This slaw recipe is a slam dunk for me. It smacks of cool sweet-tartness, just perfect for a summer day.

And the ingredients? They’re like a greatest hits album. Granny Smith apples lend a tart sweetness. Scallions, a bite of allium onioniness. Cabbage gives crunch, and the TWO colors of cabbage offer a visual pop. Cilantro (I’m one of those who adore it and don’t find it soapy taste) and lime round out the flavors.

Serve this winner at any cookout, BBQ, picnic, potluck, or church social. You get the idea. And if anyone doesn’t love this as much as I do, you tell them to come and talk to Fatty Daddy. I’ll set them straight.

david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

Our testers loved the fresh, crunchy texture of the salad and its bright, tart vinaigrette dressing. Angela Reynolds calls this easy apple coleslaw recipe “a standout side dish.” I couldn’t agree more.

What You’ll Need to Make This

Ingredients for tangy apple slaw--cabbage, cilantro, scallions, apples, oil, mustard, lime, and vinegar.
  • Red and green cabbage–Using two types of cabbage makes for a great presentation, but you can use all of one color, or you can replace the shredded cabbage with bagged coleslaw mix.
  • Granny Smith apples–The tartness of Granny Smith apples works well here. You can substitute another type of tart, crunchy apple, but I don’t recommend using a sweet or soft variety, such as Golden Delicious.
  • Apple cider vinegar–The vinegar adds an essential tang to the dressing. You can substitute white or white wine vinegar.
  • Olive oil–You can substitute a neutral vegetable oil, if you prefer.

How to Make This Recipe

A bowl of coleslaw ingredients and a bowl of dressing with a whisk inside and a dish of salt and two squeezed lime halves on the side.
  1. Combine the cabbage, apple, scallions, and cilantro in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
Dressing being poured into a bowl of coleslaw and a person mixing up the bowl of slaw.
  1. Pour the dressing over the slaw.
  2. Toss the slaw well to thoroughly coat the cabbage and apple with the dressing.

Common Questions

How can I stop the red cabbage from staining the salad?

Red cabbage will bleed into the other ingredients when mixed with the dressing. It’s sort of inevitable. If you want to keep the salad as multicolored as possible, hold back the red cabbage and mix it in right before serving.

what should I serve with this coleslaw?

Any type of grilled meat would be wonderful alongside this slaw. Try it with baby back ribs or smoked chicken. Spicy corn on the cob or grilled potatoes would also be excellent sides to accompany it.

Can you freeze coleslaw?

I don’t recommend freezing coleslaw, as it can become watery when it thaws. If you have leftover coleslaw to use up, stuff it inside a sandwich or wrap or use it in your favorite fish tacos.

What’s the easiest way to shred cabbage?

If you’ve got a mandoline, it will make quick work of shredding the cabbage. Alternatively, a box grater or food processor will also work, although you may not be able to shred as thinly as with a mandoline. You can also slice the cabbage by hand with a sharp knife.

Helpful Tips

  • Save time and use bagged coleslaw mix instead of shredding the cabbage.
  • If your dressing is too tart for you, stir in 2 teaspoons of maple syrup or sugar to sweeten it slightly.
  • Leftover slaw will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The coleslaw will soften over time.
A bowl of apple coleslaw with wooden serving spoons, salt, two lime halves, and some cilantro on the side.

More Amazing Coleslaw Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

A bowl of apple coleslaw with wooden serving spoons, salt, two lime halves, and some cilantro on the side.

Tangy Apple Slaw

5 / 2 votes
This sweet and tangy apple slaw, made with crunchy cabbage, tart apples, and a lime vinaigrette, is going to be a cookout staple all summer long.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories165 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Total Time20 minutes


For the slaw

  • 1/4 small (6 oz) red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1/4 small (6 oz) green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 small (11 oz total) Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into matchsticks
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

For the dressing

  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


Make the slaw

  • Honestly, this recipe couldn't be simpler. Grab a big bowl and drop in the cabbage, apple, scallions, and cilantro. No need to be all perfect about it.

Make the dressing

  • Reach for a small bowl and your favorite whisk and whip together the lime juice, vinegar, mustard, salt, and olive oil.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad, toss it with unbridled joie de vivre, and serve.


  1. Save time–Use bagged coleslaw mix instead of shredding the cabbage.
  2. Sweeten the dressing–If you find the dressing too tart, stir in up to 2 teaspoons of maple syrup or sugar to sweeten it.
  3. Storage–Leftover slaw will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The coleslaw will soften over time.
The Backyard BBQ Bible Cookbook

Adapted From

The Backyard BBQ Bible

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 165 kcalCarbohydrates: 18 gProtein: 2 gFat: 11 gSaturated Fat: 2 gMonounsaturated Fat: 8 gSodium: 341 mgFiber: 4 gSugar: 11 g

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2022 Oscar Smith. Photos © 2023 Angie Zoobkoff. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

A white bowl filled with apple and cabbage slaw.

This cabbage and apple slaw is a standout side dish. It has a nice bright bite, and no sugar is needed with the apple. This slaw would be excellent on fish tacos!

I did hold back my shredded red cabbage and added it right before serving so the whole batch wouldn’t turn pink. Add away if it’s not an issue for you.

A great side that can be made ahead. My leftover slaw was still yummy and crunchy three days later.

This crunchy apple coleslaw paired well with grilled short ribs and gochujang sloppy joes, which is what we made after running out of ribs (sad face), and both dinners were rounded out with baked beans.

I added two teaspoons of maple syrup to the slaw dressing each time because it seemed slightly bitter.

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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