This vegan coleslaw recipe with a savory oil and vinegar dressing is adapted from the great Alice Waters. It's a super-versatile side dish.
Why we love this recipe
I'm a huge fan of a tangy, crunchy slaw. This version is about as simple as it gets, so I find myself toting it out to complement a wide variety of meals. It pairs well with virtually anything you'd want to eat in the summer months and also pulls its weight in wintertime, when cabbage is at its best.
Not to mention, it's:
- Naturally vegan and gluten-free
- A no-mayo coleslaw that isn't trying too hard to be something it's not
- Perfect in its simplicity, with a great balance of flavors
- But also amenable to jazzing up with a huge handful of chopped herbs or some additional shredded vegetables (carrot, red cabbage, celery root, kohlrabi — you name it)
I first published this recipe here back in 2016, adapted from The Art of Simple Food. I've since updated the post for clarity and tweaked the recipe to reflect our love for a tangier dressing.
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll need to make this recipe. It's not much!
- A regular head of green cabbage is the unlikely star of this show. You can use a nice small one or half of a larger one to get the six or so cups you'll want for this recipe.
- A bit of red onion pulls more than its weight in terms of both flavor and visual appeal. You can substitute shallot if you like.
- This is the place to use your nice extra-virgin olive oil. With so few ingredients, it can really shine through.
- Apple cider vinegar has just the right mellow tang and rounded flavor for this slaw.
How to make it
Here's an overview of what you'll do to make a great bowl of vegan coleslaw. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.
- Add the oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper to a large mixing bowl.
- Whisk until a nice emulsified dressing forms.
- Shred the cabbage with a food processor or chef's knife as shown below, and add to the bowl. Slice the onion as thin as possible and add that, too.
- Give it all a good toss until the dressing evenly coats the vegetables. That's it!
How to shred the cabbage
You've got two excellent options for shredding the cabbage. Either way, you'll start by removing any gnarly outer leaves, quartering the cabbage, and coring it. You can see this process in action in one of my very early videos. It's awkward AND instructional! For coleslaw I like to cut each cabbage quarter lengthwise into three or four pieces before shredding so that the strands won't be super-long — but the video will give you a good basic idea of the process.
If you have a standard food processor, you can use the shredding disc to get nice, short, even shreds of cabbage for coleslaw. If not, simply use your chef's knife as shown in the video to cut each section crosswise. It takes longer but is perfectly manageable, promise.
How to slice the onion
If possible, start with a very small red onion. Trim and peel it, then halve it from tip to root. Use a chef's knife to cut very thin slices in this same direction — from tip to root. Cutting in this direction rather than crosswise helps the slices maintain their excellent texture and structure.
Expert tips and FAQs
I don't think Alice Waters would be too psyched about it, but you can if you like. This dressing is super-adaptable and will work with pretty much any slaw mixture you've got.
You sure can. While Alice Waters vegan coleslaw is great right out of the gate, it's also nice — and almost becomes a different thing entirely — after a rest in the fridge. You can make it earlier in the day, or even the night before, and let the salt and vinegar work their magic on the cabbage.
Leftovers keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week. The cabbage will soften up a bit over time, but it's all good.
More favorite slaws
- Southern-style coleslaw
- Celeriac or kohlrabi remoulade
- Raw beet salad
- Shredded Brussels sprouts salad
- Tangy taco slaw
- Zuni Cafe's shredded radicchio salad
- 1 small (1-pound/454-gram) green cabbage
- ½ small red onion
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Remove any tough or wilted outer leaves from the cabbage.
- Cut the head into quarters and remove the core from each piece.
- Cut each quarter lengthwise into two to three wedges.
- Using a sharp chef's knife, slice the cabbage into thin shreds.
- Slice the onion from root to tip as thinly as possible.
- Pour the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper into a large mixing bowl.
- Whisk to create a nice, emulsified dressing.
- Add the cabbage and onion to the bowl.
- Toss to coat evenly with dressing.
- While this recipe is great right out of the gate, it's also nice — and almost becomes a different thing entirely — after a rest in the fridge. You can make it earlier in the day, or even the night before, and let the salt and vinegar work their magic on the cabbage.
- Leftovers keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week. The cabbage will soften up a bit over time, but it's all good.
- Adapted from The Art of Simple Food.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 95Total Fat: 7.2gCarbohydrates: 8l2gFiber: 2.3gProtein: 1.5g