Home All Thanksgiving Recipes Our Best NO MAYO Coleslaw

No mayonnaise definitely does NOT mean boring with the RecipeTin No Mayo Coleslaw!  We love this Slaw because it’s interesting enough to compensate for no mayo in the dressing, refreshing enough to pair with rich mains, but still has the signature Coleslaw “juiciness”.

Made with cabbage, fennel, apple, dill and caraway seeds, this is the side we love to serve alongside Southern foods like Fried Chicken, brisket, BBQ Chicken, pulled pork and ribs.

No Mayo Coleslaw

This is the RecipeTin Family recipe for a Coleslaw made without mayonnaise that we truly believe stacks up to traditional Coleslaw in all it’s mayo-laden glory.

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good creamy Coleslaw.

But typically, Coleslaw gets suggested when we’re planning rich Southern menus for a family dinner. Think – meat, sweet BBQ sauce, and sometimes, full throttle deep frying.

And typically, someone sensible suggests that mayo Coleslaw might be too rich with all that meat, shouldn’t we opt for a lighter salad?

And typically (in pre-No-Mayo-Coleslaw-invention days) someone else would huff and puff about how Coleslaw is a classic side for a Southern blow out, and how we’re clearly not counting calories for this meal so why skimp on Slaw?

And so on, back and forth, until the family WhatsApp thread to decide the menu for a “simple” family dinner is many, many swipes long.

There is still much back and forth on family dinner menus. But since the creation of this No Mayo Slaw, there is no back and forth about slaw!

The combination of ingredients in this No Mayo Slaw might be surprising – but it’s addictive! The fennel and caraway seeds are quite subtle, and dill brings a wonderful freshness.

What you need for Coleslaw without Mayonnaise

Here’s what goes in our No Mayo Coleslaw:

  • Cabbage – any green cabbage works fine here (but not Chinese cabbage which is more delicate so it will get too soggy);

  • Fennel – shaved thinly so the flavour is quite mild, brings a fabulous freshness to this Slaw;

  • Dill – this herb is the perfect match in this salad! Use more than you think you need;

  • Apple – shaved finely, it adds a subtle sweet juiciness. Once dressed, it stops it from going brown (the pictured salad is a day old!);

  • Caraway seeds – adds pops of minty-aniseed flavour that complement the fennel and dill, but we don’t use much and it is subtle. Yet this is a secret ingredient that makes people pause when they take their first bite, wondering what that flavour is and why it’s so good!

  • Dressing ingredients – nothing ground breaking here, but note there is a deliberately high ratio of acid to oil. This slaw should be bright, punchy and have backbone to stand up to any rib-sticking main dish. A dainty French leaf salad vinaigrette this ain’t. We also use less salt (1/2 tsp) and more sugar (2 tsp) than you might expect. This is because we like the salad to lean equally sweet and salty, akin to traditional creamy Coleslaw.

How to make No Mayo Coleslaw

Lots of shredding and mandolin action for the vegetables. Then just toss it all together and ideally leave it to wilt for a good hour or two. (Because nobody likes coleslaw with stiff cabbage sprigs sticking out all over the place. We want it floppy and juicy!).

What we serve with No Mayo Slaw

As I mentioned in the opening, we (well, my brother!) created this No Mayo Slaw as a more refreshing alternative to traditional mayonnaise Coleslaw to pair with rich mains. In particular, Southern foods where Coleslaw is a traditional side option:

One of my personal favourite “special treat” dinners is a Fried Chicken Southern Feast. Here is a menu for dishes that we made for a recent family dinner:

Southern Fried Chicken Dinner

Having said that though, the flavour is neutral enough that it will go with anything (non Asian). Delicate enough for fish and prawns, refreshing enough for big roasts.

Also, a couple more serving ideas:

  • Meal salad – toss through tuna or shredded chicken

  • In sandwiches – ham, tuna, smoked salmon or gravlax, chicken, avocado

Keeps for days and days!

One of the best things going for this salad is that it keeps for 3 to 4 days, much like creamy Coleslaw. In fact, I think it’s better made the day before, after all the flavours have had a chance to meld together.

So make a big tub of it, and bring it out day after day!! – Nagi x

PS Forgot to mention – if you love creamy slaw but want to skip the heavy mayo version, try a Yogurt Slaw Dressing. It’s very, very good!

Watch how to make it

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Our best No Mayo Coleslaw

4.93 from 13 votes
Servings10 – 12
Tap or hover to scale


Recipe video above. This Slaw is addictive! The combination of ingredients in this might seem surprising but the flavours work extremely well together. With a subtle, refreshing flavour yet somehow at the same time has that "juiciness" that we love about traditional mayo based Coleslaw.

The flavour of the fennel and caraway seeds it quite subtle – in fact, many people don't even realise it's in there, they just know it's delicious!

We love serving this refreshing salad with rich Southern Foods like Fried Chicken, Brisket, BBQ Chicken, Pork Ribs and BBQ Pulled Pork. It's a perfect match!



  • 1/4 large head green cabbage (or 1/2 small head) , shredded (~12 cups, Note 1)
  • 1 medium fennel bulb , trimmed, halved and shaved at 1.5 mm on a mandolin (Note 2)
  • 1 red apple (any kind is fine), halved and thinly sliced (1.5 mm thick)
  • 1 cup dill leaves, roughly chopped (about 1 whole bunch)
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds (Note 4)


  • 2 small clove garlic , minced
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar , or less to taste (Note 6)
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp caster sugar (Note 5)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (Note 5)
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper


  • Dressing: Shake Dressing ingredients in a jar.
  • Toss! Place cabbage, fennel, apple and dill in a very large bowl. Pour over Dressing, toss well.
  • Sprinkle with caraway seeds then toss again.
  • Set aside for at least 1 hour to allow cabbage to wilt. Give it a good toss, then transfer to serving bowl and serve!
  • Storage: Keeps perfecty for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Dressing stops apple from going brown. Best to bring to room temperature before serving.

Recipe Notes:

1. Cabbage – about 12 cups packed (ie push cabbage in), approx 600g/1.2lb (after removal of thick cabbage core).

2. Fennel – the body of a medium one is about the size of a baseball (small is tennis ball size).

3. 1.5 mm = 0.06 inches thick. Not sure how millimetres are expressed in the US!

4. Caraway seeds have a similar aniseed flavour to the fennel and dill. Don’t want to use too much, just a touch to add an extra something-something to this Slaw!

5. Salt & sugar – this dressing specifically has less salt and more sugar than you’d expect because we like it to have a Coleslaw-like flavour which errs more towards a bit sweet than salty.

6. Vinegar – Vinegars can vary in acidity, so taste as you go. We like apple cider vinegar because it’s a natural match with the fresh apple and is lower in acidity than other vinegars. You can sub with other (white) vinegars, but start conservatively (eg. 1.5 tbsp) and increase gradually until you feel the balance is right.

7. Nutrition per serving.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 99cal (5%)Carbohydrates: 9g (3%)Protein: 1g (2%)Fat: 7g (11%)Saturated Fat: 1g (6%)Sodium: 151mg (7%)Potassium: 224mg (6%)Fiber: 3g (13%)Sugar: 4g (4%)Vitamin A: 100IU (2%)Vitamin C: 26mg (32%)Calcium: 39mg (4%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Life of Dozer

A Physio taught me to use tennis balls to loosen tight muscles in my back (ie lying on them on a rug). It will come as no surprise to anyone that the balls keep going missing, and I keep finding them in Dozer’s not-very-clever hiding places  – such as buried under cushions and blankets on his bed.

Dozer – that innocent look on your face ain’t fooling anyone!


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