The best and easy mexican slaw made with fresh green and red cabbage, red onion, cilantro, carrots, lime juice and naturally sweetened with a touch of pure honey. It's quick and simple, healthy without the addition of mayo.
It’s bursting with a ton of flavor thanks to refreshing salad dressing. However if needed, you could get away with only basics like olive oil, salt, and black pepper. But this is too easy.
Why It's Yummy
- Cabbage is highly nutritious. Red cabbage is especially high in vitamin C and K (more than green cabbage). Both cabbages help to promote a healthy gut and fight inflammation.
- The salad is refreshing and crunchy. Each bite has a ton of flavor. And kids love it too.
- Unlike the traditional creamy slaws, this version has no added sugars and we skipped the mayo here. Keep it simple and lime juice, pure maple syrup (this is optional!) or honey and vinegar is all you need for dressing here.
- Low carb, paleo, gluten-free and vegan.
- Easily customizable - honey and lime both create a good blend of sweet and sour flavors. Red wine vinegar adds more freshness to the dressing. The quantities provided in this recipe are more or less simple guidelines. Add those to taste until you find the right balance.
- ⭐ This fresh coleslaw is great not only for tacos but will taste great in Salmon Burgers and meaty Lettuce Wraps.
My few comments on the ingredients + don't forget to read the Tips section!
The full recipe and ingredients can be found in the recipe card below this post.
For today’s Mexican slaw salad, we can use a prepackage coleslaw mix or cut the cabbage and carrots very fine with a good quality mandoline.
- Vinegar - most of the mild vinegars are good to use here. It adds sharp flavor and freshness. And the best part is that it's very good for your gut health and digestion. Personally, I love the red vinegar flavor with cabbage.
- Lime - to add more tangy deliciousness and refreshing notes to the dressing. Lemon can be used instead too.
- Coleslaw - 3-4 cups of coleslaw mix either store-bought or homemade. To quickly prep your cabbage and carrots, I highly recommend investing in a good mandoline. Saves you a ton of time, and money.
- Sweetener - honey, or maple syrup are best here but both have a unique aroma and flavor that isn’t suitable for everyone. Artificial sweeteners are not good and stevia is not the healthiest to use either. Agave syrup has more neutral taste you could add this instead.
- Cilantro - this ingredient is what completes the Mexican slaw. Without this fresh, pungent citrusy flavor it would be just a cabbage salad. However, many folks don’t like cilantro and I totally get it. I haven’t made this salad without cilantro but you can experiment with other fresh herbs such as oregano or parsley. Use way less than we are adding cilantro here.
📋 JULIA'S TIP This slaw is naturally sweetened with honey, but you can also use agave syrup (less sweet and more neutral flavor) or maple syrup. The sweetener is an optional step and you can easily make a completely unsweetened and sugar-free coleslaw.
Make the dressing by whisking together honey, salt, pepper, lime juice, fresh garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar. Mix until all combined. Set aside.
In a large bowl add coleslaw mix, pinch of salt and black pepper.
Massage gently with your hands until the cabbage has softened. Let sit for 5-10 minutes to soften even more and soak up the flavors.
Add in red onion and cilantro. Pour in the dressing and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning.
Flavor & Texture: crunchy and light. With each bite, you can taste a combination of all the veggies, that are tossed in tangy sweet citrus dressing.
Mexican Coleslaw Variations
This salad is easily customizable. The cabbage pairs well with many other ingredients which don't have to be all Mexican.
Just use what you want or have in your kitchen at the moment. We love adding:
- chopped avocados
- green onion or scallions
- bell peppers
- corn - fresh or canned. Add in leftovers from this Cajun Corn On The Cob, you will not regret this!
- more fresh herbs - parsley, mint
- cheese - Mexican cotija cheese, feta, or crumbled fresh mozzarella
- you could also use napa cabbage instead of green cabbage. It's less crunchy though.
- You can swap out the tangy dressing for creamy dressing by adding a combination of mayo and Greek yogurt or sour cream mix.
- Honey can be substituted with agave or maple syrup.
- I usually like to add more red cabbage. I love the flavor and that it is more healthy than other ingredients. More good stuff for your body! One negative aspect is that thanks to the pretty purple hue of the fresh red cabbage other ingredients will turn purple too. Which is totally fine if you consume the salad as soon as it's made. The longer the salad sits, the more purple dye will occur.
- Add in some chopped nuts or pepitas to boost this slaw’s nutritional value even more. And yes, you get the additional crunch too!
- No pre-packaged coleslaw mix? Then a good mandoline is the way to go because you need very thin veggie strips here. It will shred anything into uniform sizes in minutes.
- Depending on what dishes this Mexican slaw will be served with, you can throw in some smoky and spicy hot peppers in the mix. Jalapeno peppers, green chilies, serrano, or habanero peppers are a great way to start. Make sure to remove the seeds and chop these very finely. You only need a little.
- A pinch of chili powder or ground chipotle powder will add a similar flavor too.
What To Serve With Coleslaw
Mexican food and all the foods that you'd serve on an epic taco night! Just kidding, you can serve anything literally with this Mexican slaw!
It's a perfect side dish, paired with almost anything from grilled meats, seafood, tex-mex style dishes, tacos, fajitas, and many more.
These are my top recommendations on what to serve with coleslaw. Check out ALL DINNER recipes.
- To Store. Coleslaw mixed with the dressing is best to serve and consume right away. However, you can refrigerate salad and dressing separately in airtight container for up to 4-5 days.
- Make-Ahead. This salad comes together literally in minutes, 5-10 minutes to be precise. Especially if you’re using pre-cut veggies.
- So make as much as you’d consume and if needed extra salad doesn't require much time to prep.
Cabbage is made with thinly chopped or shredded vegetables (usually cabbage and carrots). All of these ingredients boost your body with plenty of nutrients. The coleslaw is healthy if you use a light olive oil salad dressing instead of the traditional high-calorie mayo and sugar dressing.
Discard the outer leaves of the cabbage and rinse the cabbage under cold water. Cut it into thick wedges and rinse again to remove any bacteria and worms staying inside.
You should definitely wash any vegetables. First of all, is to remove the dirt bacteria, and chemicals that most vegetables nowadays are sprayed with. Then, once you chop the cabbage, place it into a large colander and run it under cold water. It helps to remove any worms that can be hiding inside.
You don't have to refrigerate whole cabbage unless it's very hot in your pantry. Cabbage can be safely stored at room temperature, preferably even in a more dark and chilled environment. Once you rinse or chop the cabbage, it is best to keep it tightly sealed in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Easy Cabbage Recipes
If you love cabbage recipes, I have a delicious collection of 40+ Best Cabbage Recipes (featuring both green and red cabbage recipes).
- Cabbage and Cucumber Salad With Dill
- Salmon Salad With Cabbage (Grill or Oven)
- Ground Beef and Cabbage
- Healthy Purple Cabbage Salad With Almonds
- Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Kale Tacos (Vegan)
- Baked Cauliflower Tacos With Spicy Avocado Crema
- Healthy Lemon Kale Caesar Salad With Chicken
- Cabbage and Potatoes (Colcannon-Irish Mashed Potatoes)
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Easy Mexican Slaw Recipe
- 3 cups coleslaw mix (purple cabbage, green cabbage and carrots)
- 2 teaspoon honey or more to taste
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoon lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon fresh garlic (minced or more to taste)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil (good quality is essential)
- ½ cup fresh cilantro (finely chopped)
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or sub with apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup red onion (thinly sliced)
- Make the dressing by whisking together honey, salt, pepper, lime juice, fresh garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar. Mix until all combined. Set aside.
- In a large bowl add coleslaw mix, pinch of salt and black pepper. Massage gently with your hands until the cabbage has softened. Let sit for 5-10 minutes to soften even more and soak up the flavors.
- Add in red onion, and cilantro. Pour in the dressing and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning.
- Serve with your favorite tacos, burrito bowls, fajitas and so much more!
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)