Coleslaw – Life Above the Cafe


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May 03, 2020




10 mins.

0 mins.


In my opinion, KFC is the restaurant with the best coleslaw ever. I like that it’s mayonnaise based, loaded with pepper, a little sweet, but that it also has a nice balance of onion flavor. If you’re not into one of those things then leave out that ingredient while making this coleslaw.

I enjoy vinegar based coleslaw too, but I prefer this KFC copycat coleslaw when I’m making BBQ chicken sandwiches since I always use my homemade vinegar based BBQ Sauce, I need the mayonnaise to cut and cool the acidity of the vinegar.

This recipe checks off all of the boxes for what I expect coleslaw to taste like, and we never have to throw out leftovers since it’s delicious and we devour it within two days of making it. There are two of us, and this recipe yields about 6-8 large spoonfuls which means a side dish along with our dinner and lunch for a couple of days.

For an easy and fast lunch or dinner side, I will usually make this with the bagged coleslaw mix that’s sold in the salad section at the grocery store, but I’ve also shredded a half of a head of cabbage (for a total of 4 cups) and a carrot in my food processor, or diced them by hand (which makes it look like KFC’s coleslaw), and the coleslaw turned out great. So, if you have a head of cabbage and a carrot in your fridge don’t rush to the store to buy bagged coleslaw mix.

I make my coleslaw the morning or afternoon before we need it so that it has time to develop flavor and to allow the cabbage to soften up and release liquid as it sits. Before it’s served, I stir it up and taste it and adjust the seasonings and add more mayonnaise if it needs extra.

My husband doesn’t love mayo so I don’t add as much as I would love to so that he doesn’t feel like dinner was a torture session. I may try to make this with Greek yogurt one day, but until he complains I’ll stick to mayonnaise. If you’re in need of a side dish to feed a crowd, this recipe is great doubled, tripled, or beyond.

Note, this recipe does call for sugar because KFC’s coleslaw is a little sweet, but if you’re watching calories then leave it out, reduce it, or use a sugar substitute.

I’m not the colonel, so I don’t have the secret recipe, but this is pretty close to his amazing coleslaw.


  • 4 cups of chopped or shredded cabbage (or bagged coleslaw mix)
  • 1/4 cup of diced carrot (or shredded, about 1/2 of a large carrot)
  • 2 Tbsp. of grated white onion (or finely dice it)
  • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise (more if desired)
  • 2 Tbsp. of white vinegar
  • 1/8 cup of buttermilk (use all regular milk if not using buttermilk)
  • 1/8 cup of milk
  • 2-3 Tbsp. of sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. of pepper (use white pepper if you don’t want flakes to show)
  • 1/4 tsp. of salt


If you’re not using bagged coleslaw mix then shred or chop a head of cabbage so that you have 4 cups of cabbage.

Grate 1/2 of a large carrot. If you like a lot of carrot grate the entire carrot.

Grate or finely dice a white onion so that you have 2 Tbsp. of grated onion.

Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and stir thoroughly. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to allow the cabbage to soften and release liquid.

Remove the coleslaw from the refrigerator, stir well, and then taste and adjust the seasonings, mayonnaise, and vinegar as needed.

Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Mayonnaise or food items that contain mayonnaise should only be outside of the refrigerator for 2 hours unless they are in a tray over ice to maintain a low temperature.

Note, this recipe does call for sugar because KFC’s coleslaw is a little sweet, but if you’re watching calories then leave it out, reduce it, or use a sugar substitute.

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