Appalachia Appalachian Food

How To Make Good Slaw

How to make good slaw

Granny makes her slaw with nothing more than cabbage, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. That’s what I grew up eating-and that’s the recipe I used myself…until the three people who live with me announced they didn’t exactly love it.

It seemed they were always telling me about how good so-and-so’s slaw was…it took me a while to get their subtle hints, but I  finally decided to see how other folks made their slaw.

A lady at work adds sour cream to hers. It’s good but not that different tasting than mine and Granny’s. A few years ago I googled around and ended up with a Bobby Flay recipe for slaw. I started using his recipe and it seemed to satisfy my picky slaw eaters. At least for a while anyway.

Feeling desperate for the slaw of her dreams, Chitter dispensed with the hints and said “Here, I found this recipe for slaw. I’ve eaten it before and it’s the BEST EVER! You can use it the next time you make slaw.”

I’ve been using Chitter’s recipe for the last several months.

Easy recipe for cole-slaw



  • 8 cups of shredded cabbage (sometimes I use the food processor – sometimes I use a knife and go for a coarser slaw)
  • 1/4 cup diced or shredded carrots
  • 2 tablespoons minced onions
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon milk

Mix cabbage, carrots, and onion together in a large bowl.

Best cole slaw recipe


Mix together all the other ingredients until well blended-then pour over slaw mixture and stir well to coat evenly.

Cole slaw recipe from appalachia

Let slaw chill for at least a couple of hours to allow the mixture to ‘marry’ as The Deer Hunter says.

This slaw recipe is good although it’s a little on the sweet side. You could easily decrease the amount of sugar if you’re not a fan of sweet slaw. Chitter said the lady who shared the recipe with her told her it was similar to the slaw served at Kentucky Fried Chicken. It’s been so many years since I ate a KFC I can’t say if she’s right or not.

How about you-are you picky about your slaw? Do you like it sweet, vinegary, or plain like Granny’s?



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  • Reply
    January 27, 2017 at 4:16 am

    Fine chopped cabbage , grated carrot (small amount ) Mayo, salt ,pepper, and 2 tablespoons Italian dressing , yum yum and great on hot dogs too.

  • Reply
    June Woodward
    April 3, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    I make my slaw with cabbage, a few grated carrots, a handful of raisins and chopped crystallized ginger. I prefer the original Hellmann’s mayonnaise. And my family loves finding those chunks of ginger. This was something I tried once, and it has become a habit. I enjoy the Newsletter; although have never visited your area. My life of 76 years, has been spent in the state of Maine. And surprisingly a lot of the grannyisms in the Newsletters are very familiar to me.

  • Reply
    Janice Stout
    March 29, 2015 at 11:50 am

    I never put onions in my cole slaw. But the other ingredients is how I learned to make slaw and dressing from my mother. We use regular milk instead of the buttermilk and it is still great.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2015 at 5:06 am

    I go the simple route – shredded cabbage, salt, pepper, mayo – but I do make my own mayonnaise and since I use whatever kind of oil and vinegar is handy for that, there is sometimes a slight difference in the flavor of the slaw, but probably not something you could put your finger on.
    Oh, but I also make a carrot slaw – grated carrots, mayo, a few raisins – when I want something sweet. No sugar added or needed!

  • Reply
    Lisa Snuggs
    March 27, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    I’m late chiming in on this, but here’s my favorite: cabbage, carrots, mayo, equal parts sugar and apple cider vinegar (about 1/8 cup each), salt, pepper, tiny bit of garlic powder, tiny bit of onion powder or tsp. of onion run over a zester so it’s mostly juice. A variation that I love is to add caraway seeds. Of course, that only works for folks who like caraway, as it’s got a very distinct flavor.

  • Reply
    March 26, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Growing up the cabbage core was much like the mixing bowl. Me making sure I got them both. Surrounded by sisters in my age group I think momma favored me a bit

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    March 24, 2015 at 12:18 am

    The chop on that looks like the Confetti Slaw our Dad use to favor. He liked it shredded on a grater, I prefer mine sliced very fine, like thin noodles, but in truth, I’m not that fussy about it.
    For dressing, we just use what Dad did – a couple tablespoons of Miracle Whip in a jar combined with about a tablespoon each of apple cider vinegar and milk, along with about a teaspoonful of sugar and a dash of salt and pepper, shake well to combine and pour over slaw. Once in a while if I have one, I’ll also toss in a grated or finely julienned apple. That’s good too.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Peggy Lambert
    March 23, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    I use Cabbage and carrots with mayo, sugar. vinager, can cream, salt and pepper.It is the best. I use to make a 5 gallon bucket when I worked at the Holiday Inn salad bar in Cherokee. It keeps a long time because of the vinegar. I just mix to taste and texture.
    Peggy L.

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    March 23, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    I love all these great slaw recipes. I have become so lazy I just pick up the KFC slaw. My sister in law, Yvonne, made the best slaw and I sure wish I had gotten her recipe, but she is gone now. I made slaw last week and it was awful. Next time I’ll try one of these great sounding ones from your readers, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Laughing Owl Farm
    March 23, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    The fish houses and barbeque (NC piedmont-style, not eastern or western)places offer both white slaw or red slaw. The white is mayo based and the red is vinegar and tomatoes. I always pick red and add some bbq or hot sauce to it. At home, my wife and daughter make green slaw. Usually vinegar-based but occasionally with mayo. Dukes of course.

  • Reply
    Cheryl Soehl
    March 23, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    I don’t ever add sugar to slaw! I am diabetic and avoid all added sugar. Hellman’s mayonnaise, finely chopped cabbage, maybe a little yoghurt and rice wine vinegar, which is lighter and drier than cider or other wine vinegars. Grated carrot for sweetness, lots of fresh pepper. I don’t add salt because the mayo has plenty.

  • Reply
    Phyllis S
    March 23, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    My family likes celery seed
    included in the slaw always.

  • Reply
    barbara Gantt
    March 23, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    I use cabbage, onion, carrots with Dukes mayo. Then add a dash of sugar, lot of black pepper. Mother n law always added a tiny bit of mustard or vinegar. My son, the cook, says the sugar helps bring out the juice. Dont know if that is true or not.
    When we moved to Vermont, we discovered tht no one uses mayo in thier slaw. We always bring back a case of Dukes when we are down South. Cant eat with out it. Barbara

  • Reply
    March 23, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    I never heard “cabbage stalks”
    called “cores”, I thought the only
    thing that had a core was an apple.
    Anyway, I like ’em too…Ken

  • Reply
    March 23, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Ed-I save all the cores for ME : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry, Sr.
    March 23, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Keep the slaw with sugar…not to my liking

  • Reply
    March 23, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    I’m like you and Granny, I like my
    slaw to taste like slaw, not too
    discuised by other stuff. But I do
    like Kentucky slaw.
    I know a woman who use to work in
    a Thread Mill and she’d buy two
    quarts of slaw from a restaurant
    to take to their dinners. She did
    like Ann Applegarth said, because
    they made it like she would.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    March 23, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    my mom’s slaw was delicious — but time consuming to make. Her secret was everything was grated – cabbage, carrots, green pepper and onion. The juices all blended from the grating and she used mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar as the dressing. I have made the pineapple slaw – just cabbage, crushed pineapple and mayonnaise.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 23, 2015 at 11:24 am

    When I make slaw, Dusty is always hanging around waiting to get the core to gnaw on. Do you have any core eaters at your house?

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 23, 2015 at 11:12 am

    What in the world are them two girls looking at in the picture. Watching ants?

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 23, 2015 at 11:10 am

    I too am a picky slaw person. I like mine chopped up pretty good but not fine like a food processor does. I sometimes use a grater but mostly I use a knife then a bean can with one end cut off and holes poked in the other.
    I don’t even try to spice it up any more. I have found a spice mix that suits me to a T (not tee.) It’s from McCormick. It is called Produce Partners Super Slaw Mix. It is hard to find at least for me. I follow the instructions on the pack except I use a little less cabbage than it calls for and I add some black pepper and celery seeds. I always use Dukes Mayonnaise. It tastes kinda like KFC’s only way better.
    This is one of the rare cases where I like a prepackaged mix over “made from scratch.” I tell myself it’s a spice blend, not a mix.
    You reckon McCormick or C F Sauer will see this and send me a few dollars for promoting their products? Naaah!

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    March 23, 2015 at 11:05 am

    I admit that I know very little about cooking and such, but I’ve been guilty of stopping by KFC for a tub of slaw to bring home to go with supper.

  • Reply
    March 23, 2015 at 11:05 am

    I grew up with mayo as the mix in all salads, and sometimes now I will choose mayo over the thousands of other dressing choices in my tossed salad–still good. When I make coleslaw my secret ingredient is a big dollop of ranch dressing along with the mayo, and I throw in a little sprinkling of sugar. Carrot is added for color, and I never put onion in if I expect leftovers. Onion does not work well overnight in salads. Everybody has eaten that soupy strange coleslaw, and this is caused when the salt has time to draw the liquid out of cabbage. So, I stir in salt at last minute.
    Picky eaters–those girls do well. When I fix coleslaw I put onion in for some, leave it out for others, add cucumber for some folks, cut finer for some etc and so on and so on. I won’t even get into the different ways I have to fix potato salad…sweet pickles, sour pickle……

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    March 23, 2015 at 10:38 am

    I use that recipe but it’s a little soupy for me–I’m going to cut down the milk next time. Already use less sugar.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    March 23, 2015 at 10:20 am

    I am in the Granny camp too. I like my slaw plain, just mayo and salt and pepper. Though, I do like a little chopped tomato in it when the tomatoes are fresh from the garden.

  • Reply
    Granny Norma
    March 23, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Granny’s slaw wins! That’s the way you do it. You can add an shredded carrot but none of that other stuff. All that vinegar and sugar — YUK.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    March 23, 2015 at 9:58 am

    I use mayo, vinegar and sugar. Sometimes add a little sour cream.I like cabbage and a little carrot but have never put onion in my slaw.

  • Reply
    Gina S
    March 23, 2015 at 9:57 am

    My mom’s best friend always chopped a small tomato into her slaw. Another lady uses cabbage, tomato, cucumber, onion, carrots and a topping of thousand island dressing.

  • Reply
    March 23, 2015 at 9:56 am

    Depending on what is in the cupboard, I’ll add raisins, dried cranberries or chopped apple. Sometimes red or green bell pepper-my daughter will pick out the peppers and leave them on the plate! Does all of this stuff still make it slaw?

  • Reply
    March 23, 2015 at 9:52 am

    I can just about eat anybody’s slaw, but I like a simple one here at the house, Dukes mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Recently I’ve started adding a splash of apple cider vinegar. My folks like it chopped real fine in the blender.

  • Reply
    Patti Tappel
    March 23, 2015 at 9:52 am

    We like our slaw with vinegar and oil. We add sunflower seeds and ramen noodles.

  • Reply
    March 23, 2015 at 9:44 am

    I like a good slaw, and this recipe sounds like a good one to try. I try not to use a lot of sugar in my recipes so I would decrease it a bit. I really think you ought to be working on that recipe book. It could just be a hot seller. Happy eating everyone!

  • Reply
    March 23, 2015 at 9:37 am

    My dressing is mayo, milk, salt, pepper, sugar, white vinegar or sweet pickle juice, celery seed. Don’t know the proportions i start with a cup or so of mayo and do it to taste and consistency.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    March 23, 2015 at 9:32 am

    There was a lady in my town (God rest her dear soul!) who was famous for her slaw that she brought to every potluck. She refused to give the recipe, but one day she told it to her best friend: Go to Kentucky Fried Chicken and buy some slaw. Then take it home and
    dump it into your prettiest bowl, cover with Saran, and trot it off to the potluck.
    My mama’s was much like your original recipe, but sometimes she put a spoonful of crushed pineapple in it. Yum! I prefer slaw without carrot, although it does look pretty.

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    March 23, 2015 at 9:27 am

    I love good slaw and everyone says I make good slaw. My daughter said her husband doesn’t really care for slaw but he likes mine. I make mine like yours but I add a tablespoon or two of sugar, and a little vinegar and some black pepper. I don’t like it to soupy and I do like the cabbage fairly fine (best on hot dogs that way). Sometimes, not always, I add grated carrot and in the Fall sometimes I add chopped up apple.

  • Reply
    Lonnie Baker
    March 23, 2015 at 9:24 am

    Texas No Mayo Slaw
    Cabbage, onion, jalapeño pepper, red bell pepper, vegetable oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, garlic and parsley.
    Slaw keeps for about three days then starts to turn to sauerkraut.

  • Reply
    March 23, 2015 at 9:24 am

    I agree with Barb – I don’t like any salad to be soupy/goopy!!
    Our family’s slaw recipe is a simpler version of Chitter’s. Cabbage and carrots, maybe a bit of green bell pepper and/or celery, Miracle Whip, and a little bit of sugar for Grandma. I don’t know measurements – we always put the slaw (and so many other “recipes”) together “by eye” or “by guess and by golly”.
    Now-a-days, when preparing certain family recipes, we always say “and a little bit of sugar for Grandma” because it seemed that my Dad’s mother and her mother always added at least a heaping teaspoon of sugar to so many of their salad and vegetable dishes.

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    March 23, 2015 at 9:14 am

    We’re picky about slaw too. We love my Granny’s slaw, which is vinegary. It’s pretty much like Chitter’s without the sugar, buttermilk and lemon juice. In the summertime she puts chunks of tomato in it. That’s one of my favorite things about summer. 🙂

  • Reply
    March 23, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Yes, it is a knock off of KFC, I have tweeked this recipe myself, I use 3/4 T apple cidar vinegar + 3/4T white vinegar, I like the flavor of white pepper better than black in this recipe. I also cut down on the sugar. Because I’m lazy, I use the tricolor bagged slaw mix.

  • Reply
    March 23, 2015 at 9:01 am

    My sister makes slaw using Miracle Whip. It’s requested every time we have a family get-together. Her daughter made the best slaw for a holiday dinner using the KFC recipe. I google and found the recipe she used and can’t wait to try it. I think it has the same ingredients as the one Chitter gave you.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 23, 2015 at 8:51 am

    We love slaw here as well. My boys loved my Mother’s slaw. Cabbage, hand grated not too fine, maybe one carrot, salt and pepper a bit of mayo not slathered…more on the dryer side.
    I make mine similar to Mom’s except I add a pinch of sugar and a capful of vinegar…Mayo to blend a bit.
    It is almost time for my (I hate to brag) but my favorite summer slaw…Well, I wait until the tomatoes and cucumbers are good and ripe and the spring onions are still coming in.
    I don’t have a recipe for this slaw…I just grate cabbage and carrot, chop up in small pieces, tomatoes and cucumber. Cut up a spring onion with tops minced…at least smaller than the tomatoes and cucumber. Stir all together add mayo ( I use Kraft, but have used Dukes) to taste, salt and pepper, a pinch of sugar and a capful of vinegar or so, to taste.
    Stir and let sit in fridge “to marry”….Take out and if the salt and sugar has pulled the moisture out of the veggies, pour in a wire sieve stand over a bowl and drain out the excess moisture…not too much…
    Yummmm, this is good garden slaw…my family loves it! We crave it in the winter at times so I use those canned diced tomatoes…works ok for a substitute, at least for the summer tomato flavor…
    I once made a slaw with nuts, raisins and chopped apples in it…from one of those fancy home and Garden type magazines….
    “What is this stuff”, they asked…Never made it again…went back to my country slaws…..LOL
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…That back or is it front (?) yard bed looks great…I would sit and admire my work too if I had one finished that looked that good and ready to plant!

  • Reply
    March 23, 2015 at 8:44 am

    I do like your Granny and only use Mayo and a little bit of mustard, salt & pepper. If I remember, I will throw in a dash of vinegar and sugar, but most times I don’t get that fancy. I wish my husband liked it and I would make it more often.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    March 23, 2015 at 8:41 am

    I use green and purple cabbage, mayonnaise to taste. a bit of sour cream and a tbs of sugar & vinegar

  • Reply
    Roy Pipes
    March 23, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Tipper – I add diced tomatoes, apples, and chunk cheese, but no milk or sugar. Mine is delicious. I’ll try your recipe, but…

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    March 23, 2015 at 8:29 am

    I favor plain or vinegary, cut coarse. I like onion and a little carrot, but no sugar. Caraway seeds ok occasionally. A local restaurant makes a vinegar dressed hot (peppery) version I really like a lot. I mostly like slaw on a Barbeque sandwich!

  • Reply
    Ken Kuhlmann
    March 23, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Went to a benitit for the Amish. They were trying to raise money for a new school. They served a dish that was about half slaw and half potato salid. It was great as is all of their cooking.

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    March 23, 2015 at 8:17 am

    Tipper: I just wait for my sweet heart to make the slaw. As a good chemist, he knows the best formula!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 23, 2015 at 8:07 am

    Tip, I didn’t like my own slaw till my Aunt Ruth told me how to make it better. Chop the cabbage add pepper, mayo, lemon juice, and sugar. She said to add salt when you eat it. Salting at the beginning would make the cabbage soggy and the slaw watery. It worked well for me then.
    Sometimes now, when I make slaw, I add some different things like sour cream and vinegar.
    I’ve eaten some very good vinegar slaw but to tell the truth, I’ve never been able to make it.

  • Reply
    Barb Wright
    March 23, 2015 at 7:16 am

    I make mine like you,but I add a tablespoon or so of sugar. I like the cabbage cut on the coarse side and I do not like soupy slaw! Maybe I am too fussy!

  • Reply
    March 23, 2015 at 6:14 am

    I do like you and Granny, except I add sugar!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    March 23, 2015 at 5:58 am

    I favor Granny’s slaw, with the cabbage not chopped up too fine. Occasionally I’ll throw a little carrot in.

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