An easy, from-scratch Greek yogurt coleslaw recipe made with healthy ingredients that taste even better than classic coleslaw. The best part about this easy recipe is the healthier dressing made with Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, and pure maple syrup or honey. With a delicious crunch, this nutritional powerhouse slaw is perfect for a summer cookout or family dinner. Serve it as a side salad or top on pulled chicken sandwiches, tacos, or burgers.
I usually avoid coleslaw at cookouts and restaurants. I can’t handle soggy and watery coleslaw. Yuck! And the idea of using mayo that can quickly go bad feels very concerning when it’s 100 degrees outside at a cookout.
But traditional coleslaw is a must-have during the summer.
A few years ago, I decided to make my own healthier version coleslaw recipe. One that is crunchy with fresh flavors and without mayo (which is many times made with unhealthy fats, like canola oil and soybean oil).
This homemade coleslaw recipe has become a summer favorite and one that family and friends ask me to bring to cookouts.
Add this recipe to the list for your next cookout or future barbecues–everyone will love it!
What Makes This Recipe so Good?
This healthier coleslaw recipe is everything coleslaw should be for two reasons: salting the cabbage and a homemade greek yogurt dressing. That’s what makes this creamy coleslaw crunchy, with a tangy flavor (in the very best way).
1. Salt = Crunchy Cabbage
Salting the fresh cabbage before making the slaw is the secret to making good coleslaw with a crunch. Salting veggies with a high water content, like red cabbage or green cabbage, draws out the water in the shredded cabbage. Extra water can result in soggy coleslaw (yuck!).
2. Greek Yogurt Dressing
Coleslaw dressing is usually made with mayonnaise, along with a few other ingredients (sugar, white vinegar, mustard, seasonings). Instead, I use a healthy coleslaw dressing made with Greek yogurt. Not only is it a deliciously creamy dressing, it’s also high in protein.
What kind of yogurt should you use? Use either non-fat plain greek yogurt or full-fat greek yogurt. Another option is Icleandic Skyr, which is strained so it’s thick like Greek yogurt, super creamy, and lower in fat. I don’t recommend using whole milk plain yogurt as it’s too runny.
The yogurt dressing is thick (due to the Greek yogurt) and light (the yogurt is thinned out a bit with vinegar, maple syrup or honey, and mustard). I think you’ll be a big fan of this combo after making coleslaw with Greek yogurt and tasting the incredible flavor!
Greek Yogurt: Protein-rich Greek yogurt is one of my favorite healthy pantry ingredients. It has a high protein content (16 grams of protein per serving) and is easy to find at any grocery store. If you have leftover Greek yogurt, make healthy yogurt bowls for breakfast or yogurt fruit dip for a fun summer snack.
What you’ll need to make this healthy coleslaw recipe…
- ½ large green cabbage finely shredded (about 5 packed cups)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- ½ small sweet yellow onion chopped (½ cup once chopped), alternatively, use a red onion or green onions
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice or white vinegar)
- 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup (or honey)
- 1/2 Tablespoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pepper to taste
- (optional) 1 teaspoon celery seed
Time-Saving Tip: If you want to save time, buy a bag of coleslaw mix from the store. This mix should include green cabbage, purple cabbage, and shredded carrots. Add the onion to the mix or skip the onion. You’ll need 6 cups of pre-shredded coleslaw mix. Trader Joe’s and other stores have great pre-shredded coleslaw mix options, both with and without dressing. If the mix includes dressing, toss it and make your own.
How to Make, Step-by-Step
Step 1: Shred and Salt the Cabbage
Use a mandoline slicer or a food processor to easily shred the head of cabbage.
Add the shredded cabbage to a large bowl. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt over the cabbage and work the salt into the cabbage with your hands. Let the mixture rest for 30 minutes.
This will remove water from the cabbage and keep the coleslaw from getting soggy. If you’re using a coleslaw mix (containing carrots and cabbage), you’ll also want to do this with the mix (including the carrots).
Step 2: Make the Greek Yogurt Coleslaw Dressing
While the cabbage rests, make the greek yogurt dressing. In a medium-size bowl, combine Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, pure maple syrup (or honey), dijon mustard, salt, and black pepper. Taste the dressing and adjust salt or sweetener to taste.
Celery Seed: Some homemade coleslaw recipes use celery seed for flavor. I don’t find that it’s needed to make great coleslaw. If you want to add celery seed for its iconic celery flavor (whole celery seeds; not celery salt which is ground celery seeds + salt mixed together), add 1/2-1 teaspoon to the dressing.
Step 3: Remove Water From Cabbage
Pour the salted cabbage into a colander and rinse with fresh water to remove the salt.
Place the cabbage on one half of an absorbent dish towel (you may want to layer two dish towels), layering a portion of the dish towel over the cabbage. Press on the top of the towel to remove water from the cabbage. I prefer to squeeze the dish towel, with the cabbage inside, over the sink, allowing the water to exit through the towel.
Step 4: Mix the Cabbage, Carrots, and Onions
Rinse out the large bowl so you can use it to make the slaw.
Return the cabbage to the bowl. Add the shredded carrots and onions to the cabbage. If you’re using a coleslaw mix, you’re welcome to add the onion now or skip it.
Step 5: Combine Greek Yogurt Dressing With Cabbage Mix
Pour the yogurt dressing over the vegetables (cabbage, carrots, and onions) and stir to combine. Serve the coleslaw immediately, or for best flavor allow the coleslaw to sit in the fridge for a few hours (covered).
A cruciferous vegetable, like cabbage, is super hearty. You can meal prep a recipe with cabbage, like this coleslaw or this cilantro-lime slaw for tacos, without worrying about the cabbage breaking down quickly.
And thanks to the salting technique (which removed much of the water from the cabbage), the slaw keeps in the fridge for 2 days without getting soggy, watery, or gross.
I also find that the flavor of this Greek yogurt coleslaw improves after it rests in the fridge overnight, so it’s a great recipe to make the day before a party or cookout.
Make the coleslaw at least 30 minutes before serving or up to 2 days in advance, mixing both the dressing and vegetables together, store covered and sealed in a bowl or airtight container.
How to Store
Store coleslaw in an airtight container or a bowl covered with plastic wrap (or beeswax wrap for a non-plastic option).
How Long Does it Last?
It’s best to enjoy this cabbage slaw within 2-3 days of combining the ingredients, when stored in an airtight container. So don’t toss any leftovers as they’ll make a great side dish for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner!
How to Serve
Serve this coleslaw just as you would a mayo coleslaw recipe. Here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy this Greek yogurt coleslaw…
- Summer Sandwich Topping: Make Instant Pot Southern Pulled Chicken or Crock-Pot Pulled Beef Roast. Add the meat to buns (brioche buns are my favorite) and top with this creamy greek yogurt coleslaw. So good! Serve the sandwiches alongside Zesty Italian Pasta Salad for the ultimate summer meal!
- Taco Topping: Add the slaw on top of ground beef tacos or chicken tacos. I add about 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro to the slaw when making it for tacos.
- Summer Side Dish: Serve the slaw on the side of your favorite healthy meal: burgers, chicken burgers, grilled boneless chicken thighs, hot dogs, steak, bbq ribs, chicken tenders.
- And don’t forget to make homemade popsicles for dessert! Slaw and summer popsicles = the perfect pairing!
Homemade Coleslaw with Greek Yogurt Dressing
- ½ large green cabbage finely shredded (about 5 packed cups)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- ½ small sweet yellow onion chopped (½ cup once chopped)
- Add the shredded cabbage to a large bowl. Sprinkle the salt over the cabbage, and work the salt into the cabbage with your hands. Let the mixture rest for 30 minutes. This will remove water from the cabbage, which can make for a soggy coleslaw.
- Meanwhile, make the dressing. Whisk to combine all the dressing ingredients in a medium-size bowl.
- Pour the salted cabbage into a colander and rinse with fresh water to remove the salt.
- Place the cabbage on one half of an absorbent dish towel (you may want to layer two dish towels), layering a portion of the dish towel over the cabbage. Press on the top of the towel to remove water from the cabbage. I prefer to squeeze the dish towel, with the cabbage inside, over the sink, allowing the water to exit through the towel.
- Rinse out the large bowl, and return the cabbage to the bowl, along with the remaining coleslaw ingredients: carrots and onions.
- Pour the dressing over the coleslaw and stir to combine.
- Serve the coleslaw immediately, or for best flavor allow the coleslaw to sit in the fridge for a few hours (covered). Enjoy within 2-3 days.
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