This no mayo coleslaw is a light and refreshing summer slaw with a flavorful homemade dressing. There are so many variations to this recipe, but this summer slaw is one I've been making for many years now. Packed with nutritious but simple ingredients, and complete with a delicious peanut slaw dressing, this recipe is sure to be a hit at every BBQ and potluck!
This post contains helpful tips and tricks! If you're in a rush, please use the "Jump to Recipe" below!
💭 Why you'll love this recipe
- Light and refreshing. This no mayo coleslaw is incredibly fresh and light and filled with nutritious greens and veggies, making it the perfect side dish to pair with other entrées and a great option for summer cookouts.
- Quick and easy. Using only simple ingredients, this summer slaw recipe takes only about 15 minutes to make. Perfect for a weekday meal or as a last minute potluck idea!
- Pair it with the perfect dressing. This summer coleslaw is paired with a delicious and creamy peanut slaw dressing that's bursting with flavor.
📋 Coleslaw ingredients and notes
To make this summer slaw, you'll need red cabbage, green cabbage, carrots, cilantro, scallions, toasted sesame oil, toasted peanuts, minced garlic, soy sauce, and peanut butter.
I love to have a good mix of textures in my homemade coleslaw recipes. And this coleslaw made without mayonnaise uses a homemade peanut dressing that's fresh and light to bring all the flavors together!
Notes and variations
- Crunchy cabbage: I typically like to slice my own cabbage for coleslaw using a mandoline slicer or a sharp knife. However, if you are short on time, you can definitely pick up packaged coleslaw mix. You can also mix up both red and green cabbage instead of using just one variety here.
- Carrots: I love using carrots in my coleslaw for both the color and the crunch. I tend to use a julienne peeler or a food processor with the julienne attachment. Using a peeler shreds it into the nice strips but you can also pick up shredded carrots at the grocery store.
- Scallions: Scallions are great in this summer coleslaw recipe because they're fresh, and give that "onion" flavor without overpowering the slaw.
- Toasted peanuts: Adding toasted peanuts brings out the flavor in the peanut-based dressing! But you can also almost any toasted seeds or nuts - whether that's pine nuts, pepitas, or any other mixed seeds.
- Cilantro: Cilantro in the summer slaw gives a nice boost of freshness. But if you're one of those people for whom cilantro tastes like soap (I'm sorry, but I do see you) - you can use almost any fresh herbs in this red cabbage slaw. I have previously used both mint and basil and both are great.
- Red pepper flakes: Add a spicy kick to your salad by adding a dash of red pepper flakes to your salad or to the salad dressing.
- Adding more vinegar: The slaw has a bit of a good kick but if you want to add some acid, a squeeze of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar go a long way.
📖 How to make summer slaw (no mayo)
If you're toasting peanuts at home, preheat oven to 350°F and roast the peanuts in the oven for about 15 minutes (optional).
Shred the cabbage into fine strips (use a mandoline or a food processor). Julienne the carrots using a peeler or food processor. Alternatively, get pre-shredded cabbage and carrots. Chop up the scallions and cilantro ( setting aside some cilantro for garnish)
Add the dressing ingredients (i.e., peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and salt) to a mason jar and whisk with a fork to combine - add water to thin the sauce as needed. You can also just shake the mason jar to combine.
Assemble the slaw by adding all the chopped ingredients into a large bowl, and tossing with the peanut dressing. Add salt and black pepper and adjust to taste. Garnish with cilantro and toasted peanuts. Your summer slaw is ready to serve at the next BBQ or picnic!
Is coleslaw healthy?
Coleslaw can absolutely be a healthy side dish, but it depends on the dressing! Traditional mayo based coleslaw dressing is high in fat and calories, so that leads people to say that coleslaw is bad for you!
However, there are many healthy coleslaw dressing recipes that use ingredients like Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, and olive oil. For example, Greek yogurt has less fat than mayonnaise. Olive oil is also considered a healthy fat.
🍶 Other coleslaw dressings without mayo
This summer slaw uses a really delicious, peanut-based coleslaw dressing to bring it all together. No mayonnaise, no white vinegar. This is vegan too!
For this no vinegar coleslaw dressing, I use peanut butter, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce and some garlic all whisked together. There are two other variations that I love for this recipe.
- Simple lemony vinaigrette: Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, salt and some minced garlic to about ¼ cup of olive oil and then whisk them well together for a super delicious and light vinaigrette with the perfect tang. Don't have olive oil on hand? Check out these substitutes for olive oil for some good options.
- Miso-ginger vinaigrette: If you have some miso handy, I love to add 2 tablespoons each of white miso paste and lime juice, a tablespoon each of toasted sesame oil and tahini along, along with 1 teaspoon of grated ginger. Whisk this all together for a creamy miso vinaigrette!
👩🏽🍳 Tips for making the best summer slaw
To make this healthy coleslaw recipe in the best way, follow these expert tips!
- Use fresh vegetables. The easiest way to elevate this homemade slaw recipe is to make sure that you use fresh ingredients. Look for vibrant and crisp green and red cabbages and other fresh vegetables for the recipe.
- Mix well. Mix the ingredients together until well combined, to make sure the flavors of your coleslaw are blended well every single time.
- Store the dressing separately. Store the creamy dressing in a separate container until you are ready to serve the coleslaw. Combine the dressing and salad only before serving to keep it fresh and prevent the vegetables from getting soggy!
- Serve it chilled! Chill summer slaw for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving to have the perfect balance at summer barbecues and picnics.
👩🏽🍳 Troubleshooting FAQs
No mayo coleslaw lasts in the fridge for up to three days when stored in an airtight container, separate from the dressing.
Summer slaw is a versatile and refreshing side dish that pairs well with a variety of main courses, especially those enjoyed during the warm summer months. Main dishes of your choice, tacos, sandwiches, grilled vegetables, wraps, quesadillas, and so many more.
Yes, you can definitely make summer coleslaw ahead! Making it in advance can be convenient for big-batch cooking and for weekly meal prepping. Just keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and keep the dressing separate until ready to serve.
Summer slaw, with its fresh and crunchy vegetables, is not typically recommended for freezing because it can cause vegetables to become limp and lose their crispness. However, you can freeze the dressing separately if needed.
🍴 What to eat with coleslaw
I love to serve this vegan coleslaw with so many things — especially during the summer. It's such a simple, bright and refreshing, and nutritious side that it's hard to NOT serve this with everything.
But some of my favorites things include:
- Sandwiches: Quinoa black bean burgers, pulled jackfruit sandwiches, veggie BLTs, and grilled cheese sandwiches are great options here.
- Heavy sides: Kimchi mac and cheese or rice dishes like this quick fried rice.
- Tacos: Gochujang cauliflower tacos or fried avocado tacos)
How to store and freeze coleslaw
I recommend eating this coleslaw while it's fresh, but leftover coleslaw stays fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days, when stored in an airtight container, separate from the dressing. Store the peanut slaw dressing in an airtight container like a mason jar, and keep it fresh in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks.
Freezing coleslaw might not be the best choice, since cabbage releases too much moisture and your coleslaw might become too soggy when it's time to thaw. If you do need to freeze it, place it in a freezer bag and make sure to seal it properly, removing any air inside.
To thaw, simply leave it in the refrigerator overnight. While still in the freezer bag, you can also let cold water run through it until it is thawed. I suggest dressing it after thawing (vs. freezing dressed slaw).
More healthy BBQ sides:
If you're looking for vegetarian BBQ sides that are a healthier twist:
- Classic American potato salad
- Grilled asparagus (in foil packets)
- Summer gazpacho (gluten-free)
- Avocado deviled eggs
Asian Summer Slaw
- 2 cup red cabbage, shredded thinly
- 2 cup green cabbage, shredded thinly
- 1 cup carrots, julienned
- 3 scallions, chopped into small pieces
- ½ cup toasted peanuts, substitute with any mixed nuts or seeds - you can buy toasted or toast them at home
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (chiffonade)
Homemade coleslaw dressing
- ¼ cup peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce , substitute with tamari for gluten-free
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice, optional
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey, optional
- Optional: if you're toasting peanuts at home, preheat oven to 350F and roast the peanuts in the oven for about 15 minutes
- Shred the cabbage into fine strips (use a mandoline or a food processor). Julienne the carrots using a peeler or food processor. Alternatively, get pre-shredded cabbage and carrots. Chop up the scallions and cilantro ( setting aside some cilantro for garnish)
- Add the peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and salt to a mason jar and whisk with a fork to combine - add some water to thin the sauce if you'd prefer that
- Assemble the slaw by adding all the chopped ingredients into a mixing bowl, and tossing with the peanut dressing
- Garnish with cilantro and toasted peanuts!
- You can either shred the vegetables at home or you can buy pre-shredded vegetables at the store - whatever is easier for you!
- To add more acid and a touch of sweet, you can also use lemon juice and maple syrup if you prefer (noted as optional ingredients)
- Other variations for dressing: simple lemony vinaigrette and a creamier miso-ginger dressing (in the post!)