No Mayo Coleslaw

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

I make a great pie crust, my father, a killer meatloaf. My mother? She’s the queen of salads. When the three of us cook together, mom almost always gets salad duty, because she just does it so darn well. She has perfected the balance of sweet and acidity, salt, and bitter.

This particular coleslaw of hers is one of my favorites. The coleslaw is made with cabbage, carrots, green onions, and cilantro, and seasoned with rice vinegar. No mayo!

It’s light, cool, and crunchy, just what you want a coleslaw to be. Serve it alongside Mexican or TexMex dishes or chili beans. It’s also great as a side to fish or piled high in a taco.

No Mayo Coleslaw Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

If the seasoned rice vinegar adds too much sweetness for your taste, sprinkle in a little lemon juice. If you are using unsweetened rice vinegar, to get the right balance of acidity and sweet, sprinkle a little sugar over the salad and toss.


  • 4 cups thinly sliced cabbage (about 1/3 to 1/2 cabbage)*
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup (packed) fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar (or plain rice vinegar with added sugar to taste)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

* a mandoline will make slicing cabbage much much easier than using a knife.


Place the thinly sliced cabbage, grated carrot, radish slices, sliced green onions, and cilantro in a large serving bowl.

Right before serving, sprinkle with olive oil, rice vinegar, salt and pepper, and toss to coat.

Serve immediately.

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Southwestern Coleslaw

Showing 4 of 14 Comments

  • thuy "T"

    Ok this is may sound weird but my Vietnamese Mother has made this “coleslaw” all my life (minus the radish). We eat it with plain white rice and any kind of salty meat- chicken or pork cooked with fish sauce. the combo is delicious and the rice balances out the flavors!

  • Kate

    I often use rice vinegar as a base for coleslaw — it’s great with some fresh ginger and toasted sesame seeds to make an Asian style coleslaw that’s especially nice with seafood. I’ve never thought to use it with a southwestern dish before, although my grandmother hates tart things and puts rice vinegar in all her salad dressings.

    Does adding sugar to the plain rice vinegar really make it taste like seasoned? I’ve always added mirin.

  • Kitty

    I make a similar Mexican coleslaw using cabbage, shredded carrot, shredded jicima, jalapeno, and cilantro. The dressing is lime juice, a little orange juice, olive oil, garlic, and cumin. Absolutely delicious!

  • melissa

    Made this coleslaw last night and loved it. You’d really be missing out if you didn’t add in the cilantro – it’s what makes this salad stand out! Definitely a new favorite – even won over my picky boyfriend!

  • Jennifer S

    This was a great coleslaw! I added some lime juice. Yummy! Refreshing, simple, and perfect! A new staple. Thank you for sharing. Love your site!

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