Skip The Mayo In Your Next Coleslaw For An Even Crunchier Texture

Coleslaw is the ultimate cool and crunchy side for any cookout, potluck, picnic. It's a must-have for any food occasion that features crispy fried chicken or the smoky flavors of barbecue. No doubt you're familiar with the creamy, mayo-based slaws that are a fixture of everything from mom's backyard to Kentucky Fried Chicken meal deals, and mayo is indeed a key ingredient in our top-rated homemade coleslaw dressing. However, what you may not know is that mayonnaise is actually entirely optional when it comes to creating this classic cabbage salad. In fact, the origins of coleslaw are decidedly lacking in mayo.

The history of coleslaw can be traced all the way back to ancient Rome, where a meal that consisted of cabbage, eggs, vinegar, and a variety of spices was commonly consumed. The version of coleslaw we know and love today has its roots in the Netherlands, where it was first made from shredded cabbage, melted butter, vinegar, and oil. There have been many variations across the years, and while the one constant is typically cabbage, other hearty veggies like brussels sprouts, carrots, kale, and broccoli stems have all become popular slaw bases in recent years. Of course, you always need a dressing of some kind, but just remember that it doesn't have to be mayonnaise — if you're trying to keep things as crunchy as possible, vinaigrette is a good way to go.

Dressing coleslaw with vinaigrette

In addition to providing a lighter dressing that won't wilt your veggies as quickly as mayo, the great thing about vinaigrette is that you have full control over the types and amounts of acid and fat you're adding, which means you can dial into whatever you're craving in the moment (or whatever goes best with the main dish on offer). For example, for an Asian-inspired coleslaw, you can use toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar, or for the perfect accompaniment to pulled pork, try a sweet and tangy carrot slaw with apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and olive oil. Or how about a Russian-style beet slaw with white vinegar and neutral oil? (Tip: You don't have to cook the beets.)

Now, if you still want that creamy texture but feel like mayo is too heavy for your taste, Greek yogurt dressings are another excellent option. Making a dressing is a tasty way to use leftover yogurt, as it provides a bit of tang and gives you the creaminess of dairy fat. We still like to add in a splash of oil and vinegar for coleslaw dressing, as we do in our kale slaw. After reading this, you should be ready to get creative with your slaw game, but if you're after a few more tips, be sure to check out our 14 ways to boost the flavor of your coleslaw.