & cheese — I can’t explain what it adds, but it is one of those magical alchemical things like drinking milk while eating artichokes, orlike mixing tequila, lime & Contrieau and pouring into glass w/ ice and a kosher salt rim ;D )

  22. I am one of those who despise the standard mayo-based coleslaw. I favor crunchy variations that I make in an Asian style, with red cabbage, napa cabbage and some regular green stuff, green onions, julienne carrots and sometimes red pepper. I have tried several asian dressings that have been acceptable, and toasted almonds and ramen noodles for a crunchy additional topping. Dressed just prior to eating and it is wonderful.

  23. Sarah

    well, I guess I make up for my cilantro love with my all-consuming hate of PARSLEY. I suppose to most cooks that would be blasphemy also. :)

  24. Shelly

    Thanks for your ideas Deb we ended up having:
    French Onion Soup with floating toasted french bread w/melted parmesan
    (you KNOW how yummy THAT was!)
    Pork Scotch filet in red wine sauce with fresh mushrooms/carrots (later I turned the red wine and drippings into gravy)
    With that we had french fried asparagus (I won’t do it again, although it was ok)
    and parmesan cheese souffles (are they suppose to be like scrambled eggs in the middle??!)
    Then for dessert (TO DIE FOR) this chocolate stuff that was suppose to be mousse that was made with chocolate, coffee, cointreau and eggs. It was so good we didn’t care that it was a tiny bit runny! And its so rich I’m still in the process of eating mine!
    Thanks for your advice!

  25. eve

    You have the best food blog on the your recipes and the pics just about always become my latest wallpaper. My Mom used to make blackberry cobbler that had dumplings in the cobbler and a crust on the top…do you know about a dessert like that..I don’t care for the one with just a crust on top….that is not cobbler to me…TIA

  26. Kat

    My mom’s coleslaw recipe is absolutely the best, I think. It’s hella easy too: Mix mayo, regular sugar and milk together until mildly runny. Mix in shredded carrots, cabbage and peppers. Let it sit for half an hour in the fridge. Consume. Mmmmmm… simple and yummy.

  27. ChristinaMason

    Another delicious spin on cole slaw is to skip the mayo-dressing and spring for an Asian-inspired vinagrette. I usually mix vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar (or even white/cider would be OK), a splash of soy sauce, a couple tsps. of toasted sesame oil, 1 Tbsp. of toasted sesame seeds, and some ginger (grated fresh or dried). Excellent on shredded red cabbage, carrots, and a bit of minced onion. My bf adores it.

  28. Sarah

    This looks very tasty! Have you tried the buttermilk coleslaw from Cooks Illustrated? The cabbage is salted and the water squeezed out before the dressing is applied. I could eat way too much of it.

  29. deb

    You’re not kidding! In fact, I made this again a couple weeks ago and thought, gosh, I really need to update that recipe to say that there is way too much dressing and an absurd amount of cabbage. Oh, and then I had a bunch of beers and promptly forgot. Thanks for the reminder–glad you liked.

  30. Susanne

    I took this slaw to a cookout. It wasn’t a huge hit. I put the blue cheese in it, which I liked, but I’m not sure that everyone else did. I wish that I’d followed Deb’s instructions and not added all of the dressing. It would’ve been fine with about 3/4 of the total amount.

    It is a very pretty slaw with all of the colors.

  31. April

    This is the fourth or fifth recipe I have made from your website. You are AMAZING! I served the coleslaw with a grilled pork tenderloin and wild rice. The slaw was wonderful, pork tenderloin, so/so. So, I’d love to see a new pork tenderloin recipe if you can manage!

    My boys LOVED the apple cake the other night to round out a pasta dinner.
    Thanks so much.
    April in Oregon

  32. Beth

    This was fantastic. I didn’t even have a number of the ingredients and substituted yogurt for 1/2 the mayo, and I can’t wait to serve it tonight at our cookout. It already has 2 thumbs up from my mom and I!

  33. Kelly

    We left out the blue cheese b/c of a guest’s allergie, and it was still fantastic. I made it with an amazing pulled pork slow cooker recipe, green salad, and the chocolate pudding pie you posted here. Actually, two chocolate pudding pies and it was all gone in a nano-second.

    I think the chocolate pudding pie was nostalgic for the adults and plain yummy for the kids.

    Both are definitely in my summer rotation.

    As usual, thanks for the great recipes.


  34. Mestebla

    I made this today (plus about 4 tablespoons sugar to sweeten it up some) and it was fantastic! I love the mustard tang to it. Thanks for a great recipe coming from someone who will ONLY eat homemade coleslaw since I have never had one I liked anywhere else. Thanks for another great recipe!

  35. wjbk

    Delicious! The combination of vegetables is perfect, and so pretty. Even without the optional blue cheese, I found I needed only half the dressing.

  36. Julie

    Made this cole slaw for our Memorial Day BBQ and it was delish! Thank you for another great recipe. Loved the blue cheese in the dressing!

  37. rose

    deb –
    this slaw looks awesome but i was wondering if you had any ideas about the following:
    i tried a slaw at a bbq joint that had a distinctly southwestern flavor…i know it had cilantro in it which is an easy thing to add, but do you think chipotle powder or even some fresh jalapenos could be added to a dressing/into the cabbage mix? Can you think of anything else to add? Cumin?
    Would love your thoughts!

    1. deb

      Hi Rose — Maybe start with this very simple slaw and add chipotle powder and maybe even lime juice to the dressing, toss in cilantro. You can increase the green pepper, too. A pinch of cumin would also be tasty.

  38. Liz D

    Deb, I can’t TELL you how delighted I am to see that you originally were not a slaw fan!!! Having been watching your site for some time now (but not in fact since 2006) I know that in the summer slaw makes it into your rotation with frequency. And I always want to make the slaw because everything of yours I have made has been absolutely blissful, and I know that you, like me, are in love with many foods – but only when they are made the -right- way. So I see this post and think “oh! she didn’t always like slaw either! maybe I can be converted too!!” I am going to make one of your slaws this evening, to go with some jalepeno-orange chicken and grilled corn. I’ll let you know if I’m converted.

  39. Janine in MI

    This is the slaw I have been looking for all summer! I have tried several of your others (cabbage and lime salad, napa cabbage with buttermilk dressing), wanting very much to like them. Yours are recipes that I give a first run for company, but I have finally realized my problem: I really despise mayo and I was looking for something that tasted amazing and was interesting. THIS is that recipe. The veggies/fruit took a lot of cutting, but it was worth it for the pleasantly unusual flavors—-love the mango, pepper, cashew, lime blend. It does make a large salad, but even so, I was disappointed to find my husband and 14 yo finished it . Now I’ll pluck up and try your other slaws that don’t have mayo. Thanks for your wonderful recipes!

  40. Liz D.

    Well, Deb, I promised I would let you know if I was converted, and by God, I think I am. I used this recipe as my base, and made the dressing exactly. I subbed red onions for the carrots (based on what I had on hand) and used only Napa cabbage (again, that on-hand thing) and did everything else the same. Oh my. It was crisp, tangy, creamy, and dare I say – refreshing! I actually looked forward to eating it again and again until it was gone. I kept the dressing separate from the veggies until time to eat and the whole thing kept for a week, absolutely as perfect as the day I mixed it all up. You have changed me, Deb. In a good way.

  41. Dancer who eats

    I love this salad. It forced me to use the slicing blade and grater my food processor comes with…. I am a changed woman…

    I didn’t use all the dressing and I love the tang the mustard adds….

  42. Melanie

    What is whole grain mustard? Is it sold in a jar like the dijon, or does it come in a different form? I tried this recipe without it and it was so awesome! I didn’t think I would like coleslaw that much!

  43. Michele

    I just made this today and it has to be the best cole slaw I’ve ever had! oh… I did make my own mayo for the first time. It was a good day. Thanks!

  44. This was so good I had to hold myself back from licking the bowl. Made a half-recipe and still plenty for a couple lunches! Thanks for all the wonderful recipes, Deb – I’ve loved the ones I’ve made!

  45. Meg

    I stumbled on this recipe today, and made it as a side for tonight’s dinner (cutting way back to about a quarter of the recipe). Just to say, it was GREAT!! So glad there are leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch!

  46. Ricki Nenner

    I have made Ina Garten’s “Not your Mama’s Coleslaw” recipe many times and it is indeed delicious. The only reservation I have is that she suggests adding the dressing to the cabbage only one hour before serving. My experience has taught me that the dressing and cabbage should be combined at least a day in advance. This allows the flavors to marry and the dressing to have a creamier consistency. I can assure you that the slaw remains crispy and fresh tasting even though it has “marinated” for a day in the dressing.

  47. Rachel

    Angela, I was wondering the same thing! I made it according to the recipe, upping the green cabbage to 3/4 instead of 1/2 because I was nervous about there being enough. I brought it to a cookout of 8 people and there was just a small bit leftover. So, I’d say serves 8 :) And, as long as I’m writing, I should say that it was delicious and a huge hit with the group!

  48. Terri

    Should have read the reviews before I mixed the dressing with the veggies. Mine was way more soupy than the photos! So I ended up adding all the rest of the cabbages and 2 more carrots! Still too much dressing. Oh well, it is, after all, “Good” mayonnaise! Lol!

  49. Terri

    Oh, and there’s a new brand of eggless mayo called “Just Mayo” and it comes in several flavors plus plain. I’ve found it at Costco and Safeway.

  50. Jeff

    I’ve made this a few times and liked it pretty well. I made a batch for a holiday party recently and for the first time used the optional bleu cheese since I happened to have some on hand. It doesn’t seem like that much bleu cheese given how much dressing it makes, but people just went crazy for it. Do try adding it if you haven’t- it sends this recipe into the stratosphere.

  51. Calliope

    This has become my go to coleslaw recipe. I’ve made it countless times. Recently though I picked up some shaved brussel sprouts at the store & used them in place of the green cabbage & it was really great! Just a little tweak, but it was a hit with our neighbors who came over for BBQ. Plus, I also used a bag of pre-shredded purple cabbage & it was a big time saver. :)

  52. Hillary

    Random question – this dressing is truly the greatest ever produced anywhere on the planet, and I’ve made it a million times. What would you think about using it on a potato salad instead of coleslaw? Is it too runny?

  53. Charlotte in Toronto

    This is the Best Coleslaw Ever. I just made it again for the zillionth time. Dressing is even better after it’s been in the fridge awhile. I make a full sized batch and it keeps me going fo a week or two. I haven’t poisoned myself yet.

    Congrats on the new website design. It works really well on my phone.

    1. Jane

      “I haven’t poisoned myself yet” is the best comment, ha! Thanks for the tip on letting the dressing sit in the fridge a bit, I’m going to do this.

  54. Charlotte in Toronto

    I forgot to mention that without the addition of apple cider vinegar this works nicely on a toasted tomato sandwich. The vinegar makes it too runny for a sandwich.

  55. t

    After sending this yet another person, I just wanted to say thank you. This is so hackable in that I leave out the green cabbage, parsley, whole grain mustard, celery seed and the blue cheese (so it’s not really even your recipe haha) and it’s still delicious and I have so many people ask for the recipe!

  56. Melanie

    Hi Deb! I’m about to make this for a summer jam bbq and so excited! but wanted to ask you – how many people does this recipe serve?

  57. Kaite

    Having recently discovered this recipe, I am making this every week, it seems. It’s that good! Have variously added chopped broccoli, red peppers, red onion . . . Used combo of napa and red cabbage . . . always with a killer blue cheese from Twin Sisters Creamery in Ferndale WA. Excuse me, I must have seconds right now.

  58. Danielle Wensauer

    For the green garnish, instead of parsley I suggest thinly sliced green onions. They add colour AND flavour! Cilantro is another.

  59. Delicious! Try subbing lime juice for the apple cider vinegar and cilantro for the parsley. And if you’re feeling adventurous and your family likes zip in their food as mine does, some chili powder. Took it to a cook-out as above last weekend to rave reviews and second helpings!

  60. Amy

    I made this with julienned carrot, broccoli stem, and kohlrabi, no cabbage and blue cheese. Everyone loves this slaw and this slaw dressing is my go-to for EVERYTHING! Thanks Deb!

  61. Kath

    Not generally a huge coleslaw fan, but I LOVE this recipe. Usually use half yoghurt, add extra celery seed and omit cheese. So tasty and keeps really well!

    1. deb

      There is a print icon that leads to a print template at the bottom of each recipe, where it says “DO MORE:” You can also click CTRL + P from any recipe post and it will take you to a streamlined print template.

      1. Bree

        Silly question, but how do I cut the carrots? Food processor shredding disk, mandoline, hand cut julienne? I’ve never made or eaten coleslaw so I’m unclear on the texture/size.

  62. Mimi

    I realize this recipe is from 2006, but it popped up as I was procrastinating by roaming around via the very awesome Surprise button. Two things:
    1. I laughed at the title since this is almost literally my mom’s coleslaw. And I haven’t had it since she died in 1994, so thanks for the warm memory. (For what it worth, my Ukraine-born mom also excelled at Salad Olivier and something called Salat Vinagret, and from what I understand the two are staples in Russian households and go hand in hand. By any chance does your mother in law make Salat Vinagret and if so, can you hook a girl up with a recipe? I’ve been trying to replicate my mom’s version for years.
    2. I also laughed at you calling Ina Garten Ms. Contessa, since you are known in our house as Mrs. Kitchen. As in, “Mom, can we have Mrs. Kitchen’s pizza tonight?”
    Thank you as always for your wonderful content and I hope you (or someone) is still listening to these older posts.

  63. Deborah

    I’m definitely going to try with the blue cheese! I usually thin out my dressing with pickle juice. Adds a nice tang and keeps the slaw tasting fresh instead of gloppy haha

  64. Cabbie

    Really worth the effort of making from scratch. It has a zing to it that most store-bought slaw is lacking. I only made half the recipe since just the two of us and have a bunch that I am putting in fridge for later in the week. Nice summer side (obviously).

  65. robin

    Made this twice and loved it. The second time I added blue cheese, which definitely amped up the yumminess. Deb notes there will be leftover dressing, which is understatement! :) You could easily cut the dressing in half and still have plenty left over.

  66. Amy

    I made this for Memorial Day lunch, halved, exactly as written (except I didnt have any parsley). It was a big hit! I’ll try the parsley next time bc I will totally be making it again! Thanks Deb!

  67. I made this last night and we LOVED it!!! It will be a summer/all year fave.
    Served it along with David Lebovitz’s recipe for slow-cooked chipotle pork…a marriage made in eating heaven.
    Thanks for another great recipe, Deb.

  68. Susan

    Today, when my stepson and his pregnant wife visit with their two toddlers for a socially distanced, outside, mask wearing except while eating picnic, the conversation will inevitably turn to “how do we manage a new baby, finding day care, and finding a new job this fall? I will say I don’t know, but have some more of “Not Your Mama’s Coleslaw,” because Deb Perelman is finally asking these questions out loud. Raise your right hand and promise that you won’t allow anyone to direct you to “Just Shut Up and Cook.”
    Thank you for the Op Ed.

  69. Jacqueline Farmer

    I made this for a family cookout and it was so good! I did use the blue cheese and I love how that punched up the flavors. I wanted to share that I had more dressing than I needed for my cabbage so I roasted some cubed red potatoes and dressed them with the extra for a fast potato salad and whoa was it good!! I added some sliced green onion too!

    1. Kelly

      I have been making this for years and it might just be my first or one of my first SK recipes. SK actually made me think that cabbage was a food to be eaten and loved vs. smooshing around on my plate and hoping my mom would forget I hadn’t eaten it. So, thanks Deb, for that!

      I went to make it last night and couldn’t find my recipe card with notes. So I just forged ahead and completely forgot that this makes double the dressing needed, particularly given how high in fat it is if the blue cheese is used and I do always use it because it is what makes this special.

      I also think that the celery salt has enough salt taste and never add the extra salt. Always sub out greek yogurt and no one is the wiser.

  70. Miriam Gross

    Made this over the weekend to accompany barbecue beef sandwiches (was supposed to make Texas barbecue brisket, but a tropical storm interfered). This slaw was a great foil to the beef, which had a sweet(ish) and spicy sauce, a la Kansas City style with less sugar and more chili powder. Will definitely make it again.

  71. Tom

    This recipe is ridiculous!

    Great coleslaw should be simple.

    Try this: any cabbage; any carrot; +++ sweet red (bell) pepper

    Chop’em up…

    Add mayonaise ( homemade with olive oil is obviously best)

    or add mayonaise and homemade greek yoghurt (mixture 50/50)

    Leave in the fridge, in a sealed plastic bag; …(here in argentina I use the ‘one-use’ plastic bags that are provided in supermarkets to put your fresh produce in when you buy) …until the redness of the peppers has permeated the salad dressing.

    >>> ( typically 2/3 days)<<<

    Absolutely fabulous


    1-Avoid eating coleslaw when the cabbage has not softened in the fridge.
    2- Dont use adulterated mayonaise ( most brands of retail mayonaise in the anglosphere are a pale reflection of the real thing!)
    3- Vary the recipe by replacing the peppers with another vegetable; we have excellent Fennel in Argentina and so we often make it with that; it takes longer to soften in the fridge and fennel is not everybody's favourite in the anglosphere.

    4- Onions ruin coleslaw. Dont do it.
    5- Avoid adding more than one other vegetable to the base cabbage/carrot mixture. It wont work out!

  72. jan

    My “tip” for making unsoggy coleslaw that keeps in the fridge for a week is:
    Make the dressing into a jelly using unflavoured gelatine or agar. You need to make it so that it is SLIGHTLY less than a free-standing formed jelly when it’s “set”. The result is the eaters cannot tell that the dressing is jelled and the vegetables/cabbage etc cannot tell that they are sitting in dressing because the jell keeps it from “soaking” into their little cells. The jelly acts as a barrier but not one the eater can actually taste. You have to know it’s there or otherwise you will not notice it. I’ve been making coleslaw this way for 30 years and so far no one has noticed the gelatine! But everyone likes it.


    THANK YOU SO MUCH! I commend your choice of subject matter! I have been on a crusade to isolate the best of the best about coleslaw and your and Ina Gartens recipes are tweekable but still good ie) always go heavier on the apple cider vinegar and add a bit horseradish to the mayo ( those large mustard seeds don’t really do much.) HOWEVER Never Minimize this…The key issue is the cabbage one point you say use the slicing disk and “chop”. Chopped cabbage is a totally different salad and NOT a slaw. The Mandolin is the only way as non of the Cuisinart blades create the true SHRED of slivered cabbage strands that is a TRUE coleslaw. As you spear it with your fork you want a special mouth feel and crunch in-between your greasy protein accompaniments. May sound like semantics but really makes a difference.

  74. Tedrah

    This coleslaw is a winner every time. I keep the dressing around and mix it with a prepared slaw mix and voila I have a summer salad. Thanks Deb.

  75. Sue

    So good. Finely shredded carrot, red cabbage, green cabbage. Did not use blue cheese this time. Did not have celery seed, so substituted some of the salt for celery salt. I’ll have to remember celery seed next time, would add nice texture in addition to whole grain mustard. Did not have parsley, so added 3 scallions, green part only. Loved the mustard based dressing. Crunchy and delicious.

  76. Leilah

    Third or fourth time making this. I added 1/2 cup buttermilk to sauce, as per Deb’s recipe for broccoli slaw. Was perfect!