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Alternative name(s) Slaw
Type Side dish
Place of origin Netherlands, Germany, Poland
Main ingredient(s) Cabbage, mayonnaise, buttermilk

Coleslaw is a salad consisting primarily of shredded raw cabbage[1] dressed most commonly with mayonnaise and/or buttermilk. It may also include vinegar and seasonings (with or without any dairy or mayonnaise). Cream or sour cream may be used in the dressing and shredded carrots are a popular addition.


The term "coleslaw" arose in the 18th century as an Anglicisation of the Dutch term "koolsla", a shortening of "koolsalade", which means "cabbage salad".[2]


A German "Krautsalat" in Munich

There are many variations of the recipe which include the addition of other ingredients, such as red cabbage, pepper, onion, grated cheese, pineapple, or apple, mixed with a salad dressing such as mayonnaise or cream. In the United States coleslaw often also contains buttermilk or mayonnaise substitutes[citation needed], and carrot; although many regional variations exist, and recipes incorporating prepared mustard or vinegar without the dairy and mayonnaise are also common. Barbecue slaw, also known as red slaw is made using ketchup and vinegar rather than mayonnaise.[3] A variety of seasonings, such as celery seed, may be added. The cabbage may come in finely minced pieces, shredded strips, or small squares.

In the United Kingdom, coleslaw almost always contains carrot and red onion in addition to cabbage. Some variations include nuts such as walnuts and dried fruits such as sultanas or raisins.

Other slaw variants include broccoli slaw, which uses shredded raw broccoli in place of the cabbage.


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 is commonly included in fish fries in the United States. 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 variation of coleslaw made with vinegar and oil is often served with pizza in Sweden.[4]

Coleslaw added with cooked ham slices and sliced pepper (julienne cut), in Italy is called "Insalata Capricciosa" (capricious salad).

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Coleslaw – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Merriam Webster. Retrieved August 2011. 
  2. ^ Perelman, Deb. (2007-08-08) "Coleslaw: You Could Be a Star". NPR. Accessed 2009-06-24.
  3. ^ ABC News, (2009-06-05). "Lexington Red Slaw" WLS-TV/DT Chicago, IL. Accessed 2009-06-24.
  4. ^ "Classic Swedish Pizza Salad" Accessed August 2011.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Coleslaw at Wikimedia Commons
  • Coleslaw at Wikibook Cookbooks
  • The dictionary definition of coleslaw at Wiktionary