The basic ingredients of a coleslaw dressing are sugar, vinegar and a creamy thickening agent such as mayonnaise, buttermilk or yogurt. To make a coleslaw dressing that serves about six people, whisk 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of white sugar, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of salt until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour it over coleslaw vegetables and serve.
From the basic coleslaw dressing recipe, you can add honey for a sweeter product, mustard for a bit of spice or pickle juice for some tartness. Subbing non-fat Greek yogurt for mayonnaise makes for a lighter coleslaw dressing, while adding buttermilk makes the recipe creamier. Bobby Flay of the Food Network adds sour cream, dry mustard and celery salt to the basic coleslaw dressing.
Coleslaw uses shredded cabbage for a base. Add shredded carrots, grated onions, chopped celery or other vegetables to add flavor and color to the dish. You can also add non-vegetable ingredients. A recipe for southern coleslaw on AllRecipes.com, for example, includes crumbled bacon and hard-boiled eggs, while an Asian coleslaw recipe adds crumbled ramen noodles, sunflower seeds and sliced almonds.