Freezer Slaw (Frozen Coleslaw)

Frozen coleslaw is a great coleslaw that you can keep in the freezer and have whenever you want. What’s more, the longer it stays frozen and sits in the vinegar dressing, the tastier it gets.

freezer slaw in a black bowl.

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Delicious Freezer Coleslaw

This freezer slaw has a great flavor, and if you make large batches, you will always have some on hand to take to pot luck events.

Coleslaw is an American staple that takes many forms. It can be creamy with mayo or sour cream or light and vinegary like this freezer coleslaw recipe.

What Is Freezer Slaw?

Frozen coleslaw is a vinegar-based coleslaw that can be frozen and used as desired. Freezer slaw originated in the south.

This southern freezer slaw is an easy and delicious make-ahead side dish coleslaw with vinegar dressing.

Why This is the Best Freezer Slaw Recipe

If you are looking for a tried and true coleslaw recipe that is simple to make and tastes amazing, you’ve found it! This recipe gives you a fabulous make-ahead sweet and tangy slaw that stays crisp even after being kept in the freezer!

A vinegar-based dressing (rather than mayonnaise) means your slaw will freeze really well.

This coleslaw recipe also adds tons of flavor without piling on unwanted calories. This is a great summertime recipe when cabbage and green peppers are abundant and cheap.

Do yourself a favor, and make several batches for the colder months ahead.

Recipe Ingredients

This freezer coleslaw recipe is very easy to make with just simple ingredients: 

  • Shredded cabbage
  • Salt
  • Shredded carrots
  • Green bell pepper
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Celery seed
freezer slaw ingredients on a tray.

Ingredient Notes

For this southern freezer slaw recipe, any cabbage will work deliciously. Green or purple, savoy or napa will each add a great flavor and texture.

When choosing your cabbage, go for heads that are heavy for their size, with outer leaves that are unblemished and firm.

Read about different types of cabbage – some of which you may have never heard of.

How to Make Freezer Slaw

Here are the simple steps to make coleslaw you can freeze:

  1. Shred cabbage with a food processor, or a vegetable shredder.
  2. Place cabbage and salt in a large bowl. Toss to coat the cabbage with salt and let it sit for an hour.
chopped cabbage and salt in a bowl.
  1. Drain and squeeze out the cabbage to thoroughly remove any excess liquid. Place the cabbage back in the bowl.
  2. Add shredded carrots and chopped bell pepper. Toss to combine.
  3. While the salted cabbage is sitting, combine vinegar, water, sugar, and celery seed in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 1 minute or until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Cool the dressing until it is lukewarm.
freezer slaw vinegar dressing in a saucepan.
  1. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and stir to combine.
  2. Place the coleslaw into freezer-safe containers and freeze the slaw.
  3. When you are planning to use the slaw, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. If you are storing the coleslaw place into freezer containers or seal with a food vacuum sealer.
a bowl of freezer slaw.

Recipe Variations

This frozen coleslaw recipe is very flexible, and you don’t have to stick strictly to it. Here are some ideas for changing it up:

  • Use different colored cabbage. Green with red/purple cabbage looks so pretty and colorful in freezer jars. 
  • Add some finely diced onion or apple.
  • Consider adding other veggies that freeze well – celeriac, kohlrabi, radishes, or turnips. 

Equipment (Optional)

  • Food Processor or Vegetable Shredder
  • Vacuum Food Sealer

How to Use Frozen Coleslaw

Coleslaw has to be one of the most popular accompaniments with a wide variety of uses. You can pile some on top of your piping hot jacket potato, serve it as part of a picnic, pair it with barbequed meat and grill staples such as burgers, ribs, and hot dogs.

Freezer coleslaw is also good in tacos as a substitute for shredded lettuce and as a low-carb topping for steak, grilled chicken, and roast beef or shredded pork. Or, team it up with vegan proteins like tempeh or tofu.

Add cold and crisp coleslaw to a BBQ sandwich to add flavor and nutrition to it.

How to Store Leftover Cole Slaw

Store leftover coleslaw in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Do not re-freeze any thawed frozen slaw.

When properly stored, cold coleslaw left in the fridge is perfectly safe for consumption for 3 to 5 days.

Can I Freeze Cole Slaw?

If you are wondering can you freeze coleslaw, keep this in mind:

  • Vinegar-based works best; mayo breaks down.
  • Vinegar freezes well; mayo does not.

If the coleslaw is vinegar-based, you can freeze it for up to 6 months. Mayo-based coleslaw just doesn’t freeze well – the dressing will tend to break down as it thaws.

Here’s the best way to freeze your vinegar-based coleslaw:

  1. Place your coleslaw mix in a freezer bag.
  2. Starting from the bottom of the bag and working up to the top opening, squeeze out as much excess air as possible before sealing and placing the sealed bag in the freezer. 

Freezing Cole Slaw Tip: Invest in a food saver device that will take out all the air in the package and perfectly seal your coleslaw.

How to Thaw Freezer Slaw

When ready to use, thaw the coleslaw in the refrigerator. Once it is thawed, drain excess fluid, and add mayonnaise to suit your taste if you prefer a creamy coleslaw.

It’s best to use the thawed coleslaw within 3 days. Any longer and the texture will soften and the flavor degrade.

Can You Freeze Shredded Cabbage to Make Coleslaw Later?

The quick answer is, no, you have to turn it into coleslaw first. Adding a vinegary liquid to shredded cabbage assists in preserving its texture.

If you just toss a bag full of chopped or shredded cabbage into your freezer, hoping it will defrost and give you crispy cabbage that’s ideal for coleslaw, you’ll be disappointed.

Like many other leafy vegetables, cabbage has a high water content that will cause your cabbage to break down and become soggy when frozen.

You can freeze raw cabbage for use in a cooked dish like cabbage casserole or cabbage rolls, but it won’t work well for coleslaw.

The secret is to make freezer coleslaw! You get a very tasty coleslaw, and the defrosted cabbage will be crisp and delicious. 

overhead view of freezer slaw in a bowl.

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freezer slaw in a black bowl.

Frozen Coleslaw

Freezer slaw is an easy and delicious make-ahead coleslaw with vinegar dressing.
5 from 20 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Coleslaw, Freezer Slaw, Frozen Cole Slaw, Frozen Coleslaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 25
Calories: 75kcal


Coleslaw Mix

  • 2 pounds shredded cabbage
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 green bell pepper finely chopped

Coleslaw Dressing

  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed


  • Combine the cabbage and salt. Mix well and let stand for 1 hour.
  • Squeeze out thoroughly.
  • Add carrot and bell pepper.
  • While the cabbage is standing, make the dressing.
  • In a pot, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and celery seed, and boil for 1 minute.
  • Let stand until lukewarm.
  • Pour the dressing over cabbage mixture and freeze.


Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 75kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.02g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 102mg | Potassium: 80mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 481IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 0.2mg

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. Ann

    Is the sugar necessary for preservation or texture? I don’t like my slaw very sweet, and am wondering if I could make this with no (or much less) sugar.

  2. NanaG

    5 stars
    Tried this both as-is and with adding mayo. Great taste and texture either way. Marvelous solution for having home-made cole slaw anytime. Also great way to use up that massive head of cabbage.
    I packed ours in single portion sizes for freezing.

  3. Carol

    Could I also mention there is a difference between “early” cabbage and cabbage that comes closer to freezing temps? The later, the sweeter.

  4. Patti Stephens

    5 stars
    I have made this recipe multiple times now and every time it’s fantastic! I have also made it with red/purple cabbage and it is so pretty in the freezer jars I use! Thanks for a great way to use up my CSA cabbage!

  5. Ronda Gehr

    This is not Cole Slaw. This is what Pennsylvania Dutch call pepper slaw. Cole Slaw is made with mayo, pepper slaw is made with vinegar.

  6. weatherednboston

    5 stars
    I never thought of freezing it. I did a quick google search and your recipe came up. I really like the flavor of this and will be making large batches to take to pot luck events when the need arises. Thanks for the recipe.

  7. Regina

    5 stars
    Identical to mom’s. We love it. I usually don’t freeze it, just mix up a big batch and keep ii in my frig. for a side dish.

    • stephaniemanley

      Thanks Scarlett I appreciate your comment. I am sorry this recipe wasn’t for you and your family.

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