For me, coleslaw is a part of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner… I can’t remember a single Thanksgiving without it. My mother was “famous” for her coleslaw, and the aunts, uncles, and cousins always requested it. She always made the coleslaw for the extended family gathering and always chopped the cabbage by hand.

My family thinks Thanksgiving means coleslaw too, but we’ve expanded the thought to include two varieties of coleslaw. I make my mother’s coleslaw, which is a blend of cabbage, pineapple, apples, and raisins, but I also add walnuts (which she did not), and mayonnaise instead of her combination of salad dressing and evaporated milk. My mother liked sweets (I don’t), so her coleslaw was sweeter than mine. The texture of my coleslaw is also different because I shred the cabbage instead of chopping it. Occasionally I have added grapes to this coleslaw, which is a good idea… and once I added bananas, which for some reason was not. This year I will probably add some small dices of celery.

The second coleslaw I always make is simply a blend of shredded cabbage and carrots (more cabbage than carrots) mixed with mayonnaise and flavored with horseradish and garlic. The garlic can be powdered or fresh, but when I use fresh garlic, I blend it in the food processor with a small amount of mayonnaise so the garlic taste is there, but no one is eating pieces of raw garlic. There really isn’t a recipe for this coleslaw… I just add the horseradish a bit at a time and keep tasting until it seems right. I think it’s important for the cabbage and carrots to be very finely shredded for this coleslaw… somehow when the cabbage especially is chopped or shredded coarsely, this coleslaw just does not taste the same.

So tell me…

A white Thanksgiving?

Does anyone else think “coleslaw” when they think “Thanksgiving”? What ingredients go into your coleslaw?

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The entire family gathers at my wife’s parents house. We have turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, peas, stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls and gravy. Usually at least 4 kinds of pie for dessert. My favorites are apple, pumpkin, chocolate cream and mince.

Maggie O.

I make cole slaw with green and red peppers, scallions, cabbage of course, and mayo and bottled french dressing. Your cole slaws sound good. I will try them.


In Aussie coleslaw is traditionally made similar to the way you do, shredded cabbage, carrot and finely diced capsicum with a creamy dressing. One of our fav salads here and nearly always on every functions table in the summer.



This is the first year that we are having Thanksgiving at our house. My mom always had coleslaw when she had Thanksgiving and I love her recipe which I don’t have. Instead of coleslaw this year, I am making tabouli instead which is a parsley salad with tomato and bulgur wheat. For our Thanksgiving we are making the turkey, stuffing, gravy, tabouli, and rolls, and everyone else is bringing a dish. My mom is making the pumpkin pies and cookies. I requested her nuthorns and pizzelles because they are my favorites.


I love coleslaw made with finely sliced cabbage, grated carrots, half a bell pepper, a small onion grated, Hellmann’s, a little sour cream, lemon juice and horseradish. Maybe next time I will add a little celery.


I had never heard of anyone eating coleslaw for Thanksgiving until this morning, when my coworker said he had to stop by KFC on the way home to get a tub of coleslaw for tomorrow’s dinner. And now I see he’s not alone! Too funny! My family eats cabbage products for New Year’s. It’s supposed to be for good luck.


We always have coleslaw—with mayo, hard boiled egg, green onions and shrimp (in addition to turkey, “funeral potatoes”, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, homemade croissants and marmalade, cider and Mom’s pumpkin/mince/apple pies). We’re about 35 people all together and I get to cook the turkey this year! We’re happy just to be together and have a great meal, pass the babies around and celebrate with our 101 year old and 90 year old great grammas


never heard of coleslaw for thanksgiving; we have something similar though- Waldorf salad (apples, walnuts, raisins, mayo)


We have always had coleslaw at Thanksgiving. My mothers coleslaw was very finely chopped and very creamy. My husband thought it was unusual at first, but now he can’t imagine not having it. Its great the next day as part of a sandwich, we put Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and coleslaw on a nice hearty bread.


Thanksgiving, New Years and Christmas dinner always included my Nan’s coleslaw. it is delicious and very simple; shredded cabbage, onion, celery and mayo (miracle whip). Coleslaw goes perfectly with a traditional turkey dinner. This year i am going to my uncle’s for dinner. My aunt doesn’t think a coleslaw is at all appropriate…I’ve made some to take with me and along with a nice bottle of white, I hope all will be forgiven. ;)


We have the usual turkey, gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, but the rest of the meal is comfort food like macaroni and cheese and sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top. My favorite: the jello salad with vegetables and cream cheese.


If you add celery it’d be what we call Warsaw salad, it works quite well.


I’ve actually never heard of coleslaw as a Thanksgiving tradition! We have turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato souffle, green bean casserole, my mom’s rainbow jello mold, our family grape salad (grapes, pineapple, mini marshmallows, whipped cream, eggs, lemon juice and sugar), rolls, pies and whatever else sounds good. This year I made “pilgrim pies” which are pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting sandwiched between the cookies.


I don’t really care for coleslaw and neither does anyone else in my family, so our Thanksgiving never includes it. What we do have, though, is turkey (or ham or, this year, brisket), stuffing, cranberry sauce, candied yams, cornbread casserole (everyone’s aunt makes this, right?), and baked ziti.
Coming from a very Italian family, we mix our family dishes with the American specialties — always a huge win!


Pity the poor coleslaw is not more of a daily appearance in our diets. I’ve recently hit upon it as a daily staple. As everybody has mentioned, you can add anything and everything. Kind of like a coarse vegetable smoothie. My recent favorite is an asian variety with a bit of ginger, fresh garlic, vinegar and sesame oil… all with whatever vegies are in the crisper. Can’t help but wonder if a book on coleslaws and kimchi like recipes wouldn’t be a best seller (at least to those of us that anxiously await Shirley’s next post).


I’m from Maryland and a Thanksgiving staple to many folks there is sauerkraut, which I guess is pickled cole slaw. Hee. Good thing cabbage is so darn good for you because nothing beats well made cole slaw.


We always have coleslaw on Thanksgiving and Christmas too. I was just wondering this morning if that was just us or part of our Irish-German heritage. Thinking about it, what my ancestors would have had for fresh vegetables this time of year, pre freezers and global sourcing of food, would have been cabbage, onions and root vegetables. Whatever the reason, I love coleslaw. Enjoy!


i love to make “purple slaw” with red/purple cabbage sliced fine, shredded beets and carrots, and some kind of oil+vinegar dressing. my recent favorite is made up of toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and some sesame seeds if i have them on hand.

Kai and Rich

Have been making coleslaw for Thanksgiving for at least 25 years. My uncle always made it and after he passed away I became the slaw man. Shredded cabbage, grated onion and carrots, finely sliced red and green peppers, celery seed, caraway seed, salt, pepper, vinegar (white – the only time I use it) and mayonnaise. The family seems to like it and usually requests that I bring it when visiting for Thanksgiving. It is great on a turkey on rye the day after.