Coleslaw is just one of those side dish recipes that is basically a must at BBQs, potlucks, or picnics in the summertime. And while you could go ahead and buy storebought, why bother when you can make this super easy homemade version in under 10 minutes?!

Bowl of red cabbage coleslaw with spoon.

It’s not only perfect on its own but topped on vegetarian BBQ sandwiches, carrot dogs, and fish tacos for a cool, crunchy garnish. This coleslaw without vinegar is light and bright, made with lime juice, and has cilantro for an herby twist.

The homemade dressing is creamy and only slightly sweet, if you want it to be, and comes together lickety-split. Truly, I don’t think there’s an easier must-have summer side dish out there (well, ok, I might have a few, but for coleslaw, this is it!).

Ingredients for Homemade Coleslaw

You’ll only need a few simple ingredients for this recipe:

Cabbage, carrots, mayo, and spices in bowls next to cilantro and limes.
  • Shredded Red Cabbage: I love the color and crunch that red (or purple) cabbage provides; however, feel free to use a mix of red and green cabbage, or even all green if you prefer.
  • Shredded Carrots: colorful and nutritious, carrots add another element of crunch.
  • Mayonnaise: a little more traditional when it comes to coleslaw ingredients, this is our creamy base. Feel free to swap half with sour cream or greek yogurt.
  • Lime Juice: ah, our acid, since this recipe doesn’t have any vinegar. Lime juice is a wonderful flavor booster and seriously brightens up the slaw.
  • Cilantro: what pairs better with lime than cilantro? If you’re not a fan, just omit it.
  • Spices: our dressing has a few spices for added flavor…garlic powder, celery seed, and ground mustard add depth and a little bit of tang.
  • Sweet: if you’re a fan of a slightly sweet coleslaw, add some granulated sugar or honey to the dressing to balance out the acid. Keeping this one optional, because honestly I sometimes just prefer the straight-up tang. This is the perfect recipe for practicing your taste-testing skills and getting it just right.

Let’s Make Red Cabbage Coleslaw

In just 3 simple steps and less than 10 minutes, this easy coleslaw without vinegar is ready to serve!

  1. Mix together the coleslaw dressing.
    • Whisk together the mayonnaise, lime juice, spices, and sugar. Be sure to taste test and adjust as needed (if you don’t massage the cabbage, be sure to add some salt, too).
Bowl of coleslaw dressing with spoon.
  1. Shred the cabbage and carrots.
    • Use a box grater or the shred attachment on your food processor to make this step super easy! You can also buy pre-shredded carrots and thinly slice the cabbage.

To make the cabbage more tender, massage it with a little bit of kosher salt to soften before you assemble the coleslaw.

Coleslaw veggies in bowl.
  1. Toss together the shredded veggies with the dressing and cilantro. Taste test and adjust as needed, then enjoy!

Coleslaw Variations

If you’re looking to mix up your coleslaw, here are some delicious ways to do so. The beauty of recipes like this is that they are quite customizable to your tastes and your pantry!

  • Add apple matchsticks for a little sweetness
  • Use greek yogurt or sour cream in place of some or all of the mayo
  • Buy store-bought coleslaw mix and toss it with the homemade dressing
  • Add sliced almonds for extra crunch
  • Stir some hot sauce into the dressing for a little kick
  • Add green onion as a garnish or throughout
Side view of bowl of coleslaw with spoon and lime wedges.

What to Serve with Coleslaw

So coleslaw is a staple at summertime gatherings, but what do you eat with it?!

It adds a bright, crunching balance to vegetarian jackfruit BBQ sandwiches. Or other meat-based sandwiches if that’s your thing, like fried chicken or pulled pork. It’s also commonly served with grilled meats and definitely pairs well with ribs.

But it’s not limited to sandwiches and meat main dishes, my friend, it’s excellent with BBQ cauliflower and on top of curried chickpea burgers or vegetarian carrot hot dogs.

It’s a delicious addition to fish tacos or even jackfruit and black bean tacos because the lime and cilantro flavors work so well with the taco seasoning.

Serve it alongside chipotle or firecracker shrimp skewers for a seafood dinner side dish.

More Easy Side Salad Recipes

And if you’re in looking for more potluck-style salads to serve with the coleslaw too, give one of these a try:

Up close bowl of coleslaw with lime wedges.

FAQs and Recipe Tips

How long does coleslaw last in the fridge?

Stored in the fridge in an airtight container, coleslaw will last about 2-3 days.

How long can coleslaw sit out at room temperature?

If you’re serving this at a potluck, you’ll want to keep it chilled if possible, because of the mayonnaise. It should not stay at room temperature longer than 2 hours (less is better!).

Is coleslaw gluten-free?

Yes, this coleslaw recipe should be gluten-free, just double-check your specific ingredients, as always. Mayonnaise is typically made without dairy (it’s made with eggs, not dairy), so it should be dairy-free., too!

Make it ahead of time!

To make in advance, prepare the veggies and dressing separately, then store them in their own containers until it’s time to serve. Then just toss them together and enjoy. Alternatively, you can fully make the coleslaw a few hours in advance if serving the same day.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!

Bowl of red cabbage coleslaw with spoon.
5 (1 rating)

Get the Recipe Easy Red Cabbage Coleslaw (without vinegar)

Every good BBQ and potluck needs a delicious coleslaw. Make this red cabbage version with lime juice, cilantro, and homemade dressing in under 10 minutes; it's light, creamy, and flavorful!




  • Optional: In a large bowl, massage the salt into the cabbage for several minutes to tenderize it. This makes it softer if you prefer less crunch in your cabbage.
  • In the same large bowl, if massaged, add the shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, and cilantro.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the coleslaw dressing: the mayonnaise, lime juice, garlic powder, ground mustard, celery seed, and sugar (if using). Add additional lime juice if you prefer a thinner dressing.
  • Toss with the shredded veggies. If you did not massage the cabbage, you will want to add salt to the dressing, to taste. Be sure to taste test and adjust any additional ingredients as needed.


  • Mix it up with sour cream or greek yogurt to make it mayo-free.
  • Add a little hot sauce for a kick.
Calories: 164kcal, Carbohydrates: 9g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 8mg, Sodium: 340mg, Potassium: 232mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 2669IU, Vitamin C: 45mg, Calcium: 42mg, Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!