My Husband Has Never Been a Huge Fan of Coleslaw—Until I Made This Recipe

It’s the perfect blend of a mayo-based and a vinegar-based slaw.

Classic Coleslaw
Photo: Photography: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Because we love to cook, host, and eat, Southerners can take any event and make it revolve around food, and that's precisely what my friends and I did over Labor Day weekend this year. Labor Day is a holiday that brings on a lot of emotions here in the South. It's a sad farewell to summer (even though the temperatures will remain well above 90 for the next month) but an exciting welcome to college football. This juxtaposition also makes it ripe for good eating. The last of summer's fresh produce is on display in the cobblers and sides, and tailgating season's beloved barbecue main dishes headline the show.

Perfectly content to spend a weekend at the lake with no meals out and only our cooking chops (and Sister Schubert's), my friends and I arrived with a frankly frightening amount of food. The breakfast casseroles were prepped, the ribs were ready for their dry rub, and the parade of sides would soon begin. Among those, I contributed my go-to baked beans recipe from Southern Living and a newcomer, this Classic Coleslaw Recipe. As I've written before, I'm a preacher of the gospel of broccoli slaw, but I know everyone doesn't come to that Sunday service. To accompany the ribs and baked beans, I really wanted something, well, classic. And this recipe was literally called "Classic Coleslaw." Here's your sign.

coleslaw ingredients
Photography: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

The ingredient list for this slaw recipe is short and simple, and I had almost everything on hand already. Mayo, sugar, ACV, S&P, cabbage, carrots, and a sweet Vidalia onion. Because of its affordability, this recipe was already winning before I even got to making it. I have to admit, I almost bought a bag of premade slaw instead of grating my own veggies. Since our food editor says you should always grate your own cheese for casseroles (and who was I to argue?), I was already going to dirty up my box grater (and get an arm workout in) once that day for this Deep-Dish Loaded Hash Brown Casserole. I was this close to bailing on all that grating, but I'm so thankful I didn't. The texture you get from starting with your own veggies instead of a bag of slaw is part of what makes this recipe so memorable. Plus, it looks much prettier and uniform, if that's your thing.

coleslaw ingredients in a bowl
Photography: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

While I was expecting everyone to love the baked beans (I mean, they have bacon in the pan and sprinkled on top) the dark-horse success of the sideboard was the coleslaw! Even my husband, who agreed to go on the record as lukewarm on coleslaw, loved it. He even said it was better than any restaurant coleslaw he'd tried before.

We both agreed that what stuck out about this Classic Coleslaw recipe is that it's the perfect blend of a mayo-based and a vinegar-based slaw. With the simple dressing's just-right ratios of mayo, vinegar, and a hint of sugar, it's a best-of-both-worlds situation for those who don't love the mayo-heavy or the super-acidic coleslaws.

coleslaw dressing in a bowl with a whisk
Photography: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Lastly, one of the best things about this recipe is its versatility. Even though we enjoyed it as a side, I was immediately saying how it would be the ideal filler on a pulled pork sandwich. And one of my friends commented, "I want to put this on a hot dog." Every head nodded in support of this notion.

Recipe: Classic Coleslaw

Whether your family members are fans of mayo or vinegar-based coleslaw, I have a feeling everyone will be satisfied with this one.

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