What Is Coleslaw Dressing and Why Is It Different?

Picture a cookout on a bright summer day. Look past the main dishes—the ribs, burgers, and hot dogs. Look at the side dishes. What do you see? I’ll tell you what you see: You see some creamy coleslaw. Coleslaw is that old reliable side dish that we don’t even notice unless it’s not there or it’s bad. I always notice it when my Aunt Lily makes it. She’s banned from coleslaw duty. But the thing that makes coleslaw possible needs to be celebrated. I’m referring of course to coleslaw dressing. What is coleslaw dressing? What’s in coleslaw dressing? How much coleslaw dressing do you use in coleslaw? Let’s cool off with some coleslaw dressing facts!

What is coleslaw dressing?

Coleslaw dressing is that magical ingredient that transforms a pile of shredded cabbage into coleslaw. Basically, it is a creamy and tangy salad dressing. What is coleslaw anyway? Well, coleslaw comes from the Dutch word “koolsla” which means cabbage salad. There’s all sorts of different coleslaws all around the world. But in the U.S., most coleslaw is mayo- or cream-based with a slight tang, but you can find a few vinegar-based coleslaws out there. Generally, when we talk about coleslaw dressing, we’re talking about the creamy kind. 

What’s in coleslaw dressing?

How do you make coleslaw dressing? What’s in it? To get that signature creamy texture and acidic tang, coleslaw dressing needs its two most prominent ingredients: mayonnaise and vinegar. There are countless coleslaw dressing recipes out there but they typically have around a cup of mayonnaise and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. To that we add some Dijon mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper. If you want to get a little fancier you can throw in some poppy seeds, celery seeds, lemon juice, maple syrup, or if you want to go extra Southern, some buttermilk. Coleslaw dressing does not have to go on coleslaw. There’s no law that says you can’t put coleslaw dressing on any kind of salad. I checked all the laws and couldn’t find anything about it! Coleslaw dressing also makes a great veggie dip. Put some veggies and coleslaw dressing out at your next party and watch all the ranch dressing freaks have a complete meltdown.

How much coleslaw dressing to use?

One of the reasons coleslaw is such a popular side dish is because it’s so easy to make. Seriously, just shred some cabbage and a few carrots then mix that with dressing and you’re good to go. But exactly how much dressing do you dump on there? It’s up to you and your guests, really. Do you want just a light coating or lots of glops? One and a half cups of coleslaw dressing is pretty good for one pound of coleslaw mix. Adjust from there if you like lighter or heavier. If you have extra coleslaw dressing, it keeps for around five days to a week, properly sealed in the refrigerator. I’ve never had it last that long though because I always eat it.

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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