This traditional coleslaw recipe features finely shredded cabbage and carrots that are tossed in a sweet, creamy, and tangy dressing. This simple, make-ahead side dish tastes just like the KFC coleslaw recipe! Serve it with fried chicken, pulled pork barbecue, fried shrimp, crab cakes, and cornbread. The versatile and easy homemade coleslaw will soon become a family favorite!
Easy Coleslaw Recipe
This traditional coleslaw recipe is an easy KFC copycat! Just like Kentucky Fried Chicken’s signature side dish, the crunchy cabbage and carrots are chopped into small pieces, and then tossed in a light, sweet and creamy dressing. It’s the best side dish to pair with fried seafood, pulled pork sandwiches, or your favorite summer fare. Bring the dish to your next potluck, picnic, or cookout — it’s always well received. If you’re like me and you love a good deli-style, homemade coleslaw, then this is the dish for you!
Ingredients for Homemade Coleslaw
This is a quick overview of the simple ingredients that you’ll need for a traditional coleslaw recipe. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.
- Green cabbage: you’ll need 8 cups of shredded cabbage, which is approximately one large head.
- Carrots: peel them first, and then shred the carrots in the same way that you shred the cabbage.
- Mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, and buttermilk: the base of the creamy, tangy, homemade coleslaw dressing. I prefer Duke’s brand mayonnaise.
- Granulated sugar: the classic KFC coleslaw recipe is quite sweet, so you’ll need a good amount of sugar in the dressing.
- Apple cider vinegar and lemon juice: a bright, acidic addition to the dressing.
- Onion: sweet Vidalia onions are my preference, but any white or yellow onion will work. Grate it very finely (almost to a pulp), and then add the grated onion and its juices to the dressing.
- Celery salt, kosher salt, and black pepper: for even more flavor in the dressing.
How to Cut Cabbage for Coleslaw
You can grate the cabbage and carrots by hand on a box grater or chop them with a knife into thin shreds; however, if you want to achieve that classic texture that you find in deli-style coleslaw and in KFC coleslaw, then you’ll need to use the shredding disc on a food processor. To do so, just remove the tough outer leaves from the cabbage and cut out the core. Chop the cabbage head into wedges that will fit into the opening on your food processor. Then just shred and go! The carrots can be shredded in the same way, but make sure to peel them first.
How to Make a Classic Coleslaw Recipe
With help from a food processor, this easy recipe comes together in just minutes!
- Toss together the shredded cabbage and carrots.
- Whisk together the dressing in a separate bowl.
- Pour the dressing over the vegetables, then toss to coat.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
What to Serve with this Creamy Coleslaw Recipe
This classic Southern side dish pairs nicely with almost any of your favorite meat-based or seafood entrees. Here are some ideas to serve with your homemade coleslaw:
- Grilled Hamburgers or Hot Dogs
- Fried Chicken, Fried Chicken Tenders, Fried Chicken Sandwich, or Oven-Fried Chicken Breast
- Oven BBQ Chicken, Crock Pot BBQ Chicken, Grilled BBQ Chicken
- Grilled Pork Tenderloin
- Crock Pot Pulled Pork, Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork, Mississippi Pulled Pork
- Grilled Steak, Grilled New York Strip Steak, Grilled Beef Tenderloin
- Grilled Salmon
- Oven Fried Fish, Fried Fish Sandwich, or Crispy Fried Catfish
- Dutch Oven Roasted Chicken
- Grilled Chicken Breast or Grilled Chicken Thighs
- Fried Shrimp, New England Shrimp Rolls, Grilled Shrimp, or Fried Oysters
- Crab Cakes
- Sweet Tea Brined Chicken
The coleslaw will last in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. It tends to get watery and soft as it sits, so it’s best when enjoyed within 1-2 days of preparation. Do not freeze coleslaw, since the vegetables will be mushy and soggy when thawed.
Traditional Coleslaw Recipe Variations
- Add fresh herbs to the dressing, such as chopped parsley, chives or dill.
- If you don’t have celery salt, you can substitute with celery seed and some additional kosher salt.
- I like a sweet Vidalia onion in the dressing, but you can use any white or yellow onion that you prefer.
- Swap out the apple cider vinegar and use distilled white vinegar, red wine vinegar, or champagne vinegar.
- Add some Dijon mustard to the dressing for a bit of zesty tang.
- Instead of shredding your own cabbage and carrots, use 9 cups of store-bought coleslaw mix.
Tips for the Best Coleslaw Recipe
- For the classic KFC coleslaw texture, use the shredding disc on a food processor to chop the cabbage and carrots very finely. The food processor also makes the job quick and easy!
- Grate the onion very finely. I use a microplane for this task, which creates an onion pulp that blends smoothly into the dressing.
- Chill the coleslaw for at least 2 hours (or overnight) before serving. This gives the vegetables a chance to marinate in the dressing for the best flavor and texture.
- Just like KFC’s, this coleslaw dressing is very thin and will accumulate at the bottom of the dish. That’s normal! Just drain off any extra dressing or use a slotted spoon for serving.
More Easy Slaw Recipes to Try
- Vinegar Coleslaw
- Easy Creamy Coleslaw Dressing
- Amish Sweet and Sour Coleslaw
- Fennel and Apple Slaw
- Ramen Noodle Coleslaw
This post was originally published in May, 2021. The photos were updated in May, 2022.