Red Onion Is The Ingredient You're Missing For Even Better Coleslaw

Coleslaw is a wonderful use for some of the most humble ingredients in your kitchen, but there is one old standby that often gets overlooked when making it: Red onion. Coleslaw can hit a lot of different notes like creamy, tangy, sweet, or ideally a combination, and it can also cover a lot of styles, from carrot coleslaw to shaved Brussels sprouts and more. But most importantly coleslaw has to have a great crunch to it. There aren't a lot of things that are going to unify such a diverse range of choices, some have mayo, some do a vinegar base, but one ingredient that will always help is one that will maintain that texture, keep it bright, and make all the other flavors pop. That's why red onions are so perfect.

Shaved, sliced, or diced red onion keeps its crunch, even when subjected to long rests with wet ingredients and dressings. Unlike cabbage, which may hold up for a while but will eventually break down and wilt, a healthy amount of red onion will ensure your coleslaw maintains its signature bite. Onions also have a pungent flavor that they elevate everything they touch. We think about balancing sweetness, salt, and acid, but bitterness matters too. Red onions have both acid and bitterness, bringing a great complexity to coleslaw that helps pull back on recipes that taste too sweet or fatty.

Raw or pickled red onions will improve any kind of coleslaw

If you want to incorporate some red onion into your coleslaw you don't need to limit yourself to raw onion. Red onion is one of the best vegetables for pickling, which will add depth to your slaw. While it may be a little superfluous in coleslaws that are primarily vinegar-based, in a creamy or sweet recipe the added bite can be transformative, cutting through the fat while you still get to enjoy the richness of the other ingredients.

What recipe should you consider adding red onion to? Any recipe that doesn't already have it! If your classic mayo-based coleslaw doesn't use it, get on that right now, because it's probably the style that will benefit most. You can also try adding red onion to our Asian-Inspired coleslaw, where the onion will add a nice contrast to the sweetness of red pepper and carrot. Another great choice is this kale slaw recipe, which utilizes a creamy dressing and bitter greens, but can get an extra hit of acid from red onion. That's also a great spot to try pickled onions. Onions are used as a base for so many recipes for good reason, so when you start a recipe without them listed, they should always be near the top of your possible additions list.