How to Freeze Coleslaw

Meal prepping is an excellent way to get the most bang for your buck. You can spend one afternoon cooking up dishes and sides, freeze them, and enjoy them at your pleasure. A popular side, one that can be whipped up in a hundred different ways and goes with anything is coleslaw. 

Since it is made of mayonnaise in some recipes, can you freeze coleslaw? As for store-bought varieties, how long do they last in the fridge? When you’re ready to freeze coleslaw, there are a lot of questions to ask.

You can easily freeze coleslaw. You can choose to either freeze it put together, or alone as a dry mix. If you are freezing coleslaw, avoid doing so with one that has been made with mayonnaise. Be sure to never store a coleslaw after it’s been in the fridge for more than 3 to 5 days.

Freezing Coleslaw 

Can You Freeze Coleslaw? 

Suppose you’ve just come home from a big farmers market. Your arms are full with bountiful heads of cabbage that you want to use before they all go bad. One way to use up that supply is to make batches of coleslaw. 

However, you will likely make way more than you need. Thankfully, coleslaw freezes very well -at least, some types of it do. 

Dry shreds of crunchy cabbage does not a good coleslaw make. Whether or not your coleslaw can be frozen will heavily depend on what else has been added to neatly dress it up.

With Mayonnaise

While it is the most popular coleslaw dressing, coleslaw made with mayonnaise should not be frozen. 

The reason for this? When it is frozen, mayonnaise separates. When that separation occurs, coleslaw with a mayonnaise base dressing will be rendered to a watery, soggy state. You will miss all of that excellent crunch that makes coleslaw so great.

If you prefer mayonnaise based dressing on your coleslaw dishes, simply shred the cabbage, and any other needed greens, beforehand and freeze that. Then, when you are ready to enjoy, add the mayonnaise or other dressings at that time.  

In Vinegar

On the other side of the coleslaw coin, vinegar based coleslaw will remain the freshest the longest. Coleslaw made with vinegar can be frozen, because the vinegar, spices, and sugars used in this recipe will actually help preserve the shredded cabbage and other vegetables. 

Why are coleslaw can be frozen, it isn’t always recommended. No matter what the coleslaw is made of, eventually you are going to deal with a factor of soggy cabbage. The best way to enjoy coleslaw is to dig in fresh, the very day that it was made. 

How To Freeze Coleslaw 

If you do want to freeze a vinegar based coleslaw, it is best to get to it right away. Do not freeze coleslaw that is a few days old. By that time, you are significantly raising your chances of bacterial growth. This will not only lead to a foul tasting  coleslaw, but possibly even food poisoning. 

Freezing up a batch of vinegar based coleslaw is simple to do. Scoop as much as you are looking to freeze into a freezer safe container. 

If you can store it into a freezer bag, this is recommended. That way, you can press your hands firmly on the bag to expel all of the air. Use a straw to suck out the remaining air if possible. The less air you have on your frozen foods, the less susceptible they are to freezer burn. 

If you don’t have a bag at your disposal, however, you can still use your trusty tupperware. The trick here is to take a piece of saran wrap and press it down over the surface of the coleslaw in the container. Doing this will push out as much of the air as possible. Then, put the lid on the container and store it away.

How Long Can Coleslaw Be Frozen? 

In your freezer, a container of leftover coleslaw will stay fresh for about a month. While you certainly could keep it longer, this isn’t advised if you want to preserve the taste and texture of your side dish. 

The longer it spends in the freezer, the more drastically the flavor and mouthfeel of it will change. Freezing coleslaw will tend to make it watery, especially as the vegetables extract their juices the longer they are coated in a vinegar dressing.

Can You Freeze Dry Coleslaw Mix? 

Because there are no other dressings to it, you can easily freeze dry coleslaw mix. All it takes is placing the mix into a freezer bag. Once you have it secure, remove any excess air. Make sure you label and date the bags you know when it went in. This will keep you from storing it for too long, and rendering it inedible. 

Freezing Shredded Cabbage For Coleslaw 

Mentioned above, in some methods of preparation, it is best to simply freeze the mix, or shredded cabbage, on its own. This will keep you from the watery texture brought on by separated mayonnaise. It will also save you from the event of your vegetables wilting as they lie in the vinegar.

However, it must be noted that no leafy vegetable will be at its best in the freezer. Cabbage, as it turns out, is no exception. When it has been shredded, cabbage will have an even tougher fight to stay crispy in the fridge or freezer.

Anyone who has worked with leafy vegetables can tell you that they are prone to becoming brown or wilted. This happens through a natural process of oxidation. Exposure to the harsh, freezing temperatures of your freezer could shorten the shelf life of fresh produce even more. However, it will still save you time if you like to shred your cabbage in advance and have it ready for your next bowl of slaw. 

How To Freeze Frozen Cabbage For Coleslaw 

To do this, you can opt to freeze your shredded cabbage two ways. You can either shred it and freeze it raw, or you can opt to blanch it. Blanching may be a good idea for preservation, but you will lose some of the cabbage’s delightful crunch.


It’s best to freeze raw cabbage in a solution of salt water. That salt water will help preserve it, and delay oxidation. Cabbage is prone to wilting once it has been cut, much like an apple. Salt water will keep the vegetable in good sorts for a little longer. 

  • Carefully peel back the wilting leaves of a cabbage head. Rinse the whole vegetable and running water. Use your hands to remove excess dirt and debris in the base of the cabbage.
  • Slice the cabbage cleanly in half, removing the core. Begin slicing the vegetable into thin slices to shred it. You can also use a shredder or food processor to do this.
  • Once you’ve cut the cabbage head into shreds, prepare your saltwater solution in a small bowl. How much you need will depend on how much cabbage you have, and the size of your dish. For every one cup of water, add one tablespoon of salt.
  • Submerge the cabbage shreds and let them soak there for about 15 minutes.
  • Once those 15 minutes are up, drain the water. Shake off any excess water before laying the cabbage down on a paper towel or clean dishcloth. Use another layer of paper towel or dishcloth to pat down the top of the cabbage too. You want to make it as dry as possible.
  • After allowing the shredded cabbage to air dry, they are ready to be introduced to the freezer. To do so, pack your cabbage in a resealable plastic bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing the bag entirely.

If you are freezing blanched, shredded cabbage, there’s no need to worry about the saltwater solution. It will not be needed for this preparation.

After you’ve blanched your cabbage, submerge the leaves into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. As with the raw method, shake off the excess water and allow the Cabbage shreds to dry. Use paper towels and a dishcloth as needed to aid in the drying process.

How To Thaw Frozen Coleslaw 

What goes up must come down, and what is frozen must be thawed. To thaw a bag of regular coleslaw, remove the bag from the freezer. Allow it to defrost in the refrigerator. Depending on your refrigerator strength, this won’t take more than a few hours. You can also leave it overnight.

Allowing them to defrost in the refrigerator keeps all of the vegetables in your coleslaw crunchy, crisp, and cool for the dressing. If you prefer your coleslaw of the mayonnaise persuasion, you can start dressing it as soon as it is thawed. 

To solve vinegar based coleslaw, you’ll start much the same way. Remove coleslaw from the freezer and thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. You may find that the coleslaw is a bit more watery, even when made with vinegar. Before you serve this, drain off the excess water. This will help stave off some of that unpleasant wet texture.

Be sure to use your thawed coleslaw within 2 to 3 days. You should never refreeze previously frozen coleslaw, and be sure to always keep it refrigerated. This is especially true if you are making your coleslaw with mayonnaise. Mayonnaise spoils very easily. Eating can lead to foodborne illnesses after it has been left to go bad. 

How Long Does Coleslaw Last? 

Other cabbage based dishes, like sauerkraut and kimchi, are usually fermented. That fermentation not only impart a delicious tang, but it allows for an elongated shelf life. However, coleslaw does not fair as well.

Then again, not all coleslaws are created equal, and some may last longer than others. For example, ones made with vinegar will last longer than ones made with mayonnaise. Store bought ones will have a different shelf life entirely.

How Long Does Store Bought Coleslaw Last In The Fridge? 

Coleslaw, every brand is going to be different. As a general rule of thumb, reference the use by date on the package. Out of date coleslaw may be okay for a day or two past that printed date, however it shouldn’t extend much past that. Every ingredient in a coleslaw is perishable. You should take care to not store any of these for too long.

The label will tell you how long it can last in the fridge before and after you open it. Usually store-bought coleslaw lasts 3 to 5 days in the fridge. After that, you are running a lot of risks. The least of which is watery slaw, the most of which being food poisoning.

How Long Does Homemade Coleslaw Last In The Fridge? 

For those who prefer a DIY approach to their coleslaw, you are actually looking at much the same range. 

Most homemade coleslaws will last between 3 to 5 days. Of course, this will depend on the recipe, your storage methods, and what you still consider to be an acceptable eating texture. In general, though, three to five days is an acceptable estimate.

Some recipes online will be helpful enough to list a shelf life estimate. 

How Can You Tell If Coleslaw Is Bad? 

The last thing anyone wants is spoiled coleslaw. Aside from an unpleasant smell, taste, and texture, you could easily get sick from eating coleslaw that is past its prime.

Thankfully, visual and olfactory inspections will let you know if your coleslaw has spoiled.

  • If you detect mold on your coleslaw, throw it out right away. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it: your coleslaw is bad.
  • If you see a visual change, such as discoloration or dark spots, that means decay has started to settle in. In this case, discarding your slaw is the best course of action.
  • Unless you’ve made your coleslaw with something that has a sour smell on its own, such as vinegar or lemon juice, a sour slaw smell is a sign of deterioration. If you have a mayonnaise based slaw, that sour smell could be coming from the eggs and vinegar within the product.
  • Usually, you will be able to tell your coleslaw is bad before it gets on your fork or a top you’re pulled pork sandwich. However, if you take a heaping bite and are met with an unpleasant taste, you’re no obligation to persist. Your coleslaw has likely gone rancid, and you are better off shredding more cabbage and carrots for a fresh batch. 

Prolonged storage is the enemy of a good, crispy coleslaw. Even if it passes a visual examination and a sniff test, if your coleslaw has sat in storage for much longer than the suggested periods, it is best to toss it out. 

The truth of the matter is, the longer coleslaw is stored, the more its texture will worsen. Vegetables will become less crisp, the mayonnaise will separate, and everything will become a soggy, sloppy mess.

With all of that said, coleslaw that is simply watery is not entirely spoiled. It may not look pretty, and the taste will have taken a hit, but you are still safe to eat it. That is, of course, assuming it has passed all other inspections and has not been stored for too long. At the end of the day it is your choice as to whether you discard or eat wilted coleslaw.


Freezing coleslaw is something that takes a lot more consideration than simply dumping your favorite side dish into a freezer bag and calling it a day. What type of slaw you have, if it is store-bought, made with mayonnaise or vinegar, or entirely undressed will make a difference.

You should always avoid freezing coleslaw that is made with a mayonnaise based dressing. Whether store bought her handmade, this type of coleslaw will not be pleasant at all once it has been removed from the freezer. Mayonnaise separates when frozen, and that will carry through through the thawing process. 

When storing in the fridge, coleslaw will last 3 to 5 days. This is regardless of store-bought status or when made by hand. If you are worried your coleslaw has gone bad, you can always check for visual disturbances, like mold or dark spots. You can also give it a smell or a taste if you are unsure.