Everyday Slaw (a Simple Slaw recipe with TONS of Variations!)

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Introducing my go-to Everyday Slaw! Crunchy, tangy, light (i.e. minimal mayo!), this is a simple slaw recipe with tons of flavorful variations included (cilantro lime! lemon herb! spicy curry! sesame! etc!). Quick & easy to throw together any night of the week, & it’s the perfect way to add texture & bright flavor to your favorite weeknight meals.

Close up of easy slaw shown in a large glass mixing bowl atop a textured white surface with 2 gold forks inserted in it.

Pin this Everyday Slaw recipe for later!

I’ve never loved coleslaw, especially the mayo-laden thick & creamy coleslaw I remember from my childhood. (Growing up in the Midwest there was a lot of it, trust me.) But – & there’s a major BUT here! – something I have grown to appreciate in my adult life is a good slaw. Something delightfully crunchy, tangy, & light, adding a little bit of texture & brightness to any meal. Now that is something I can totally get on board with.

This Everyday Slaw is something I started making a lot early in 2020, when we were trying to stretch as much time as humanly possible between our grocery runs. It’s great because it’s made with simple staple ingredients & you can zhuzh it up in a lot of different ways to pair with whatever’s on the dinner menu – tacos, burritos, grilled anything, fried chicken, BBQ pork…the list goes on & on. (Plus, it helps sneak in an extra serving of veggies…never a bad thing!)

Close up of easy slaw shown in a large glass mixing bowl atop a textured white surface with 2 gold forks inserted in it.

Everyday Slaw – Recipe Highlights

This Everyday Slaw recipe is…

  • EASY. You can throw this easy slaw together in about 20 minutes, or even less if you chop your veggies in advance. Meal prep tips below!
  • SERIOUSLY VERSATILE. Less a recipe & more so a framework, you can tailor this simple slaw recipe to your meals & cravings with endless easy coleslaw variations.
  • A TOTAL GO-TO. It pairs with practically anything, especially when you factor in all of the different easy variations you can make!

An all-purpose side dish, indeed! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Everyday Slaw, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!

Side angle of easy slaw shown in a large glass mixing bowl atop a textured white surface with 2 gold forks inserted in it.

Simple Slaw Key Ingredients

Think of this simple slaw recipe as less a recipe & more so a framework. There’s a base formula you’ll want to follow, but you can tailor it with many different ingredients & flavors depending on what you have on hand or what you’re in the mood for. Here are the key ingredients you’ll need…

Easy slaw ingredients arranged on a textured white surface – red onion, bell pepper, lime, mayonnaise, chopped cilantro, salt, cumin, vinegar, agave, shredded cabbage & jalapeno pepper.
Note: full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

For the slaw…

  • Cabbage – For a standard slaw, I use green or purple cabbage, or a combination of both, but you can also make this simple slaw recipe using another cabbage, like Napa or Brussels sprouts, or a really hardy green, like kale.
  • Crunchy veggies – Whatever you love! I typically use bell pepper & jalapeno, but you can use carrots, cucumber, snap peas, broccoli, fennel, etc., depending on the flavors & textures you’d like to create.
  • Red onion – For flavor, plain & simple.
  • Citrus juice – Lemon juice, lime juice, or whatever else you have on hand. Fresh squeezed is best!
  • Fresh herbs of choice – Cilantro, parsley, basil, dill, chives, etc…use whatever you have on hand or whatever sounds good to you!

For the slaw dressing…

  • Mayo – For the slaw dressing! Yep, this simple slaw is made with an easy mayo-based dressing, but it’s not heavy whatsoever…just pleasantly creamy. I swear by this mayo; it’s seriously the best. If mayo isn’t your thing, you can easily sub it out with yogurt, sour cream, or something else that’s creamy.
  • Vinegar – Opt for a mild vinegar, like rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
  • Agave – Or maple syrup, or honey. Just the littlest bit to balance out the tang of the vinegar.
  • Spices of choice – Chili powder, ground cumin, curry powder, etc…use whatever you have on hand or whatever sounds good to you!

How to Make the BEST Quick & Easy Slaw

This is seriously a simple slaw recipe. Getting it prepped & ready to go at dinnertime is easy as 1-2-3…

  1. Soak the onions in a little bit of citrus juice – Add thinly sliced onions to a large bowl & squeeze fresh lemon juice or fresh lime juice over top. Toss to coat & set aside to soak for 10-15 minutes. Why ⇢ The acid in the citrus helps tame the sharp bite of raw onion. If you struggle with eating raw onion, give it a try!
  2. Whisk together the easy slaw dressing – Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl or jar. Prep tip ⇢ This easy slaw dressing stores really well, so feel free to mix it up ahead of time & keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to toss the slaw together during the week.
  3. Toss it all together! Add the rest of the slaw ingredients to the bowl with the citrus-soaked onions, drizzle the slaw dressing over top, then toss to combine. Slaw is ready, easy as that!

Quick Tips for the BEST Easy Slaw:

  • Shredding cabbage by hand, a homemade slaw must. ⇢ For a really light + delicate slaw, skip the bagged pre-shredded cabbage from the store & shred it yourself. Use a sharp knife or a mandolin to slice the cabbage into a finely shredded texture. It takes 5 minutes, tops, & makes a big textural difference!
  • Always soak onions! The acid in fresh citrus juice (lemon, lime) helps tame the sharp bite of raw onion. A quick soak is faster than making pickled onions, & results in a more mild flavor. If you struggle with eating raw onion, give it a try!
  • Meal prep tip – Prep ahead for a faster slaw! Cabbage stores especially well, so shred it in advance to cut down on almost all of the active prep required for this Everyday Slaw. I like storing shredded cabbage in these amazing bags. It stays fresh for weeks & all you have to do at dinnertime is grab a few handfuls to add to your slaw. Easy! Check the Recipe Notes, below, for more meal prep guidance.
Easy slaw shown in a large glass mixing bowl atop a textured white surface with 2 gold forks inserted in it.

Simple Coleslaw Variations to Try:

My absolute favorite thing about this simple slaw recipe is it’s really less a recipe & more so a framework. Use the base formula & tailor it to your meal using the ingredients & flavors you’re in the mood for. Here are some easy coleslaw variations to try:

  • Cilantro Lime Slaw (pictured) ⇢ Use a base of green &/or purple cabbage. Thinly slice bell peppers &/or jalapeno peppers for your crunchy veggies, & add in lots of fresh cilantro. Spike the slaw dressing with ground cumin & some cayenne pepper for a kick of heat. Perfect with fish tacos or any Mexican meals you love!
  • Easy Sesame Slaw ⇢ Use a base of Napa cabbage. For crunchy veggies, add in thinly sliced snap peas, bell pepper, &/or shredded carrot. Use rice wine vinegar in the slaw dressing, & season with ground ginger & sesame oil to taste. Serve with teriyaki chicken!
  • Curry Slaw Same as Cilantro Lime Slaw, swapping out ground cumin with your favorite curry powder. My personal favorite for hummus bowls & glow bowls!
  • Tzatziki-ish Slaw Use a base of green &/or purple cabbage. Thinly slice bell peppers & cucumber for your crunchy veggies. Use a base of Greek yogurt for the slaw dressing, & spike it with dried oregano & lemon zest. Perfect with Greek chicken!
  • Lemon Herb Slaw ⇢ Use a base green &/or purple cabbage, with grated zucchini for crunch. Use lots of finely chopped fresh herbs (basil, oregano, chives, tarragon, etc.) in the slaw dressing, along with a little bit of Dijon mustard. Great with turkey burgers!
  • Apple & Brussels Sprouts Slaw ⇢ Use a base of shredded Brussels sprouts. For crunch, add thinly sliced Granny Smith apple & add some grainy mustard to the slaw dressing for tang. The best slaw for pulled pork!
  • …& so on. The options are endless!

How to Serve Everyday Slaw

Easy pulled pork shown on 4 open face sandwiches. The pork sits atop buns & slaw on a white surface, alongside a jar of pickles & BBQ sauce.

The beautiful thing about Everyday Slaw? It pairs with practically anything, especially when you factor in all of the different easy variations you can make. A few of my favorite things to serve it with:

  • Served on a taco or stuffed inside a burrito. (There’s a reason why fish tacos always have creamy, cooling slaw in them!…It’s a match made in heaven!)
  • Piled on top of BBQ pork or served alongside fried chicken.
  • To add extra texture & tangy flavor to a grain bowl or hummus bowl.
  • Alongside grilled anything – grilled chicken, burgers, brats…you name it!
  • …& so on. It goes with seriously anything!
Easy slaw shown in a large glass mixing bowl atop a textured white surface with 2 gold forks inserted in it. Surrounding the bowl are chopped cilantro leaves, a small plate of chopped cilantro, & a spent lime wedge.

I can’t wait for you to try this simple slaw recipe! Once you see how easy & versatile it is, I know it’ll be on your regular dinnertime rotation. If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!

Love quick & easy side dishes? Same here! Try this Herby Quinoa Salad, this Lemony Zucchini Salad, or this Greek Farro Salad next! Happy cooking! ♡

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Easy slaw shown in a large glass mixing bowl atop a textured white surface with 2 gold forks inserted in it.

Everyday Slaw (+ Variations!)

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: No-Cook
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

An Everyday Slaw recipe for the best simple slaw – crunchy, tangy, & light (minimal mayo!). Quick & easy to throw together any night of the week, & it’s the perfect way to add texture & bright flavor to your go-to weeknight meals – see Blog Post, above, for flavorful variations.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh citrus juice (from 1 juicy lemon or 2 juicy limes, for example)
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage (hardy lettuce of choice)
  • 1 cup finely sliced crunchy veggies (bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, cucumber, carrot, etc.)
  • up to 1 cup roughly chopped leafy herbs (cilantro, parsley, basil, etc.)
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season

for the light slaw dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (or fabanaise, if vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar of choice
  • 2 teaspoons agave (or honey, or pure maple syrup)
  • up to 1/2 teaspoon seasoning of choice (e.g. ground cumin, chili powder, curry powder etc.) OR up to 2 tablespoons finely chopped hardy fresh herbs of choice (e.g. thyme, oregano, rosemary, etc.) Easy slaw ingredients arranged on a textured white surface – red onion, bell pepper, lime, mayonnaise, chopped cilantro, salt, cumin, vinegar, agave, shredded cabbage & jalapeno pepper.

Instructions

  1. Veggie prep: Prep the slaw ingredients, starting with the onion. Place the thinly sliced red onion in a large bowl, squeezing the citrus juice over top. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss to combine & set aside to sit as you prepare the remaining ingredients – shred the cabbage, thinly slice the veggies, roughly chop the herbs, etc. How to make simple slaw, Step 1: Thinly sliced red onion in a clear glass bowl soaking in lime juice. There is a small pair of tongs in the bowl with the onions, which sits atop a textured white surface.
  2. Make the simple slaw dressing: Combine all listed ingredients in a small bowl or jar. Whisk or shake to combine. Set aside, or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. How to make simple slaw, Step 2: Simple slaw dressing mixed in a speckled ceramic bowl, which sits atop a textured white surface.
  3. Assemble the slaw: Add the shredded cabbage, crunchy veggies, roughly chopped herbs to the large bowl with the citrus-soaked red onion. Pour the simple slaw dressing over top. Toss to combine. Taste & adjust seasonings as desired. Enjoy! How to make simple slaw, Step 3: Pouring slaw dressing into large mixing bowl with slaw ingredients. There are 2 gold forks inserted in the bowl, which sits atop a white textured surface.


Notes

  • Variations: The best thing about this Everyday Slaw is it’s moreso a formula than a recipe. It’s super flexible & easy to tailor to whatever you’re serving alongside it. See the blog post, above, for easy variations (cilantro lime, curry, lemon herb, Greek, sesame, etc.)
  • Make-ahead & storage: Everyday Slaw is best when served the day it’s made, though it’ll keep for up to 3 days. Store the assembled slaw in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Note – the crunchy texture softens over time, so rather than making ahead, I prefer to meal prep the components (see below).
  • 15-Minute Meal Prep: If you’d like to do just a little prep in advance to help cut down on the active prep time required for prepping this Everyday Slaw, go ahead & chop the veggies &/or make the simple slaw dressing:
    • Prep the simple slaw dressing according to Step 2 of Recipe Directions, above. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (5 minutes active prep)
    • Thinly slice 1/2 medium red onion, shred 4 cups cabbage or hardy lettuce, & thinly slice 1 cup crunchy veggies of choice. Store in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (10 minutes active prep)

Keywords: slaw recipe, easy, weeknight, no-cook, dairy-free, vegan-friendly, vegetarian, gluten-free, spring, summer, fall, winter

Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.

Easy slaw shown in a large glass mixing bowl atop a textured white surface with 2 gold forks inserted in it. Surrounding the bowl are chopped cilantro leaves, a small plate of chopped cilantro, & a spent lime wedge.

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Thank you so much for reading & supporting Plays Well With Butter. This post includes affiliate links for products I truly love & use on the reg in my own home. All opinions are always my own! Should you make a purchase using one of these links, PWWB will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps me continue to bring you great original & free content.

Don’t forget to pin this Everyday Slaw recipe for later!!!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 4.21.21
    Stacey P said:

    I enjoyed this slaw. It’s simple and customizable for many dishes! I used red cabbage, julienned snap peas and shredded carrots with cilantro.

    • 5.3.21

      Love that you made it your own, Stacey!!! Yes, super customizable & flexible. All of your add ins sound like crunchy perfection. Thanks for the comment!!