This five minute Mexican coleslaw recipe is  made with cabbage, cilantro and lime. It’s a super simple (and healthy) side dish to go with Mexican food.

Overhead serving bowl of cabbage, cilantro, pepitas and scallions

As I sit down here to write about this recipe, I realize that if there was a person out there who wanted a different slaw for each day of the week, then I would be able to hook them up with recipes! That’s because I have more coleslaw recipes than days of the week!!

I guess you could say I am (apparently) kinda a coleslaw expert. Insert laughing emjoi here because I know how ridiculous that sounds. Over the last decade plus that I’ve been blogging here at Healthy Seasonal Recipes, I have shared slaw after slaw with you folks, but they’re all so unique!! 

Coleslaw overhead in a single bowl with lime wedges and cilantro

Seven More Great Coleslaw Recipes To Try

  1. First we have the ever popular Cucumber and Napa Cabbage Coleslaw– so so great at the peak of summer! If you love the flavors of peanuts and cilantro together- you’ll have to try this one. Serve it with ahi tuna or swordfish! 
  2. Next is the old stand by Classic Healthy Coleslaw– made with a lightened up creamy dressing with Greek Yogurt in it. It’s the BBQ side dish classic- but lighter! 
  3. For the more adventurous coleslaw lovers I have an unusual twist on creamy coleslaw: Creamy Blue Cheese and Walnut Coleslaw. It’s great with burgers! 
  4. My Sesame Coleslaw has a slight Asian flare to it and the addition of a little Vermont maple syrup. It’s awesome with anything soaked in this Teriyaki marinade
  5. If you’ve never thought to make coleslaw for the holidays- then get ready for a mind blowing experience. This Easy Holiday Slaw has dried apricots and pomegranate in it! So pretty, fresh and unexpected! 
  6. Along similar lines, but with different flavors is my Kale Slaw with Raspberries and Almonds. It’s savory and sweet and great in the wintertime (it has frozen berries in it.) Check it out and let me know if you try it! 
  7. The Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Bacon and Blue Cheese is definitely an outside of the box recipe! It’s great with beef and pork. You can also make it ahead and it is still super good! 

I decided to share yet another coleslaw today because there was a real hole in my line up, and to be honest, I just needed to have it down on “paper” for you. I feel like I am constantly wanting to reference it as a serving suggestion for my Mexican recipes here on the blog, but it hadn’t been made an official recipe before now. 

See, I’ve been throwing this Mexican coleslaw together for years as our standby side dish to go with tacos or enchiladas or pretty much any Mexican food meal!! I just toss it together, no measuring. I just stir it up, taste it and adjust the seasonings to taste. {It’s that kind of a recipe!} So once you make this once or twice, you’ll be able to do the same. 

Ingredients For Mexican Coleslaw 

See more notes on these below and measurements in the recipe card below 

  • lime
  • olive oil or avocado oil
  • honey 
  • cumin
  • salt
  • cabbage
  • cilantro
  • minced red onion or scallions
 

How To Make Mexican Coleslaw

It’s so easy to make, you can keep it as simple as you want, or you can jazz it up as much as you like adding in optional extras (I’ll explain more below) to give it a more festive feel.

Make the Dressing in the Bowl

To save a step of mixing the dressing in a separate bowl. I start by whisking the ingredients right in the salad bowl. That way I have less dishes to clean up! 

  • Lime: The dressing has lime- which is a classic Mexican ingredient. I just juiced a lime. Since citrus is in season right now, I was able to find a nice juicy one. If yours isn’t juicy (if it feels hard at the store) you may want to buy two to be safe. You’ll have about 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon juice.
  • Oil: I like the taste of olive oil in this dressing. There is a delicious cilantro vinaigrette on the taco salad at Penny Cluse Cafe that I love- especially because you can really taste the olive oil. That was the inspiration for me using olive oil here. You can also use a neutral oil instead if you prefer. Safflower, sunflower or avocado oil would all work well.
  • Honey: I like the way honey balances the dressing. If you’ve read my post about Apple Cider Vinegar Salad Dressing, then you’ll know that I think that adding a touch of honey or sweetener to a homemade dressing helps to balance the flavors. If you are on a sugar free diet or don’t like sweet in your dressing, you can definitely omit it. 

Notes On Cabbage

  • Buying Cabbage: You’ll only need about half a head so if you want to ask the produce department to cut it in half for you, they usually will.
  • Cabbage Is Earth Friendly: Since cabbage is a great storing crop, it is one locally grown vegetable we have year round in colder northern climates. Locally sourced foods are associated with a smaller carbon footprint. So in other words, if you can find locally grown cabbage, use that! 
  • Cutting Cabbage: You can see how I cut the cabbage in the video for this recipe. You can see photos for how to cut cabbage here in the Ultimate Guide to Cabbage. Basically I cut the cabbage in half first. Then cut the half into slabs. It is much more manageable to do it this way. 
  • Shortcut: If you’re short on time, you can absolutely sub in pre-shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix. You’ll need 5 cups. 

Add Mexican Flavors

Cilantro

  • The cilantro really is the key to giving this coleslaw classic mexican flavor, and what makes it such a great balancing accompaniment to Mexican food recipes. It really livens up the way it tastes and gives it freshness.
  • I know some folks are not really into cilantro (to some people it tastes like soap!) If you are one of those folks, you can skip it, but I would say you will need to include the cumin for sure. 

Optional Ingredients

  1. Cumin: Half the time I make Mexican Slaw, I skip the cumin, but when I do add it, I always appreciate it. I guess it depends on what you’re serving this with and how much time you want to take to make it. 
  2. Onion: I usually add in either scallions or red onion depending on what I have on hand. Either are great and they add lots of flavor. You don’t need much though. I only add in a couple scallions or tablespoons of minced red onion. That way it blends into the slaw (without being too strong of a raw onion flavor!)
  3. Pepitas: I also sometimes like to add in pepitas for crunch and to make the slaw more festive.
  4. Other Veggies: You can also add in julienne jicama, shredded cabbage, radishes or red pepper to make it more colorful and add variety to the cabbage. 

Can You Make Mexican Coleslaw Ahead?

You can absolutely make it ahead! Cabbage is one of the heartiest raw veggies in this regard.

You can chop it up, mix it and store it for two to three days. The scallions and cilantro will be wilted a bit, but the coleslaw will still have plenty of crunch and great tangy flavor!

Make Ahead Instructions for Meal Prep or for a Party

If you are serving this to guests or you just don’t want the cilantro and scallions to be wilted, you can do the following: 

  • I would suggest making the dressing and keeping it in a jar (up to a week ahead.)
  • Chop the cabbage five days ahead. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for three days so it doesn’t brown.
  • Wait until the day of the party to cut up the onions and cilantro.
  • Toss everything together a couple hours before you plant to serve it to let the cabbage soften a little bit. Keep it refrigerated if possible. 

two dishes of coleslaw overhead

What To Serve This With Mexican Coleslaw

My Cod Fish Tacos are a rising star- and would be a happy accompaniment. 

I like these Ground Chicken Tacos with Mexican Coleslaw too. 

This heart healthy Layered Chicken Enchilada Casserole would be a great make-ahead option. 

Another family friendly casserole is Chicken Chilaquiles

This Mexican Coleslaw Recipe is Part of A Meal Prep Plan

This recipe is featured in a Meal Prep Plan which also includes four more make ahead dinners. In this plan, I give you the prep list, shopping list and plan to prep on the weekend, so you can have all your weeknight meals ready to go with 20 minutes (or less) of time in the kitchen! 

Here’s the complete menu:

  1. Monday: Fish with Pineapple Salsa and 10 Minute Coconut Rice with Spinach
  2. Tuesday: Easy Enchiladas with Mexican Slaw
  3. Wednesday: Soupe Au Pistou and Baguette
  4. Thursday: Apple & Ham Quesadillas with Spinach Salad with Mustard Salad Dressing
  5. Friday: Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili, wholesome cornbread

To get the full details, print your shopping list and get started, head over to the plan for the  Meal Prep For The Week  to check it out! 

 

Thanks so much for reading! If you make this recipe please come back and let me know by leaving a star rating and review! 

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a close-up of mexican coleslaw overhead in a white bowl

Mexican Coleslaw

  • Author: Katie
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1/2 cups 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

This easy Mexican Coleslaw only takes five minutes to mix together. Make it as simple as you like or add in optional ingredients to make it a Mexican party side dish.


Scale

Ingredients

1 lime, juiced, about 2 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon juice

¼ cup olive oil avocado oil or organic canola oil

2 teaspoons honey or sugar

1 teaspoon ground cumin, optional

½ teaspoon salt

5 cups shredded cabbage, or bagged cabbage or coleslaw mix

½ cup finely chopped cilantro

Optional Ingredients: 2 tablespoons minced red onion or 2 scallions, sliced; 2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds (papitas)


Instructions

Whisk lime juice, oil, honey, cumin (if using) and salt in a large salad bowl. Add cabbage and cilantro and toss to coat. If using optional ingredients, add them and toss to combine.


Notes

Feel free to sub 1 cup of any of the following vegetables for 1 cup of the cabbage:

Shredded carrots, thinly sliced or matchstick radish, julienne jicama, thinly sliced red bell pepper.

Make Ahead Instructions

Leftovers will keep in the fridge for two to three days. Note that the scallions and cilantro will be wilted a bit, but the coleslaw will still have plenty of crunch and great tangy flavor!

To Make Ahead For a Party

  • I would suggest making the dressing and keeping it in a jar (up to a week ahead.)
  • Chop the cabbage five days ahead. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for three days so it doesn’t brown.
  • Wait until the day of the party to cut up the onions and cilantro.
  • Toss everything together a couple hours before you plant to serve it to let the cabbage soften a little bit. Keep it refrigerated if possible.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 generous cup
  • Calories: 174
  • Sugar: 7 g
  • Sodium: 317
  • Fat: 2 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 15 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 2 g

a serving of coleslaw with cilantro and lime with text overlay

Mexican Coleslaw