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A&E >  Food

Dorothy Dean: Copycat KFC colesaw reminds of childhood memories in Alaska

Copycat KFC Coleslaw is great as a side dish, or can be served as a topper to pulled pork sandwiches, chicken nachos or hot dogs. (Audrey Alfaro/For The Spokesman-Review)
Copycat KFC Coleslaw is great as a side dish, or can be served as a topper to pulled pork sandwiches, chicken nachos or hot dogs. (Audrey Alfaro/For The Spokesman-Review)

KFC coleslaw was the first coleslaw to ever grace my palate and set the bar – high – to all that followed.

Along with loving the creamy and crunchy texture and sweet and tangy flavor, there’s a nostalgic connection that I have with the Colonel’s top-selling side dish.

KFC was my Grandma Nancy’s favorite fast-food restaurant in Anchorage. (And I’m pretty sure that it also is where my love of fried chicken started.)

As a frequent customer, she came to know the always welcoming employee behind the counter, Tuoi Yungbauer.

Tuoi came to Alaska as a refugee, fleeing Vietnam during the fall of Saigon, and began working at KFC shortly after in 1976.

To this day, she still works there.

I remember sitting at a booth with my legs swinging about (as I was just a child) and Tuoi coming to our table – always with a pep in her step and smile on her face – to take our order (yes, they had table service back then).

I loved hearing her Vietnamese accent as she’d repeat our order back to us. She said “coleslaw” in the cutest way I’ve ever heard.

During my annual July visits to my home state, I always make an effort to swing in to see that familiar face – and, of course, order some chicken and coleslaw … I mean, since I’m there.

I love re-creating my favorite restaurant dishes, and the flavor of this copycat KFC coleslaw is spot on so much that I can’t have a bite without happy thoughts of my grandma or Tuoi at that famous chicken chain popping in my head.

With Memorial Day weekend days away, it’s the perfect side dish for your summer barbecues and picnics. It’s easy to whip up, can be made in advance and pairs well with just about anything.

As a topper on pulled pork sandwiches, BBQ chicken nachos or even a hot dog, it’s a versatile and delicious slaw that also, when served alone, offers a crisp, chilled and refreshing bite on those sweltering hot days.

Copycat KFC Coleslaw

Adapted from


1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice


8 cups finely chopped cabbage (about 1 head)

1/4 cup finely chopped carrot

2 tablespoons minced onion

Combine all dressing ingredients into large bowl and whisk until smooth.

Be sure cabbage and carrots are finely chopped, like the size of rice. I used a food processor, but chopping with a knife works fine, too. Add all salad ingredients into dressing and combine.

Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

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