Best Healthy Coleslaw Ever (no mayo!)

I don’t know about you, but I have a real addiction to the superfood underdog AKA red cabbage. I’m not sure when the cabbage obsession really started (maybe it was from this salad) but now I’m basically convinced that cabbage needs to be in EVERYTHING. Including this epic healthy coleslaw recipe.

Both red and green cabbages help promote a healthy gut (which is what we’re all about these days), fight inflammation, boost your immunity, and contain plenty of nutrients your body needs. CABBAGE PATCH PARTY.

Wait wut.

My favorite thing about cabbage isn’t just the nutrition though. It’s the epic CRUNCH it gives salads and slaws. It’s addicting and I can’t stop putting it in recipes.

coleslaw in a bowl with two serving spoons

Is coleslaw healthy?

While coleslaw is really just made up of a bunch of crunchy, colorful vegetables, traditional coleslaw recipes are usually covered in dressings made up of mayo and sugar. In this healthy, paleo coleslaw recipe we’re skipping the mayo entirely and tossing all of the gorgeous veggies with a tangy, slightly sweet dressing made with apple cider vinegar and simple ingredients to keep the coleslaw vegan and dairy free.

Fun fact: I loved coleslaw as a little girl. I’d ask for big bowls of it with lots of black pepper. Dad made a homemade version with lots of mayo. This version isn’t Dad’s but IT IS for all you millennials. heh.

coleslaw ingredients on a cutting board

Ingredients in healthy coleslaw

This incredible healthy coleslaw recipe uses fresh ingredients to create a crunchy, bright gut-friendly coleslaw without mayo or sugar. It isn’t your typical coleslaw. It’s a little sweet, a little spicy, and better than that soggy white coleslaw they serve at restaurants. You’ll need:

  • Produce: I love using both red and green cabbage for extra crunch and a variety of flavors. Then we’re also adding shredded carrots, jalapeño for a kick of heat, green onions for a little zippiness, and fresh cilantro.
  • Nuts: I like to add both pepitas (which are roasted pumpkin seeds) and toasted sliced ​​almonds for a wonderful extra crunch with all of the veggies.
  • olive oil: a bit of olive oil will help the “dressing” coat all of those gorgeous veggies in the coleslaw.
  • Apple cider vinegar: use apple cider vinegar to add the tangy delicious flavor found in coleslaw recipes. It’s also great for gut health!
  • Pure maple syrup: instead of using granulated sugar like in traditional coleslaw recipes, we’re just using a bit of pure maple syrup to lightly sweeten the coleslaw. Feel free to adjust depending on how sweet you like it.
  • Garlic: a little garlicky flavor makes this healthy coleslaw extra delicious.
  • Cayenne Pepper: add a pinch of cayenne for a little extra heat, or feel free to omit.
  • Salt & Pepper: to bring all of the flavors together.

ingredients for coleslaw in a bowl before mixing

The best healthy coleslaw in 4 easy steps

  1. Add all of the coleslaw ingredients to a large bowl except for the pepitas, almonds and dressing.
  2. In a smaller bowl, add your dressing ingredients and whisk to combine.
  3. Pour the dressing over the coleslaw and toss well to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings if need be. Place the coleslaw in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to let the flavors marinate.
  4. Before serving, add in the pepitas and toasted almonds and toss to combine.

Storing tips

Store this easy, healthy coleslaw in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. This is an amazing make-ahead recipe for picnics and BBQs because the flavors deepen as the coleslaw marinates!

healthy coleslaw being mixing a bowl with two serving spoons

Recipes to pair with this healthy coleslaw

healthy coleslaw in a bowl with a fork

More delicious side dishes

Get all of my side dish recipes here!

If you make this healthy coleslaw recipe, be sure to tag #ambitiouskitchen on Instagram. We’d also love if you would leave a comment below and rate the recipe. We appreciate you! xo.

Best Healthy Coleslaw Ever (no mayo!)

healthy coleslaw in a bowl with a fork

The BEST healthy coleslaw made with fresh purple cabbage, carrots, cilantro, and a kick of heat from jalapeño. There’s no mayo or sugar, just a naturally sweet and slightly tangy dressing with a hint of pure maple syrup. This simple, healthy coleslaw recipe is vegan, paleo & dairy free and perfect for serving with your favorite grilling recipes all summer!


  • For the slaw:
  • 1/2
    medium head of purple cabbage, shredded (about 3 cups shredded cabbage)
  • 1/2
    medium head of green cabbage, shredded (about 3 cups shredded cabbage)
  • 2
    healing cups shredded carrots
  • 1
    finely chopped cilantro
  • 1
    jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2
    green onion (green part only)
  • 1/2
  • 1/4
    toasted sliced ​​almonds
  • For the dressing:
  • 3
    extra virgin olive oil
  • 2
    apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2
    pure maple syrup, depending on how sweet you like your slaw
  • 1
    garlic, finely minced
  • ¼
    cayenne pepper, optional
  • ½
  • Freshly cracked black pepper


  1. Add all the ingredients for the slaw except for the almonds and pepitas to a large bowl.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. Pour all over the slaw and toss well to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Cover and place in fridge for at least an hour to allow flavors to marinate together.

  3. Before serving, sprinkle with toasted sliced ​​almonds and pepitas; toss again and serve.

Recipe Notes

How to store coleslaw: store this coleslaw covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. This is an amazing make-ahead recipe for picnics and BBQ’s because the flavors deepen as the coleslaw marinates!


Servings: 8 servings

serving size: 1 serving

Calories: 140kcal

Fats: 8.8g

Saturated fat: 1g

Carbohydrates: 14.5g

Fibers: 4.6g

Sugar: 8.4g

Proteins: 4g

Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats

This post was originally published on May 18th, 2020, and republished on May 25th, 2023.

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