The perfect side dish, garnish for your tacos, or main course loaded with toppings, this Mexican coleslaw with a chili lime dressing is smoky, tangy and satisfyingly crunchy.
Mexican coleslaw, also known as Mexican slaw, is a vibrant, smoky and flavorful twist on the classic coleslaw. It combines the crunchy freshness of veggies with classic Mexican flavors like lime, chili and chipotle.
This coleslaw is incredibly versatile. It is awesome as a side dish for your Chicken Taquitos, quesadillas, or carnitas, or even as a main dish with Baked Chicken Breast or Chicken Thighs seasoned with Mexican spices. Mexican coleslaw is also a great option to bring to a party or gathering since you can make it ahead, and it tastes even better as it marinates!
How to Make Mexican Coleslaw
Full instructions in the recipe card; this is just an outline!
Cut cabbage into quarters and thinly slice. Place cabbage, carrots, scallions, and cilantro in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime zest and juice, vinegar, garlic, mustard, chili powder, chipotle powder or smoked paprika, honey, and salt.
Pour three-quarters of the vinaigrette into the cabbage mixture. Toss. If slaw seems dry, add the rest of the vinaigrette.
- Small red cabbage – if you prefer to use green cabbage or prepackaged cabbage in a pinch, you definitely can! Red cabbage has a beautiful color and a mildly peppery, sweet flavor. Finely shredded red cabbage is my favorite base for Mexican coleslaw.
- Shredded carrots – shredded carrots add a touch of sweetness and color.
- Scallions – scallions add pops of green and oniony goodness.
- Extra virgin olive oil – olive oil helps create a vinaigrette.
- Lime – lime zest and juice add citrusy acid.
- Sherry wine vinegar – sherry wine vinegar adds delicate acidity that’s less harsh than most vinegars.
- Garlic – garlic…because garlic!
- Grainy mustard – grainy mustard adds earthiness and tanginess.
- Chili powder – chili powder is made up of a bunch of awesome Mexican spices.
- Chipotle powder or smoked paprika – chipotle powder is moderately spicy and deeply smoky whereas smoked paprika is just smoky. I like chipotle powder, but use whichever one you’d prefer!
- Honey – a dash of honey complements the sweetness of the cabbage and carrots.
- Cilantro (optional) – if you’re a cilantro fan, add a handful in there!
Mexican Coleslaw Variations
While this slaw is awesome on its own, if you want to change things up, here are some fun variations on the recipe:
- Green cabbage instead of red cabbage
- Pre-shredded cabbage instead of shredding your own
- Thinly sliced white or red onion instead of scallions
- A flavorless oil like canola or vegetable oil instead of olive oil
- Red wine or white wine vinegar instead of sherry wine vinegar for more acidity
- Add in: corn, Grilled Corn, avocado, black beans, cotija cheese, or radishes for more fun flavor!
What to Serve With Mexican Coleslaw
- As a side dish, serve alongside tacos, enchiladas, burritos, Chicken Taquitos, or quesadillas. The crunchy texture and zesty flavors of the coleslaw complement the richness of these dishes.
- As a topping, serve on tacos like Chicken Tacos, or on sandwiches or burgers like these Fresh Salmon Burgers.
- As a main dish, add protein(s) like black beans, Mexican cheese, avocado, shredded Chicken Thighs, shrimp, seasoned beef, grains, and/or tofu.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Yes, you can absolutely use prepackaged, shredded cabbage. You’ll need about 8 cups for this recipe.
Yes, of course! Green cabbage is a bit milder in flavor and more readily available in grocery stores.
Store slaw in a covered container in the fridge. It’s best enjoyed within 3-4 days.
Yes, Mexican coleslaw is even better the next day as it has time to marinate.
I don’t recommend freezing this coleslaw.
Other Mexican Recipes You’ll Love!
- BEST Avocado Salsa
- Easy Chipotle Black Bean Soup
- Shrimp Tacos With Lime Crema Slaw
- Healthy Baked Tortilla Chips
- Chipotle Corn Salsa
- Mandoline (recommended)
- 1 small red cabbage or about 8 cups pre-shredded cabbage
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 2 bunches scallions trimmed and sliced
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 juicy lime zested and juiced
- 2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
- 1 large garlic clove minced
- 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (moderately spicy) or smoked paprika (not spicy)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Handful of fresh cilantro leaves optional
- Salt to taste
- Cut cabbage into quarters and thinly slice with a mandoline (preferred) or sharp knife. Place cabbage, carrots, scallions, and cilantro (optional) in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime zest and juice, vinegar, garlic, mustard, chili powder, chipotle powder or smoked paprika, honey, and salt to taste.
- Since small cabbages range in size, start by pouring three-quarters of the dressing into the cabbage mixture. Toss. If slaw seems dry, add the rest of the dressing. Let marinate for 20 minutes if time allows!
- You can certainly use prepackaged shredded cabbage but shredding your own cabbage with a mandolin creates thinner ribbons which I personally prefer.
- Red cabbage is so pretty for Mexican coleslaw, and it’s also a bit more peppery and sweeter than green cabbage. You can use green cabbage though, if preferred.
- I prefer chipotle powder over smoked paprika, but use whichever you’d like!