dead simple slaw + 6 heat wave reprieves

I have paused before posting because I’m certain that if I tell you about yet another slaw recipe, you’re going to revolt. There’s been my favorite classic, a green onion slaw, an Indian version and then four additional ones (a blue cheese version of my favorite, a pickled slaw, a spicy radicchio slaw and a Asian-inspired napa slaw) in an NPR article. One could say I was just a little bit into coleslaw.


And you’d think with seven slaw recipes logged and blogged, I’d consider the topic of slaw done. Complete. It’s coverage exhausted. And yet, I am in no way capable of ignoring a new way to mix for ribbons of cabbage and dressing, especially since it has fewer ingredients and more punch than my standard, and it was designed to go dreamily on a bun with shredded barbecue.

Alas, you might be aware that we’re experiencing a barely-noticeable rarely-commented-on heat wave in these parts of the country. I find I am only able to discuss it sarcastically: the city smells magnificently, the humidity is totally manageable and, oh, I have cooked dinner every night. I mean, who doesn’t cook when there’s a heat wave?

Yet, slaws are exactly the kind of foods that are heat wave friendly as they require no cooking and are light enough that you don’t feel weighed down as you sob from exhaustion and hug it out with the air-conditioner handle this drenching heat with composure and class.

Here are some other recipes with no or the bare minimum of a heat requirement to get you through:

One year ago: La Vignarola

Dead Simple Slaw
Adapted from Gourmet, June 2008

This slaw is both sweet and tart, surprisingly bold for the small number of ingredients. While it goes perfectly on top of pulled pork barbecue, I like it on the side as well.

2 1/2 lb green cabbage, cored and cut into 3-inch chunks, then finely chopped or shredded
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar

Toss all vegetables in a large bowl with 1 tsp each of salt and pepper. Whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar, then toss with slaw. Chill, covered, stirring occasionally, at least 1 hour (for vegetables to wilt and flavors to blend).

Do ahead: Slaw can be chilled up to 1 day.

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73 comments on dead simple slaw + 6 heat wave reprieves

  1. Mmm, this would be perfect if I could bring myself to walk to the store for cabbage. Too… much… effort! Must… carry… in!

    But, this looks like a great recipe regardless!

  2. DJM

    Looks good to me. (Though I don’t think I’ll be able to overcome the urge to add a tablespoon of prepared horseradish…)

  3. Any suggestions for a replacement of the bell pepper? I can’t stand any peppers (don’t judge!), but wouldn’t want it to be bland for everyone else…

  4. Funny, I had it earmarked for tonight! It’s disgusting outside. I feel like I’m swimming. Oddly enough, I don’t mind running in this weather and actually quite like it. But walking? In a suit? Blech.

  5. Amy

    I saw this on the website and had to smile since it’s the same recipe my family’s been using for generations. To make it even simpler I often skip the peppers and onions and just use a bag of shredded cabbage and carrots. Sometimes I throw in some celery seed. Also I always just whisk the mayo,sugar,vinegar combo in the bottom of the bowl the vegetables are going in. Less clean up that way. It takes only about 10 minutes to make, you just have to remember to make it a few hours ahead of time.

  6. Anna

    Meanwhile, it’s “June-uary” in the Pacific Northwest — the weather woman actually said the word “snow” for today’s forecast! — so I made your chicken and dumplings recipe from last December over the weekend (and it was delicious). Alas, this entry should come in handy in August!

  7. Ann

    I’m not the hugest slaw fan bc I grew up in the Midwest, and if you saw what they did to slaws there, you might understand. Anyway, I’ve made some peace with them over the years, as I’ve moved away. This one looks fresh and light and summery.

    So sorry about the heatwave. The high here today is 101, if it makes you feel any better – or at least, in the same camp. :)

  8. Andrea

    I noticed in the first picture that there was beans next to the cole slaw. Are those baked beans, and if so do you have a favorite recipe? Possibly even a vegetarian one? I’ve been looking everywhere and haven’t had much luck! Thanks for your help!

  9. Sadly I am cooking during this heat wave. Despite the fact that our house is 90 degrees (no air) my kids still want their three meals. How they can eat is beyond me, I am on a cold liquid diet, way to hot to think about eating.

    Thanks for the recipes, I am sure they will love them!

  10. April in CT

    My cole slaw hating husband might just go for this simple recipe! I’m excited to give it a try next time I make BBQ.

    I have to say I’m jealous you have an AC! We moved to CT a few months ago and our rental has no AC and the weird windows don’t allow for window units to be put in. Our landlord (who previously lived here with his family) said it was never an issue. Tell that to my 87 degree house..inside!! I’m waiting on the paint to start peeling off the wall while I try and brainstorm a way to install some type of window unit. Thank goodness I can retreat to the basement where it’s cool for some relief.

  11. Cassandra

    As a fellow New Yorker I really enjoy your comments about daily city living. Especially since the office A/C is busted today. sigh. Yes, our office too smells ‘magnificent’!

    I made your fave chocolate chip cookies over the weekend; the recipients raved! THANK YOU!

  12. I love coleslaw but only when it’s light. I can’t quite tell if this is that type or not, but I’ve had a good slaw at a steakhouse that seemed to have no mayo in it. I’m not sure how that’s done or relates to a regular recipe like this, but I need to find it! Perhaps switching out some of the mayo for more vinegar? That’s seem like it would get too bitter though.

  13. Cheryl

    Longtime lurker here, but I have to pop in and say, I use very similar ingredients, with two exceptions. Celery instead of onions and a bit of sour cream in addition to the mayo. I don’t have a written recipe, just “dump and taste” until I get the right flavor, definitely prefer it on the vinergary side.

  14. jess

    April in CT, have you thought about a portable AC that just vents out your window rather than going in your window? It works with vertical and horizontal sliders…

  15. I’m cuckoo for coleslaw, too. What other salad could keep so well? Plus, it’s easy on the teeth, since it’s chopped up so nicely for you. I made a broccoli slaw last night with cashews that I’ll be posting soon on my blog.

  16. Heat wave? What heat wave? Oh, wait, you mean I’m not supposed to be drenched in sweat the moment I step outside? Interesting concept.

    Anyway… I know (and have my fingers crossed) that it’s supposed to cool down a little tomorrow, but you can never have too many slaw recipes ready and waiting for the next time it invariably heats up again, so thanks! :)

  17. Susan

    It is a perfect foil for that vinegary dressed Carolina pulled pork on a sandwich for sure. I love coleslaw on any’s a perfect replacement for lettus and mayo, You can take the undressed sammy and a container of the slaw and perform the marriage when you’re ready…and it’s still crunchy.

    No celery seed?

  18. Karen

    Coleslaw and barbeque — one of my very favorite food combinations. I will definitely try this recipe this weekend. One great thing I like with coleslaw though is carraway seed so I may add that too!

  19. Long live the slaw! I’m a pretty big fan myself, although eating it British colonial style in Ghana is enough to turn anyone off (unseasoned mayo mixed with cabbage and carrots, topped with a dollop of MORE mayo and some canned cold baked beans and–are you ready for this?–some ketchup).

    Lately I’ve been into a sort of Mexican fusion slaw. Will be blogging on it soon. I have the photos all ready even, but the real world has conspired to keep me from blogging it.

  20. Isabelle

    Here in the Rockies (7000′), we woke up to several inches of snow on the ground this morning! I will try this recipe when the weather warms up enough to stand outside and use the grill. In the meantime….chicken and dumplings sound like just the cure!

  21. SaraQ

    I LOVE the tuna recipe. I have made it multiple times and find it is the perfect solution for a husband who doesn’t like mayo. In addition, the salad is filled with wonderful flavor and crunch…thanks again!!

  22. I will have to try this one, as well as the tuna recipe. I’ve actually been going through a tuna phase, trying to find the ultimate tuna salad recipe. I haven’t found it yet, but I’ll add yours to the list of candidates :)

  23. Rose Marie

    I have made one (close) to this one for years. I will admit to not even realizing that slaw could be made any other way. At least for 1/2 my life I thought that way. The only slaw, so far, I didn’t like is runny and made with Italian (would be nice if I knew how to spell) dressing. This is one I will make. I think I will try it out next month at a BBQ. Thanks for all your hard work.
    BTW, the weather dude has said for the next 7 days it will be in the 90’s here with a break in the high 80’s for 1 of those days. Arkansas is lovely in the summer.

  24. Sam

    For years I searched for my Mom’s recipe, which I always thought was far superior to anyone’s, prejudice not included.High and low, I searched but no one ever had it. Either they had a super vinegary slaw or a sodden mass of sludge. One day I went into a simple diner when I was on the road between Iowa and Colorado on a lonely stretch of highway and THERE, out in the middle of nowhere, was the little hole-in-the-wall that had perfected my Mom’s recipe. I asked the waitress if she could ask the Chef (or diner cook) what his recipe was as one Chef to another. She came back and said “He uses Kraft Cole Slaw Dressing with 2 extra Tablespoons of sugar.” I was stunned! All those years and all she was using was Kraft with extra sugar!

  25. Sue

    Yikes, I wish I would have remembered to make a slaw like this last weekend. I smoked a pork shoulder on Friday (knowing that Saturday would have been way to hot to stand outside to smoke it 4-5 hours). This Slaw would have been great with the pulled pork sandwiches. We ate the last bit of the pork for lunch today. All the recipes sound delish!

  26. Y

    I just had an extremely big helping of sauerkraut for dinner today. Nothing wrong with a bit of budget friendly cabbage! :) I love how it just soaks up flavours from dressings.

  27. gkabanek

    My departed husband loved anything cabbage. He insisted that a small amt. of carraway seed be added to slaw. I love it.
    Great web site. Thanks for your talent.

  28. Hi! I didn’t have any regular cabbage at hand and used red cabbage. Taste is awesome, though it’s a bit on the crispy side :-) Also, as I wanted to reduce fat amounts, I used half mayo- half greek yogurt. It came out pretty well, although I know some of you slaw-talibans might think I’m crazy :-)

  29. Sarah

    Dear Deb.

    I stumbled upon this blog totally by coincidence, I was looking for some recipe on google, but I can`t remember which one it was anymore.

    I have spent one entire day (sleeping and going to university in between) reading all your entries and I have saved a total of 93 recipes from this site and I could save even more!!

    I am suffering from anorexia for a couple of years now, but I love cooking and especially baking, though I mainly do it for my friends, and then end up watching them eat.

    But your blog was so full of emotion and fun and love for food, I couldn`t NOT read each and every word you wrote, smiling to myself, loving the amazing pictures, and imagining myself cooking and baking these things, and I started fantasizing about eating these things with my friends, instead of just watching them eat.
    I must admit, most of the ingredients you use freak me out a lot. I mean, the butter and the oil and the cream and whatnot. While I was reading through your recipes I was thinking “I want to cook this, and I want to try this, but I couldn`t…”, so I started wondering, can I make “less dangerous” versions out of your original suggestions, which I can (maybe one day) enjoy.
    Because I enjoy food, like I said, I love cooking and baking and all those things, but I just ‘can`t’…

    What I wanted to say is, even though I don`t think I am currently at a point in my life where I think I can recover, your blog has given me hope, that food can be enjoyed, SHOULD be enjoyed, and that one day, when I am ready, I will enjoy this again. And even if I will never be able to try out your original recipes, always try to make it less threatening, one day, I will enjoy this again.

    Thank you!

    I`ll continue reading this!

  30. Julia

    Hi Deb,

    First time on your site (came through the pizza link – very nice advice!) and I saw you had a recent post on coleslaw. I love it too, but you’ve left out what I now consider to be the most important step. I got this from “The Best Recipe” (1st edition) which is from the folks at Cooks Illustrated: you sprinkle the shredded cabbage with sugar or salt and let it weep for a while before you add any other ingredients.

    My usual coleslaw goes like this (I’m a pediatrician and mom of two, so it has to be fast and easy). I shred the cabbage in the food processor, using the coarse shredding disk (I know, it’s far better to use a knife and get lovely long thin shreds, but I’m in a hurry). I pile the cabbage in a colander and sprinkle it heavily with sugar and a little bit of salt, stirring it a little. If I’m in a big hurry I put a small plate on top and something heavy on that. Then I wait until a good amount of sugary pale green liquid has left and the cabbage has the texture of a good crisp pickle. Usually I shred several carrots and mix them in, and dress it with rice vinegar and roasted peanut oil. You can do whatever you want for dressing and additives, the key thing is to pull moisture from the cabbage before making the slaw. You end up with a slaw that never gets watery and diluted–it tastes just as good three days later. (That’s another time saver–I shred a whole head of cabbage and make a big bowl, then I can take slaw to work as part of my lunch all week.)

    Sorry to run so long,

  31. daffy

    Sorry, made this and it got the thumbs down from my man who’s the coleslaw freak. I’m not giving up though – I’ll try another recipe…

  32. I tried the pickled coleslaw for a family reunion over the weekend–it managed to serve everyone, even the ones with crazy food allergies, and got rave reviews! Thanks!

  33. Belinda

    Really yummy with celery salt and tarragon vinegar! I call it Boonesville slaw in honor of my friend who fed it to me from Boonesville, MS!

  34. Robin

    The last slaw I made was with olive oil, a bit of cider vinegar, and seasonings tossed with my shredded cabbage. Without the mayo, I thought it would be safer for travel. It was yummy sweet with just a bit of tang, and held up well. But without the creaminess of mayo, does it count as a “slaw” or do I need to re-name it?

  35. Fyfe

    I’ve just finished making this for a party this evening and even with only sitting for a half an hour, it tastes wonderful! I took the liberty of using a red onion and both red and green bell peppers (I wanted a lot of color variation). I also added a pinch of dill and ground pepper to the dressing.
    Thanks for continuing to provide us all with some of the best recipes on the internet!

  36. Sandra Elsen

    i made this slaw with kohlrabi but (sigh) only had miracle whip. it still tasted fabulous! i am thankful for those of you who suggested it, because what the heck else do you do with a kohlrabi? the one i got from a friend was over 6 cups chopped into coleslaw bits! wowza! due to this recipe, i finally like kohl- slaw!
    thanks for another amazing recipe, it was a hit to all.

  37. RACHEL

    please can you check out whatever technical gremlins are making it impossible to read your site atm – comments up the side of the page, recipes and pics not loading – on my home mac and my work pc…

  38. sarah

    deb. oh my god. i am a longtime reader and (i think) first time commenter, and i just had to come out of the woodwork say, this coleslaw: INCREDIBLE. as in, perfect. as in, exactly the way coleslaw should taste. i don’t like onion or bell pepper in my coleslaw so i take those out and slightly amp up the carrot, but the mayo/cider/sugar proportions are FLAWLESS. everybody loves it when i make it. and how could they not? it. is. PERFECT. ok, done ranting now. but seriously, thank you for this! :)

  39. May

    Love this recipe! I swapped out the green bell peppers for red since my friend doesn’t like the green ones and it still worked fantastic. I just made about half the recipe though since there were only two of us and cut back on the mayo a bit (but I think the mayo I have is a bit thicker than the brands in the states). I love finding recipes on this site that I can make even though I’m in China with no oven :D It just proves how delicious food can still be super simple~

  40. Donna Zimberg

    Hi Deb,

    I’m a huge fan of your website. I was looking at this recipe and I had a quick question – if I wanted to use the Dole pre-shredded bagged coleslaw mix, how many bags would I substitute for the 2 1/2 pould cabbage? The measurement on the Dole bag is 14 oz. Would you say one bag or two?

    many thanks,

  41. denise

    i made this slaw to go along with BBQ beer chicken sandwiches for our super bowl party yesterday- and the coleslaw was the biggest hit! my team may not have won, but the slaw certainly did. thanks!

  42. Robin B

    Had a head of cabbage and this is what I made. Yup, it was simple. From my initial taste, it’s good. Now, I just have to let it “blend” so it’ll be great. Thanks again!

  43. Betty

    Loved your interview on NPR! Could you restate the quantity of ingredients you noted for your Pickled Coleslaw? I was in my car driving at the time, and I think you included: 1 cabbage, 1 cucumber, chopped fresh dill, Kosher Salt, sugar & white wine vinegar (just need the amounts). Thanks so much.

  44. pandaxpress

    Deb – wondering if you could post a recipe for a simple basic lettuce salad with an everyday vinaigrette? just something easy that could go alongside most of your recipes – like when you mention eat this with a big salad. thanks – silly question but beginners like me need a recipe for everything! thanks for this amazing site. it is teaching me to cook! :)

  45. KatieK

    I had half of a very old red cabbage (really I think cabbage could survive almost anywhere or anything), so a third of the slaw was with that. I also ran out of mayo at just over a cup so I added sour cream for the other 1/4 cup. My only negative comment is that is was a tad too salty for me. But was super easy to make and is very pretty. I don’t think the changes I made would have affected the salt content. I’ll just remember to add less next time. And there will be a next time.

  46. KatieK

    Well, just made it again. Cabbage can get too old, especially red, despite what I posted ealier. It was very woody and while I loved the dressing (did cut back on the salt), the cabbage was pretty awful. So I would revise that cabbage can get too tired for slaw–might be okay steamed for something else.

  47. Maryann

    This is a great recipe. Cole slaw is so good for you. I can eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Pineapple is also good to add. <3

  48. Maryann

    I buy a 3-4 pound head of cabbage. Put the finer chopped cabbage on the side and the bigger pieces I use to make Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls using ground turkey. Yummy.

  49. Rosie

    Deb, I love your recipes- as in, you are my dinner/cake ideas woman and you never disappoint- but one suggestion I’d like to make it would be wonderful if each recipe included an estimate of how many people it should feed? I usually assume 4, but coleslaw is such a party food, and I’m making this for tomorrow night for 20 people and I have no idea how many cabbages to buy! I mean, I’ll survive, obviously (drown my sorrows in slaw) but thought I’d put it out there cause it’s crossed my mind a number of times. Thank you for all the deliciousness xx

  50. Annie

    I’ve loathed coleslaw for 33 years now and was beyond shocked to discover that not only could I tolerate this one- I actually liked it! You are right in that fresh ingredients and a proper balance of sweet and tart makes all the difference in the world.

  51. Love this slaw – ut simply, bgreat color and FRESH taste. I added parsley and purple onion, and with the carrot and green pepper, it’s just gorgeous. I’m sneaking bites as it marinates. Serving it with grilled pork tenderloin tonight. Thanks, Deb – your slaws are always my favs!

  52. Susan

    Thanks for your great editorial on Moms and trying to work during covid. You nailed it. I’ve been following you for a number of years and was excited to see that you wrote this.

    Keep distracting us in these complicated times—when caring for children permits.

  53. Samantha

    I’ve a question: doesn’t the slaw get watery? Every slaw I’ve made has become a gross, watery mess the next day. Sometimes you need to do some things ahead of time but this is not one of them for me.

  54. Eileen

    This is tasty and simple, as advertised. It also makes an enormous amount of cole slaw. I served it at a lunch for eight—everyone had some (and liked it,) and I still have two-thirds of the recipe. I shouldn’t be surprised—it’s 2-1/2 lbs. of cabbage! Just an FYI for anyone not paying attention (like me.)