HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >



I plan to make coleslaw for the first time and I read that you are supposed to first salt the slaw and weigh it down so the water goes out (I plan on using the pre-shredded cabbage, I assume this still applies). How much salt do people mean when they salt something to get the water out (I have seen it for eggplant before too). What do you weigh it down with?

Does this process add a lot of sodium to the slaw or egg plant? Thanks!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've never salted cabbage to get it to release its water when I make coleslaw. I use vinegar and oil for the dressing, and I don't add any salt. Always works for me. My coleslaw includes shredded carrot, diced green bell pepper, finely diced onion and celery seeds along with the cabbage and dressing.

    Kimchee, on the other hand, is a different story altogether!

    2 Replies
    1. re: ChiliDude

      I've never salted cabbage either for this purpose - I use mayonnaise for the dressing though!

      1. re: ChiliDude

        One of the main reasons you would salt shredded cabbage before making coleslaw is to prevent it from getting very watery once you add the dressing (which inevitably contains salt or sodium). If you are making it to eat right away, there is no need for that step. But if you plan on making it ahead for a BBQ or something, you should salt it. Rinsing it well afterwards will remove all the salt (which doesn't get absorbed into the cabbage- only extrudes the water from the cabbage).

      2. Why pre-shredded? It's not hard to cut, it will be cheaper and much better. I love hand cut cabbage slaw. I think it makes a big difference. Any cabbage is great, but I do like Napa Cabbage for slaw.

        I've never done the salting thing.

        1. Count me in with those who have never salted the cabbage beforehand, and I've been making slaw for years. Chances are if you're using pre-shredded cabbage, it will have dried out more than fresh-cut anyway.

          1. The pre-shredded stuff if pretty dry already. I would not do the weighing salting thing. What I would do is add some of the dressing ahead of time and massage it around a bit (in a large zip lock) so that it sort of "re-hydrates". Agree with others, it takes less than a minute or two to shred some cabbage. A serrated large knife works really well. Don't forget onion (white or green) and you may want to try a bit of sweetness like apple (mini chunks).

            1. I make pounds and pounds of cole slaw each BBQ season... and I've never salted it in advance.

              Even when I make it a day or two before serving. I do have a great KFC cole slaw clone recipe if you'd like it. (IMHO the only thing worth eating at KFC ; )

              6 Replies
              1. re: Jennalynn

                I would LOVE that recipe -- I am obsessed with their coleslaw (eaten with a spork, natch).

                1. re: sweetpotater

                  It is really good.

                  KFC Cole Slaw

                  8 cups finely chopped cabbage (about 1 head, or one bag of the pre shredded)
                  1/4 cup shredded carrot (1 medium carrot)
                  2 tablespoons minced onion
                  1/3 cup granulated sugar
                  1/2 teaspoon salt
                  1/8 teaspoon pepper
                  1/4 cup milk
                  1/2 cup mayonnaise
                  1/4 cup buttermilk
                  1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
                  2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

                  1. Be sure cabbage and carrots are chopped up into very fine pieces (about the size of rice).

                  2. Combine the sugar, salt, pepper, milk, mayonnaise, buttermilk, vinegar, and lemon juice in a large bowl and beat until smooth.

                  3. Add the cabbage, carrots, and onion, and mix well.

                  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

                  Serves 10-12

                  1. re: Jennalynn

                    i love that kfc recipe. but kfc uses a fine shredding -- almost a mince.

                    btw, some no mayo slaw recipes:

                    1. re: alkapal

                      Yes... that's why it says "the size of rice grains"

                      1. re: Jennalynn

                        sorry! i just skimmed ingredients, and focused on "pre-shredded" rather than "finely chopped." maybe i was just wanting to hurry through the recipe so i wouldn't crave it, and have to go to the grocery for ingredients.

                        1. re: alkapal

                          I actually pulse it in my food processor to get the really rice size pieces.

              2. I'm another who has never salted the cabbage. I've used both the pre-shredded and hand cut. And I use apple cider vinegar and mayo as the base of my dressing.

                1. I've made it both ways. Never salted until I saw Alton Brown do it on one of his shows. I does remove a fair amount of water but I find the texture a little rubbery. If you are making an Asian type slaw where there may be more salt in the dressing then this may be the way to go since it does get a bit watery the next day. Usually I dress just a little before serving so it's not a big deal one way or the other.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    I agre on the rubbery texture. I tried the salting first method once and I did not care for it.

                  2. I never salt the cabbage. I use a food processor and sometimes a very sharp knife to prepare the vegetables. Here's my recipe (all ingredient are variable as per your taste): Shred half a head of cabbage; add one yellow onion, large carrot, green pepper, all shredded. Place everything in a bowl and add black pepper, salt (just a tiny bit), celery seed, three quarters cup extra virgin olive oil and one-quarter cup apple cider vinegar. Mix everything well and refrigerate overnight. Stir it again before you dish it out. My take on salt, almost everything has too much salt, both commercial and home cooking. If you experiment with using less salt than you grew up tasting, you will be surprised at how little of it is needed to accent food. You can vary all of the other ingredients as per your own taste. Some people add sugar (KFC probably does) I don’t.
                    Try it. Let us know how it works out.

                    1. I never salt my cabbage either. This is one of my most requested salads: Indonesian Coleslaw, it has an asian flavoured dressing, which bc it is not mayo based, keeps well and travels well for BBQs, and stands up well if it's sitting out for a bit.

                      4 cups finely shredded cabbage
                      1 small sweet red pepper - cut into thin, short strips
                      2 medium carrots grated
                      4 spring onions, chopped - white and green parts
                      1 cup of bean sprouts
                      1/4 cup of fresh cilantro
                      1/4 chopped peanuts
                      3 tbsp each rice vinegar and hoisin sauce
                      2 tsp each of sesame oil and minced ginger
                      1 tsp each soy sauce and sugar
                      1 minced clove of garlic

                      Toss coleslaw ingredients together, EXCEPT peanuts
                      Mix dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine oils and liquids. Poor dressing over slaw and then top w/ peanuts.
                      * to give it a bit of kick, i add a dash of siracha to the dressing.

                      1. People actually want to "reproduce" KFC coleslaw?? Oh my.

                        Salting will definatley keep it from getting too watery after for sitting for a day or two. Especially if you using a good homemade dressing that usually isn't as thick as a mayo-based one. Letting it sit for a day in the fridge really improves the flavour too.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Kane_TO

                          yes Kane, people do in fact want to reproduce KFC coleslaw, and do so to their eating delight. I make other slaws, too. But KFC has a great flavor. Is your cole slaw dressing quite different? Please share it with us. We like new things, too!. ;-)

                          btw, for you "salters," be sure and rinse and dry your cabbage. (seems counterintuitive but it is critical to avoid sodium overload...)

                          1. re: Kane_TO

                            That's the reaction my GF had, too, when I made the KFC slaw last night. Until she tried it. Then she ate nearly the whole bowl.

                          2. I make a classic cole slaw in a mayonnaise/vinegar dressing, but do not use any sugar at all. I am regularly told that it is delicious, and it is more than adequately sweet. One of the “secrets” I think is to use fresh cabbage & shred yourself, rather than the bagged, pre-shredded – the fresh cabbage is crisper and sweeter than the bagged stuff. The carrots also contribute to the sweetness. I do not pre-salt the cabbage; although some liquid does tend to leach out after it’s been refrigerated, the slaw is fine if you just stir it up before serving.

                            The basic recipe is as follows, although I am constantly adjusting the seasoning as I go, by tasting:

                            ½ head medium to large cabbage, or one full small head
                            3-4 carrots
                            ½ medium or one small onion, finely chopped
                            canola oil
                            cider vinegar
                            dry mustard
                            celery seed

                            1. Shred cabbage and carrots using shredding disc of food processor. Place in large bowl.
                            2. Add chopped onion.
                            3. Add a few tablespoons of canola oil to lightly coat the vegetables.
                            4. Add about ¼ cup cider vinegar, one tablespoon mustard, one tablespoon celery seed, one tablespoon salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Mix thoroughly.
                            5. Add several tablespoons of mayonnaise, and mix.
                            6. Adjust seasonings, tasting – typically by adding more vinegar, salt, celery seed, and mayonnaise.
                            7. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow flavor to develop.

                            1. I have never salted cabbage for slaw and I have never found a need to do so. I make an easy and delicious creamy cole slaw from Bobby Flay -- everyone loves it and asks for the recipe. It's a snap to put together. I cut the cabbage myself which is SOOO easy and I actually use a veggie peeler to get the carrots in pretty long ribbons. The dressing is delicious and slightly tangy from some grated red onion. Definitely make it the day before if you can - cole slaw is one of those things that tastes soooo much better the next day. Good luck!


                              1. Here's an Asian style slaw I make frequently:

                                Very thinly sliced.....
                                1/2 head Savoy ( or Chinese) cabbage
                                1/2 red cabbage
                                1 large onion

                                1/2 C cider vinegar
                                1/4 C olive oil
                                2 T (organic) sugar
                                1 t (or more) Tabasco or Sriracha
                                Kosher salt & FGBlack pepper to taste.

                                Sometimes I let it sit weighted down with a foil covered brick for 3 hours before serving, but it really isn't necessary.