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This easy Mexican coleslaw recipe is deliciously fresh and tangy, featuring cabbage, red onion, cilantro, and cumin. Perfect as a side or on tacos!

Mexican coleslaw recipe

You can’t have too many coleslaw recipes, right? Alex and I rediscovered our love for the stuff after creating our famous Best Creamy Coleslaw recipe. It’s just the right balance of tangy, savory, and sweet, perfect on our Swiss Melts with Russian dressing. But for a healthy spin that’s little lighter and fresher, here’s another delicious coleslaw recipe for you. This Mexican coleslaw has no mayo, and instead focuses on fresh flavors: crunchy cabbage, red onion, cilantro, and cumin. It’s got both cumin seed and ground cumin for a double hit of flavor. Oh–and it doubles as a taco topping. Keep reading for the recipe!

Mexican coleslaw

How to make Mexican coleslaw

This Mexican coleslaw is a fantastic summer side dish, and perfect on tacos too. We created it for our Grilled Shrimp Tacos, but it truly works on any taco (see below!). It’s very simple to whip up, and requires no wait time in the refrigerator either! Many coleslaw recipes require melding in the fridge for an hour or so, but this Mexican coleslaw is perfect right away. A unique feature of this recipe is that it has both cumin seed and ground cumin: to really bring out that cumin-y flavor! It’s very easy to make: the hardest part is the knife skills to chop up all the veggies.

Here’s how to make Mexican coleslaw:

  1. Thinly slice the cabbage.
  2. Shred the carrot, thinly slice the red onion onion, and chop the cilantro.
  3. Mix the vegetables together with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, cumin seed, ground cumin, kosher salt and pepper. Serve immediately!
Mexican coleslaw

Storing leftovers

An important note on this Mexican coleslaw: it does taste best right away. If you want to make it in advance, we’d recommend slicing up the veggies and keeping the olive oil, vinegar and spices separate. Then mix them up directly prior to serving.

If you do have leftovers, you can store them refrigerated. The coleslaw may lose a little flavor over time, you could refresh the flavor with another splash of vinegar, drizzle of olive oil, and pinch of kosher salt.

How to cut cabbage

How to cut cabbage

Since one of the most time-consuming parts of making this Mexican coleslaw is cutting the cabbage, here’s a trick that makes it much easier! I used to cut it in half and then hack at it until I got some “shreds.” Sometimes my knife would slip and they’d be super uneven!

This new method changed the game for me. Here I am in our home kitchen demonstrating the best way to cut cabbage: it makes cutting up the cabbage for coleslaw a breeze! PS here are all our Best Cabbage Recipes for other ways to use this tasty veggie.

How to serve Mexican coleslaw

And that’s it: all you need to know about how to make coleslaw! This Mexican coleslaw is a perfect side dish for summer, and it also works fabulously as a side to go with tacos. We recently served it for a patio party with our grilled shrimp tacos and it was a huge hit! Tacos are perfect for entertaining, especially accompanied by some frozen alcoholic drinks (am I right?!). Here are a few different ways we’d serve this coleslaw:

What else would you serve it with? Let us know in the comments below: and go forth and COLESLAW!

Mexican coleslaw

This recipe is…

This Mexican coleslaw recipe is vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, plant-based, vegan, and refined sugar free.

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Mexican coleslaw

Mexican Coleslaw Recipe

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x


This easy Mexican coleslaw recipe is deliciously fresh and tangy, featuring cabbage, red onion, cilantro, and cumin. Perfect as a side or on tacos!


  • 8 cups shredded cabbage (1/2 large or 1 medium head green cabbage; or do half red cabbage and half green)
  • 1 cup shredded carrot (1 large or 2 medium carrots)
  • 1/4 red onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper


  1. Thinly slice the cabbage. Shred the carrot. Thinly slice the red onion. Finely chop the cilantro.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together. Taste and add additional salt or pepper if needed. Serve immediately. (Make ahead: slice the veggies in advance and store refrigerated. Mix together with the vinegar, olive oil, cumin seed, ground cumin, salt and pepper directly before serving. Store leftovers refrigerated; if you find the flavor needs refreshing, add a splash of vinegar, drizzle of olive oil and pinch of kosher salt to taste.)
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: Mexican Inspired

Keywords: Mexican Coleslaw, Coleslaw Recipe, Vinegar Coleslaw Recipe

Looking for side dish recipes?

Outside of this Mexican coleslaw recipe, here are a few more side dish recipes we love:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. I was looking for a side dish to serve with enchiladas, and this was perfect. For a little heat, I added some cholula, and that worked out really well.

  2. Are you mixing in whole, raw cumin seed? Seems weird and I don’t see any in the picture so I wonder, am I missing something?

    1. Yes, there is some whole cumin seed but only 1/2 teaspoon, so it’s difficult to see in the photos! It adds a nice intrigue to the flavor but you can omit if desired!

  3. This was delicious and easy and made perfect vegetarian tacos. I smashed up some avocado and I diced up some jalapeño actually put that in the coleslaw, the jalapeño, but delicious!!! Looking forward to trying more of your recipes!

    1. That is so smart! Love the idea to add avocado and jalapeno — we will have to try that!

  4. This is DELICIOUS! I love the lightness with loads of flavor. Made it with Angel hair shredded cabbage, shredded carrot, cilantro, and minced jalapeño … for taco night with homemade tortillas. This was a wonderful add! Thank you. I will use this on chopped romaine salad from now on!!

  5. Thanks for this great recipe! It’s so fresh, and makes taco night feel a bit healthier 🙂 I love a classic coleslaw but this is just as good, without the calorie laden mayo & sugar. Also appreciated the tips on how to cut cabbage – thanks!

  6. Took this to a Mexican food potluck and everyone LOVED it! No leftovers and many going back for seconds. Thank you!

  7. Made this last night and loved it! The only thing I changed is that I used lime juice instead of vinegar. Delish!

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