Maple Syrup Is A Truly Slept-On Sweetener For Coleslaw Dressing

There are plenty of secret ingredients you probably never thought to use when making coleslaw, but when it comes to less-common sweeteners, maple syrup tops the list. Coleslaw recipes generally call for shredded green and purple cabbage, along with carrots, all tossed in a creamy coleslaw dressing comprised of mayo, mustard, something acidic like vinegar or lemon, a sweetener, and seasonings. When it comes to the dressing, the sweetener is really the lynchpin ingredient that creates an equilibrium of flavor. 

When you use maple syrup in place of sugar, this sticky liquid not only adds balance, it gives you a richer tasting dressing. But if you are going to use maple syrup, don't use those common brands that you drizzle on your pancakes. You want a pure maple syrup to ensure you get all that unadulterated flavor, and reap the benefits from using a natural sweetener instead of processed sugar.

How to do this sweetener swap

Why pure maple syrup? Because the kind of processed syrup many people use on pancakes is going to be overly sweet with an artificial maple flavor. Not that there's anything wrong with it when you're eating a short stack on a family camping trip; however, pure maple syrup doesn't have the same cloying texture or added ingredients as the artificial stuff. It's much better as a naturally-derived sweetener to balance the tangy flavors of coleslaw dressing, plus, it contains some nutrients.

Maple syrup has a nice viscosity that works well mixed into a creamy coleslaw dressing. It will help keep a creamy coleslaw dressing thick, but it also works as a sweetener for a vinegar-based dressing. Generally when swapping maple sugar in for sugar, you want to use ¾ cup of maple syrup for 1 cup of white sugar. Most coleslaw recipes don't need to be followed that precisely, though; depending on if you're making a vinegar-based or creamy coleslaw, the amount of sweetener needed to balance flavors will vary — just taste it along the way.

What to pair with coleslaw

Use your coleslaw sweetened with maple syrup to top meaty sloppy Joes or Baja fish tacos. It's also perfect to serve alongside your barbecue beef short ribs, smoked brisket, or burnt ends to cut through the richness of these fatty meats all while adding a nice bit of crunchy texture to these dishes.

If you want to get creative and craft a coleslaw that is borderline gourmet, try using a maple bourbon syrup. You can buy this syrup, or it's easy to make, requiring nothing more than a splash of your favorite bourbon, maple syrup and a sauce pan to bring the mixture to a boil. Once it has cooled, you're in business. This boozy addition to your coleslaw dressing will match up perfectly with pulled pork tossed in smoky barbecue sauce on a soft white bun, or as an unexpected topping for hot dogs at your next backyard barbecue.