Can You Freeze Coleslaw Without Ruining It?

Coleslaw is a very popular salad mostly because of its simplicity.

It consists of shredded cabbage and carrot, and it can be complemented with various dressings and sauces. 

It can be served as a refreshing appetizer or a lightweight side dish to heavy meals like barbecue, meats and potatoes.

The best thing about coleslaw is that it is simple to prepare.

However, nothing can rain down on your parade like an enormous cabbage you have to shred entirely, mix with a whole bunch of carrots and then throw away what’s left of the salad because you don’t know how to store it.

Because I had the same problem a few months ago (it’s funny how we never have barbecue leftovers, only salad), I decided to ask around and experiment to see whether it is possible to freeze coleslaw.

Here’s what I found out.

Is it possible to freeze dry coleslaw?

So, about my bygone problem.

I bought a huge cabbage and some carrots, and on the half of the salad-making process I realized “this is going to be too much for my family.

So, I decided not to put dressing on the entire batch, and I left some dry coleslaw aside.

I was trying to figure out what to do with it, when I came to the conclusion “hey, it’s just cabbage and carrot – I can freeze it.”

How To Freeze Dry Coleslaw?


I’ve done my fair share of freezing vegetables, so I didn’t have any doubts how I am going to pull this off.


All you need to succeed is to go through two steps:


  1. Put the shredded cabbage and carrot mix into a freezer bag, and remove the excess air. Seal the content tightly.
  2. Label the date of freezing with a permanent marker. Remember that raw carrots can last for up to 12 months in the freezer, while raw cabbage can endure up to 18 months.

How To Thaw Dry Coleslaw?


So, you’ve froze your coleslaw and now you want to defrost it and eat it? This is also a simple process.


  • All you have to do is to remove the bag containing the salad from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator
  • It would be best to keep it there overnight, but a couple of hours will work just fine if you are in a hurry. 
  • When the salad is thawed out it will be cool and crunchy, and all you will need to do to make it ready to serve is to prepare a dressing and stir the ingredients together.

What happens if you want to freeze coleslaw that already has dressing?

The cabbage I bought was so big that I even have leftovers from the half of the salad I used dressing in, so I needed to figure out how to freeze that without ruining its crunchy texture and fresh flavor.

I did some researching and tried to remember everything I know about freezing and thawing food, and I figured out that the most crucial factor here is the type of the dressing.

One of the dressings that is often combined with coleslaw is based on mayonnaise. Fortunately I haven’t used that one, because in that case, freezing it wouldn’t be a very wise idea. If you have ever tried to freeze a meal where mayonnaise is the ingredient, you must have noticed that it tends to lose its texture, becomes watery and separates from the dish.

The dressing I used was a mixture of vinegar, lemon juice and mustard seed. On my opinion the sauces that are the most convenient for freezing are based on oil or vinegar

If you have a mixture like this, you can freeze it by following this step-by-step guide:

  1. If you are going to freeze the entire amount, use a freezer-safe container. If you are planning to freeze individual servings, you should pack them in freezer bags.
  2. If you are packing in bags, remove excess air before sealing the bag.
  3. If you are packing in the container, make sure it is evenly layered to evenly freeze the entire amount.
  4. Label the container and/or the serving bags.
  5. A coleslaw frozen like this, should be eaten within few months. It wouldn’t be a good idea to wait an entire year, even though, when treated separately raw cabbage and raw carrot can be stored more than a year.

Is thawing any different when the dressing is included? 

The process of thawing is basically the same as with raw shredded cabbage and carrot.

You just need to remove the coleslaw from the freezer, put it into the refrigerator and keep it there for several hours or overnight.

I just recently removed my coleslaw that had dressing included and honestly I was worried about the texture. It seemed watery and not very fresh.

However, as soon as I got rid of the excess water the salad was good for serving. 🙂

So, to answer the big question: can you freeze it without ruining it?

Of course you can. 

You just need to follow some basic rules, and avoid common freezing mistakes such as allowing air into the freezer bags or failing to label the exact freezing date.

Another common mistake is thinking that you can just thaw coleslaw, eat the amount that works for you and freeze what’s left all over again.

However, refreezing the salad would not only ruined its crunchy texture, it would also make the vegetables taste strange and stale, and look that way too. 

I hope that this guide was helpful, and that now you know what to do with the extra coleslaw if you don’t want to waste it.

A Friendly Tip

If you notice that you will have leftovers, try not to use mayonnaise-based dressing – this is the one that guarantees failure.

Barbara Whitney
 

For the last 20 years, I’ve been cooking, preparing, researching, and gathering recipes, tools, and knowledge about food and the way we prepare it. Raising two lively boys and spoiling one great husband later, it’s safe to say that I’ve optimized my kitchen to deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.

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