Coleslaw Recipe (KFC Copycat)

4.70 from 20 votes

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This crunchy Coleslaw Recipe tastes just like what Kentucky Fried Chicken serves at its restaurants, but for a fraction of the price! The perfect side dish for BBQs and potlucks!

Plate of fried chicken with a biscuit and a bowl of Coleslaw.
Featured with this recipe
  1. Ingredients in KFC Coleslaw
  2. Tips for making this Coleslaw Recipe
  3. Questions
  4. What Goes Well With Coleslaw?
  5. How To Make this KFC Coleslaw Recipe
  6. Coleslaw Recipe (KFC Copycat) Recipe

I love KFC coleslaw but hate paying $4 a pound for it. This Coleslaw Recipe is CHEAP to make, super easy and tastes delicious! You can get four times the amount of slaw for a fraction of the price you would pay at a deli or at the popular fast food chain. Trust me, this is the best coleslaw recipe to serve at family picnics, church potlucks, or serve as a side salad for busy weeknight suppers.

Ingredients in KFC Coleslaw

Simple ingredients, easy and fast, this copycat KFC coleslaw is a delicious twist on the classic coleslaw recipe. Here’s all you need:

  • Cabbage – Use green cabbage, or a cabbage mixture, like a coleslaw mix from the grocery store.
  • Carrots – Julienned or grated using the large holes of a box cutter.
  • Sugar – You can use a sugar substitute.
  • Salt – I like using kosher salt but regular table salt works great too.
  • Black pepper – Preferable, freshly ground.
  • Milk – Whole or 2%.
  • Mayonnaise – Hellman’s (Best Foods in the west) or your favorite brand.
  • Buttermilk – You can make your own buttermilk with a teaspoon of lemon juice added to a cup of milk. However, real buttermilk tastes better in this recipe.
  • White vinegar – You can substitute apple cider vinegar.
  • Lemon juice – Bottled juice, or the juice of about one and a half fresh lemons.
  • Mustard – Dijon mustard is optional, but adds terrific flavor.
  • You can also add a few diced green onions for garnish and extra flavor.
Ingredients to make Coleslaw including vinegar, yellow mustard, salt, pepper, mayonnaise, cabbage, carrots, lemon, buttermilk, sugar and milk.

Tips for making this Coleslaw Recipe

  1. It’s okay to serve immediately, but it’s best if you let this homemade coleslaw sit overnight. It can even keep for up to 2-3 days, but toss once it starts to get mushy.
  2. Draw out some of the water from the shredded cabbage before tossing with the dressing. In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with a teaspoon of salt. Let it set for a 20-30 minutes or until water starts collecting on the surface and then rinse and pat dry. This will also keep it from getting watery after you mix it with the dressing.
  3. Use actual buttermilk. I know that milk and lemon juice is a common buttermilk substitute, but it just doesn’t taste as good when you do that with coleslaw.
  4. For the best results, don’t make it weird. The reason people love KFC Coleslaw so much is because it is a simple, no-frills coleslaw. If you want to keep it like the original, don’t go adding extra, unnecessary ingredients like pineapple, oregano, celery seed, peppers, or other extras.
Side view of a large bowl of Coleslaw.


What makes KFC coleslaw so good?

It’s the dressing! This copycat recipe is also made with real buttermilk and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, which gives it that classic tangy kick. So yummy!Glass bowl of dressing on Homemade Coleslaw. Whisk on the side.

Should coleslaw sit overnight?

You can make coleslaw and let it sit for an hour or more (or even overnight) to achieve that delicious, creamy texture. However, left too long and it will become mushy.

How long is leftover coleslaw good for?

It is good for 2-3 days in the fridge in an airtight container. Also, according to the USDA, you can keep coleslaw at room temperature for up to 2 hours before harmful bacteria begins to grow.

Does coleslaw have added sugar?

Typically, yes. And this recipe does as well. The sugar aids in giving the delicious coleslaw that signature tang.

Read more: 35+ Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas

What Goes Well With Coleslaw?

Coleslaw is such a versatile side dish. It goes well with so many different dishes. From BBQ dishes to sandwiches, to tacos, to baked or fried chicken dishes, coleslaw goes well with it all! Here are some of our favorites:

How To Make this KFC Coleslaw Recipe

Side view of a large bowl of Coleslaw.

Coleslaw Recipe (KFC Copycat)

4.70 from 20 votes
This crunchy Coleslaw Recipe tastes just like what Kentucky Fried Chicken serves at its restaurants, but for a fraction of the price! The perfect side dish for BBQs and potlucks!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 16



  • 8 cups finely chopped cabbage
  • ¼ cup julienned carrot
  • cup sugar
  • teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 ½ tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons yellow mustard optional, but adds a nice flavor


  • In a large bowl, toss cabbage with carrots. Set aside.
    Glass bowl of shredded green cabbage and carrots for Coleslaw.
  • In a separate bowl, combine all remaining ingredients. Whisk until smooth.
    Glass bowl of dressing on Homemade Coleslaw. Whisk on the side.
  • Pour over cabbage and carrots. Mix well.
    Wooden spoon mixing a bowl of cabbage, carrot and dressing for Coleslaw.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
    Plate with crispy chicken, biscuit and a small bowl of Coleslaw. Fork on the side.


  • To save time, you can use a packaged bag of shredded cabbage instead of chopping your own.
  • The mustard is optional, but I think it adds a nice flavor. 
  • It’s okay to serve this dish immediately, but it’s best if you let it sit overnight. It can even keep for up to 2-3 days, but you should toss it once it starts to get mushy. 

Nutrition Information

Calories: 83kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 1gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 97mgPotassium: 90mgFiber: 1gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 400IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 33mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Emily Walker

Emily lives in Meridian, Idaho, with her husband, Beau, a physician assistant, and her three incredible children: a son and two daughters. Travel is one of her favorite ways to experience new cultures and cuisines, and she has a love for all things Disney.

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How many stars would you give this recipe?


  1. 3 stars
    This is not a KFC dupe for coleslaw. This recipe adds a nonexistent ingredient in the KFC. And is missing two ingredients KFC does use.

  2. 1 star
    I worked at kfc and made the coleslaw and i can tell you it did not contain buttermilk or lemon juice and certainly not mustard. The rest of the ingrediants are correct.

    1. I have never tried that before. Is that something you have tried? I’m curious if it works without making the coleslaw to salty.

    1. 5 stars
      Second time trying the copycat recipe. First time trying this recipe, won’t be looking for a third recipe.


  3. To me, it’s almost impossible to measure 6 cups of shredded cabbage, accurately. Maybe you could gives us the weight of 6 cups shredded cabbage ?

    1. It should be about half of a large cabbage (possibly a little more), so about 1 pound of cabbage. Hope this helps!

  4. 5 stars
    I love KFC coleslaw but this is so much better! I can see adding onion, celery, mustard, but I like my slaw a bit sweet and low on the vinegar side. So, I don’t add all the sugar called for, I mix the base ingredients, milk, mayo, vinegar and lemon then i add some sugar till the flavor balances and I can taste everything. I use red wine vinegar because its less of a bite, very little salt, to taste only.

    1. Oh I love the idea of using the red wine vinegar so it’s not as strong. Thanks for sharing your adjustments!

  5. 5 stars
    Just made this. YUMMY! I omitted the buttermilk (because I didn’t t have any) and reduced the milk to half. I also added a half teaspoon of celery seeds and added a stalk of celery and half an onion. Just because I like that stuff! Thanks for sharing!

  6. America’s test kitchen says if you salt the shredded cabbage/carrot mixture, place it in a colander over a bowl and let it set for at least an hour, it will render most of the liquid out. Simply drain then toss with the rest of ingredients . That way you won’t lose any of the flavor when you drain. 🙂

    1. haha I actually saw that episode! Maybe I did something wrong but for some reason the cabbage came out too salty and I ended up throwing it all out. I probably used too much salt and needed to go re-watch the episode. I will definitely be trying it again and possibly update this recipe accordingly if it turns out!

      1. I followed america test kitchen recipe and the just a pinch of salt drain prep. It was salty!!! Not the first time america test kitchen failed me but it was the last.

  7. 5 stars
    I worked at KFC for many years and personally made the coleslaw myself… and there’s had onion. Which I HATE.. so I LOVE this recipe!

  8. I LOVE KFC's coleslaw!! And being five and a half months pregnant I crave it SO MUCH. I am so going to make this!!! Thank you!