Creamy and tangy coleslaw has a tart, fresh flavor with just enough mayo to give it a creamy texture.
When you live in Kansas City (as we do) everyone has an opinion about what should be served with BBQ. You’ve got baked beans fans, potato salad die-hards, and coleslaw fanatics. 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.
This is the coleslaw I’ve been making and adjusting all summer because I was looking for a version was balanced. This one is neither super tangy or super creamy, but walks the line between both. It makes a great addition to a potluck, can be served on sandwiches or on tacos, and can be made up to 24 hours ahead.
- Mayonnaise – Adds a creamy base. Use your favorite store-bought brand. (If you’re feeling ambitious, try it with homemade mayonnaise!)
- Dijon Mustard – This is the key ingredient for that classic, zesty flavor.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – This is both tart and naturally sweet, giving it balance.
- Granulated Sugar – A little sugar helps to bring out the natural sweetness of the vegetables. 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. Feel free to skip it, but you’ll have slightly less depth of flavor.
- 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.
What to Use as the Base of Coleslaw
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 color. Shredded carrots add great color and some natural sweetness. Store-bought coleslaw mix can save a lot of time and comes in a classic cut or look for angel hair cut that is shredded more finely. I love angel hair cut for serving in small tacos or on sandwiches.
If you want to shred your own cabbage, slice it by hand, or use a food processor.
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.
Recipes to Serve with 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
- 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
- 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 tsp Granulated Sugar
- 1 tsp Celery Seed
- 1/2 tsp Onion Powder (optional)
- 10 oz Shredded Cabbage (see note)
- 1/2 tsp 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.
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