The Humble Slaw, Three Ways

It looks like we can finally light up the barbecue this bank holiday, so I’m looking for appropriate recipes. First off, the coleslaw. But, it is not going to be your run-of-the-mill, surplus cabbage, swimming-in-mayo slaw.

Coleslaw is an easy side salad but you need to prep your veggies right. Make sure you drain your vegetables of all excess moisture, and that they are nice and tender, with just the right amount of crunch. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • After shredding and salting them (especially the cabbage, which needs to be tenderised with salt for at least ten minutes), leave them to drain in a colander lined with kitchen towels, or give them a good toss in the salad spinner.
  • If you like a bit of a crunch but don’t fancy the bitter, rooty texture of untenderised cabbage, try iceberg lettuce, rinsed in ice water.
  • The onion – most people love a bit of finely sliced onion in their slaw, but if you find it too strong, try finely sliced spring onion (cut legthways, Asian style), horseradish strips, chives or wild garlic leaves.
  • The dressing: the earliest versions of coleslaw used vinaigrette, but mayonnaise now seems to be the standard. As an accompaniment to high-seasoned grilled meats and vegetables, this is meant to be a refreshing salad, so I use a simplified version of the classic French vinaigrette or Greek yoghurt/light sour cream.

It’s easy to forget about your sides when the main focus is how fat you can turn the meats on the barbecue grill, so make this in advance (only add things like apples before serving), even the day before, and it will be even more delicious and tender. Try these delicious and light recipes this weekend:

coleslaw-with-apple-and-yogurt-dressing-940x600Recipe by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen | Photograph by Marcus Nilsson


  • 8 cups mixed shredded red and green cabbage
  • 1 12-oz. bag broccoli slaw mix
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (about 4)
  • 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated garlic
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 green apple


  • Combine red and green cabbages, broccoli slaw, carrots, and scallions in a large bowl. Toss to mix well.
  • Whisk yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic in a medium bowl until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Slaw mixture and dressing can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover separately and chill.
  • No more than 20 minutes before serving, cut core from apple and cut apple into matchstick-size pieces. Add apple to slaw mixture and toss to evenly incorporate. Add dressing (adding earlier will result in a soggy slaw) and toss to evenly coat.
  • Recipe by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen
  • Photograph by Marcus Nilsson

All-green with this Iceberg And Cabbage Slaw also from

iceberg-cabbage-slaw-940x560Recipe by Claire Saffitz |Photograph by Jarren Vink



  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce, outer leaves removed, thinly sliced
  • ½ small head green cabbage, outer leaves removed, thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds


  • Whisk buttermilk, lemon juice, and mayonnaise in a large bowl, then whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper.
  • Add lettuce, cabbage, scallions, chives, and celery seeds to dressing and toss to coat well. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  • DO AHEAD: Iceberg, cabbage, scallions, and chives can be sliced 2 hours ahead. Chill in a large bowl, covered with a damp paper towel.

Asian Cucumber and Carrot Slaw from


Recipe and photo by Liren Baker

Serves 2 to 4


1 large English cucumber
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 cup chopped cilantro


  1. Using a julienne peeler or grater, shred the cucumber and carrots into long strips.
  2. Toss the vegetables in a medium bowl, along with the vinegars, water, sugar, and sesame oil. Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro.
  3. Chill until ready to serve. Best served cold.

You want to make these, but the thought of having to shred all those vegetables is too much? For minimum effort and maximum impact, try any of these helpful tools, which you may already have in your kitchen drawer:

  • The food processor: shred the cabbage on the finest shredding blade. (
  • The regular vegetable peeler: peel thin slices of cucumber and carrots in seconds.(
  • The julienne peeler: cuts nice, thin strips. (
  • The kitchen gadget du jour: the spiraliser. (

Which one appeals to you most? Are you a cabbage coleslaw purist, or do you add loads of other veg? Vinaigrette, mayonnaise or yoghurt? Do you secretly thing that the ready-made stuff is the best?

What do you think?

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