The Best Old-Fashioned Creamy Coleslaw

This Old-Fashioned Creamy coleslaw recipe is full of classic charm and wholesome goodness.  It’s the kind of timeless dish that brings back memories of family gatherings, backyard barbecues, and lazy summer afternoons. With shredded cabbage and carrot in a creamy, tangy homemade coleslaw dressing, this coleslaw is deliciously satisfying. Serve it with burgers, Sunday dinner, fried chicken, your favorite BBQ, or on a fish sandwich. There are so many ways to serve this homemade creamy coleslaw. (And for a mayo-free coleslaw recipe, check out my recipe for Pennsylvania Dutch Pepper Slaw.) 

The best creamy coleslaw

I’ve always gravitated toward the old-fashioned recipes that have stood the test of time. I love those budget-friendly, uncomplicated recipes that have been passed down through the generations, keeping families fed and nourished along the way. And this creamy coleslaw is one of these delicious and comforting recipes. (And I think about my great-grandma and I can just picture her in the kitchen garden picking a few ingredients to make this fresh coleslaw to go with dinner!)

But don’t get me wrong, this creamy coleslaw recipe may be old-fashioned but is still just as good now as it was back in the day. With just shredded cabbage and carrots and an easy homemade coleslaw dressing, this recipe is one of those essential recipes you’ll want to hang onto to make over and over again. 

Homemade Creamy Coleslaw

Let’s talk about the ingredients for Old Fashioned Creamy Coleslaw:

Cabbage mix (coleslaw mix) – Cabbage is the main ingredient and the star of the show. You can use a 16-ounce bag of coleslaw mix, or make your own mix by combining 1/2 head of shredded green cabbage and 1-2 shredded carrots (if you happen to have some red cabbage on hand, you can add some of that, too). You’ll want about 4 cups of shredded coleslaw mix. 

Mayonnaise – Use your favorite store-bought or homemade mayonnaise. You can use any type of mayonnaise you prefer. Be sure it’s one you like because it’s the main ingredient for this coleslaw dressing. 

Celery seed – Celery seed really gives this coleslaw a punch of flavor, so I don’t recommend skipping out on this ingredient. If you don’t have celery seed on hand, it’s a pretty inexpensive seasoning to purchase and it’s worth having on hand to use in so many recipes. 

Sugar – Regular granulated sugar is what I use for this recipe. You can also substitute honey or your favorite sugar substitute. 

Vinegar – I prefer to use apple cider vinegar because I think it gives this coleslaw the best flavor. You can substitute red wine vinegar if you prefer.

Bowl of Homemade Coleslaw Dressing

Tips for making the best creamy coleslaw:

  • Use the freshest ingredients. Whether you are using a bagged coleslaw mix or you are shredding your own, make sure everything is fresh and crisp. Be sure to use a bag with cabbage and carrots that don’t look dried out. If you’re shredding your own vegetables, look for firm, vibrant-colored cabbage heads and crisp carrots (leave those soft carrots for your next stew). Your slaw will taste much better when you start with a base of fresh ingredients. 
  • If you’re shredding your own coleslaw mix, take the time to shred the cabbage and carrots evenly. You can decide how finely to shred the vegetables, but make sure they are uniform. Use a sharp knife or a mandoline slicer to ensure even and thin slices. This will help the vegetables absorb the creamy dressing and create a more enjoyable texture.
  • Balance the flavors. Getting the balance of creaminess and tanginess right is important for a flavorful coleslaw. I think the recipe for this coleslaw dressing is perfect the way it is written. But you may decide that the seasonings may need to be adjusted to your liking.  If you make adjustments, keep in mind that the flavors tend to mellow as the coleslaw sits. So I like to make sure the dressing is extra flavorful. 
  • Let It Chill. After mixing the shredded vegetables with the dressing, allow the coleslaw to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. This resting time allows the flavors to meld together and the dressing to penetrate the vegetables, resulting in a tastier coleslaw.
  • Experiment with additions. While this classic creamy coleslaw is delicious and needs no alterations, don’t be afraid to get creative and change things up. Consider incorporating ingredients like thinly sliced onions, grated apples, raisins, or even a touch of mustard or horseradish for something a little bit different.

Old-Fashioned Creamy Coleslaw

How to store Coleslaw:

Here are some guidelines for keeping your coleslaw fresh:

  • Transfer the coleslaw to an airtight container or place it in a bowl and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. Make sure the container is clean and food-safe.
  • To store the coleslaw for maximum freshness and safety, refrigerate it as soon as possible. Don’t allow it to sit at room temperature for a long stretch of time. 
  • The shelf life of homemade coleslaw is typically 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator. However, this can vary depending on the ingredients used and the freshness of the cabbage and other vegetables.
  • When pulling your coleslaw out of the fridge to eat, always visually inspect it for any signs of spoilage, such as mold growth, discoloration, or an off smell. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the coleslaw to avoid foodborne illness.
  • Also, note that coleslaw tends to become more watery as it sits in the refrigerator due to the vegetables releasing moisture. If you find the coleslaw has become too watery, you can drain off excess liquid before serving.
  • Remember, these guidelines are general recommendations, and it’s important to use your best judgment when it comes to food safety. If in doubt, it’s safer to discard the coleslaw rather than risk consuming spoiled food.

So if you’re searching for the best Old-Fashioned Creamy Coleslaw recipe, I hope you’ll give this one a try.  It’s our family’s favorite and I hope it will become yours, too.

If you try this recipe for the Best Old-Fashioned Creamy Coleslaw, I hope you love it. And follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram so you don’t miss a post. 

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The Best Old-Fashioned Creamy Coleslaw

  • Author: Melissa | My Homemade Roots


This Old Fashioned Creamy coleslaw recipe is full of classic charm and wholesome goodness. With shredded cabbage and carrot in a creamy, tangy dressing, this homemade coleslaw is deliciously satisfying.


Units Scale
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 16-ounce bag of coleslaw mix, or shred your own cabbage and carrot to equal 16 ounces (about 4 cups)


  1. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Whisk well to combine.
  2. Add shredded cabbage mix and toss with dressing.
  3. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend.


  • Stacey
    June 2, 2023 at 6:11 am

    I’m not normally a coleslaw fan, but I decided to give this a try for Memorial Day weekend. It is the BEST coleslaw I’ve ever made. It was so flavorful and I could have eaten the whole bowl myself. So thank you for sharing!

  • Zoe
    June 2, 2023 at 6:14 am

    I made this coleslaw for a gathering we had recently and everyone loved it. It was a hit!

  • […] Grandma’s Classic Potato Salad is a timeless recipe I know you’re going to love. It’s a traditional potato salad recipe that’s been a favorite in our family for ages. It has that perfect balance of creaminess with a hint of tang from the mustard and the satisfying crunch of celery. And while the ingredients are humble, this potato salad is packed with flavor. Our summer parties and family gatherings are never complete without a big chilled bowl of this potato salad. If you’re looking for a potato salad like your Grandma used to make, give this a try. (And if you love these timeless side dishes, check out my recipe for The Best Old-Fashioned Creamy Coleslaw.) […]

  • Mandy
    November 19, 2023 at 4:10 am

    This title of this recipe does not lie! This is hands down the best coleslaw recipe I’ve made! 5 stars!

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    December 11, 2023 at 9:10 pm

    […] Old-Fashioned Coleslaw – My Homemade Roots […]

  • Gary
    March 24, 2024 at 11:12 pm

    This is a GREAT coleslaw recipe! This will be my top coleslaw recipe from this point forward.
    I made one minor adjustment to the dressing recipe, 1/2 teaspoon salt vs 3/4 teaspoon as called for in the recipe.
    Mayonnaise used was Duke’s.

    Instead of bagged coleslaw I made my own.
    1/2 head of cabbage – shredded
    2 carrots – chopped
    1 medium onion – chopped

    • Melissa
      April 2, 2024 at 6:30 pm

      Sounds great! I always say that you should adjust the recipe and make it your own. And we are a Duke’s household, too!

  • Cindy
    April 9, 2024 at 5:39 pm

    I just made this coleslaw recipe, omg so good and I’m not normally a big coleslaw lover but this!!!! Wow!!!
    Thank you!

    • Melissa
      April 15, 2024 at 5:02 am

      I so happy you enjoyed the recipe!

  • Mazie. Dimuel
    June 12, 2024 at 11:00 pm

    I enjoyed this recipe and it was easy. I put some red onions in also. It was very easy to do. Thanks


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