Creamy and tangy coleslaw has a tart, fresh flavor and is made with mustard, apple cider vinegar, sugar, celery seed, onion powder, and a small amount of mayonnaise. It's the perfect recipe to serve with summer meals and for topping pulled pork sandwiches (or pulled chicken)!
When you live in Kansas City, as we do, everyone has an opinion about what should be served with BBQ. You’ve got baked bean fans, potato salad die-hards, and coleslaw fanatics. My husband Frank's Southern roots mean that no BBQ is truly BBQ unless it involves pulled pork and coleslaw.
And few side dishes are as simple and satisfying as a classic coleslaw with a balance of tart flavor and creamy texture.
The coleslaw you'll find below is great in classic BBQ meals, but it's also delicious on sandwiches or tacos. Best of all, it can be made up to 24 hours ahead. Here's how to make it!
- Mayonnaise - Adds a creamy base. Use your favorite store-bought brand.
- Dijon Mustard - This is the key ingredient for that classic, zesty flavor.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - This is both tart and naturally sweet for a balance of flavors.
- Granulated Sugar - A little sugar helps to bring out the natural sweetness of the cabbage. You can completely omit the sugar for a sugar-free version of this creamy and tangy coleslaw or increase it if you like your slaw more sweet.
- Celery Seed - Don’t skip these little seeds. They add flavor and a bit of texture to the slaw.
- Onion Powder - This adds a savory flavor - a little goes a long way. Be sure to use onion powder, not onion salt (which will make the recipe too salty).
- Salt - Wait to add salt until after the coleslaw has been refrigerated. Salt will draw out the moisture in the cabbage, so it’s best to add it right before serving. Like sugar, feel free to taste and adjust the amount of salt you use to your personal preference.
How to Make It
- Whisk together the coleslaw dressing. Mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sugar, celery seed, and onion powder. This can be made up to 3 days ahead.
- Add shredded cabbage. You can use your favorite - green or red cabbage, or a mix of both.
- Refrigerate. Chill the coleslaw for 2 to 24 hours to let the flavors come together.
- Salt and serve. Just before serving the coleslaw, add salt. Enjoy!
Green or Red Cabbage?
Shredded cabbage is the foundation of most coleslaw recipes, but there are ways to mix things up. Use green or red cabbage or a combination of both for the most color.
If you're looking to mix things up, try adding shredded carrots for some crunch and added flavor.
Can Coleslaw be Made Ahead?
Yes! Coleslaw is actually better if made ahead because the flavors will develop over time. Ideally, make and refrigerate coleslaw at least 2 hours ahead and up to 24 hours ahead. Wait and add salt until right before serving.
What to Serve with Classic Coleslaw
- Instant Pot Crispy Pork Carnitas
- BBQ Pulled Chicken
- Instant Pot BBQ Ribs
- Slow Cooker Crispy Pork
- Chili-Lime Glazed Beef Skewers with Charred Corn Salsa
Creamy and Tangy Coleslaw
- Mixing Bowl
- ¼ cup Mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 2 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 teaspoon Granulated Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Celery Seed
- ½ teaspoon Onion Powder (optional)
- 10 ounces Shredded Cabbage (see note)
- ½ teaspoon Salt, to taste (see note)
- In a medium bowl whisk together mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sugar, celery seed, and onion powder.
- Add shredded cabbage to dressing and toss everything well to combine.
- Refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours before serving.
- Just before serving, add salt. Toss the coleslaw well to make sure that any dressing that has settled in the bottom of the bowl gets mixed back in.
My question is about the salt. Usually I pre salt and grain cabbage. about 30 min over a colander. Squeeze out extra water them proceed to make the slaw. Would that work here, or did you compensate the dressing to accommodate the excess water from last minute salting? thanks!
Hi Rita - sorry for the delay. You can absolutely salt ahead of time if you prefer. Salting ahead just as you described would tenderize the cabbage, adding it at the just adds flavor but prevents the excess water that comes out when the coleslaw sits. If you salt early in the process, no need to add salt at the end.
Just want to say, I LOVE this dressing. I do add some fresh cracked black pepper, but regardless, it's delicious without. Thank you for this recipe!
So glad to hear!