kfc coleslaw {copycat}

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I made a huge batch of this delicious “copycat” KFC coleslaw for my granddaughter’s birthday party! It makes a ton, so if you don’t need a vat of coleslaw, you can easily cut the recipe in half.

I’ve tried using a food processor to make this before and it didn’t achieve the very specific consistency of KFC coleslaw. If you’ve enjoyed KFC coleslaw before, you know what I’m talking about. The cabbage isn’t shredded, it’s chopped fine. Sharpen your chef knife for this recipe. You’re going to be doing some serious chopping. The end result is totally worth the effort! This coleslaw is the best!

Just use plain, green cabbage to make KFC coleslaw. No Napa… No purple… just green.

~ serves at least 20 people ~

2 heads green cabbage, chopped fine (approximately 20 cups)

1 cup carrot, chopped fine

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups buttermilk

1 cup whole milk

2 cups real mayonnaise

1/4 cup white vinegar

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Remove outer leaves and cores from the heads of cabbage. Discard. Chop cabbage to the consistency of rice kernels. Peel carrots, remove ends and chop to the same consistency as the cabbage. Mix cabbage and carrots together until well blended. I do this right in the food container where I’ll be storing the coleslaw (such as an 8 quart Rubbermaid or Tupperware container.)

In a large bowl, combine: sugar, salt, pepper, buttermilk, whole milk, mayonnaise, vinegar, and lemon juice. Whisk until well blended and smooth. Pour over the cabbage/carrot mixture in the container. Mix very well. Cover and chill for at least two hours prior to serving. When ready to serve, give the coleslaw a good stir again.

*Note: This recipe can be halved for a smaller batch, or doubled and even tripled for a huge crowd.



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  86 comments for “kfc coleslaw {copycat}

  1. B.Pettis
    April 25, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    They also add green onions to there coleslaw !

    • Melissa
      April 29, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      They don’t. πŸ™‚ The original, corporate KFC coleslaw doesn’t contain any type of onion.

      • Lanez
        May 23, 2017 at 12:42 pm

        You are correct, our slaw has no onions in it at all

      • Mona
        May 28, 2017 at 8:50 pm

        Your right. I use to manage one. No onion

        • Melissa
          May 30, 2017 at 9:24 am

          Exactly!I worked at one and had to make the slaw. No onion! πŸ™‚

          • John P.
            April 21, 2018 at 9:15 pm

            Everyone says no onions but according to the KFC website:

            “Freshly prepared in store with cabbage, carrots, just the right amount of onion and our signature dressing. Our cole slaw can teach your family-reunion cole slaw a thing or two.”

            It seems at least now they use onion but not sure of what kind. Any thoughts?

          • Melissa
            April 22, 2018 at 12:24 am

            Hi John,
            My copycat recipe is based on the original KFC coleslaw that I made then I worked for KFC in the 80s. I’ve heard they’ve changed the recipe, and not for the better. At least, according to a lot of people who have written to me, it’s not as good. I guess I really don’t know how they prepare it these days. I do know that sometimes people thought there was onion in the original recipe too, and I believe it was because we used the heart of the cabbage which is kind of spicy and has an onion (and sometimes even a slight horseradish) flavor. I wish I could help you, but I honestly haven’t had the new version of the slaw.

            Thanks for stopping by,

    • Rickie
      May 30, 2017 at 5:53 am

      No KFC coleslaw Does Not contain onions at all!

      • Melissa
        May 30, 2017 at 9:22 am

        correct! πŸ™‚

    • Margaret
      June 29, 2017 at 8:01 am

      Coleslaw doesn’t have onion in it

    • BSmith
      June 29, 2017 at 6:39 pm

      “Their” coleslaw!!!

      • Jane
        April 15, 2018 at 9:39 am

        Get a life

        • Melissa
          April 15, 2018 at 1:49 pm

          Says the troll who leaves nasty comments on blog posts. lol

    • April 19, 2018 at 2:08 pm

      I am not a big milk fan so can I use regular milk and not the buttermilk. What would be a good substitute for the buttermilk.

      • Melissa
        April 19, 2018 at 2:10 pm

        Hello there, Kathy! πŸ™‚
        Combine your favorite, unsweetened, unflavored non-dairy milk (such as plain almond) with a little cider vinegar. So for every cup of milk I’d do a Tablespoon of vinegar. Let it sit for a couple minutes before mixing into recipe. Hope that helps!

      • Vicki Kranawetter
        July 14, 2018 at 10:35 am

        I use this buttermilk substitute all the time because u can just adjust the ratio as u need more or less than 1 C. Then you’re not stuck with 1/2 qt of buttermilk when you’re done!!

        So you start with 1 C milk or milk substitute and add 1 T. Lemon juice or vinegar. Let stand for 5 min before using. But let’s say you only need 1/2 C buttermilk. Then u only use 1/2 T. Of lemon juice or vinegar.

        Another substitute is, 1 C milk OR 1 C plain yogurt and add 1 3/4 tsp. Cream of tartar. Depending on the recipe, I actually prefer using the yogurt if my finished product needs a little more tang to it (like this coleslaw dressing).
        Anyway, hope this helps!

    • Paulette
      September 27, 2018 at 9:58 am

      No they don’t..but Bob Evans does.

  2. Carol Ann
    April 26, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    Looks delicious

    • Melissa
      April 28, 2017 at 10:57 am

      thank you! πŸ™‚

  3. sandra
    April 27, 2017 at 12:38 am

    I want it for 2 people not 20

    • Melissa
      April 28, 2017 at 10:57 am

      lol!!! I hear ya πŸ™‚ YUM!

    • KCinTX
      May 8, 2017 at 7:52 am

      1/2 the recipe or 1/4 it to get your amounts…

      • Melissa
        May 9, 2017 at 11:54 am

        The amounts listed are what I actually made. I guess I don’t understand the question.

    • Thorton
      June 4, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      divide it by half four times that will give you a cup and a half of slaw

    • Joann
      June 29, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      Use your math! I make it so I have extras for another meal. Cutting this recipe in fourth would make enough for 5, or for a generous helping for two for 2 meals.

  4. Rose
    April 27, 2017 at 11:00 am

    Love the recipe, but mine gets runny. Am I doing something wrong?

    • Melissa
      April 28, 2017 at 10:56 am

      KFC’s coleslaw dressing is a bit more liquid than other coleslaw dressings. If you like it thicker, feel free to add more mayonnaise πŸ™‚

      • Katherine Torgerson
        June 30, 2017 at 6:23 pm

        Yes!! That’s why I like it hate a thick Cole slaw. But there is something a little spicy in KFC’s what is it thank you

  5. Judith Evaul
    April 29, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Time saver.. wash and chunk cabbage. Put some chunks into blender (DO NOT PACK TIGHT) fill with water. Press grate button then press ON button quickly press OFF button approximately 3 times each pour into colander REPEAT until all is grated. Leave in colander until fully drained. You will achieve a finely grated head of cabbage. Much faster than chopping.

    • Melissa
      April 29, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      The consistency of the coleslaw is finely chopped, not shredded. I have yet to find a blender/food processor that achieves the correct consistency of KFC coleslaw. πŸ™‚

      • Brenda
        May 25, 2017 at 3:01 am

        I’ve been using this recipe for years. I buy the bagged shredded slaw mix in the produce dept and then put it in my food chopper…perfect consistency.

      • Stephanie
        May 26, 2017 at 5:19 am

        I’ve had a small Hamilton Beach one for years and it will do the job just fine. This is the consistency of how my mom always did it and she used a food processor as well.

      • Judi
        May 28, 2017 at 8:24 am

        You need to get a Ninja. does a fantastic job. I have the food processor and blender, and they work much better than my previous Kitchen Aid appliances!

        • Melissa
          May 30, 2017 at 9:24 am

          thanks for the tip. πŸ™‚

        • Nancy
          August 20, 2018 at 6:47 am

          Thanks for sharing; I have been debating on which one to go with 😊

    • Kristine
      August 28, 2017 at 3:00 pm

      This is how I do it also…works great!

  6. Mama Mary
    May 3, 2017 at 7:01 am

    For the perfect consistency you need a food chopper with a hand crank. I would add a picture if the comments would let me. I also have a attachment for the stand mixer that chops it fine. ☺

    • Faye Reynolds
      May 23, 2017 at 6:07 am

      I havae one, and yes, that would work! Because I chop all my onions that way for a concession stand we have, for burgers!

      • Tamara
        August 26, 2017 at 9:10 am

        What type of mayo? Dukes us our favorite but which do you recommend

        • Melissa
          August 26, 2017 at 1:59 pm

          Dukes is awesome! We also like Hellman’s πŸ™‚

  7. Tanja
    May 8, 2017 at 4:55 am

    Having large bbq this weekend, will give it a go. My Braun processor makes fine work to carrots & cabbage….guess I’m lucky!!

  8. Eva
    May 8, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    SIMPLY THE BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Melissa
      May 9, 2017 at 11:54 am

      Totally agree! Thanks, Eva! πŸ™‚

      • Kandis
        May 26, 2017 at 8:27 pm

        I’m making it right now. I halved the recipe. KFC is my favorite coleslaw. Had to take a break with “chopping” lol. But I’m sure it will be worth it. Thanks for sharing

        • Melissa
          May 30, 2017 at 9:24 am

          Enjoy! πŸ™‚

    May 9, 2017 at 3:22 pm


    • Melissa
      May 12, 2017 at 8:23 am

      Enjoy! πŸ™‚

      • Patty
        May 18, 2018 at 3:45 pm

        Is two cups of sugat correct? Seems lime way too much.

        • Melissa
          May 19, 2018 at 9:19 am

          Hi Patty! πŸ™‚
          This recipe makes a GIANT batch of coleslaw. So 2 cups is correct for this. Feel free to cut the recipe in half for a smaller batch. Hope that helps! Also, if you want to, you can always add less sugar to the big batch. If you want it to taste like the original KFC slaw, that stuff is pretty sweet.

      • Patty
        May 18, 2018 at 3:47 pm

        Should say like too much

    • Tasha
      July 11, 2018 at 9:14 pm

      Me too! I have never found any other coles slaw that I enjoy more than KFC’s.. Thanks for the recipe!

      • Melissa
        July 13, 2018 at 2:46 pm

        My pleasure! Enjoy πŸ™‚

  10. Donna
    May 10, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Melissa how many days can this recipe stay in the Frig?

    • Melissa
      May 11, 2017 at 10:01 am

      It’s good for a week in the fridge πŸ™‚

      • Teresa
        July 26, 2017 at 3:01 pm

        Can you freeze this?

        • Melissa
          July 27, 2017 at 1:31 pm

          I’ve never tried freezing it, Teresa.

  11. Karen
    May 22, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Use sour cream instead of buttermilk if you find it too watery. Also, I have a mandolin that gives the perfect dice to replicate the KFC chop. Lucky me!

  12. Sue
    May 23, 2017 at 10:39 am

    If you put clear wrap such as Saran Wrap over your coleslaw and press it down to get the air out , it will stay fresh in the fridge and keep its color of green,and not brown.

  13. Mary Castoldi
    May 25, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Can the butter milk be substituted with something Different?

    • Melissa
      May 30, 2017 at 9:26 am

      I suppose you could use a bit of sour cream or plain yogurt mixed with milk? I’ve never tried it. Hope that helps! πŸ™‚

    • Vicki
      July 14, 2018 at 10:41 am

      Yes 1 C plain yogurt and add 1 3/4 tsp. Cream of tartar. Will be slightly less runny as well.

  14. Stephanie
    May 26, 2017 at 5:23 am

    I’m not sure what type of food processors you all have but my mother and I have been doing our cole slaw like this for many years without any problems. We just use cabbage, mayo, salt & pepper, and a very small amount of sugar. It’s always a hit.

  15. Penny sallade
    May 26, 2017 at 8:44 am

    How long will this keep?

    • Melissa
      May 30, 2017 at 9:25 am

      5 to 7 days, refrigerated and covered tightly πŸ™‚

  16. June 1, 2017 at 10:16 am

    thank you so much for this recipe! we have always wanted it! and we are always disappointed when we get the slaw at kfc that doesn’t have enough juice in it![sometimes it is dry and sometimes not!] to each his own! but i find it interesting that people are asking you how to change a kfc recipe for them! lol

    • Peggy
      June 5, 2017 at 11:04 pm

      Usually I find there’s some “juice” in the bottom of the container. Stir It up well and it is yummy! πŸ™‚

    • Nicole
      June 30, 2017 at 9:04 am

      Always like this, people are nuts!

  17. Rosemary
    July 2, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    For those that only need a small portion of this recipe..I would suggest freezing the leftover chopped cabbage and carrot in freezer bags or sealed bags…will be good in the freezer for up to one year…Just take out of freezer and let defrost in the refrigerator for a few hours and then put in a colander to get rid of any excess moisture..then continue on with the recipe…eliminates waste and saves you another round (or two| of chopping again…:D

  18. Karen
    July 2, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    I know this isn’t used at KFC but I did learn that if you want a really yummy and easy addition to your coleslaw, add some little pieces of apple (no skin) It sounds small but the flavor it adds is WOW!
    what is the spicy stuff in KFCs coleslaw?

    • August 28, 2017 at 4:28 pm

      I may be wrong Karen but I always thought it was because kfc put in the heart
      of the cabbage in . I think the heart is bitter.

    • RuthlessD
      October 23, 2017 at 6:52 pm

      I like my coleslaw with a little bite and I sometimes
      put a little bit of horseradish in mine. The bite that I sometimes taste in KFC coleslaw is the cabbage itself. The heavier pieces close To the core and the core itself has a bite to it and that’s what what tastes β€œspicy”.

  19. Mary
    July 2, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    I use cabbage, carrots, mayo, red wine vinegar and sugar and have been told it tastes like KFC.

  20. John griffin
    August 28, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    Love KFC cole slaw and will be trying this recipe

    • Melissa
      August 28, 2017 at 11:45 pm

      Enjoy, John! πŸ™‚

  21. Claire
    March 3, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    Melissa, i sure enjoy your recipes! we make a few types of cole slaw, and even a hot version. One time we lightly stir fried the cabbage and carrot mix alone in some olive oil, and added salt and pepper, and then sunflower seeds for a hot side in the autumn..easy and delicious!

    • Melissa
      March 3, 2018 at 10:52 pm

      I’m so happy you like my recipes, Claire! Thanks for stopping by and letting me know, and thanks for the slaw idea! I’ll have to give that a try πŸ™‚

  22. Monte J Elliott
    April 12, 2018 at 9:20 pm

    I use taragon vinegar it gives it just the little extra it needs

  23. April 13, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    I use my meat grinder for the cabbage

  24. brenda
    July 22, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    I’ve had this recipe for ages. I buy the packaged coleslaw mix at the market, put it through my Ninja and get perfect cut.

    • Melissa
      July 25, 2018 at 3:10 pm

      thanks for the tip! πŸ™‚

  25. nancy wright
    December 28, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    mine was kind of runny, what should I fix it with?

    • Melissa
      December 30, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      add more slaw πŸ™‚

  26. Gerry
    January 20, 2019 at 12:20 am

    The old recipe for the coleslaw was awesome and then it went to hell in a handbasket. I won.t but it anymore. Its awful

    • Melissa
      January 21, 2019 at 12:49 pm


  27. Jim Ray
    April 1, 2019 at 11:29 pm

    I must be a real classic. I worked at KFC ( corporate stores/not franchises) in the late 70’s and early 80’s,. I have had the privilege of working in two TRIPLE CROWN stores. Back in the day, everything was made from scratch, The coleslaw did NOT have buttermilk….the mayo was Miracle Whip, The only thing we used buttermilk for was the Home made buttermilk biscuits, Coleslaw definitely had yellow onions, and the core was cut away after 1/4 ering the cabbage, Insurance required all users of the Holbert Chopper to be a min 18 yo, I have seen many copy cat recipes and it lacks one ingredient to carry the milk to evenly coat every thing, and that is cotton seed oil. I know the franchisee’s ran different recipes but not legally in terms of KFC products. We also had a 9 piece cut chicken and that was changed several years ago to split the keel onto the side ribs. The quality of most everything has gone down drastically since the late 80’s.

  28. Leanne
    April 21, 2019 at 1:07 am

    I’ll have to try this sometime. KFC slaw is my favorite and my husband and I have a running joke about it…it involves him eating mine once when we got food there. We always have a laugh over that. By the way, my Mom made her coleslaw with the cabbage chopped very fine, but she always used the smallest holes on a box grater. Thanks for the recipe.

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