Should coleslaw include mayonnaise? Some folks swear by a vinegar-based slaw, while others prefer something creamier. In this recipe, we found the middle ground, with a restrained amount of mayo, plus tangy Greek yogurt and tangier cider vinegar. (Note: Any fat content works for the yogurt, but whole-milk or two-percent are preferable. And other vinegars, like rice or white wine, can be swapped in.)
Beyond the dressing, the biggest challenge with coleslaw is that the longer it sits, the soggier it gets. To fix this, we season the sliced vegetables with salt and sugar in advance. After hanging out for about an hour, the excess moisture gets squeezed out, yielding a coleslaw that can be made ahead of time—a few hours, even days—without becoming soggy.
The cabbage variety is flexible. A mixture of red and green brings nice color contrast, but you can certainly use savoy or napa, or a mix. We also added some grated carrots—a classic addition that brings along subtle sweetness and bright color. (Just avoid pre-shredded vegetables, which are duller in texture and flavor.)
While coleslaw is often meant as a cooling side—say, next to pulled pork or Nashville hot chicken—a little hot sauce and mustard add a welcome tingle of heat. Likewise, celery seeds and the Middle Eastern spice blend za’atar add woodsy, herbal, nutty notes, which you might not be able to pinpoint, but you’d miss them if they weren’t there.
If you’re looking for cornbread to go with, check out the recipe for Our Best Cornbread. —Josh Cohen
Test Kitchen Notes
This is one of Food52’s Best Recipes. In this series, our test kitchen sets out to create the ultimate version of your favorite recipes. Let us know on the Hotline if there's one you'd love to see next. —The Editors
- Prep time 1 hour 30 minutes
- Cook time 5 minutes
- Makes 7 cups
medium green cabbage, cored and sliced into ⅛ inch-thin ribbons
small red cabbage, cored and sliced into ⅛ inch-thin ribbons
medium carrots, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
apple cider vinegar
Tabasco (or another hot sauce)
loosely packed parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- Add the green cabbage, red cabbage, and carrot to a large mixing bowl. Season with the salt and sugar. Mix and massage the cabbage mixture for 1 minute, then set aside to marinate for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, squeeze out the excess liquid from the cabbage, one handful at a time. Discard the excess liquid and transfer the drained cabbage mixture to a new bowl.
- Add the remaining ingredients, except for the parsley, to a small mixing bowl, and whisk to combine. Pour this mixture over the cabbage, add the parsley, and stir to combine. Taste, and season with salt as needed. Serve immediately, or refrigerate the coleslaw for up to 3 days.