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Classic Coleslaw with Buttermilk Dressing in a white bowl on a green and white checked napkin

Classic Coleslaw with Buttermilk Dressing

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This classic coleslaw with buttermilk dressing is close to my mom’s copycat Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe.  I could eat a whole batch in one sitting, but I paced myself and enjoyed it over pulled pork and more!

This coleslaw dressing is a simple mixture of buttermilk, mayonnaise, cider vinegar, sugar and a few seasonings. Whisked and added to shredded cabbage makes for the best coleslaw recipe

The Best Coleslaw Recipe with Buttermilk Dressing in a white bowl on a green and white checked napkin

Classic Coleslaw with Buttermilk Dressing

Growing up, we seldom were treated to a fast food dinner. What a tortured childhood. My mom did succumb every now to our pleas and would send my dad out for carry out Kentucky Fried Chicken. She adored the KFC coleslaw recipe.

She tried to recreate it numerous times. Back before we had the Internet, she relied on the food section of the Des Moines Register and her network of friends for new recipes. I think she came pretty close but I haven’t been able to locate that recipe in her vast collection of cards and clippings. This Classic Coleslaw with Buttermilk Dressing reminds me of that childhood buttermilk coleslaw, whether carry out or homemade!

Classic Coleslaw with Buttermilk Dressing in a white bowl from above

Creamy Coleslaw Recipe

When one of my foodie friends shared this copycat KFC coleslaw recipe, I thought of my sweet mom and all the amazing non-fast food recipes she’s shared with me over the years. More commonly seen as a summer side salad for picnics or the topper for a pulled pork sandwich, there is no reason to wait until July to put this best coleslaw recipe on your menu.

I followed the recipe as directed except for adding a bit of celery seed as a personal preference. I must confess that I had no competition for this slaw from my family. From polite no thank yous, to eewwwws when I suggested it as a sandwich topper, I was perfectly content having the whole batch to myself. Sometimes having a picky family works in one’s favor.

Tips for Making the Best Coleslaw Recipe

You can make this creamy coleslaw recipe with a couple of packages of coleslaw mix from the grocery store or  shred your own cabbage. I like adding some shredded carrots and/or purple cabbage to the mixture to provide some color. 

Combining buttermilk and mayonnaise makes for a lovely, creamy coleslaw dressing. PRO-Tip: If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, you can make your own. Place one tablespoon of either vinegar or lemon juice into a one cup liquid measuring cup. Fill to the one cup mark with milk and let rest for a minute or two. The mixture will curdle slightly and work well as a buttermilk substitution.

If you’re not a fan of raw onions, soak them in ice water for about 15 minutes. Drain, then add to the recipe. This process removes a bit of the sharpness, but still adds the flavor needed for a classic coleslaw recipe.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Celery seed adds another lovely flavor component.

Refrigerating for at least an hour before serving allows the flavors to meld. Toss again before serving.

More Slaw Recipes You’ll Love:

You may need these supplies to make this classic coleslaw recipe with buttermilk dressing:

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Classic Coleslaw

Classic Coleslaw

Classic Buttermilk Coleslaw that tastes like the KFC version!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Yield 8 servings


  • 8 cups finely chopped cabbage (about 1 head)
  • 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
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed


  1. Shred carrots and cabbage to the size of your choice (KFC's version is finely shredded). Alternatively, you can buy a bag or two of the cole slaw veggies ready to go.
  2. Combine the sugar, salt, pepper, mayonnaise, buttermilk, vinegar, and celery seed in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.
  3. Add the cabbage, carrots, and onion, and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour before serving.


Recipe courtesy of my friend, Mile High Baker.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 169Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 249mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 3gSugar: 13gProtein: 2g
Best Buttermilk Coleslaw Pinterest collage
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27 comments on “Classic Coleslaw with Buttermilk Dressing”

  1. Funny, when I saw the pic, I thought of the KFC coleslaw, before I read your post…hahaha! Cool.

  2. During one of my shortcuts over the holidays I bought some ready made coleslaw. I read labels on everything and I’m pretty sure that will be the last time I buy coleslaw. Apologies to my family and thank you for this recipe!

  3. I absolutely adore coleslaw AND buttermilk dressing but I don’t believe I’ve ever had them together. I can’t wait to try this!

  4. I’ve only just recently started eating coleslaw so I’m testing out lots of different recipes and combos to get just the right flavors. Thanks for a winner!

  5. I love the dressing! Perfect for all summer grilling!

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