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In the summertime, there are many foods that can be satisfying. Potato salad and coleslaw are two popular choices. However, it is important to understand what the difference is between the two dishes, and which one is better.
Potato Salad and Coleslaw are both side dishes, have a vegetable as the main ingredient, and are covered by a creamy sauce. However, they are different because potato salad has mustard, mayo, and potatoes and coleslaw has a cabbage base with carrots and a thinner dressing that is more bitter.
Both of these dishes are good and yummy dishes with some inherent differences. Now that we understand what the main differences are, let’s delve deeper into more of the details and see which dish is a better choice.
The first thing to consider when deciding between potato salad and coleslaw is the ingredients. By considering the ingredients, it becomes easier for an individual to decide what to make due to the ease of finding the ingredients, the variety of ingredients required, and the processes needed to create the dish.
The first thing to consider is the type of potato salad a person is wanting. The most common potato salad type has a mustard/mayo base. However, there is a large variety of types of potato salad. If an individual does not like mayo or cannot eat dairy products, there are other potato salad recipes that do not have those as main ingredients. If a person doesn’t like a cold potato salad, there are warm recipes as well. (source)
The most common type of potato salad is the staple yellow, creamy potato salad. This salad is served cold. The most basic recipe for this salad includes mayo, mustard, potato, hard-boiled egg slices, salt, pepper, and paprika. In my experiences living in Alabama and eating a lot of different potato salads, I found that people enjoyed different ingredients in their potato salad beyond the basics. Some of these included diced pickles, pickle brine, relish, onion, and bell pepper pieces. Other recipes call for celery, bacon, cheddar cheese, and even beets! (source)
The best part about potato salad is that the majority of ingredients are common in the average American home! Mayo, mustard, and relish are often found in the shelves on the fridge door. Eggs are virtually required in most dishes. Potatoes are a cheap and commonly eaten vegetable. If an individual gets a craving for potato salad, it is incredibly easy to make without a lot of prep.
Something to note is that potato salad does require some cooking skills. It is necessary to cook the potato chunks and make them soft and to hard-boil the eggs. This is not too incredibly difficult, but if someone is not confident with their cooking skills it could be a challenge.
Similar to potato salad, the first thing to consider when thinking about coleslaw is the kind of coleslaw someone is wanting to make. There are many more types of coleslaw than potato salad. Some of these types include cabbage coleslaw, broccoli coleslaw, apple coleslaw, ramen coleslaw, Asian coleslaw, coleslaw without mayo, and vinegar coleslaw. (source)
The most common type of coleslaw people enjoy is probably the cabbage coleslaw. Cabbage coleslaw is probably the simplest type, with only a few ingredients and no cooking involved. The classic basic ingredients are shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, white wine vinegar, vegetable oil, and sugar. All of these are mixed together and thrown in the fridge. It is rare to involve the stove when making coleslaw. (source)
However, there are many ingredients and opportunities to diversify coleslaw. Some common ideas are sunflower seeds, onion, bell pepper, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and mayo. (source)
The next aspect of coleslaw and potato salad to look into is the nutritional values of both!
Potato salad does have some nutritional benefits to it. For example, potato salad has more minerals in it than coleslaw. It also has lower amounts of sugar and saturated fats. One of the big reasons why it is less healthy than coleslaw is the fact that it doesn’t typically have greens in it, it has a lot of calories from the dressing, and it is cooked so it loses some nutrients. This salad is likely to feel more filling so a person might have a smaller portion. (source)
Coleslaw contains cabbage which has an abundance of healthy properties. One of the big ones is that it contains molecules called isothiocyanates that are known for helping fight off cancer. Some of the big types of cancers that it can help prevent are leukemia, lung, breast, and prostate cancer. It also is a good source of vitamin K, which helps bones be healthy and strong. (source)
Some other good aspects of coleslaw are that coleslaw has less sodium, less cholesterol, and lower glycemic index. All of these things can be good to reduce higher blood pressure caused by consuming cholesterol and sodium. (source)
There are many areas where both potato salad and coleslaw are pretty equivalent. However, it is often commonly thought that coleslaw is the healthier option, and most people would agree on that statement. (source)
Another important aspect of choosing which meals to make is to consider cost. If money is tight or an individual values frugality, then it would be important to find the dish that costs the least. In order to see which is cheaper to make, it is important to look at the cost of ingredients.
Potato salad is mainly mayo, mustard, potatoes, and eggs. These four ingredients are often already found at home, so it would be unlikely a person would need to go and make additional purchases outside of the normal grocery list. But, if someone were to go and buy all of the ingredients in one go from Walmart, the estimated cost would be around 8 dollars. This is before adding other ingredients, like bell pepper, onion, or relish. (source)
If someone wanted to skip the hassle of making it at home, the cost of buying potato salad premade is anywhere from 3-6 dollars a carton. (source)
The main ingredients in coleslaw are cabbage, carrots, vinegar, vegetable oil, and sugar. Often, a customer can buy a mixed bag of coleslaw which contains cabbage and carrot that is already shredded. Once again, most of the ingredients are likely to already be purchased. But if someone wanted to go and buy all of these ingredients in one go from Walmart, the cost would be around 10 dollars. (source)
This is a much higher cost to grab all of the ingredients to make homemade coleslaw. However, when looking at getting some pre-made, the cost levels are significantly lower than potato salad. To buy a pre-made and prepackaged coleslaw is around 3 dollars. (source)
Which is Better to Cater at Events?
When thinking about catering it is important to consider a variety of factors such as the cost, the other foods being offered, the event type, the number of people coming, and the tastes of the people. I called a catering company and they gave me the run down on whether potato salad or coleslaw is the better pick for catering.
In the summertime, both coleslaw and potato salad are popular options for catering. They make good sides for barbecues especially. The woman I talked to at the catering company mentioned that the region is an important thing to consider. For example, potato salad is preferred in Idaho. In different areas, that might change. When discussing prices, she mentioned that potato salad is typically more expensive. In this case, it was around 25 dollars for a gallon of potato salad. She said a gallon would feed about 30 people.
Coleslaw is a different story. Coleslaw has a unique flavor, and it can be more difficult to find people who like coleslaw than finding people who like potato salad. Once again, this is entirely dependent on the region and what people prefer. An important thing to note is that coleslaw is less expensive to cater. From the same catering company previously discussed, a gallon of coleslaw would cost about 19 dollars. This would also feed around 30 people.
There is one other important factor to consider when it comes to catering. Coleslaw is mostly made up of leafy greens, so it will be less filling than potato salad. Thus, an event planner or individual might end up needing to order more coleslaw to feed the group of people. They might end up spending more money on coleslaw than if they had bought potato salad. Ultimately, it’s up the consumer to decide which is the better fit for the event being catered.
What Tastes Better?
Potato salad and coleslaw both have similar flavor profiles. Yet, some people have strong preferences one way or the other. I personally prefer potato salad because it is less bitter. But some people I asked mentioned enjoying coleslaw more due to the tangy and sweet flavor. It is also important to remember that other individuals dislike both dishes. Here are some additional taste benefits and disadvantages to both dishes.
Potato salad is a hearty side dish. Potato salad is mostly made out of potatoes, which has a basic flavor that most people enjoy. The mustard and mayo mix often create a tangy and divine mix of flavors that make it savory. By adding eggs, it has protein in it and makes it more filling and energy producing. With the other additions, like onion and bell pepper, a potato salad can become spicier, sweeter, or simply have a larger variety of flavor.
This dish is also not super crunchy, which makes it a nice dish for older folks who have a harder time chewing and younger children who do not have all of their teeth. It also can be easier to convince younger children to eat potato salad because it has many familiar ingredients.
Coleslaw is starkly different than potato salad when it comes to flavor. It is much crunchier, as carrots and cabbage tend to have a more solid structure. The cabbage and carrots can be refreshing and energizing, as both are vegetables with more structure, and they have higher levels of nutritional value than potato salad does.
The dressing is less heavy and dense than the dressing in potato salad. The dressing is often bitter and sweet, a unique flavor combination caused by vinegar being mixed with sugar. It has a much more salad like feel and taste than potato salad. This can be great when it comes to most people. But it could be difficult to convince a child to eat it as cabbage is not a common childhood favorite food.
Main Dish Options
With both potato salad and coleslaw, they are not typically a main dish. This means that it is important for an individual to consider what the main dish is before deciding whether to have potato salad or coleslaw.
One of the disadvantages of potato salad is that it doesn’t have a lot of flavor combinations. It is usually combined with barbecue dishes, like brisket or pulled pork sandwiches. It also is a typical side dish for picnics and reunions.
Coleslaw, on the other hand, has an incredibly large amount of flavor combinations. Like potato salad, it is most often found paired with barbecues and picnics. However, there are many more dishes that often have coleslaw. These additional dishes include fish, seafood, sandwich wraps, stir fries, and tacos. (source)
At one Tex-Mex restaurant I worked at, there was a dish that featured coleslaw. It was coleslaw put on a taco with fried shrimp, pickled cabbage, and a chipotle ranch. Surprisingly, that taco was a top seller. Coleslaw is a great side dish to consider when it comes to trying to find a new way to put a twist on a classic meal.
Can an Individual Serve Both Dishes?
The best part about potato salad and coleslaw is that they are often served together. There is no need to decide between the two, unless someone does not want two side dishes. It is incredibly common to find both dishes side by side at a picnic, a family reunion, a barbecue, and even a tailgating party. They work together nicely and satisfy the desires of the people attending.
Now that we understand the inherent differences and benefits of each dish, it will be much easier to pick between each of these dishes for different events and audiences.