KFC Coleslaw Recipe (Copycat)

4.72 from 7 votes
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Craving the classic taste of KFC coleslaw at home? Look no further! This copycat recipe replicates the creamy and tangy goodness with ingredients you can find in your own kitchen. It’s easy to make and will have you returning for seconds (and thirds).

The famous KFC coleslaw recipe can be made at home.

Recipe Science

  • Finely chopping the cabbage breaks down its cell walls, releasing water and creating a tender, crunchy texture when combined with the dressing.
  • The buttermilk and vinegar in the dressing provide acidity, which balances the sweetness of the sugar and enhances the overall flavor by tenderizing the cabbage.
  • Allowing the coleslaw to rest after mixing lets the flavors meld and the cabbage to absorb the dressing, resulting in a more cohesive and flavorful dish.

Why It Works

Now you can make a big bowl of crispy homemade coleslaw inspired by one of my favorite menu items at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Growing up in a busy family, we often made stops at our local fried chicken restaurants for a quick bite. Their coleslaw perfectly compliments juicy pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

If you’re a fan of KFC coleslaw like me, I’ll show you how easy it is a make a quick batch at home. It’s a delicious side dish for your next supper, barbecue, or picnic. The mixture of crunchy chopped vegetables tossed in a creamy, tangy dressing will disappear from the table fast!

Ingredients You’ll Need

Ingredients needed to make this copycat KFC coleslaw recipe.
  • Cabbage: Use green cabbage as the coleslaw base. It should be chopped up fine into tiny pieces, like cooked rice grains.
  • Carrots: Small pieces of chopped carrots are added for extra fiber, crunch, and pop of color.
  • Onions: Finely mince the yellow onions, or grate them if you want a less crispy texture. Sweet onions, white, or purple can be used if you prefer a slightly milder flavor.
  • Dressing: A creamy dressing balanced with a sweet and tangy flavor. It combines mayonnaise, sugar, milk, buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Ingredient Substitutions

This copycat KFC coleslaw recipe will become your favorite coleslaw! Here are ways to change up the flavor if you’d like to customize it:

  • Sweetener: Instead of granulated sugar, try honey or maple syrup. It will add more dimension to the taste.
  • Vinegar: Instead of using sharp distilled white vinegar, try other types of vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has a mild, fruity taste. Add white wine vinegar, not red or balsamic, or the color will change. Tarragon vinegar is said to be the secret ingredient used in the original KFC coleslaw recipe for a slight licorice flavor.
  • Creaminess: Instead of mayonnaise, try plain Greek yogurt or sour cream. Adjust the sweetness level to balance the tanginess. Miracle Whip can be used as a lower-fat option, but start with less sugar, adjusting to taste, since it contains more sweetener than mayonnaise.
  • Herbs and Seasonings: Sliced green onion, chives, cilantro, parsley, dill, and basil can add an herbaceous note. I like to add dried dill seeds for a hint of caraway flavor. Stir in yellow or Dijon mustard for a touch of pungency and spice.

How to Make KFC Coleslaw

Green cabbage sliced into strips on a white cutting board.

Step 1: Chop the Vegetables

Cut the cabbage and carrots with a chef’s knife or the large holes in a box grater, or use a food processor for quicker preparation.

Green cabbage cut into tiny pieces.

You need 8 cups of chopped cabbage and ¼ cup of carrots. Finely mince the onion so you don’t get big pieces when bitten. It can also be grated for a finer consistency.

In my traditional coleslaw recipe, I make shreds that you can easily pierce with a fork. However, when dining at Kentucky Fried Chicken, especially ordering through the drive-thru, we are given plastic sporks (spoons with short tines on the tip). Therefore, you must chop the vegetables into cooked rice-sized pieces so it’s spoonable.

Thinly sliced carrots, minced yellow onion, and chopped green cabbage in a large mixing bowl.

Step 2: Combine the Vegetables

In a large bowl, add the chopped cabbage, carrots, and onions. Stir to combine.

KFC coleslaw dressing ingredients placed in a mixing bowl.

Step 3: Make the Dressing

This KFC coleslaw copycat recipe uses a combination of creamy, tangy, and sweet dressing ingredients.

Coleslaw dressing whisked together in a bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, granulated sugar, milk to dilute the consistency, buttermilk, white vinegar for tanginess, lemon juice for a citrus note, and salt and pepper.

Similar to my homemade coleslaw dressing, you can make this up to 3 days before serving.

Pouring coleslaw dressing over a bowl of chopped cabbage and carrots.

Step 4: Add the Dressing

Pour the dressing into the bowl of chopped cabbage, carrots, and onions. Toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. This will chill the vegetables and allow the cabbage to marinate, making each bite better seasoned.

Tangy and delicious KFC coleslaw made at home.

Step 5: Serve

Give the coleslaw a stir before serving.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use a food processor to shred the cabbage for the coleslaw?

Cut the cabbage into smaller wedges to fit into the hole of the food processor. Attach the slicer blade to make shreds. Alternatively, add the pieces, not filling the container over halfway. Pulse to make smaller chopped pieces.

Can I add additional vegetables to the coleslaw?

Yes! To make the coleslaw more colorful and flavorful, add red cabbage, bell peppers, cucumber, or zucchini. You can even add fruit like green or fruit apples or mango for a hint of sweetness and extra crunch. Raisins or cranberries add a chewy and sweet taste.

How long does a homemade recipe for KFC coleslaw last in the refrigerator?

Store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Stir it to incorporate the dressing. As it marinates for several hours, the dressing becomes thinner, and moisture is released from the cabbage. Discard when the cabbage becomes too soft and mushy.

Can I substitute the buttermilk?

Buttermilk is a cultured dairy product that is thick and tangy. The acidity adds depth of flavor to recipes. It’s added to this KFC coleslaw dressing recipe to balance the richness of the mayonnaise. If you don’t have some on hand, there are different ways to make buttermilk. My favorite is adding kefir as an equal replacement or diluting plain Greek yogurt or regular yogurt with a little milk to make it thinner.

Serve This With

If you tried this KFC Coleslaw Recipe, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

KFC Coleslaw Recipe (Copycat)

KFC coleslaw is a classic side dish that always adds a fresh and crunchy element to any meal. Plus, knowing how to make it at home means you can control the ingredients and adjust the flavors to your personal taste.
4.72 from 7 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Servings 16 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 head green cabbage, 8 cups chopped
  • ¼ cup finely shredded carrots
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced yellow onion
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

  • Cut the Cabbage – Remove any damaged outer leaves. Wash, dry, then cut the cabbage into quarters. Trim off the core. Thinly slice the cabbage into ⅛ thick shreds, then chop into rice-sized pieces. Alternatively, chop with a food processor.
  • Combine the Vegetables – In a large bowl, add 8 cups of chopped cabbage, carrots, and onions. Stir to combine.
  • Make the Dressing – In a medium bowl, add the mayonnaise, sugar, buttermilk, milk, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine.
  • Add the Dressing – Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables. Toss well to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
  • To Serve – Stir the coleslaw before serving. The dressing will be runnier in texture.

Notes

  • Recipe Yield: About 8 cups
  • Serving Size: ½ cup
  • Dressing Yield: About 1 ¼ cups
  • Using Pre-cut Coleslaw: Chop a few times to make smaller pieces. You will need 8 cups. 
  • Buttermilk Substitute: Add the same amount of kefir. Alternatively, dilute 2 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt with 2 tablespoons of milk. 
  • Make Ahead: The cabbage and carrots can be cut and stored in the refrigerator 1 day in advance. The dressing can be made 2 days in advance. 
  • Storing: Refrigerate in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days. Discard when mushy. 

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 16 servings
Calories 84kcal (4%)Carbohydrates 8g (3%)Protein 1g (2%)Fat 6g (9%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Polyunsaturated Fat 3gMonounsaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0.01gCholesterol 4mg (1%)Sodium 134mg (6%)Potassium 119mg (3%)Fiber 2g (8%)Sugar 7g (8%)Vitamin A 407IU (8%)Vitamin C 22mg (27%)Calcium 34mg (3%)Iron 0.3mg (2%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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4 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Dwc says

    I just made this for my KFC coleslaw loving husband, that thinks that’s the best coleslaw made. To my surprise he absolutely loved your recipe and in fact said it was better than the original KFC, yippee! I didn’t have buttermilk so I did your sub of Greek yogurt and milk. I also didn’t have whole milk so I used half skim milk and 1/2 & 1/2. I will be definitely making this a lot in the future. Thanks for another great recipe!