Green cabbage is the star in this healthy homemade coleslaw recipe. If you think coleslaw is heavy and gloppy (and it can be), let me change your mind. Just three ingredients and an easy dressing. Bonus! I've listed 7 fun flavor variations at the end of the post.
Coleslaw is the classic summer salad to accompany everything on your summer menu from grilled chicken and seafood to pulled pork, tacos and burgers. And cabbage is not only super budget friendly, but it is packed with nutrients.
Making homemade means you control the ingredients. No refined sugar, questionable oils (soy, canola, GMO), preservatives, or too much dressing. My version is simply:
- Green cabbage (½ a head for 4, 1 ¼ pounds)
- Carrots (2)
- Parsley (half small bunch)
Toss with an easy dressing and its ready. The dressing recipe makes 1 cup, and you'll need about ⅓ cup for this recipe for 4 servings.
How to Cut Cabbage
Let's make this big green round head more manageable.
- First, slice a little off of the core end so you have a flat surface.
- Next, stand the cabbage on the now flat root end and cut it in half.
- Then cut the halves into halves again so you have quarters.
- Lastly, trim out the core.
What's next depends on if you are slicing by hand or with a food processor. In a pinch you can buy the bags of coleslaw mix but it's usually not as fresh as homemade. It doesn't take long to slice it either by hand or with a food processor.
Slicing by Hand
To cut cabbage by hand, lay the quarters flat on a cutting board and slice crosswise into very thin ribbons with a chef's sharp knife. For the carrots, grate with a hand grater, chop parsley by hand.
Slicing With a Food Processor
Depending on the size of the food processor feed tube, cut the cabbage quarters in half again so they fit into the feed tube. Insert the thin slicing blade, put the cabbage chunks into the feed tube, sliced side down, and process through.
If there are any bigger pieces of core, you can remove them. For the carrots, swap out the slicing blade for the grating blade and grate them.
This simple creamy coleslaw dressing uses your favorite mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon mustard (instead of mustard powder), apple cider vinegar for some tang, a little honey to sweeten it up.
- Use either smooth or whole grain Dijon.
- For a little kick, add prepared horseradish.
- For low carb and no sugar try this sugar-free keto syrup (and vegan).
- Other sweetener options, maple syrup or agave syrup.
- Add a little finely chopped shallot for texture and flavor.
- For pepper, white pepper disappears.
- For a vegan dressing, use all mayo or sub vegan sour cream.
Many recipes use celery seed. It adds a little savory edge and the traditional specks for coleslaw dressing, but it's optional. A way to get those flecks without celery seed is using whole grain Dijon mustard. Put the ingredients in a jar and shake well or whisk in a small bowl.
Let's talk about mayo. My favorite store brands are Vegenaise and Sir Kensington's. Both are vegan and egg-free with a clean light flavor that works well in recipes, but use your favorite.
Slice the cabbage and make the dressing a day (or two) ahead. Toss dressing with the coleslaw right before serving for a crisp slaw or an hour ahead for it to soften.
- For Mexican style, swap cilantro for parsley, squeeze in lime juice and add sliced jalapeños. A little cumin in the dressing is good too.
- For a colorful coleslaw add thinly sliced red cabbage, thinly sliced red and yellow bell pepper.
- For pineapple coleslaw, add finely chopped pineapple (drained if juicy) and sliced green onions, add ginger puree to the dressing. For crunch top with a sprinkle of shredded coconut.
- For Middle Eastern coleslaw, skip the dijon and add rose harissa, ground cumin and smoked paprika to the dressing.
- Make it vegan with vegan sour cream, egg-free mayo, and maple, agave or keto syrup.
- Make it an apple slaw with julienne strips of Granny Smith apple.
- Make it a Napa cabbage slaw by substituting half Napa cabbage.
For an Asian-style cabbage salad with almond butter dressing, try this recipe. You can also use this dressing recipe versus the almond butter.
Healthy Homemade Coleslaw
- Food Processor OPTIONAL
- ½ cup your favorite mayo I use Vegenaise or Sir Kensington's
- ¼ cup sour cream dairy or vegan
- 1 tablespoon honey sub maple syrup, agave or keto syrup
- 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish optional
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper ground black or white
- ⅛ teaspoon celery seed optional
Make the Coleslaw Dressing
- Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until blended or in a jar and shake well.
Slice the Cabbage by Hand
- Slice a small piece off the root end. Stand the head on the flat end and cut through the cabbage vertically. Lay the halves down flat and cut each half again, so you have 4 quarters. Slice the cabbage thin crosswise with a sharp chef's knife. Grate carrots on a grater and chop the parsley by hand. T
Slice the Cabbage by Food Processor
- Slice a small piece off the root end. Stand the head on the flat end and cut through the cabbage vertically. Lay the halves down flat and cut each half again, so you have 4 quarters. Insert the thin slicing blade. Cut the quarters in half for eighths to fit in the feed tube. Place each piece cut side down into the feed tube and process through. Swap out to the grating blade and do the carrots. Chop the parsley by hand.
Finish the Coleslaw
- Once vegetables are sliced, combine in a bowl and dress before serving or up to an house ahead. You can make the coleslaw and dressing 1-2 days ahead, stored separately, and dress when ready.