Dolly Parton’s Secret Ingredient for the Best-Ever Coleslaw

You might not be surprised to know that we call on Dolly Parton a lot. When we need to lift our spirits, we crank up Dolly's music. When we need a comforting movie to curl up on the couch with, we queue up Dolly's cult classic movie, Steel Magnolias (maybe with a side of cake inspired by the flick). And when we're in a cooking rut, Dolly's original recipes, like her cornbread and cream of vegetable soup, or her line of boxed baking mixes have nourished us with their soulful, made-with-love flavors.

The Iron Butterfly possesses an incredible culinary brain and her recipes for classic dishes are always in a class of their own. With summer cookout season around the corner, we stumbled upon Dolly's coleslaw and once again, she blew our minds with the addition of a major game-changer for this essential side dish.

You simply can't go wrong with classic coleslaw. Crisp shreds of vegetables doused in a creamy sauce. What more could you want? Well some more tang wouldn't hurt anyone. Luckily, Dolly has a solve. According to her, the secret ingredient to perfectly balanced coleslaw comes down to two ingredients: pickle juice and pickles.

Related: I Made Dolly Parton's Famous Biscuits and They Taste Just Like My Grandma's

There's nothing wrong with a super creamy salad. Like Dolly, it's a country classic for a reason! But those mayo-based dressings can be a little heavy, and tangy pickles (and the juice they're packed in) work to balance things out. The vinegary acidity of the pickle juice helps brighten the flavors of the coleslaw, seasoning and lightening the vegetables. Dolly's coleslaw recipe features cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, and onions and bursts of chopped pickles help add another crunchy texture and tangy flavor to the overall mix.

Related: The Simple Dessert That's Always on Dolly Parton's Holiday Table

The simplest thing you can do is follow the Queen of Country's exact recipe from her 1989 cookbook, Dollywood Presents Tennessee Mountain Home Cooking. But if you have a coleslaw recipe you already love, like this copycat KFC recipe, it's easy to Dolly-fy it. When you make the dressing, whisk 1/4 cup of pickle juice with the other ingredients. Then add a tablespoon (or more) of minced dill pickles (or dill pickle relish) to the bowl of vegetables and dressing and mix it all together.

Up next: How Much Coleslaw Per Guest Do You Need for Your BBQ?