Asian Cabbage Salad with Creamy Almond Dressing

By Sally Cameron on July 26, 2019

Gluten-Free, Histamine Friendly, Lunch, Paleo, Salads, Sauces & Dressings, the daniel plan, Vegan, Vegetables & Side Dishes, Vegetarian

This colorful Asian cabbage salad, or Asian coleslaw, has a creamy, no-mayonnaise dressing made with almond butter (or cashew butter). Ginger, garlic, sesame oil, honey, soy sauce (or tamari for GF), and rice vinegar round out the dressing fantastic flavors. This salad with cabbage is a terrific all-purpose summer salad for lunches, picnics and parties, or cookouts with grilled meat, chicken and seafood or burgers. With all of the color it looks like a party on a platter!

Colorful Asian Cabbage Salad |
Colorful Asian cabbage salad on a large platter with wooden fork and spoon.

Colorful Asian Cabbage Salad

With so many bright colors, this Asian cabbage salad looks like an explosion of confetti. It’s crisp, crunchy, and cool with lots of veggies.  Use three kinds of cabbage for this salad: Napa cabbage, plus standard green and purple varieties. In addition to cabbage, add red bell peppers (or yellow or orange), grated carrot and cilantro. If you don’t like cilantro, use Italian parsley. Not familiar with Napa cabbage?

Napa Cabbage | Afoodcentriclife
Light green Napa cabbage leaves in a flat stainless steel strainer.

What is Napa Cabbage?

Napa cabbage is also called Chinese cabbage, celery cabbage, Peking cabbage, Hakusai and Wong Bok, so it can be a little confusing at the market. It’s a large, heavy, sort of football shaped head with large, pale green, crinkly leaves. The flavor is mild and the texture is nice and crisp. It’s a good source of vitamin A, folic acid and potassium. Find more info at this link. It’s available at most grocery stores.

Besides Asian cabbage salad, Napa cabbage is good for sautéing, using raw in tacos or using as a shell for tacos or wraps. Use extra Napa cabbage leaves instead of Romaine for these Asian Lettuce Wraps made with ground turkey.

How to Chop Napa Cabbage

When prepping Napa cabbage for this salad, slice leaves from the bottom of the head. Cut the center ‘V’ shaped core out of each leaf, then pile the softer leaves together and chop them crosswise into thin ribbons.

Asian Coleslaw |
Colorful cabbage salad in an orange bowl with napkin.

Make the Creamy Dressing (No Mayo)

For the nut butter dressing, use a blender, or whisk ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. For small batches of things I use the Tribest Personal Glass Blender. It comes with handy small containers and lids, perfect for things like dressing. This recipe makes extra dressing. Any extra keeps in a jar in the refrigerator for about a week.

Making dressing in a Tribest Personal Glass blender
Dressing in a Tribest Personal Glass Blender

For Histamine Intolerance

All of these vegetables are safe for people with histamine intolerance. For the dressing, use almond butter not cashew butter as cashews are are a histamine liberator for many people. If almonds are a problem, use tahini (sesame seed butter). Try white vinegar instead of the rice vinegar if that is a concern (it is fermented). If you are soy-free, try liquid coconut aminos instead of soy or tamari.


What if I can’t find Napa cabbage?

Use more of the green cabbage or look for Savoy cabbage. It’s has crinkly leaves too.

What if I’m allergic to nut butters?

Use tahini, which is sesame seed butter. Taste and adjust flavor to your preference.

What if I hate cilantro?

For all your cilantro-haters, use flat leaf/Italian parsley instead.

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes, slice all of your veggies a day or two before and keep well covered and refrigerated. Make dressing ahead as well and toss to serve when you’re ready.

Updated 2/24/22

Asian Coleslaw |
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4 from 1 vote

Colorful Asian Cabbage Salad with Almond Butter Dressing

Colorful and crunchy, this cabbage salad has a creamy almond butter dressing with inspired flavors. Make it all ahead and toss with dressing when ready to serve. Great along side grilled chicken or steak and packs great for a picnic or party. Please see notes at then end on adapting for Histamine Intolerance.
Course Salad
Cuisine Asian
Keyword asian, Cabbage, Cabbage salad, salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 97kcal



  • 8 large leaves Napa cabbage sliced, 3 cups
  • 4 cups thinly sliced green cabbage about half a head
  • 1 cup thinly sliced purple cabbage about a 1/4 of a head
  • 3/4 cup grated carrots 3 medium
  • 1 cup red bell pepper (or red and yellow) thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro or Italian parsley


  • 2 tablespoons creamy almond or cashew butter
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons oil of choice coconut, MCT,
  • 2 teaspoons low sodium tamari or soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger or pureed ginger from jar
  • 1 clove finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons honey


Make the Salad

  • Trim white “v” core out of Napa cabbage leaves with a sharp knife. Gather softer part of leaves together and slice crosswise into thin strips or ribbons. Place in a large bowl.
  • Lay green and red cabbage flat and slice thinly into ribbons. Grate carrots on large hole of box grater. Slice peppers into thin strips (see post for photo help). Add all to bowl with Napa cabbage, along with chopped cilantro. Toss with almond butter dressing and serve.

Make the Dressing

  • Place all ingredients in a small bowl and stir until smooth, or use a blender. Thin with a little warm water if it's too thick. Toss with salad before serving with just enough dressing to coat leaves to your preference. Extra keeps well, covered and refrigerated for a week. You'll need about 1/3 cup for the salad.


Make it Ahead
Raw sliced vegetables will keep for a day or two well wrapped and refrigerated, so slice everything ahead and dress when you eat. It’s a great make-ahead dish.
Adapting for Histamine Intolerance
All of these vegetables if you have histamine intolerance. For the dressing, use almond butter as cashews are are a histamine liberator for some people. If almonds are a problem, use tahini (sesame seed butter). Try white vinegar instead of the rice vinegar if that is a concern. If you are soy-free, try liquid coconut aminos instead of soy or tamari. 


Calories: 97kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 84mg | Potassium: 359mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 3826IU | Vitamin C: 69mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 1mg
  1. Chris - June 7th, 2014

    Delicious! Thank you for this recipe. To make it my own I added a little green onion to the finished tossed salad and some roasted almond slivers. I served it with seared Seasame crusted Ahi tuna. You can add a little Wasabi to some dressing in a bowl to dip tuna. Made a great, light summer meal.

  2. Sally - June 7th, 2014

    Sounds perfect Chris! Green onions is a great addition. Thanks much for reporting back.

  3. susan - February 8th, 2015

    Show a much smaller color photo. This wastes a lot of ink. Then list the ingredients and the directions. The tips on prepping the cabbage and skipping the mayo are VERY helpful.

  4. Sally Cameron - February 9th, 2015

    Hi Susan, thanks for your comment. My old site had an option to print with photos or not. My new site (this one), which just launched a week ago, has only “print recipe” and it prints in black and white, so I might not be understanding your problem.

  5. Karen - January 30th, 2018

    The coleslaw is very good and a nice change from so many other slaw recipes! The Asian Almond Butter Sauce was the perfect dressing! Lovely flavors? Served it with your Easy Sesame Teriyaki Chicken Thighs! A delightful meal! Thanks so much!

  6. Sally Cameron - January 31st, 2018

    Sounds like a winning combo Karen! Great idea!

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