Mayonnaise is a common ingredient in coleslaw when there is no salad dressing on hand. When used in homemade coleslaw dressing, mayonnaise is frequently combined with vinegar and sugar. Spices such as paprika, salt, celery seed and pepper can also be used.
There are regional variations that also work with the mayonnaise-based dressing. Some recipes may include radishes, red cabbage, onions, carrots, pickles and jalapenos.
One advantage to using mayonnaise and mixing the dressing from scratch is that the preparer has total control of all the ingredients. Bottled dressings may contain chemicals, preservatives or artificial sweeteners that may alter the flavor.