The Basics: How to Make Coleslaw

From the store to the kitchen to the table: The Basics outline the steps that get you from raw ingredients to your dinner tonight, free of complicated techniques. It's the most basic way to make the thing you're making—perfect coleslaw, for instance.

You'll need:

  • a large colander
  • a large, heavy can or two small cans to weigh down the cabbage
  • a box grater
  • tongs
  • 1 small head of green or red cabbage (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway or celery seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • Cut the head of cabbage in half, slicing through the core. Cut a V-shaped notch around the core on both halves and discard the core.

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    Slice each half lengthwise into quarters. Slice each quarter crosswise into 1/8-inch-wide strips.

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    Place the cabbage in a large colander set over a large plate or bowl, sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and toss to coat. Place a small plate on top of the cabbage, then a heavy can or two on top of the plate to weigh it down. Let the cabbage sit until it releases about a 1/4 cup of moisture, at least 1 hour.

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    Meanwhile, place the chopped onion and the vinegar in a small bowl and stir to combine. Let the mixture sit until the cabbage is ready.

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    Grate the carrots on the large holes of a box grater and set them aside.

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    Place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.

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    When the cabbage is ready, squeeze large handfuls of it to release any excess liquid; discard the liquid. Place the cabbage in the large bowl with the dressing.

    Add the grated carrots and the onion-vinegar mixture to the cabbage and dressing.

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    Toss the coleslaw with tongs to evenly combine the ingredients, then season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

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    Into actual recipes? Check out ours for Classic Coleslaw, Spicy Lime and Jalapeño Coleslaw, and Easy Corn and Tomato Coleslaw.