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homemade creamy coleslaw

Best Homemade Creamy Coleslaw Recipe: Sweet and Simple

When it comes to old-time salad favorites, it’s hard to beat classic, creamy coleslaw. A good recipe marries fresh, crunchy cabbage with that familiar tang of creamy-sweet dressing. So amazing!

Creamy coleslaw tastes like summers by the lake. It’s Frisbees, campfires and picnics.

Creamy coleslaw is nostalgia and Americana in every yummy bite.

And the best part? It’s simple to make with ingredients you probably have on hand.

This sweet, creamy coleslaw recipe is easy to follow and yields a delicious side dish that everyone will love. One taste of this recipe, and you’ll never buy bottled coleslaw dressing again.

What is creamy coleslaw made of?

Creamy coleslaw is the kind of coleslaw that’s typically made with mayonnaise. (That’s what gives its nice, creamy texture.) This type of coleslaw is often served as a side dish at barbecues and picnics.

It can also be served as an ingredient in other dishes, like sandwiches and salads. A, classic example is a smoky, pulled pork sandwich topped with a scoop of crunchy, creamy coleslaw.

Now – that’s some mouthwatering goodness!

The ingredients for creamy coleslaw vary, but typically includes shredded cabbage, carrots, mayonnaise, salt, vinegar, pepper, and sugar. I’ve also had it (and made it!) with onions, celery, or green bell peppers.

How to make creamy coleslaw without mayo

Although traditional creamy coleslaw recipes call for mayonnaise, not everyone is a fan of mayo.

That’s where this easy “coleslaw recipe without mayo” comes in!

This recipe uses sour cream and a few other basic ingredients to create a creamy and delicious coleslaw without any mayo at all. And it’ll be welcome at any potluck, cookout, or other gathering where people love good food.


  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, apple cider vinegar, sugar, celery seed, salt, and black pepper.
  2. Add the shredded cabbage and parsley and stir until coated.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Sweet and creamy coleslaw recipe

But if you really want the “classic” creamy coleslaw, here’s the recipe you’re looking for.

This one leans a little sweet, so you can adjust the sugar down a smidge if you like. Or if you prefer mayo rather than salad dressing (Hellman’s vs Miracle Whip) you can substitute. In that case, it will be a little less sweet.

Regardless, this is a pretty darned good coleslaw recipe that I’ve made countless times. It’s a good place to start, and then next time tweak it to your taste!

homemade creamy coleslaw

Homemade Creamy Coleslaw

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

No potluck or picnic would be complete without sweet & tangy, crunchy creamy coleslaw. This recipe uses everyday ingredients and can be whipped together in minutes. Always a crowd pleaser, be sure to make lots!


  • 2/3 cup Miracle Whip or salad dressing
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or celery salt)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1# (or one package) shredded cabbage w/carrots


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the shredded cabbage.
  2. Pour shredded cabbage over dressing mixture.
  3. Fold dressing into the cabbage until fully incorporated.
  4. Cover bowl and refrigerate at least two hours before serving.


Dressing can be made ahead of time and refrigerated till ready to use. Prepared coleslaw will keep for a few days refrigerated.

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Tips to make perfect coleslaw every time

Coleslaw is a dish that can be made many different ways, with endless possibilities for ingredients. However, there are a few tips that will help make perfect coleslaw every time.

pulled pork sandwich with creamy coleslaw

The most important step in making coleslaw is to make the dressing right. A no-brainer, but seriously. The dressing should be creamy, and not too thick or too thin. And it should also have that perfect balance of sweetness, tanginess, and saltiness.

The cabbage should also be prepared correctly. One of the biggest complaints is that coleslaw gets runny or “soupy.” This is because the salt in the dressing breaks down the cabbage cell walls, releasing water into the salad.

To prevent this, you can first salt and then drain the cabbage before adding it to the salad. Or you can choose a recipe with a little less salt and liquid.

Some coleslaw recipes are naturally more juicy, and those should be stirred well and served with a slotted spoon. Excess liquid can be drained off, but you might lose some flavor.

(By the way, my creamy coleslaw recipe above keeps well and doesn’t get soupy. Score!)

Finally, the cabbage, carrots and any other vegetables should be chopped or shredded to the same size. This makes sure every bite has a consistent texture, gets lots of yummy dressing and none of the flavors overpowers the others.

Always serve creamy coleslaw icy cold and crunchy fresh. Use a fun or interesting serving dish to make it special! Remember: presentation is everything.

Variations on classic creamy coleslaw

ingredients for coleslaw salad variations

One cool thing about classic coleslaw is that it can be used as a base for endless variations. One of our favorites is a creamy coleslaw with bacon and apple. The sweetness of the apple really sets off the smoky bacon, and the creamy dressing ties it all together.

Another delicious variation is creamy coleslaw with cranberries and pecans. The tart cranberries are a perfect contrast to the sweet dressing, and the pecans add a nice crunch.

Coleslaw is a great base for any salad ingredient. Try serving with cucumbers, tomatoes, raisins, onions, avocados, peppers, radishes or even salad greens.

To wrap things up

There’s really no limit to variations of creamy coleslaw recipes. You can add in your favorite flavors, switch up the dressing, or use a mix of ingredients to create a unique dish that’s all your own.

I hope you enjoy trying out these recipes. Be sure to experiment with your own ideas and come up with a signature coleslaw dish that will wow your guests.

And don’t forget to find a signature serving dish to show if off!

What’s YOUR favorite way to enjoy coleslaw?

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