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My favorite side when my parents would get Kentucky Fried Chicken when I was a kid in the 80’s was always their coleslaw. My family started making homemade coleslaw when I was a teenager, and it ended up becoming my job. The dressing is an evolution of my maternal grandmother’s, subbing honey for white sugar and including apple cider vinegar. It’s the perfect companion for your summer grilling and goes great with the leftovers.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
There are lots of prepared coleslaw mixes in bags at the grocery store, and in a time crunch, those are fine. Taking the time to chop up your own will be repaid with a much more vibrant taste that can hold up to the dressing.
The complete ingredient list and measurements are listed in the printable recipe below.
- Red or purple cabbage: Red cabbage (which is also called purple) has a more intense, almost peppery taste compared to green cabbage. You could use radicchio if you already have some on hand, but that tends to be harder to find than red cabbage. It’s also fine to make it with just green cabbage, but it will be missing a little something.
- Green onions: Some people really don’t like the taste of green onions, and the coleslaw is still pretty good without them. For me, however, they add that key savory note to balance out the sweetness of the honey.
- Apple cider vinegar: This recipe already uses a little bit of distilled white vinegar, and you could just put in a quarter cup if you don’t have any of the apple cider kind. I do think the natural funk that comes with apple cider vinegar just adds a bit more dimension to the dressing and cuts down on the harshness of the white.
How to Make Creamy Southern Coleslaw
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
Pro-tip: Something helpful that we may have discovered during recipe development.
1. Prepare the cabbage: Cut the red and green cabbages in half, from the top through the core, and then cut those halves in half again in the same direction. Remove the remaining core and then chiffonade two of the green cabbage quarters and one purple cabbage quarter (cut the cabbage into very thin slices 90 degrees to the layers). Add to a large mixing bowl.
2. Chop the other vegetables: Shred the carrots on the coarse side of a box grater and add to the bowl with the cabbage. Finely chop the green onions and toss them into the bowl with the cabbage and carrots. Add the salt and pepper to the slaw and mix one last time.
3. Make the dressing: In a small mixing bowl combine the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, white distilled vinegar, honey, and celery seed and whisk until smooth and creamy.
4. Serving: Combine the slaw and dressing and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes before serving. Creamy southern coleslaw is great as a side for BBQ, on tacos, or as a topping on a chicken or pulled pork sandwich.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- If you are preparing the coleslaw in advance, you can refrigerate the slaw and the dressing separately.
- The salad and dressing should be combined 30-45 minutes prior to serving to allow the cabbage to soften and for the flavors to meld together.
Frequently Asked Questions
The coleslaw will retain its crunchiness for 1-2 days. After 2-3 days it would be best used as a condiment on a sandwich, especially for the turkey-based version of a Ruben called a Rachel or any other sandwich that is grilled.
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Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this recipe, we recommend checking out some of these:
Creamy Southern Coleslaw
- ¼ head purple cabbage, 7-8 ounces
- ½ head green cabbage, 15-16 ounces
- 5 ouces grated carrots, about 2 medium
- 1 ounce chopped green onions, about four stalks
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ⅛ cup distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¾ tablespoon celery seed
- Cut the red and green cabbages in half, from the top through the core, and then cut those halves in half again in the same direction.
- Remove the remaining core and then cut very thin slices 90 degrees to the layers, called a chiffonade, using two of the green cabbage quarters and one of the purple. Add to a large mixing bowl and put the remaining cabbage in the fridge in a plastic zipper bag.
- Shred the carrots on the coarse side of a box grater and add to the bowl, mixing them with the carrots thoroughly with your clean hands.
- Finely chop the green onions mixing, them into the slaw with your hands as well. Add the salt and pepper to the slaw and mix one last time.
- In a small mixing bowl combine the remaining ingredients whisking until smooth and creamy. The coleslaw does benefit from being dressed a little in advance to allow for the cabbage to soften a bit.
- Once you've mixed the slaw and dressing, transfer it to a serving bowl.