Extra Buttermilk in the Fridge? Use it up in a Tangy Slaw

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

I've been doing a lot of woodworking and home improvement these days, and I've noticed that oftentimes inexpensive items come in unfathomably large quantities per package. Need three wire nuts? Sorry, you're gonna take 50 of them. How about a box of Spax screws? You're gonna have to add another screwdriver head to your collection because you're getting one whether you want it or not.

The same thing happens in the supermarket. How many of those "I bought [X] for one recipe and now I don't know what to do with the rest of the bottle!" items do you have hanging out in your fridge? And let me guess: at least one of those is a quart-sized bottle of buttermilk that you bought for that one time you made fried chicken, or maybe the time you made buttermilk biscuits and is now sitting in your fridge with no place to go. Do I make more biscuits? Can I drink the stuff?

The answer to both those questions is yes, but it never hurts to have another use for it, particularly one that uses up a fair amount of it: Buttermilk coleslaw is your friend.


This is one of the easiest recipes I've ever published. No big secret techniques, no strange ingredients, in fact, without counting salt and pepper, you only need seven extra things from the supermarket aside from the buttermilk you already have in your fridge.

I start by very finely shredding red and green cabbage (you don't have to use a mix; I just happened to have both on hand), red onions (sliced pole to pole, not orbitally, for better texture and a milder flavor), and grating carrots. I do this all on the food processor, though you can also use a mandoline if you don't want to whip the food processor out.

If you have a food processor with an adjustable slicing disk, all the better. Paper-thin for the onions, a little thicker for the cabbage, and the large holes on a grater attachment for the carrots will do it.

I salt all the vegetables, toss them in a bowl, then set them aside while I make my dressing. Salting will draw out a bit of liquid from them which serves two purposes. First, it makes the vegetables a little softer while still allowing them to retain their crunch. Secondly, it ensures that after you mix the dressing in with the slaw, you'll have a good idea of the final texture. Without pre-salting the vegetables, your slaw looks great at first, then gets watery as it sits.


My dressing has five ingredients: buttermilk, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar, and sugar. Season it up with a ton of black pepper and just enough salt, and we're done.

Does it annoy you to try and measure goopy ingredients like mayonnaise by volume because it's impossible to get it to sit level in a liquid measuring cup? Me too. So a quick pro-tip: If you're measuring two ingredients by volume that are going to be eventually mixed together, start by pouring the more liquidy one into a liquid measure (in this case the buttermilk), followed by the goopy one. The goopy one will displace the liquidy one, which means that even without getting the goopy one level, you get an accurate measurement by checking the height of the liquid.

Quicker pro-tip: Just approximate and trust your taste buds.


Once the slaw is dressed, I ignore all measurements I previously made and add more vinegar, sugar, mustard, buttermilk, mayonnaise, or salt and pepper as my tongue sees fit. This slaw is best after it's rested in the fridge for at least a half hour or so, though even three days won't hurt it.

That's plenty of time to find more wires that need nutting or Spax screws in search of a head, right?