Craving the classic taste of KFC’s 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).
Table of Contents
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!
- 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.
Chop the vegetables
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 were 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.
Cut the cabbage and carrots with a chef’s knife, the large wholes in a box grater, or use a food processor for quicker preparation. You’ll 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, but it will have a more pungent onion taste from the release of the juices.
Make the dressing
This KFC coleslaw copycat recipe uses a combination of creamy, tangy, and sweet dressing ingredients. 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.
Refrigerate after mixing
Once the dressing is prepared, add the chopped cabbage, carrots, and onions to the bowl. Give the mixture a 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.
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. Try rice wine vinegar for a sweeter taste. 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-in-fat option, but start with using 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 some yellow or Dijon mustard for a touch of pungency and spice. A sprinkle of smoked paprika adds a charred barbecue flavor.
- Fried chicken or grilled chicken
- Creamy mashed potatoes and gravy
- Corn on the cobb
- Southern potato salad or macaroni salad
- A refreshing glass of lemonade
- Fruit salad
- Honey hot wings
Frequently asked questions
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.
Yes! Add red cabbage, bell peppers, cucumber, or zucchini to make the coleslaw more colorful and flavorful. 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.
Store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Stir it to incorporate the dressing. It becomes thinner, and moisture is released for the cabbage as it marinates for several hours. Discard when the cabbage becomes too soft and mushy.
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 buttermilk substitutes to try. 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.
KFC Coleslaw Recipe (Copycat)
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Tried this recipe?
Tag me on Instagram. I'd love to see how it turns out!