Best Healthy Coleslaw Ever (No Mayonnaise!)

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 kale obsession really started (maybe it came from this salad), but I’m now a firm believer that kale needs to be in EVERYTHING. Including this epic healthy coleslaw Recipe.

Both red and kale promote a healthy gut (which is what we’re all about these days), fight inflammation, boost your immune system, and contain many of the nutrients your body needs. Cabbage Patch Party.

Wait a moment.

What I like best about cabbage is not only the nutritional value. It’s the epic CRUNCH it brings to salads and coleslaws. It’s addicting and I can’t stop incorporating it into recipes.

Coleslaw in a bowl with two serving spoons

Is coleslaw healthy?

While coleslaw is actually just a bunch of crunchy, colorful vegetables, traditional coleslaw recipes are usually covered in dressings made of mayonnaise and sugar. In this healthy paleo slaw recipe, we forgo mayonnaise entirely and toss all those gorgeous veggies with a tangy, slightly sweet dressing made from apple cider vinegar and simple ingredients to keep the slaw vegan and dairy-free.

Interesting fact: As a little girl, I loved coleslaw. I would ask for large bowls of this with lots of black pepper. Dad made a homemade version with lots of mayonnaise. This version is not from dad but for all millennials. heh

Coleslaw -Ingredients on a cutting board

Ingredients for healthy coleslaw

This incredibly healthy coleslaw recipe uses fresh ingredients to create a crispy, light, gut-friendly coleslaw with no mayo or sugar. It’s not your typical coleslaw. It’s a little sweet, a little spicy, and better than the mushy white slaw they serve in restaurants. You need:

  • To produce: I love using both red and kale to give it more crunch and a variety of flavors. Then we add grated carrots, jalapeño for a bit of spiciness, spring onions for a little zing and fresh coriander.
  • Nuts: I like to add both pepitas (which are toasted pumpkin seeds) and toasted slivers of almonds to give the veggies a wonderful extra crunch.
  • Olive oil: A bit of olive oil helps the “dressing” coat all the gorgeous veggies in the coleslaw.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Use apple cider vinegar to add that tangy, delicious flavor found in coleslaw recipes. It’s also good for gut health!
  • Pure Maple Syrup: Instead of using granulated sugar like in traditional coleslaw recipes, we simply use some plain maple syrup to lightly sweeten the coleslaw. Feel free to customize it depending on how cute you like it.
  • Garlic: A little garlic flavor makes this healthy coleslaw extra tasty.
  • Cayenne pepper: Add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a little extra spiciness, or leave it out.
  • Salt pepper: to bring all the flavors together.

Pour coleslaw ingredients into a bowl before mixing

The best healthy coleslaw in 4 easy steps

  1. In a large bowl, combine all of the coleslaw ingredients except for the pepitas, almonds, and dressing.
  2. In a small bowl, add the ingredients for the dressing and stir.
  3. Pour the dressing over the coleslaw and mix well. Taste and season if necessary. Place the coleslaw in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to develop.
  4. Before serving, add the pepitas and toasted almonds and mix together.

storage tips

Store this easy, healthy coleslaw in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This is a fantastic recipe to prep for picnics and BBQs as the flavors intensify as the coleslaw marinates!

Healthy coleslaw when mixing up 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

Find all of my side dish recipes here!

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

Best Healthy Coleslaw Ever (No Mayonnaise!)

Healthy coleslaw in a bowl with a fork

The BEST healthy coleslaw with fresh red cabbage, carrots, cilantro and a dash of jalapeño heat. There’s no mayonnaise or sugar, just a naturally sweet and slightly tangy dressing with a hint of pure maple syrup. Vegan, paleo and dairy-free, this easy, healthy coleslaw recipe is a perfect addition to your favorite BBQ recipes all summer long!


  • For the coleslaw:
  • 1/2
    medium head red cabbage, shredded (about 3 cups shredded cabbage)
  • 1/2
    medium head kale, shredded (about 3 cups shredded kale)
  • 2
    heaping cups of grated carrots
  • 1
    finely chopped coriander
  • 1
    Jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2
    spring onion (green part only)
  • 1/2
  • 1/4
    toasted flaked 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 coleslaw
  • 1
    Garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼
    Cayenne pepper, optional
  • ½
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the coleslaw except the almonds and pepitas.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. Pour over the entire coleslaw and mix well. Taste it and adjust the spices as needed. Cover and place in the fridge for at least an hour to allow the flavors to marinate together.

  3. Sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds and pepitas before serving; Stir again and serve.

recipe notes

How to store coleslaw: Store this coleslaw, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This is a fantastic recipe to prep for picnics and BBQs as the flavors intensify as the coleslaw marinates!


Servings: 8 servings

Serving size: 1 serving

Calories: 140 calories

Fat: 8.8g

Saturated Fatty Acids: 1g

Carbohydrates: 14.5g

Fiber: 4.6g

Sugar: 8.4g

Protein: 4g

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

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

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