Easy Classic Coleslaw

By: Flora

Last Updated: March 30, 2024

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5 from 1 vote
This flavorful and old-fashioned easy classic coleslaw recipe is going to become next go-to appetizer or side dish for your next big gathering or BBQ! Fall in love with the sweet, yet tangy flavors this coleslaw offers.
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If you are looking for a new twist on an old classic then this flavorful and easy classic coleslaw recipe is going to become your go-to dish. This sweet yet tangy cabbage slaw can be served as a side dish or appetizer salad at any gathering, BBQ or dinner party.

This easy homemade slaw is a staple around my house for cookouts, brunch, lunches, and so much more. Made with fresh cabbage, carrots, radishes, and other veggies, this salad is finished off with subtly sweet homemade dressing.

As usual, I like to prepare this creamy coleslaw recipe ahead of time so I can have the kitchen cleaned up and ready for guests long before anyone shows up.

If you really want to take things up a notch, then throw in some diced apple for an extra level of flavor.

This recipe was inspired by a dearly-loved old recipe from the Good Housekeeping cookbook – one of my favorites for serving to others.


Here are the ingredients you will need for your cabbage coleslaw.

Salad Ingredients

Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients in this salad! Using a food processor for this recipe makes it truly a breeze.

Coleslaw vegetables on cutting board
  • Cabbage – one head (enough for 4 cups of finely grated cabbage)
  • Celery – 2 or 3 stalks (enough for ⅓ cup of diced celery)
  • Green peppers – 1 pepper (enough for ⅓ cup grated peppers)
  • Carrots – 2 to 3 carrots (enough for ⅓ cup of grated carrots)
  • Radishes – 5 or 6 radishes (enough for ¼ cup of grated radish)
  • Onion – 1/4 of an onion (enough for 1 Tablespoon of minced onion)
  • Tomatoes – 4 to 5 cherry tomatoes, for garnish

For the dressing

front view of sauce ingredients on cutting board
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sweetener – sugar
  • Vinegar – white vinegar. You can also use lemon juice in place of the vinegar.
  • Dairy – milk
  • Seasonings – salt, pepper, paprika


  • Replace the vinegar in the dressing with lemon juice if desired.
  • The cabbage and carrots are the only vegetables that are absolutely necessary to make coleslaw, so you can omit the green peppers, radishes, and/or celery if you prefer. Although you’d be missing out on a lot of the flavor.
  • You can also add some diced apple.

How to make homemade coleslaw

Clean the vegetables

  • Cut the hard end off the cabbage and thoroughly wash the leaves. There may be dirt on the inside, so make sure to rinse that off.
  • Peel the carrots. Or you can use baby carrots to save yourself this step.
  • Wash the green peppers, cut out the stem and remove the center with the seeds.
  • Wash the radishes and cut the tops off.
  • Cut the large end off the celery stalks and remove any leaves. Wash to remove any dirt.
  • Peel the cooking onion. You’ll only need part of it so save the rest for another recipe.
  • Wash the cherry tomatoes

Prep work

vegetables in food processor

All of this prep work is much easier to do if you have a food processor with grating and dicing attachments. But a hand grater and a paring knife will work, too.

Also, the measurements for each of the salad ingredients are flexible, so feel free to get creative if you like some ingredients better than others.

Grate these ingredients to get the necessary amounts:

  • cabbage – 4 cups
  • green peppers – 1/3 cup
  • carrots – 1/3 cup
  • radishes – 1/4 cup

Dice these ingredients to get the necessary amounts:

  • celery – 1/3 cup
  • onion – 1 Tablespoon

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise.

Make the coleslaw dressing

Add 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 Tablespoon vinegar (or lemon juice), 1 Tablespoon milk, a dash of pepper and a dash of paprika to a small jar.

Put the lid on the jar and shake to combine the ingredients.

Then, store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Make the salad

top view of coleslaw garnished with cherry tomatoes in a white bowl

Gently toss the vegetables in a bowl.

If you’re making this coleslaw ahead of time, cover it and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it.

Then shake the coleslaw dressing well and mix it in with the salad until all of the vegetables are coated.

Garnish with cherry tomatoes and serve immediately.

Bowl filled with coleslaw


Do you wash cabbage for coleslaw?

Yes, cabbage should be washed before using it in any recipe! Cut the hard end off of it and run the water through the remaining leaves making sure to remove any dirt that may be stuck on the inside.

Is coleslaw healthier than potato salad?

The fact that there are a lot more vegetables in coleslaw means it is usually more nutritious than potato salad, but both are super enjoyable!

Can coleslaw be made ahead of time?

Yes, coleslaw can be made up to a day in advance. Prepare the vegetables and dressing ahead of time, cover and store them separately in the refrigerator. Then combine just before serving.

More easy recipes you will enjoy

fresh classic coleslaw

Easy Classic Coleslaw

5 from 1 vote
Servings: 16 servings
Prep 20 minutes
Total 20 minutes


Salad Ingredients

  • 4 cups cabbage grated
  • cup carrot grated
  • cup celery diced
  • cup green pepper grated
  • ¼ cup radish grated
  • 1 Tablespoon onion minced
  • 4 or 5 cherry tomatoes halved, for garnish

Coleslaw Dressing Ingredients

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • Dash pepper
  • Dash paprika


  • Food processor or hand grater
  • Salad bowl
  • Small jar or container with a lid (for the dressing)


To Make The Salad

  • Use a food processor to chop and shred all of the vegetables.
  • Gently toss all ingredients in a bowl.
  • Mix in the coleslaw dressing (recipe below).
  • Garnish with cherry tomatoes cut in half.

Coleslaw Dressing

  • Add all ingredients to a small jar.
  • Put the lid on the jar and shake to combine the ingredients.


  • To prepare ahead of time, make the salad and dressing, but don’t combine them until just before serving.
  • Omit the green peppers, radishes and/or celery if desired.
  • Add 1/2 cup diced apple for some extra crunch and a little sweetness

Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.

courseAppetizer, Brunch, Salad, Side Dish
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This post was originally published on June 8, 2021 but was updated with new content on March 30, 2024.

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