KFC’s Secret Coleslaw Recipe Cracked

If you’ve ever craved the creamy, tangy, and slightly sweet taste of KFC’s coleslaw, you’re in luck. Thanks to some clever sleuthing by chef and cookbook author Todd Wilbur, the secret recipe for this beloved side dish has been cracked. Now, you can recreate the authentic flavor of KFC’s coleslaw right in your own kitchen, using just a handful of ingredients and a few easy steps.

The Secret Ingredients

The key to achieving that signature KFC coleslaw taste lies in two secret ingredients: sugar and onion. These simple additions give the slaw its distinctive sweet and savory flavor profile that pairs perfectly with crispy fried chicken or a juicy burger.

To make the coleslaw, you’ll need finely shredded cabbage, carrots, and onion for the vegetable base. Wilbur recommends chopping the veggies to about the size of rice to mimic the texture of the original. For the creamy dressing, combine mayonnaise, milk, buttermilk, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper.

One important tip is to use a food processor to shred the cabbage and carrots quickly and easily. This will save you time and ensure that the vegetables are chopped finely enough to absorb the flavors of the dressing.

Tip: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make a quick substitute by mixing 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup of milk. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes before using.

Once you’ve mixed the vegetables and dressing together, cover the bowl and refrigerate the coleslaw for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight. This allows the flavors to meld and develop, resulting in a slaw that tastes just like the one from KFC.

A Copycat Recipe That Rivals the Original

Many home cooks and food bloggers have tried their hand at recreating KFC’s famous coleslaw, but Wilbur’s recipe stands out as the most authentic. In fact, some readers have even claimed that this copycat version tastes better than the original.

To crack the recipe, Wilbur employed his usual tactic of consuming large amounts of the dish, interviewing restaurant staff, and experimenting with different ingredient combinations until he achieved the perfect match. His dedication has paid off, as this recipe has become one of the most popular and widely shared KFC coleslaw copycats on the internet.

One reason for the popularity of KFC’s coleslaw is its versatility. It pairs well with a variety of dishes, from classic fried chicken and barbecue to hot dogs and tacos. Many people even buy it from KFC to take home for parties and gatherings, making it a must-have item for the chain.

Tip: If you’re making the coleslaw for a crowd, double or triple the recipe to ensure you have enough to go around. The slaw will keep well in the fridge for several days, so you can make it ahead of time and have leftovers for lunch or dinner.

Whether you’re a die-hard KFC fan or just love a good coleslaw, this copycat recipe is sure to become a new favorite. With its creamy texture, balanced flavors, and easy preparation, it’s no wonder that KFC’s coleslaw is considered the most popular in the country, if not the world.

Elevating Your Homemade Coleslaw Game

Now that you’ve mastered the art of making KFC’s coleslaw at home, why not take your skills to the next level? Serve your homemade slaw alongside a platter of crispy fried chicken or pulled pork sandwiches for a true KFC-inspired feast.

You can also experiment with different variations on the classic recipe. Try adding some chopped fresh herbs like parsley or dill for a bright, fresh flavor, or mix in some diced jalapeños for a spicy kick. For a healthier twist, swap out the mayo for Greek yogurt or use a sugar substitute in place of the regular sugar.

No matter how you choose to enjoy your homemade KFC coleslaw, one thing is for sure: you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to recreate this iconic dish in your own kitchen. So gather your ingredients, grab your food processor, and get ready to impress your family and friends with your copycat cooking skills!

Tip: For a fun and easy way to serve your coleslaw, scoop it into individual mason jars or small glass bowls. Top each portion with a sprinkle of paprika or a sprig of fresh parsley for a pretty presentation.

In conclusion, the secret to KFC’s famous coleslaw lies in a few simple ingredients and techniques. By following this authentic copycat recipe, you can enjoy the same creamy, tangy, and slightly sweet flavor of the original dish anytime, anywhere. So why wait? Get chopping, mixing, and chilling, and discover for yourself why KFC’s coleslaw is the stuff of fast-food legend!

Copycat KFC Coleslaw

Course: Side DishCuisine: American


Prep time


Cooking timeminutes



Recreate the iconic taste of KFC’s coleslaw at home with this easy copycat recipe. Creamy, tangy, and slightly sweet, this coleslaw pairs perfectly with crispy fried chicken or your favorite barbecue dishes.


  • 1 head green cabbage, finely chopped

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped

  • 1 cup mayonnaise

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup milk

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar


  • In a large bowl, combine the chopped cabbage, onion, and carrots. Mix well to combine the vegetables evenly. If desired, use a food processor to finely chop the vegetables quickly and easily.
  • In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, milk, buttermilk, lemon juice, and white vinegar until smooth and well combined. The dressing should be creamy and slightly thick.
  • Pour the dressing over the chopped vegetables in the large bowl. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, mix the coleslaw well, making sure all the vegetables are evenly coated with the dressing.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight. This allows the flavors to meld and develop, resulting in a more flavorful coleslaw.
  • Before serving, give the coleslaw a good stir to redistribute the dressing evenly. If the coleslaw seems a bit dry, you can add a tablespoon or two of milk or buttermilk to achieve the desired consistency.
  • Taste the coleslaw and adjust the seasoning if needed. You may want to add a pinch of salt and pepper or a bit more sugar, lemon juice, or vinegar to suit your taste preferences.
  • Transfer the coleslaw to a serving bowl and serve chilled as a side dish with your favorite meals. This copycat KFC coleslaw pairs perfectly with fried chicken, barbecue ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, and more.
  • Store any leftover coleslaw in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Give it a good stir before serving, as the dressing may settle at the bottom of the container over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I make this coleslaw ahead of time?
A: Yes, in fact, it’s recommended to make this coleslaw at least 4 hours ahead, or preferably overnight. This allows the flavors to meld and develop, resulting in a tastier coleslaw.

Q: How long does this copycat KFC coleslaw last in the fridge?
A: Homemade coleslaw will keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Be sure to give it a good stir before serving, as the dressing may settle at the bottom over time.

Q: Can I use a food processor to chop the vegetables?
A: Yes, using a food processor is a quick and easy way to finely chop the cabbage, onion, and carrots for this recipe. Just be careful not to over-process the vegetables, as you want them to retain some texture.

Q: What can I serve with this copycat KFC coleslaw?
A: This coleslaw pairs perfectly with a variety of dishes, especially those with a Southern or barbecue flair. Try serving it alongside fried chicken, pulled pork sandwiches, barbecue ribs, or even as a topping for hot dogs or tacos.

Emma Bates
Emma Bates
Emma is a passionate and innovative food writer and recipe developer with a talent for reinventing classic dishes and a keen eye for emerging food trends. She excels in simplifying complex recipes, making gourmet cooking accessible to home chefs.

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