HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Ideas for Improving Commercial Coleslaw?

I find it interesting and frustrating that 99%(this is a guess) of retail and commercial coleslaw tastes like it was made w/ Ken's Coleslaw Dressing. Mayo, sugar, vinegar , onion juice?

And that same coleslaw is , 99% of the time, the only crunchy vegetable salad option that's part of the deal when you purchase deli sandwiches, etc.

So, we recently ended up w/ a bunch of it, and i started thinking about how I could make it appealing.......(btw, ours does not seem to have horseradish in it.) I mean, cabbage IS of nutritional value, yes?(I haven't researched it yet) Or is it mostly just good as roughage? Commercial colelaw does seem to have an infinite refrig. shelf life.....

In my one riff today, I started with draining it in a colander and even rinsing off some of the mayo. To a cup of it i added some bottled pure chipotle sauce and some ground toasted cumin and a little sherry vinegar. Pretty good, but i'm sure it could be alot better. Maybe cilantro and toasted sunflower seeds? Have any of you talented CHs done some interesting revisions?

So far, i'm thinking about (separately) beets, edamame, julenned snow or sugar snap peas, bacon, julenned spinach ,lovage,..........................Hmmmm, what about cantalope or watermelon w/ mint?
I don't think basil, rosemary or olives would be compatible.

I'd prefer to stay away from starches, but maybe mixing it w/ a lesser amount of a brown rice and wheatberry salad w/ cranberries and walnuts......

(Indians would prob have a fine time sauteeing and adding it to cubed potatoes with black mustard seed and spices, but i'm looking for crunchy veggie salads.)

Thx much for your thoughts.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Celery seed really dresses up my coleslaw.

    1 Reply
    1. re: phantomdoc

      Agreed! I don't know what it is about celery seeds, but they do improve the flavor of many side dishes.

    2. When faced with commercially made coleslaw, I usually rinse the stuff, to get rid of too much sugar in the dressing. Sometimes you can find a dressing with a vinegar based dressing,which I like better. But I still rinse it out.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sueatmo

        Yes, it's the sugar that ruins this commercial coleslaw...AND the fact that they ONLY use the white part of the cabbage instead of mixing in the lovely darker green parts....total YUCKY glop. Such a shame to ruin such a nutritious member of the brassica family...cabbage is a total nutrition powerhouse, opinionatedchef. Any cruciferous veggies are top-notch for nutrition.
        I like the idea of the celery seeds...you could go a different way and add some lovely fresh cilantro and lime juice (to cut that damned sugar a bit) and even a little salsa.

        1. re: Val

          Good ideas. I like the idea of using celery seeds. Or you could use some dried dill instead.

      2. my family loves it the way it is! Maybe add a diced granny Smith apple though. Or rinse it off, and use Cesar salad dressing, and halved cherry tomatoes.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mariars

          I've been adding applesauce to my homemade slaw, it's a really nice addition.

          1. re: coll

            Never in a zillion yrs would i have thought of that! what fun!

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              I had some at a BBQ place that I fell in love with, and tasted apple in some fashion. A few Tablespoons of applesauce were perfect.

        2. " started with draining it in a colander and even rinsing off some of the mayo."
          So now we have washed chopped cabbage (and perhaps a few bits of carrot or whatever else they included in the mix) into which we add our own dressing.
          Seems simpler to me to tell the deli to keep their commercial stuff then chop up some cabbage and make my own. It certainly wouldn't take any more time than washing and draining the commercial stuff and adding my own dressing.

          2 Replies
          1. re: todao

            Grated horseradish and pineapple. It is believed to be the secret ingredients in the slaw that a local deli makes.

            1. re: todao

              I agree but sometimes you are faced with a situation.

            2. Add chopped broccoli, sunflower seeds and rasins or cranberries. I like that crunchy salad sweet.

              1. Since you are willing to rinse it, you could make your own favorite prep for cole slaw, adjusting with a little acid or sweet depending on how much of the original flavor the rinsed cabbage retains.

                I enjoy a warm slaw with pork this time of year - saute onion, add apple to the cabbage and a good scoop of grainy mustard. Balance with cider vinegar, top with some walnuts or pecans. I've added a crumble of blue cheese to it, too.

                1. Yeah, I'm not fond of sugar in coleslaws either. Years ago while attending a casual house party in New Paltz, NY, the host prepared a pea slaw that was such a delicious surprise that to this day I prefer over traditional cabbage slaw. When fresh peas are avail I make buckets of pea slaw.

                  opinionc, I like all of your recommendations above. For me slaw should be tart, crunchy and fresh. I use a good deal of lime in my dressing.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: HillJ

                    oooh...HillJ, have you already posted the pea slaw recipe? If not, can you please share? Thanks!OK...found it...here's the recipe: http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/3317/B... google SAVES us again! (^_^)

                    1. re: Val

                      lol, Val! I adore your enthusiasm!

                    1. Bacon.

                      Doesn't it make everything better (supposedly)?

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Actually any kind of meat and meat grease in coleslaw kinda turns me off. I love bacon...but not in slaw.

                        1. re: HillJ

                          Actually, the whole idea of commercial, mayo-based cole slaw turns me off.

                          And the idea of rinsing it in water, and then re-purposing it, makes me want to take a vow of celibacy.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            True, I've lowered myself to buying pre-shredded cabbage that they do right at the store, because I can buy a lb or 2 of savoy which is a nice change....but never something like washing off 2 week old marinaded cabbage and then adding other stuff. I'm thinking the OP was talking about gettting free cole slaw on the side with purchase of some more expensive item?

                            1. re: coll

                              you is right. just thinkin', i wonder how it would be mixed w/ tuna?.and white beans , evoo, lemon jce. maybe....................

                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                I like cole slaw IN a sandwich as well as on the side, like they do with BBQ or fish tacos. So I can see it with tuna and beans very easily, it's a healthy extender.

                                1. re: coll

                                  I love a vinegar slaw in NJ version of sloppy joe's, fish taco, gyros. Love that crunch!

                            2. re: ipsedixit

                              Yeah that would turn me off as well, ips.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Not my fave either. I'd rather kitchen cut the cabbage and make my own. It isn't hard, for Pete's sake. But life happens sometimes. We used to impulsively buy good barbecue from the grocer--yes we did and it was good--and then we'd add a tub of their coleslaw. I always got a choice of coleslaws there, and I always chose the vinegar based slaw. I did like to rinse it a bit.

                          2. Add julienned radish and cucumber.

                            1. I'm starting to think Chef John should pay me for steering people his way, but once again he has recently posted something that might be helpful. His "holiday coleslaw" contains:

                              Asian pear
                              pickled ginger
                              green onions
                              toasted sesame seeds

                              For the dressing:
                              seasoned rice vinegar
                              yellow miso paste

                              Here's the link -

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                Food Wishes is a fun blog. Chef John is a riot!

                                1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                  bryan, did not know of this guy. love those slaw components. thanks so much for the link. i have lots of catching up to do now!

                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                    Gonna kill two birds with one stone here:

                                    First bird - Glad you found the post useful.
                                    Second bird - I see on another thread that you have an interest in homemade mayo - Chef John does too....