What is Cabbage Slaw?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 02 April 2020
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Cabbage slaw is a seasoned salad made with cabbage as the primary ingredient. You may also hear cabbage slaw referred to as coleslaw, and it is considered the parent of all slaws; broccoli slaw, for example, is a reworking of traditional cabbage coleslaw. This salad is typically served as a side dish or garnish, and it is especially popular in the American South.

Traditional cabbage slaw includes cabbage, a creamy mayonnaise dressing, and sometimes shredded carrots. For added variety, some cooks combine green and red cabbage in their cabbage slaw, and the dressing may be blended with relish, lemon juice, and other seasonings. In some regions, people prefer to use a vinaigrette dressing for their cabbage slaw, with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Cabbage slaw is usually slightly tangy, with a creamy note and a crisp texture. It often accompanies fried foods to add some lightness to the plate, and it may be served alongside barbecue and grilled foods. Some people use cabbage slaw more like a condiment, as an ingredient in sandwiches or a topping for hot dogs, pizza, and a variety of other foods.


The roots of this salad date back to Roman times, when seasoned salads made with cabbage leaves were often included at banquets. Numerous European cultures developed their own version of cabbage slaw, as cabbage is easy to grow in a variety of environments, and whole heads of cabbage keep very well as long as they are stored in a cool location, so people could eat cabbage slaw year-round for a source of fresh, green food. In fact, “coleslaw” comes from a Dutch word which means “cabbage salad.”

In addition to shredded cabbage and carrots, cabbage slaw can also be mixed with chopped nuts, apples, dried fruit, and cheese, although cooks would do well to remember that less is more when it comes to salad. The mayonnaise dressing can be replaced with tartar sauce, a cream dressing made with cheese or yogurt, a vinaigrette, or an Asian-inspired salad dressing or marinade made with soy sauce, sesame oil, and a hint of sugar. As long as cabbage is the primary ingredient, a salad could be considered a form of cabbage slaw.

If cabbage slaw is allowed to sit in its dressing, it can become somewhat soft and slimy. It can also become a breeding ground for bacteria if the dressing is not sufficiently acidic, so cabbage slaw should generally be made fresh and kept refrigerated for no more than a day before use.


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Post 1

After shredding cabbage in very thin strips I add some salt to it and let it stand for half an hour to an hour. The salt will draw the water out from the cabbage. You can help by squeezing it with both hands.

Add some garlic, salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil and a sprinkle of sugar.

You will end up with a different, healthy and very tasty salad.

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