This tasty Asian Red Cabbage Slaw is a quick and easy, crisp and crunchy salad coated in a tangy sesame-ginger dressing. A healthy and delicious year-round side dish and an eye-popping topping for tacos and sandwiches you’ll want on repeat!
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What is Asian Slaw made of?
This brilliant purple cabbage is combined with shredded carrots, green onion and fresh cilantro. The extra flare comes from diced poblano and jalapeño peppers. Chopped roasted cashews provide even more crunch. This recipe is made without ramen noodles making it keto-friendly as well.
How to Cut Cabbage and Veggies for Slaw
Think thin! Large pieces of cabbage and these other crunchy vegetables would be tough to chew so the smaller the better.
Cabbage: Start by cutting the head into quarters and remove the core with a sharp knife. I try to keep the sliced cabbage no more than ⅛-inch thick. You can set a mandoline to that thickness or use a food processor which will yield a more chopped texture.
Carrots: You can shred them using a box grater, cut them with a knife into matchstick-size slices, or run through the food processor.
Peppers: Because there is some spiciness here, I chopped the poblano into a small dice and minced a seeded jalapeño. Feel free to use a sweet bell pepper too if you like!
How to Make the Dressing
This is where the Asian flavor profile comes into play. A neutral oil like vegetable or safflower oil is combined with rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey and freshly grated ginger. The ingredients are simply whisked together and will keep in the fridge for a week. Pour over the slaw ingredients when ready!
TIP: You can freeze those knuckled ginger roots when only using a portion and they actually grate more easily when frozen!
How far in advance can I make this slaw?
Coleslaw should be made several hours ahead and chilled so the flavors meld. Because red cabbage lacks the water weight of other varieties, it won’t become watery as quickly as traditional coleslaw made with green or Napa cabbage. You can easily make this slaw 3 days in advance and store leftovers another 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
Make Vegan: replace the honey with either agave or maple syrup.
Nuts: be cautious of nut allergies and omit the cashews if needed. When tree nuts are problematic, use peanuts if there’s no allergy to them.
Add: strips of chicken, beef or pork, or fish and seafood to the slaw if going meatless isn’t a concern.
Carbs: make the slaw with ramen noodles or croutons if not worried about a keto diet.
Time Saving Tips
When pressed for time just head over to the 'already prepped and chopped' section of the produce department and choose a pre-made slaw mix. There’s usually a variety so you can even combine a couple with your favorite store-bought dressing!
This slaw is such a versatile side dish and is perfect for meal prepping to go with a variety of weeknight dinners. We love it on fish tacos, pulled pork sandwiches, salmon burgers and shrimp po’ boys just to name a few!
Red Cabbage Slaw FAQs
The flavor of purple cabbage is more bold and peppery compared to green cabbage. It has less water content so it will stay crisper longer. Plus, the red variety is richer in beneficial plant compounds that promote heart health and bone strength.
This step isn’t necessary when using red cabbage but can make green cabbage crisper. First the shredded cabbage is sprinkled generously with salt. It will sit for a couple hours to draw out moisture then well rinsed to remove the salt and chilled.
Pectin is part of the cell walls of plants that holds onto water. When dressing is added to the coleslaw, the salt and acidity of the dressing breaks down the pectin which then slowly releases water of the vegetables over time.
More Asian-Inspired Recipes!
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Asian Red Cabbage Slaw (Quick & Easy Side Dish!)
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ½ head red cabbage, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced (about ¾ cup)
- 2 carrots, shredded (about ½ cup)
- 1 medium poblano pepper, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
- 1 jalapeño, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- ¼ cup roasted cashews, chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. (Can be made ahead. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 week.)
- In a large bowl, toss together first 7 ingredients.
- Mix in dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with additional chopped cashews and cilantro, if desired.
- Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill leftovers.
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