5 from 6 votes

Classic Coleslaw Dressing

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Coleslaw is one of those summer side dish recipes that you should be on everyone’s shortlist for the upcoming spring and summer months.

Incredibly easy to make with NO cooking needed, this creamy classic and homemade coleslaw dressing recipe is perfect for ready-made bagged coleslaw mix. 

And with only 5 minutes to make, this recipe is the ultimate for easy prep.

homemade coleslaw.

Fresh and old-fashioned, classic coleslaw dressing is also a perfect base to mix the flavors with your combinations. Read on to see how to make a custom coleslaw recipe perfect for your tastebuds — and all those fantastic summer potlucks to come. 

Why you should make homemade coleslaw dressing:

  • Fresh dressing is healthier. Store-bought coleslaw dressing is often high in fat and calories. On the other hand, homemade coleslaw dressing can be made with healthier ingredients, such as Greek yogurt.
  • Create a tastier coleslaw version. You can control the ingredients in your homemade coleslaw dressing to make it precisely to your taste. You can add more or less sugar, vinegar, or even some mustard for tang. You can also add other ingredients, such as celery seeds or poppy seeds.
  • Large batches become more affordable. Store-bought coleslaw dressing can be expensive. This creamy coleslaw recipe for dressing is much more affordable, and you can make a big batch perfect for picnics, BBQs, and gatherings. 
coleslaw dressing being poured onto veggies.

Classic Dressing Ingredients

  • real mayonnaise
  • granulated sugar
  • lemon juice
  • White vinegar or apple cider vinegar (or combine a little of both)
  • Salt and ground black pepper

How to make Creamy Coleslaw Dressing.

  1. Mix mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice, white vinegar, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl until the dressing is creamy and smooth.
  2. Pour fresh dressing over pre-shredded slaw mix or cabbage mixture and combine to coat evenly.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours for flavors to mingle and to get a perfect balance. Mix bowl of coleslaw well before serving.
collage on how to make coleslaw dressing adding all ingredients to a bowl.

Coleslaw Tips for the Perfect Coleslaw Recipe.

  • Add more refined white sugar to the dressing for coleslaw for a sweeter coleslaw.
  • For a tangier coleslaw, add more vinegar with the basic ingredients.

Coleslaw Dressing Storage

Here are some tips on how to store homemade dressing in the fridge for long-lasting results:

  • Store it in an airtight container. This will help prevent the dressing from absorbing flavors from other foods in the fridge.
  • Keep it in the back of the fridge. This is the coldest part of the fridge, which will help to extend the shelf life of the dressing.
mixing up dressing.
  • Use it within 3-4 days. This is the general rule of thumb for how long homemade dressing will last in the fridge.
  • Wait to combine. If you want to premake coleslaw, shred the veggies and keep them separate from dressing until you are ready to serve. This prevents the green cabbage and carrot shreds from softening too early.

If you have any concerns about the safety of homemade dressing, it is always best to err on the side of caution and discard it.

Side Dish Recipe Substitutions:

  • You can remove mayo and add Unflavored Greek Yogurt to the dressing for a healthier and slightly tangier option. Additionally, replace half of the mayo with sour cream for an even richer and creamier base. Don’t love a mayo base at all? Try a salsa coleslaw recipe instead.
  • You can substitute white vinegar for any other vinegar, like apple cider vinegar.
  • You can add spices to the dressing, such as garlic powder, onion powder, or paprika.
  • Add a small amount of spicy or Dijon mustard for a richer flavor profile.
dressing with bagged mix.

How to use Classic Coleslaw Dressing (not just for coleslaw). 

Here are three ways to get the most out of your homemade coleslaw dressing:

  1. Use it as a salad dressing. Of course, you can use coleslaw dressing as a salad dressing. Just toss it with your favorite greens and vegetables.
  2. Use it as a marinade. Marinate chicken, pork, or tofu in coleslaw dressing for a flavorful and tender meal.
  3. Use it as a dipping sauce. Serve coleslaw dressing with your favorite fried foods, such as chicken fingers, onion rings, or french fries.

What is the distinction between apple cider vinegar and white vinegar?

White vinegar: White vinegar is formed from fermented and distilled grain alcohol. It has a strong, sour taste and is clear and colorless. White vinegar is a popular ingredient in cooking, cleaning, and pickling.

vinegar information.

Apple cider vinegar: Fermented apple cider is used to make apple cider vinegar. It has a brown, hazy appearance with a slightly sweet and sour flavor. Salad dressings, marinades, and other recipes frequently call for apple cider vinegar. It is also thought to have some medicinal properties, such as easing digestion and improving the immune system.

The sort of vinegar you use is determined by your personal preferences and the recipe. White vinegar is a fantastic choice if you want transparent vinegar with a crisp, sour taste. Apple cider vinegar is a wonderful choice if you want vinegar with a slightly sweet and tangy flavor.

side dish recipes.
5 from 6 votes

Coleslaw Dressing with Creamy Mayo

Prep Time 2 minutes
Creamy classic coleslaw dressing with mayo a great way to make homemade coleslaw dressing with old fashioned taste in 5 minutes. This is enough dressing for a 14 oz. bag of cabbage mix.


  • medium bowl


Coleslaw Dressing

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp granulated white sugar
  • tbsp.  lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. white vinegar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper


  • 14 oz. coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)


Make Coleslaw Dressing

  • Mix mayonnaise, white sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl until smooth.
  • Store in fridge for 2 hours alone or move onto adding to coleslaw mix for immediate serving.

Make Coleslaw

  • Place pre-shredded coleslaw mix into a large mixing bowl.
  • Pour coleslaw dressing over bagged raw coleslaw and mix well to evenly coat.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours for flavors to mingle.
  • To prevent settling, mix well before serving. 


If serving over 2 hours, keep dressing and bagged veggie mix separate for the freshest and crispest vegetables. Combine right before serving.


Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 110kcal

Nutritional Disclaimer: The nutritional data provided here is auto-calculated and intended for your convenience only. As it’s generated via automation, its accuracy may be compromised. For precise nutritional insight, please compute the values utilizing the actual ingredients in your recipe through your chosen nutrition calculator or application.

Sharing of this recipe is encouraged and appreciated. Copying of full recipe to any social media is prohibited.

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5 from 6 votes

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Recipe Rating


  1. George E Palmer, Jr says:

    I used the same recipe when I lived in N.C. in 1955. It was the only way I made cole slaw. Sometimes I would add a little onion but that was my recipe. I should have copywrited it but it’s so simple and easy. My friends would ask how it was made but I kept it a secret. It’s nice to see it on the internet.

    1. Trisha Haas says:

      Im so glad to see that recipes are being passed on from generation to generation. If it makes you feel better, recipes are one of the few pieces of writing that are not allowed to be copyrighted by US law. You can only copyright your exact instructions but not ingredients. A great coleslaw recipe is a right of passive for summer for sure! Thank you for visiting and sharing your story – NC has some great food!

    2. Reply is to Trisha: rite of passage, not passive.

    3. Trisha Haas says:

      You are correct. Sometimes I type so much during the day my brain and my fingers do not align!

  2. Way too tangy. Too much vinegar and lemon juice. I ended up adding extra sugar, mayo, and celery salt.

    1. Trisha Haas says:

      Yes, coleslaw can be sweet or tangy. There really are a ton of ways to make it. I personally prefer tangy coleslaw over too sweet. Glad you made it work for you.

  3. Howard Groopman says:

    This recipe is exactly the same as one I saw online at , except that one has the amts of salt and pepper reversed. I think I’ll trust this one more. 1/2 TSP pepper seems excessive.

    1. Trisha Haas says:

      This is definitely a common way to make a classic coleslaw, so I imagine its pretty close in most places online. The website you mentioned has millions of reader submitted recipes, so it doesn’t surprise me. I’m a lot smaller with only about 1000 recipes. HA!

      But yes, 1/2 tsp pepper is pretty excessive for this size of coleslaw.

      Thanks for stopping by!


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