This mayo-free version of Coleslaw is made with rainbow-colored cabbage and carrot shreds tossed in a homemade Vegan Slaw Dressing with a kick! It has a combination of tangy, sweet, and mildly zesty flavors in every crisp and colorful serving. Then sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds to add pops of nuttiness! It is dairy-free, gluten-free, lighter than the classic, and will only take 20 minutes to make – a great addition to your side dish repertoire!
The Best Homemade Vegan Coleslaw Recipe
There are several reasons why this is one of the most popular side dishes, but with this vegan recipe, you have all the more reasons to make it part of your weekly meal rotation!
Since this Coleslaw recipe does not use a mayo-based dressing, it significantly contains lower fats and calories. This veggie side dish is full of great health benefits like vitamins A, C, and K, fiber, and antioxidants.
Budget-friendly. Cabbage is very affordable, especially when in season. Instead of the typical green cabbage, try it with savoy cabbage. At my local cheap supermarket, they were the same price. It’s more tender, so you won’t have to work as hard in massaging it/slicing it super thin. The sesame seeds are a nice touch (visually, texturally), but if it’s out of budget range, don’t feel bad about leaving them out. Toasting them yourself is easy enough, but the recipe rocks without them, too.
Quick and Easy. The majority of the prep work is shredding the vegetables, which can be lessened if you use a mandolin. It just takes 10 minutes to assemble, provided that the slaw dressing is already made. If not, you’ll only have to add 6 minutes anyways. Make sure to make it at least an hour before serving to allow time to let it chill, though.
Coleslaw is a fun dish to make because of its adaptability, which allows you to add other veggies or fruits as you please. It’s customizable and can be tweaked to fit your taste.
Slaw Dressing – It is made of creamy silken tofu combined with cayenne to give it a kick! This vegan version is mayo-free, gluten-free, and done in just 6 minutes.
Cabbage – You can use a mixture of red, green, or purple cabbage varieties. I used savoy, but feel free to use regular or Napa too.
Carrots – Aside from adding more color, it lends a touch of sweetness to the salad, which goes well with our dressing.
Toasted sesame seeds – adding this might be optional, but it’ll take your vegan Coleslaw to the next level!
How to make the Coleslaw
Make the dressing. (if not yet ready). Follow the steps here.
Prep your cabbage. Any wilted or discolored leaves should be discarded. Quarter the cabbage and thinly slice it.
Mix with the dressing. In a mixing bowl, add the green cabbage and carrots. Next, place the red cabbage in a separate bowl. Divide the dressing into two bowls. Massage the veggies until they soften for about 3-5 minutes. Make sure the vegetables are thoroughly coated.
Chill. Refrigerate both bowls covered with cling wrap. Give your Coleslaw an hour in the fridge to soak the dressing up. Or you can chill overnight.
Toast the sesame seeds. In a non-stick pan, toast the sesame seeds over low to medium heat for about 3-5 minutes.
Assemble. Remove the bowls from the fridge at least 10 minutes before serving. When it’s time to serve, mix the green and red together. Sprinkle some of the toasted sesame seeds and enjoy!
Mix-in, Variations, and Substitutes
Fruits. If you have fruits that are in season, feel free to add them. Apples, pineapples, mandarins, and grapes are great additions.
Nuts. Chopped walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, etc., can give your vegan Coleslaw that extra texture.
Spruce it up by adding a few herbs like scallions, dill, mint, and cilantro.
Cooking Tips when Making Vegan Coleslaw
Don’t slice your cabbages too thinly, otherwise, the salad will become mushy when combined with the dressing.
Before you dump ALL the dressing into the bowls, try reserving some. Massage with most of the dressing, and if it needs more or you like your slaw well-dressed, then put the rest in. Remember, you can always add more, as draining a soupy slaw is just kinda sad.
When toasting the sesame seeds, make sure to stir and move them frequently in the hot pan to prevent them from burning.
If you are making your vegan Coleslaw to go, put the green/carrot mix on top of the red, and mix once at your destination. Place the seeds in a small plastic bag/glass jar, which you can throw right on top of the cabbage in your large bowl.
Everything can be chopped and sliced ahead of time. You can even make the dressing in advance and store it in the fridge.
No time for shredding? Buy a bag of coleslaw mix instead. This will significantly reduce your prep time.
Store leftover coleslaw in the fridge using an airtight container for up to 3 days. The more it stays in the fridge, the more the veggies become softer and less crunchy. Freezing the Coleslaw may not be a good idea as it will lose its overall texture. When making ahead, you can store the veggies and dressing separately for longer shelf life.
What to do with leftover vegan Coleslaw?
Put your leftovers to good use by using them with your tacos or sandwiches! When you have a zesty cabbage mixture to top your sandwich, you don’t need lettuce, tomato, or onion. Once the veggies have really softened, you can serve them on top of tortilla chips. Just make sure to drain the excess liquid first.
If you have leftover cabbages, try these recipes too!
Rainbow Coleslaw Salad with Avocado Mayo – Serve a colorful and delicious coleslaw for your Super Bowl party or get-together. You may serve this as a side dish with any of your main courses or eat it on its own.
This mayo-free version of Coleslaw is made with rainbow-colored cabbage and carrot shreds tossed in a homemade Slaw dressing with a kick! It has a combination of tangy, sweet, and mildly zesty flavors in every crisp and colorful serving.
If you haven't already, prepare the Dressing recipe!
For both the green and red cabbages, peel off any wilted, discolored, otherwise undesirable outer leaves. Quarter, core, and slice thinly, but not super duper thin! You don't want your slaw to become mush later after massaging it with the dressing.
Mix the green cabbage and carrots in a large bowl and place the red cabbage in another bowl. Split the dressing between the two bowls, and massage until the cabbage has softened — about 3 to 5 minutes. Note: before you dump ALL the dressing into the bowls, try reserving some. Massage with most of the dressing, and if it needs more/you like your slaw well-dressed, then put the rest in. Remember, you can always add more, as draining a soupy slaw is just kinda sad.
Cover both bowls, and refrigerate. Ideally, overnight, but give it at least an hour for the cabbage to soften/soak up the dressing.
If toasting your own sesame seeds: Put the seeds in a single/uniform layer in a dry, non-stick skillet. Heat over low to medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, stirring/moving the skillet frequently. Don't let them burn!
Remove the bowls at least 10 minutes before serving. Mix the green and red together, and throw in the sesame seeds if you got them. If you're traveling with your cookout contribution and can/want to only take one bowl, put the green/carrot mix on top of the red, and mix once at your destination. [Transport the seeds in a small plastic bag/glass jar, which you can throw right on top of the cabbage in your large bowl.]
A former math teacher, Matt is now cooking up food in a vegan restaurant in Berkeley, CA. More than 5 years into his vegan journey, he loves sharing tasty, compassionate, and healthful food with friends and family--and strangers, too, sometimes!