In this inspired riff on coleslaw, zucchini stands in for cabbage. Consider it our love note to anyone who’s ever ended up with crazy amounts of zucchini in their garden. The only difficult part about the recipe is deciding whether you want a rich and creamy dressing with mayo and mustard or a sweetly tart vinaigrette enhanced with sugar.

Actually, there’s another decision you get to make. And that’s how to slice your squash. The perfectionist streak in us prefers the pleasing precise appearance of zucchini julienned with a chef’s knife or one of those handy julienne peelers, although the practical side of us likes to save a little time and trouble by tossing the vegetables in a food processor.–Sara Foster


Slaw, no matter if it’s made from cabbage or zucchini can get watery if it’s made too far in advance. The salt in the dressing breaks down the veggies over time, resulting in a weepy, watery mess. You can prevent it by not mixing it up until you’re nearly ready to serve–but you can definitely prep all the parts in advance. However, if you find that your slaw has gotten watery you can simply strain it. Feel free to add another handful of veggies at this point, just to crisp it up again.

Close up of a pile of zucchini slaw with carrots, squash, and bell peppers, sprinkled with parsley. 2 forks in the background.

Zucchini Slaw Two Ways

4.82 / 11 votes
This zucchini slaw–made with thinly sliced zucchini, summer squash, bell pepper, and scallions–can turn out two ways: one with mayo, another with vinaigrette. You’ll never give zucchini away again.
David Leite
Servings4 to 6 servings
Calories258 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Total Time25 minutes


For the zucchini slaw

  • 2 medium zucchini, unpeeled, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) strips
  • 2 yellow summer squash, unpeeled, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) strips
  • 2 carrots, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) strips
  • 4 scallions, (white and green parts), cut into 2-inch (5-cm) strips
  • 1 bell pepper, (color of your choice), stemmed, seeded, and cut into 2-inch (5-cm) strips (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Creamy Slaw Dressing or Sweet and Tart Dressing
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the creamy slaw dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the sweet and tart dressing

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Large pinch poppy seeds, (optional)


Prep the zucchini slaw

  • Combine the zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, scallions, bell pepper, if using, and parsley in a large bowl or, if you want to try both dressings, divvy the veggies between a couple of bowls.

Make the creamy slaw dressing

  • Whisk the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Make the sweet and tart slaw dressing

  • Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and poppy seeds, if using, in a jar. Screw the lid on tightly and shake the jar until the sugar dissolves. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Assemble the slaw

  • Drizzle the veggies with either the creamy slaw dressing or the sweet and tart slaw dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat. You can refrigerate the slaw for a little while, although it's best to serve it shortly after dressing it so it doesn't become soggy or weepy.
Fresh Every Day Cookbook

Adapted From

Fresh Every Day

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 258 kcalCarbohydrates: 13 gProtein: 4 gFat: 22 gSaturated Fat: 3 gMonounsaturated Fat: 5 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 12 mgSodium: 882 mgFiber: 4 gSugar: 8 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2005 Sara Foster. Photo © 2005 Quentin Bacon. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Using extra zucchini instead of cabbage in slaw is brilliant, not to mention a very sneaky way to get choosy eaters to gobble up zucchini and squash. Both dressings are delicious. The creamy dressing’s hint of Dijon packs an elegant punch and the vinegar-based dressing is light and fresh and fat-free!

The zucchini slaw comes together in the time it takes to grill a few steaks or chicken breasts, thanks to a trip through the food processor. I can’t wait to try this slaw on a pulled-pork sandwich.

I noticed that both versions of this slaw do not keep well, but maybe that’s due to the oppressive heat and humidity we’re experiencing right now. Dress the zucchini right before serving and stir it occasionally.

I’m not a huge fan of raw veggies, so you’ll never find me using raw zucchini in place of pasta or anything like that. But this zucchini slaw two ways was really good. I used the julienne blade on my mandoline for the squash and carrots, but I think a shredding blade on a food processor would do the same thing only faster. It took some work to julienne the bell pepper to a similar size, and I think a small dice would provide the same crunch with easier knife skills.

You do need the carrot and bell pepper to give the coleslaw a little crunch and texture. My zucchini and summer squash ended up pretty soft in the final dish. I made the creamy dressing. I didn’t actually like it upon first taste because I thought it was too tangy from the mustard and vinegar but after mixing it into the coleslaw and letting it sit for a few minutes, it all melded together just fine. I did need another sprinkle of salt on the coleslaw to fine-tune the flavor.

I found a lot of liquid drained from the veggies within a half hour of making the slaw. But you can mix it right before serving and it won’t seep all over the plate—just be aware that the bottom of the bowl will collect a lot of liquid. Because it uses up so much squash (yes, I have some in the garden), I can definitely see this standing in for more traditional cabbage coleslaw this summer.

I made both versions of this zucchini slaw two ways and they were both fantastic. Normally, I’m not a big fan of mayonnaise-based slaws, but this dressing was exceptional with a robust dose of Dijon mustard. The vinegar dressing also was excellent, perfectly balanced, and really let the flavor of the vegetables—especially the parsley—shine through.

This is one of those recipes that immediately get me thinking about all sorts of variations I could make. I’m sure that it and its offspring will make repeat appearances in my kitchen.

Summer is a season for salads and fresh vegetables, and I’m always looking for new ways to combine those things. Enter zucchini slaw two ways. I made the vinegar-based version of this and I found that it held up quite well for a few days in the refrigerator. I’m usually not too fond of raw squash, but it worked pretty well in this recipe.

As the slaw sat in the dressing, in fact, the raw vegetables softened some, along with my feelings about raw squash. The dressing offered a nice balance of sweet and tart tastes. Since I forgot to add poppy seeds the first time around, I added some to the leftovers, and I liked it better with them.

The only difficult part of the prep was julienning the vegetables, which took quite a while by hand. I also thought that the recipe yielded a bit too much dressing, but that might be dependent upon the sizes of vegetables used and the degree of precision in the julienne.

This is a great way to use up that plethora of zucchini that will soon arrive. I made the zucchini slaw with the tart and sweet dressing and put it on barbecued pulled-pork sandwiches. Excellent! I also liked the creamy dressing, but I think just a hint of sugar or honey would have made it better.

I had never thought about using zucchini as the base of slaw, but the result is worth repeating. I tried the recipe using both dressings, and I must admit that I like the creamy dressing better. The sugar/vinegar mixture is a little too sweet for me and quickly draws moisture out of the zucchini.

The creamy dressing still draws a lot of moisture out of the zucchini, but I think I actually liked the dressing better once it was a little more diluted. The carrots add a nice crunch that holds up to sitting in the dressing for a while. Anyone would be happy to eat this for a summer get-together instead of the more traditional cabbage slaw.

The dressings for this zucchini slaw two ways were delicious, satisfying summer cravings of cold, pickle-y things and creamy salads. I sliced the squash and carrots into ribbons on a mandoline, which made for a very pretty presentation.

Both of the dressings worked very well. In the creamy slaw dressing, the white wine vinegar and mustard balanced well with the mayonnaise and kept the dressing from being too creamy. I also like that there isn’t any of the sweetness that many creamy slaw dressings seem to have.

The sweet and tart dressing is wonderful just the way it is, but it’s also the one I’d play around with by slightly lowering the amount of sugar and trying some different kinds of vinegar (like sherry or malt). The recipes are a quick way to get two great slaws for a summer picnic or barbecue. I can see either of these slaws on grilled meat sandwiches or pulled pork sandwiches.

I was full of the good intentions to make this slaw with the healthier sweet and tart dressing, but the mayonnaise and mustard combination proved to be irresistible. Made with creamy dressing, this recipe produced a delicious mix of flavors and textures. The dressing has a nice balance of sweet, sharp, and creamy notes, and coats the slaw well without being too heavy.

The mix of vegetables is even-handed, too, with the strong flavor of the scallions met by the sweetness of the other ingredients. It’s a great way to use up courgettes and squash, and it’s safe to say that I’m now a convert to using these vegetables raw for extra crunch. I couldn’t get yellow squash locally, so I substituted about half a small butternut squash, using equal amounts of squash to zucchini, which I peeled before I julienned the flesh.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Sweet and Tart is our go to for fish taco night. I leave out the green peppers to make it AIP compliment for me.

  2. 5 stars
    Nice change from cabbage. I made the creamy dressing but didn’t add all of it. Slaw is a cinch to make with a mandolin. Loved it.