Cole slaw and slaw are two similar, yet distinct, dishes made primarily from shredded cabbage. Both are commonly served as a side dish, but they have some key differences in their ingredients and preparation that affect their taste and texture.
In the opening paragraphs, we’ll provide a quick overview answering the main question – what is the difference between cole slaw and slaw? Then, we’ll do a deeper dive into the history, ingredients, preparation methods, nutrition profiles, and culinary uses of each dish.
The main differences between cole slaw and slaw are:
– Cole slaw typically contains mayonnaise or a creamy dressing, while slaw is usually dressed with vinaigrette or vinegar.
– Cole slaw uses finely shredded cabbage, while slaw can have cabbage shredded into larger, chunkier pieces.
– Cole slaw is often sweeter, while slaw tends to be more tangy and savory.
– Cole slaw is closely associated with Southern and picnic-style cooking, while slaw has a wider regional and ethnic representation.
So in summary, cole slaw is creamier and sweeter due to mayonnaise and finely shredded cabbage, while slaw is tangier and chunkier from the vinaigrette and larger cabbage shreds. But there can be variation within both categories.
History of Cole Slaw and Slaw
To better understand the differences between the two dishes, let’s look at the origins and evolution of cole slaw and slaw:
History of Cole Slaw
– Cole slaw has its origins in the cuisine of Germany and Poland, where cooked cabbage was dressed with oil and vinegar. The name comes from the Dutch words “kool sla,” meaning cabbage salad.
– German and Polish immigrants brought cole slaw traditions to America, where the dish became popular in the 18th and 19th centuries.
– Early American recipes dressed shredded cabbage in apickle vinegar or cooked mustard dressing. The creamy, mayonnaise-based cole slaw familiar today became popular in the early 20th century.
– Cole slaw became a staple side dish in Southern cooking and barbecues, due to the regional abundance of cabbage and connection between German settlers and Southern culinary traditions.
History of Slaw
– Slaw has much broader global roots, with versions found in European, Asian, and Central American cuisines. Some of the first slaws originated in China, where cabbage was commonly pickled.
– In Europe, cooked cabbage slaws were made by ancient Greeks and Romans. French, Spanish, and Italian cuisines developed tangy oil and vinegar-dressed slaws.
– The English and Irish brought slaw traditions to America, where vinegar-based slaws were common in colonial times and remained popular in certain regions.
– Modern American slaw branched into more diverse regional interpretations, including Latin-American style curtido slaw and zesty Southern barbecued slaw.
So while cole slaw specifically developed from German-American food traditions, slaw has origins across many cultures over centuries. This helps explain the broader diversity of slaw styles today.
Ingredients in Cole Slaw vs. Slaw
Cole slaw and slaw also differ based on their typical ingredients, which affect flavor, texture, and presentation:
Cole Slaw Ingredients
– Finely shredded green or white cabbage – this gives cole slaw its delicate, soft texture. Red cabbage can also be used.
– Mayonnaise or creamy dressing – typically dairy-based, adding rich flavor and moisture. Buttermilk, sour cream, cream cheese, or yogurt dressing can be used.
– Sugar, honey, or apple – added sweetness to balance acidity.
– White or cider vinegar – for a tangy bite. Apple cider vinegar is commonly used.
– Salt and pepper – for seasoning.
– Optional mix-ins: carrots, onion, bell pepper, raisins, parsley, dill.
– Green or red cabbage, shredded into larger, chunkier pieces – this gives slaw more crispness.
– Vinaigrette, oil and vinegar dressing, or tangy seasoning like lemon juice, mustard, buttermilk, or mayonnaise. Less creamy than cole slaw dressing.
– Onion, scallions, garlic, ginger – for savory flavor.
– Herbs like cilantro, parsley, oregano, basil.
– Spices such as cumin, paprika, celery seed.
– Optional mix-ins: carrots, bell pepper, radish, apple, dried fruit, nuts, seeds.
So while both dishes contain a cabbage base, cole slaw utilizes more sweet, creamy ingredients for a softer texture. Slaw highlights tangy seasonings and chunkier textures.
Preparation techniques for cole slaw and slaw also differ:
To Make Cole Slaw
– Slice cabbage into thin ribbons or shreds, about 1/16 inch wide. This can be done by hand or with tools like a mandoline or food processor.
– Toss cabbage with salt and let sit 10-30 minutes to draw out moisture. Rinse and drain well.
– Mix mayonnaise or creamy dressing in a large bowl. Whisk in sugar, vinegar, and any other seasoning.
– Add cabbage to dressing and toss to evenly coat. Adjust seasoning as needed.
– Chill cole slaw at least 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to meld. Keeps refrigerated for 4-5 days.
To Make Slaw
– Shred cabbage into larger ribbons or pieces, about 1/4 inch wide. You can use tools like a knife or food processor.
– Massage salt into cabbage pieces to soften texture. Rinse and squeeze out excess moisture.
– In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and slaw seasonings like mustard, herbs, and spices to make dressing.
– Toss cabbage and any additional vegetables or ingredients in dressing until well-coated.
– Let slaw chill 15-30 minutes for flavors to blend. Keeps refrigerated 3-4 days.
So cole slaw requires more delicate shredding and added steps like salting and draining the cabbage. Slaw can have a chunkier shred and faster preparation.
Cole slaw and slaw are used in some overlapping and some differing culinary applications:
Serving Cole Slaw
– As a side to barbecue dishes and grilled meats like pork, chicken, ribs, and sausage. The creamy cole slaw complements the smoky meat.
– In Southern-style potluck gatherings and picnic spreads.
– On hot dogs, hamburgers, and sandwiches to add moisture and crunch.
– As a crunchy topping or side for fried chicken or fish.
– In coleslaw-topped pulled pork barbecue sandwiches.
– Alongside rich, fatty dishes like fried chicken, ribs, burgers, and sausages to balance with tangy brightness.
– In fish tacos, carnitas tacos, and other Mexican dishes. Curtido style cabbage slaw is often used.
– On Eastern European sandwiches like schnitzel or Reuben sandwiches.
– In Southeast Asian cuisines paired with grilled and curried dishes.
– As a crunchy, vinegar-based salad or relish in barbecue cuisines.
– As a topping for deli sandwiches like pastrami on rye.
While both slaws pair well with meat dishes, cole slaw has a particularly Southern identity, while slaw appears across global culinary traditions.
Nutrition and Health Benefits
Cole slaw and slaw also have some nutritional differences:
Nutrition Facts – Cole Slaw (1 cup)
– Calories: 188
– Fat: 18 g
– Carbs: 9 g
– Protein: 1 g
Nutrition Facts – Slaw (1 cup)
– Calories: 85
– Fat: 6 g
– Carbs: 7 g
– Protein: 1 g
– Due to less oil and mayonnaise, slaw typically has fewer calories and less fat compared to creamy, mayo-based cole slaws.
– Both dishes provide fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and antioxidants from the cabbage.
– Slaw offers more raw vegetable nutrition, while cole slaw may have added benefits from fermented lactic acid in mayonnaise.
So slaw delivers lower calorie, lighter fare compared to richer cole slaw. But both provide nutrition from fresh vegetables.
Potential Health Benefits
Some possible health benefits of cabbage-based cole slaw and slaw:
– The antioxidants and phytochemicals in cabbage may reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
– Cabbage contains the compound glutamine, which supports digestive and gut health.
– The vitamin C and antioxidants in cabbage provide immune-boosting properties.
– Cabbage and carrots contain carotenoids and vitamin A precursors to promote healthy vision.
– The fiber and carbohydrates in both dishes support regular bowel movements and digestive health.
So both cole slaw and slaw deliver protective compounds, vitamins, and minerals through their vegetable ingredients.
Key Differences Summary
In summary, here are the main differences between cole slaw and regular slaw:
– Dressing – Cole slaw has a mayonnaise or creamy dressing, while slaw uses oil and vinegar.
– Cabbage texture – Cole slaw uses finely shredded cabbage, while slaw has larger shreds.
– Flavor profile – Cole slaw is often sweeter, slaw is more tangy and savory.
– Origins – Cole slaw descended from German-American cuisine, while slaw has diverse backgrounds.
– Uses – Cole slaw is a Southern staple, while slaw appears globally across cuisines.
– Nutrition – Slaw is usually lower in fat and calories than creamy, mayo-dressed cole slaw.
So while both contain cabbage as a base, cole slaw uses distinctive ingredients and techniques compared to the wide array of slaw interpretations across cuisines. Understanding the differences allows you to pick the right option for your dish or occasion!
Cole slaw and slaw are two crunchy, vegetable-based sides that make frequent appearances in cuisines across America and the world. While they both utilize shredded cabbage as their foundation, their differing ingredients, textures, flavors, origins, and uses set them apart.
Classic creamy cole slaw took shape as a tangy, mayonnaise-dressed accompaniment in Southern cooking traditions. Meanwhile, slaw encompasses a broad range of vinegar-based interpretations stemming from European, Asian, and Latin American influences.
Knowing the nuanced differences between cole slaw versus regular slaw provides insight into how they suit different dishes, events, and tastes. While bothdeliver nutritional benefits from fresh vegetables, slaw offers a lighter, brighter option compared to the rich indulgence of cole slaw. Whichever you choose, cabbage slaws in all their forms bring deliciousness, versatility and nutrition to the table!