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Coleslaw facts for kids

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Bowl'o'Coleslaw modified.jpg
A bowl of traditional Southern U.S. coleslaw
Alternative names 'Slaw
Type Salad
Place of origin Netherlands, Germany
Serving temperature cold or warm
Main ingredients Cabbage and mayonnaise
Variations without mayonnaise (only oil, vinegar and spices)

Coleslaw (also known as cole slaw or simply slaw) is a salad consisting primarily of finely-shredded raw cabbage and dressed most commonly with a vinaigrette salad dressing. Prepared in this manner, coleslaw can be pickled for up to four weeks if it is stored in an airtight container. Another way to make coleslaw is to use foods that already contain vinaigrette. Mayonnaise is also commonly used.

Coleslaw is frequently served as a side dish in traditional meals in many countries, and can be seen in major fast food chains as well.

Cabbage salad variations

There are many variations of the recipe, which include the addition of other ingredients such as red cabbage, pepper, shredded carrots, onion, grated cheese, pineapple, or apple, mixed with a salad dressing such as mayonnaise or cream. A variety of seasonings, such as celery seed, may be added. The cabbage may come in finely minced pieces, shredded strips, or small squares. Other slaw variants include broccoli slaw, which uses shredded raw broccoli in place of the cabbage. Cream, sour cream, or buttermilk are also popular additions. Buttermilk coleslaw is most commonly found in the southern United States.

The word "Coleslaw" came from before 1800 from the Dutch word for cabbage salad.

Purple cabbage coleslaw
Purple cabbage coleslaw


Coleslaw is generally eaten as a side dish with foods such as fried chicken and barbecued meats and may be accompanied by French fries or potato salad as another side dish. It also may be used as a sandwich ingredient, being placed on barbecue sandwiches, hamburgers, and hot dogs along with chili and hot mustard.

A vinegar-based coleslaw is the signature ingredient to a Primanti Brothers sandwich. Coleslaw also is used on a variant of the Reuben sandwich, with coleslaw substituting for the sauerkraut; the sandwich is commonly called a Rachel to differentiate it from the Reuben.

A basic coleslaw recipe to use would be:


  • 6 cups shredded cabbage.
  • 1 cup shredded carrot.
  • 1 cup mayonnaise.
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar.
  • 1/4 cup sugar.
  • Salt and pepper.

In a bowl, combine cabbage and carrots. In a another bowl make dressing by combining mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Toss dressing into cabbage mixture and let chill.


The term "coleslaw" arose in the 18th century as an anglicisation of the Dutch term "koolsla" ("kool" in Dutch sounds like "cole") meaning "cabbage salad".

According to The Joy of Cooking (1997), raw cabbage is the only entirely consistent ingredient in coleslaw; the type of cabbage, dressing, and added ingredients vary widely. Vinaigrette, mayonnaise, and sour cream based dressings are all listed; bacon, carrots, bell peppers, pineapple, pickles, onions, and herbs are specifically mentioned as possible added ingredients.

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