The Best Ever Make Ahead Coleslaw that Keeps

Make Ahead Coleslaw that keeps is a coleslaw recipe that stays fresh in your refrigerator for a couple of weeks. This vinegar-based dressing just tastes better and better.

A jar of make ahead coleslaw that keeps.

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You might think that coleslaw is just a rather mundane side affair that you just take for granted and wouldn’t miss much if it wasn’t there. But, it wasn’t always this way.

In fact, going far back in time to the Roman Empire, the ancient Romans served up what must have been a tasty dish of cabbage, eggs, vinegar, and spices. You can read more about the history of coleslaw.

The Name Coleslaw Comes from the Dutch

The Dutch, who formed settlements up and down the Hudson River and founded New York State, grew a lot of cabbage and had to find something to do with it. They shredded the cabbage and made a salad out of it which was called koosla. Kool is the Dutch word for cabbage and sla means salad.

A recipe in The Sensible Cook: Dutch Foodways in the Old and New World, made by the Dutch landlady of the author in 1770, uses thin slivers of cabbage combined with melted butter, oil, and vinegar.

You can actually buy this fascinating book from Amazon and make some traditional Dutch recipes.

Modern-Day Coleslaw

By my own tastings — and hoo boy, have I eaten a lot of coleslaw this summer — there are a lot of ways where modern-day coleslaw goes wrong.

Often, it is soggy with such a heavy helping of dressing that the cabbage is just swimming in the sauce rather than being allowed to absorb it and mellow into a cohesively-flavored dish.

The bottom line is that coleslaw made with too much mayonnaise dressing does not keep and definitely does not get better with age.

Play with Your Cabbage

The average supermarket has several varieties of cabbage besides the classic green, which is a dense cabbage and actually white inside. They include the rounded Savoy, the featherweight Napa, and the red varieties.

When you’re looking to step up your next slaw, try a different type of cabbage, or mix a couple of varieties.


Here’s a list of what you need:

  • Cabbage
  • Red or green bell pepper
  • Onion
  • Sugar
  • White vinegar
  • Salt
  • Salad oil
  • Dry mustard
  • Celery seed

How to Make Refrigerator Coleslaw

  1. Shred or chop cabbage, onions, and peppers.
  2. Sprinkle sugar on top.
  3. Combine vinegar, sugar, salt, oil, dry mustard, and celery seed in a saucepan. Bring to boil.
  4. Toss dressing with cabbage mixture.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Coleslaw that Keeps – It Will Stay Fresh

Coleslaw made without mayonnaise, like my easy-to-prepare recipe below, will give you a coleslaw that is crunchy and bright with flavors. You can refrigerate it and it will stay fresh for a couple of weeks.

What’s more, with its vinegar-based dressing, the longer it sits, it just tastes better and better. You no longer have to settle for boring coleslaw that doesn’t last.

Make ahead coleslaw that keeps in a jar.

More Coleslaw Recipes

Favorite Cabbage Recipes

Be sure to check out more of my easy salad recipes and the best side dish recipes here on!

A jar of make ahead coleslaw that keeps.

Cole Slaw that Keeps

This Cole Slaw that Keeps is an easy recipe to prepare. 
5 from 13 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cole Slaw that Keeps, Coleslaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 406kcal


  • 2 pounds cabbage shredded
  • 1/2 cup chopped red or green bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Cole Slaw Dressing

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup salad oil
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed


  • Shred or chop cabbage, onions, and peppers. Sprinkle sugar on top. Combine dressing ingredients and bring to boil. Toss dressing with cabbage mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Slaw will keep for weeks without losing its freshness.



Calories: 406kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 417mg | Potassium: 317mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 195IU | Vitamin C: 67.3mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 1mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Diane Sutherland

    I make this with sauerkraut. I rinse it really good, drain & make with green peppers, onion, celery, oil & vinegar, sugar & salt & pepper.

  2. Ginny Carpenter

    I would think that the warm dressing would make the cabbage soft. Does the cabbage stay crispy? I am looking for a vinegary recipe that I remember from the 50s. It was a great deal like pickled cucumbers, but with cabbage instead of cucumbers, it was made with cabbage. The cabbage was always crisp. Thanks for answering.

  3. Sandra Scott

    5 stars
    Made this for tonight’s supper. Made many times over the years. Great for pot luck. I add Celery, red Cabbage, greated carrot and 1 can of drained can corn. Pour dressing over and eat warm first time. Love this.

  4. Bill Garrett

    5 stars
    RE: CALORIES PER SERVING. I followed this recipe precisely weighing each ingredient and calculating its caloric value from standard nutritional tables. I ended up with 56.8 ounces of slaw (3-1/2 pounds) having a caloric value of 2419. The recipe is said to make 6 servings. Each would be over 1/2 pound; and, yes, each would have a caloric value well in the 400 range. But who in the world eats that much coleslaw at one meal? My wife and I eat side servings that are less than half that, about 3 ounces each and never as much as 4. For us that comes out to about 150 calories a serving, never as much as 200. These figures are consistent with standard ones for slaw found in most nutritional tables. INCIDENTALLY THIS IS THE BEST SLAW WE HAVE EVER EATEN. WE ARE ALMOST NEVER WITHOUT IT. For the two of us a batch lasts about two weeks and is always deliciously crisp..

  5. Margaret

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious, I made it with red and white cabbage, just because, like the addition of pepper to replace carrot. I live alone so this works beautifully for me, thank you.

  6. klester22

    5 stars
    Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. It’s very good and stays crispy forever. Being the only one in the family who loves coleslaw in the house I’ve not made it in years because I hate the waste but this last long enough for me to finish it. Yeah!! I too would like to use less oil but worry it will reduce shelf life. Has anyone tried? Next batch I’ll try half the oil and I’ll post results.

  7. Kerrie

    5 stars
    Hi, thank you for sharing this recipe. I made it as described and it’s great. I was wondering about the oil. Can it be reduced and maintain the “shelf” life of the slaw? If so, how little oil do you think I could get away with?

  8. Heather Putt

    I’m going to make this for a Jack & Jill. Since it’s winter here in Canada, our cabbages are small to med. How many will I need to make 2lbs of shredded cabbage?
    Approx how many pl would you serve with your recipe?

  9. Sharon Dotson

    I am on a diet and can’t have sugar. Can I make this with just vinegar and oil and some spices without the sugar and have it still keep for a week or so?

  10. Wylie Cartrette

    I want this recipe for my store to resale
    I will be making 50 pounds at a time

    Could you help me with the recipe
    To make 50 pounds as far as ingredients
    For the sauce. Thank you

  11. Christy

    5 stars
    I have a houseguest coming the 31st and surgery (on me) on the 29th, so I’m making some
    yummy enchiladas that I can freeze and this cole slaw, plus a birthday cake for my son.

    Should be a yummy dinner! I’m posting 5 stars even tho’ I haven’t made it yet as I love it that
    it will last a couple weeks, as it goes with so many things I like. THANKS

  12. George

    Stephanie, Nice Video. But may I suggest not using an aluminum pot to heat the dressing? The acid in the dressing corrodes aluminum cookware.

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