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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!

Hands holding a big wooden bowl of the best traditional coleslaw recipe

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!

Chopped cabbage and carrots in a large white bowl

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.
Whisking together coleslaw dressing in a glass measuring cup

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.

Pouring homemade coleslaw dressing over cabbage and carrots

How to Make a Classic Coleslaw Recipe

With help from a food processor, this easy recipe comes together in just minutes!

  1. Toss together the shredded cabbage and carrots.
  2. Whisk together the dressing in a separate bowl.
  3. Pour the dressing over the vegetables, then toss to coat.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Close up side shot of a big wooden bowl of copycat KFC coleslaw recipe

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:

Square overhead shot of homemade coleslaw recipe on a wooden table

Storage

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.

Hands serving a big wooden bowl of traditional coleslaw

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.
Square side shot of a bowl of homemade coleslaw on a wooden table with fried chicken and cornbread in the background

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.
Overhead shot of a bowl of traditional coleslaw recipe with fried chicken and cornbread on the side

More Easy Slaw Recipes to Try

Hands holding a big wooden bowl of the best traditional coleslaw recipe

Traditional Coleslaw Recipe {KFC Copycat!}

Prep: 15 minutes
Chilling Time 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 10 – 12 people
Calories 133 kcal
Crunchy, sweet, creamy and tangy — this traditional coleslaw recipe is the perfect side dish for all of your summer cookouts, picnics, and potlucks!

Ingredients
  

  • 8 cups finely chopped or shredded cabbage (I use the shredding disc on a food processor)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon celery salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage and carrots. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, milk, buttermilk, sour cream, vinegar, grated onion, lemon juice, salt, celery salt and pepper.
  • Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture. Toss to coat.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or overnight) before serving.

Notes

  • For the classic KFC coleslaw texture, use the shredding disc on a food processor to chop the the cabbage and carrots into a very fine dice. The food processor also makes the job very 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. You’ll also want to include the juices from the grated onion for more flavor.
  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/10 of the recipeCalories: 133kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 1gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 450mgPotassium: 162mgFiber: 2gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 2231IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 45mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: easy coleslaw, homemade coleslaw, KFC coleslaw recipe, traditional coleslaw recipe
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This post was originally published in May, 2021. The photos were updated in May, 2022.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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    1. Hi, Dee! That’s a very old recipe that’s no longer on my site, but here are the details in case you want to try it:

      Skinny French Toast Frappe
      Serves 1
      Prep: 2 mins

      1 teaspoon Folgers Instant Coffee granules
      1-2 cups ice (I like to use 2 cups for a very thick smoothie)
      1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or other milk of choice)
      1 scoop (about ¼ cup) vanilla protein powder
      ¼ teaspoon maple extract (or flavoring)
      ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
      1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
      Pinch of salt
      Optional: whipped cream for garnish

      Add all ingredients to a blender and puree until thick and smooth. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired. Serve immediately!