Can You Freeze Coleslaw?

In this article, we will be taking a look at freezing coleslaw. Is it sensible to freeze it, how do you freeze it, and how do you defrost it?  Hopefully, we will answer all your questions.

The answer to the question is yes, you can freeze vinegar-based coleslaw. However, it isn’t advisable to freeze coleslaw that has been made with mayonnaise. Mayo spoils quickly so it is better to make the amount of coleslaw you need for a particular day. At a stretch, you can store the coleslaw in your fridge, but only for a couple of days. If you keep it for longer, it will lose its freshness and crispiness. It might even start to produce bacteria and you could get food poisoning.

However, vinegar-based coleslaw is a totally different kettle of fish. The vinegar, sugar, and spices help to preserve the shredded vegetables and so it can be frozen. It might not taste as fresh as when you made it but it will still be edible. It is only really a good idea to freeze it when you are making up a batch for a party when you think you need more coleslaw. It is a thing that is good to keep on hand as an extra dish.

How Do I Freeze Coleslaw?

As we have said, you can only freeze vinegar-based coleslaw safely. It is important that you freeze it as soon as you have made it otherwise the shredded vegetables will start to lose their freshness. The last thing you want is soggy coleslaw. Even the day after you have made your coleslaw, you will find that the vegetables are past their best. 

It is easy to freeze coleslaw. All you have to do is put it in a container that is freezer-safe. Make sure that you seal it well as you don’t want it to get frostbite or freezer burn. Freezer burn is when frozen food has been damaged by dehydration and oxidation. If your coleslaw gets freezer burn, it will be lackluster and dried out.  It is a good idea to put a label on the container saying when you froze it as you don’t want to forget and have to throw the coleslaw away. It should stay fresh for up to one month. Keeping it any longer can mean that the flavor and texture of the coleslaw will change. It is important to note that even though you can freeze vinegar-based coleslaw (see also Can You Freeze Vinegar), it is going to be more watery when you defrost it.

Frequently Asked Questions About Freezing Coleslaw

Is it possible to freeze the shredded cabbage you are going to use for your coleslaw?

Leafy vegetables, like cabbage (see also Can You Freeze Sauerkraut, Can You Freeze Cooked Cabbage), don’t generally freeze well. It’s even worse if the vegetable is shredded. Shredded vegetables can wilt and turn brown if they are frozen. However, it is not entirely impossible to freeze shredded cabbage (see also How To Freeze Cabbage) if you follow the steps we are going to give you. After all, you might be having a cookout and have a lot of preparation to do. It would save time if you could shred and freeze the cabbage (see also How To Freeze Red Cabbage) a couple of days before. We would say, however, don’t freeze it too many days before you want to use it; perhaps just up to three days.

You can either freeze the cabbage raw (see also Freezing Cooked Cabbage) or alternatively, blanched. However, we think that the cabbage is best frozen when raw. Blanching can make the cabbage lose its crunchiness which defeats the object of eating coleslaw. 

If you want to freeze the cabbage raw you will need to wash the cabbage in cold water and then remove the core before you start shredding. After you have done this, put the cabbage shreds in a salt and water solution. Leave for 15 minutes. Then drain off the water and shake the cabbage shreds to make sure that there’s no extra water. Put the cabbage shreds on a paper towel and let them dry for a few minutes. Then you can put the cabbage into a resealable freezer bag, making sure that you don’t pack it too tight. This can bruise the cabbage and make it start wilting. 

If, on the other hand, you decide to blanch the cabbage, you don’t need to immerse the cabbage in a salt and water solution. Just boil it for two minutes and then put it in an ice bath to stop it from cooking any further. The next step is to dry it on a paper towel for a few minutes. Then the cabbage is ready for freezing in the same way as raw cabbage. 

Whichever way you do freeze the cabbage, write the date of freezing on the bag. You don’t want it to stay in the freezer until it has lost all flavor and has wilted.

Is it possible to freeze coleslaw without a dressing?

It is actually better to freeze coleslaw without a dressing. The vegetables, which are usually carrots (see also Can You Freeze Carrots) and cabbage, tend to still stay crisp and fresh without a dressing. A creamy dressing should not be frozen and if you do, it can go bad soon after being defrosted.

Is it possible to freeze coleslaw with a mayonnaise dressing?

The simple answer to this is no as we said earlier. Mayonnaise (see also Can You Freeze Mayonnaise?) contains eggs and shouldn’t be frozen for this reason among others. Eggs spoil quickly and that alone can give you food poisoning. If you really feel that you need to freeze coleslaw made with mayonnaise, do it quickly when the coleslaw has been just been made. This will help to keep in some of the freshness, but don’t expect it to be particularly crunchy. The bottom line is don’t do it. It is a dish to be served fresh and crunchy.

Is it possible to freeze KFC coleslaw?

Now, KFC coleslaw is another matter. It is mayo-based, but it has a long shelf life, much longer than homemade coleslaw. If you’re having a takeaway from KFC, you may end up with a big portion of coleslaw that you can’t eat after the chicken and chips. If so, put the coleslaw into the freezer quickly. Yes, it will take on a watery consistency when it is defrosted, but it will still taste the same. In fact, any commercially produced coleslaw can be frozen in the same way. However, it is a good idea to give the slaw a good stir when it has defrosted.

How do you defrost frozen coleslaw?

It is important to know the correct way to defrost coleslaw so as not to end up with a soggy mess. The right way to defrost coleslaw is to take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge. It takes around 12 hours to defrost, but you will have a crispier coleslaw than if you just put it on your worktop. Allowing the coleslaw to defrost too quickly can increase bacterial growth. Once you have defrosted the coleslaw, you can keep it in the fridge, but it should be eaten within three days otherwise it can develop bacteria. If there is any left over, just get rid of it. You may feel that this is a waste, but it’s better than getting food poisoning.


It’s not ideal to freeze coleslaw and it’s certainly not recommended for mayo-based coleslaws, but you can extend the shelf life of vinegar-based coleslaw. It isn’t difficult to freeze coleslaw, just remember to do it when the slaw is fresh. Wilted cabbage and carrots will end up the same when defrosted so it’s not advisable to freeze them in this state. As long as you follow our instructions you should end up with delicious coleslaw. Just remember to only keep the coleslaw frozen for a few days.

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