My Mom's Coleslaw


My mom makes the best coleslaw in the world. It's really yummy, and it's incredibly easy and very cheap. It's so cheap and easy, in fact, that I always felt it was somehow WRONG to use the same recipe myself. I would try to doctor it up, make it more complicated, less Depression-era thrifty. I would add extra vegetables--grated carrot, diced green onion, red cabbage, etc--and use fancy mayonnaise. But it never tasted as good as the way my mom makes it, and finally I just surrendered to the magic that is her three-ingredient recipe for coleslaw.

Here it is:

plain old regular shredded cabbage
a big dollop of Miracle Whip (NOT mayonnaise)
juice from a jar of sweet pickles

Put the cabbage in a bowl. Add enough Miracle Whip to coat the cabbage, and enough sweet pickle juice to dilute the Miracle Whip. Tastes best if you make it a few hours ahead of time, then chill so that it's good and cold and the flavors blend.

Now, I do want to say that in general I don't like Miracle Whip--it's gross. I'm not sure it's actually food. I don't actually much like commercial mayonnaise, either, truth by told, but it seems more food-like than Miracle Whip. But Miracle Whip is the only thing that really tastes right in this recipe.

The sweet pickle juice is the most important ingredient, however. It provides a perfect amount of sweetness and tartness and it's just really, really good.

The one deviation I allow myself is that I put a little pepper in the dish. Mom didn't, because not everyone liked pepper, and you can always pepper it yourself at the table.

Take this to a Fourth of July picnic--I predict people will tell you how good it is.


This sounds tasty. My mother always made good coleslaw but this sounds way easier. For years, I thought Miracle Whip was mayonnaise perhaps because my mother called it that. I could have used a better food education growing up.

I also could have used a better food education growing up, Dale. I used to ask this question in classes: "How old were you when you realized your mom wasn't actually a very good cook?" Most students snicker, because they did realize it at some point. There's always someone who says, "My mom is a VERY good cook," to which I reply, "You're lucky."

So far no one has ever said, "My mom was a bad cook, but my dad was an AMAZING cook." Feeding families is still something mainly women do, it seems.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on June 1, 2009 10:03 AM.

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