In The Kitchen With The Editor: The World’s Best Cole Slaw

by Stefan Lonce

I suppose all families have a “world’s best” recipe with a story behind it…and my family is no different.  The Lonce family originates in Eastern Europe. My grandfather Stefan came from Austria and my grandmother Anna came from Slovakia.  If there is anything common in the diet of Eastern Europeans, it’s cabbage.  My Uncle Steve used to proudly refer to it as peasant food.  You could make a head of cabbage go a long way!
Jumping ahead to 1952 in the United States, my father, John, and mother, Ella, are engaged in Verplanck, NY.  My grandmother Anna asks her future daughter-in-law over to teach her to make her son’s favorites: stuffed cabbage and cole slaw.  That’s where my mom learned to make the family favorites…along with her first word of Slovak, peniaze.  That means money.  My grandmother told my mother, “Don’t let John handle the peniaze!”  Mom used to say that’s when she knew she and her mother-in-law were going to be good friends.
When my five brothers and I were growing up, we used to look forward to cole slaw day. We’d line up and wait our turns to get to shred the cabbage and carrots.  Yes, this was WAY before everyone had a cell phone glued to his ear.  You know, back when you would never say you were bored around your parents…for fear you’d end up having to sweep and mop the kitchen floor.
For some reason, shredding was fun, never a chore.    It could be that Dad would be in charge and we’d all be around the kitchen table waiting our turn.  It was always a Sunday, the only time he was home.  He worked two jobs to support us, so time together was valuable.  I can still hear my dad, “OK men, line up.”  But I digress…
Anyway, that’s how we all learned to make “the real” cole slaw and why we are all “slaw snobs.”  That’s also how my brothers have passed it down to their children and grandchildren.  I think Dad would love that his great-grandchildren are enjoying the same cole slaw he did when he was their ages.
I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

Lonce Family Cole Slaw


  • 1 medium head of Green Cabbage, grated
  • 4 medium Carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 tbls. grated Onion
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 cup White Vinegar


  1. Prepare your cabbage.  We always grated it on a box grater, but I find cutting your cabbage into 12 wedges and then making thin slices “against the grain” gives the same result and is a lot less messy.  Add your cabbage to a large bowl.
  2. Grate your carrots and onion on a box grater. Measure your onion!  Any more than a tablespoon and it ends up tasting like “onion slaw.”  Add them to the bowl with the cabbage.  Add the salt and sugar.  Stir until combined.
  3. Add the mayonnaise and vinegar to the bowl and stir until well combined.
  4. Once everything is combined, press the vegetables down into the dressing with the back of a spoon. this will ensure that the vegetables will pickle in the vinegar.  Cover and regrigerate for at least 6 hours, stirring halfway through and pressing the vegetables into the dressing again.  The cabbage and carrots will release a lot of their liquid (and color), which adds to the dressing in the bowl.
  5. It’s ready to serve now, but, the longer it sits, the better it gets, so I really suggest making it the day before you plan on serving.  To store, place in an air-tight container, in the refrigerator, for up to 3 weeks (I keep left over Chinese food containers for this).  This makes about 3 pounds of cole slaw.  Enjoy!