Crack Slaw, an Asian Cole Slaw Recipe

The first time Brian’s parents cooked for me at their house was at the end of a Fourth of July weekend several years ago. Brian’s dad had just assembled an impressive new grill and was showing it off for us, making a long slab of ridiculously fresh teriyaki-glazed salmon, grilled atop a cedar board.

While that was going on, Brian’s mom slipped away to pull together a cole slaw that I’d heard Brian and his sister Lindsay talk about no less than a thousand times before. On the list of Favorite Family Recipes, this is the one I associate first with Brian’s family, right up there with his dad’s salmon and BBQ chicken, and his mom’s noodle pudding and baked ziti.

I’m not entirely sure what the actual name of the recipe is, and no one seems to know exactly where it came from. It doesn’t really matter though, because everyone knows it as “crack slaw”.

On Wednesday, while scowling at the gorgeous weather outside from behind the glow my my computer screen, I was thinking about quick, outdoor dining options, and this popped into my head.

I emailed Lindsay for this recipe, which I’ve copied in her own words below. I made a few modifications, one by accident, one on purpose. I accidentally used brown sugar, in my cross-wired brain I must have done a  free association thing: Asian cole slaw -> Asian ->Thai -> brown sugar. I thought the brown sugar was good. I also added the juice of one lime for some balance, which I would consider doing again (you can take it or leave it, I didn’t include it in the recipe below). The recipe leaves measurements “to taste”, and like so many things that moms make, I just couldn’t get mine to be as “crack-like” as I remember hers being, the dozen-or-so times that I’ve had this at Brian’s parents’ house. That’s why those family recipes are just so freaking good – when you remove the family member who makes them best, other attempts never measure up.

Crack Slaw (Asian Cole Slaw)
Adapted from Brian’s Mom’s recipe, as told by Brian’s sister Lindsay

1 bag cole slaw mix (14oz, or just shy of 400 grams of shredded cabbage and carrots, mixed)
5 scallions, sliced
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
1 package ramen noodles (minus the flavor packs)

1/2 cup veg oil
1/4 cup sugar.. i would not add all of that at once.. try half then add to taste.. when it’s too sweet it’s not as crack-like
2 tablespoons soy sauce

throw the sesame, almonds, crunched up ramen noodles and into a pan with butter.. cook till golden
let cool… add mixture and scallions to coleslaw .. dress and get cracked out.


  1. Helen in CA
    Posted May 25, 2009 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Add sliced roasted (or grilled) chicken……et voila

    Chinese Chicken Salad

    or I suppose you could saw Chinese Chicken Crack………

  2. Posted June 4, 2009 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    My Mom makes this salad for her catering business. Everyone loves it. It’s so incredibly good.

  3. Posted September 29, 2009 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Hi there –

    I just made the salad but I changed it a bit – I added some Apple Cider Vinegar and some fresh lime juice and a little salt. SO GOOD. OH MY GOD. I can’t stop eating it!! yummm thanks so much!

  4. Curzon Tussaud
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 3:45 am | Permalink

    From a U.K reader: just what, and how much “what” would be in a bag of cole slaw mix. I’m imagining shredded cabbage, carrot and celery, but am not sure how much in weight?

  5. Posted October 28, 2009 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Curzon – Sorry, when I wrote this post I didn’t have any international readers! A bag of the mix is 14oz (just shy of 400 grams) of mixed shredded cabbage and carrots. I approximate that it’s one part carrots to four parts cabbage.

  6. Valerie
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    This version of Asian Slaw looks great! Pretty much the same ingredients as the one I use except it calls for peanuts and a little chopped red pepper for color, and the dressing is sweet and sour (1/4 cup each of sugar and white vinegar with 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil). I bet the addition of soy sauce would add more of an Asian flair to the recipe I use. Either way, it’s delish!!

  7. lori tauraso
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Looks great cant wait to make it tomorrow – thanks – also looking for a chicken salad i had at a baby shower served in a hollowed out pineapple with pineapple in it of course

  8. Julie
    Posted January 16, 2012 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    I know this recipe was posted a while ago, but I made this salad tonight and it was a big hit. I was completely surprised at how tasty the ramen noodles were, I must have looked at the recipe 3 times to make sure I was reading it correctly that the noodles were first not boiled but put into the pan in their crunchy unboiled state. My husband had at least 3 helpings. I did adjust slightly, less veg oil and added a little sesame and crushed garlic. And I forgot the sugar but I would add a sprinkle next time. Loved it! Healthy too, sneaky away to get the fam to eat more veggies. That is my plan this year, more healthy tasty foods. Thanks for sharing recipe, will make again soon.

  9. Posted January 28, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    Can’t wait to try this, it sounds amazing! Just hoping I can get some slaw mix at the grocery store tomorrow!

  10. Posted January 31, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Umm, yes please

  11. Jane
    Posted February 12, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I used honey roasted peanuts rather than almonds. For the dressing I used less oil, and added lime juice and apple cider vinegar. Yum!

  12. Nancy
    Posted March 6, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Just prepared this as a side dish for tonight’s dinner. DELICIOUS!! I used 1 tbsp of margarine instead of 3 tbsp of butter to toast up the noodles, seeds and almonds and it was just fine. Crack indeed!!

  13. Nancy
    Posted March 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Just prepared this as a side dish for tonight’s dinner. DELICIOUS!! I used 1 tbsp of margarine rather than 3 tbsp butter to cut the fat. Also added a bit of lemon juice. CRACK INDEED!!

  14. Robynn
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    I made this for dinner tonight. They don’t sell slaw mix where I live (Bangkok) so I just diced up one cabbage (600 grams including the core that I threw out) and one carrot. The mix looked about right. Added lime juice and white vinegar and used a bit less oil. The boys wandered in the kitchen and started eating right out of the bowl as I was mixing. At this rate, might have to make something else for dinner as this will be GONE!!!

  15. nicole
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    i am eating this right now – and it is soooo good!!! Helen’s suggestion sounds good and next time will try with chicken. I also added some rice vinegar for a little kick ;) Thanks for posting!

  16. nicole
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    oooh… and maybe will try with cashews instead of almonds! mmmmm…..

  17. Carla
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    I add cranberries to it. Nice little slightly bitter bing! Thanks for the recipe.

  18. sara
    Posted October 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Is it good when prepared the day before serving?

  19. Posted October 19, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    No, it should definitely be assembled right before serving. Otherwise the noodles will become soggy and the cabbage will wilt.

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