Asian Slaw with Sesame Ginger Dressing

4.60 from 30 votes
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This Asian slaw recipe makes the perfect crunchy and colorful side dish. A simple combination of shredded cabbage, carrots, and sliced apples tossed is a sweet and tangy sesame ginger dressing.

Asian Slaw with Sesame Ginger Dressing

Are you looking to add an easy and flavorful side salad to your plate? This healthy vegetable and fruit mixture combines Asian-inspired ingredients for a twist on a classic coleslaw. It takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. Enjoy it on its own, or use it as a topping for tacos and sandwiches for a delightful crunch.

Now’s your chance to chop! Have some fun practicing knife skills to create thinly sliced apples, cabbage, and carrots. To make a bold and pungent dressing, freshly minced garlic and ginger are whisked together with soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, and rice vinegar. The coleslaw mix is tossed in the sweet and tangy dressing.

Cabbage selection

I use red cabbage and napa cabbage for the slaw base. Napa cabbage is a heartier leaf, also called Chinese cabbage. The tender leaves are soft and sweet, and the small grooves on the surface help to capture more dressing onto the greens. This means better flavor delivery.

Napa cabbage also doesn’t wilt as quickly as green cabbage when combined with the dressing. The vibrant purple color makes the slaw visually enticing and packs more phytonutrients into each serving.

Shredded and sliced colorful ingredients in a large mixing bowl

Preparing the coleslaw mix

The Asian slaw base is composed of just six ingredients; green cabbage, red cabbage, shredded carrots, apples, green onions, and cilantro. Make sure to cut the cabbage into ¼-inch thick strips to keep a crunchy texture. You can hand grate the carrots, or purchase the shredded product from the grocery store to save you some time.

I like to add just a hint of extra sweetness and snap to the salad with Fuji apples. After slicing, soak them in cold water until ready to use to prevent the flesh from browning too quickly.

The tasty dressing

To make the Asian slaw dressing, make sure to finely mince the garlic and ginger. Just a small amount is going to add that warm and pungent spice, but you don’t want big chunks that will shock the taste buds. Rice vinegar enhances the dressings with mild and slightly sweet acidity. Honey is added to balance the tanginess, sugar, brown sugar, or maple syrup can also be used.

Soy sauce and toasted sesame oil add a rich umami taste to the dressing for depth. Whisking in a small amount of mayonnaise and olive oil adds body to the dressings, helping it to cling better to the vegetables and keeps the emulsion more stable. Use about half of the dressing to coat the base, then add more to your liking.

Whisking together a salad dressing in a bowl

Garnishing the slaw

Make sure to sprinkle on some sesame seeds right before serving. Toasting them will warm up the oils inside and enhance their nutty flavor. I also like to add a few more sliced green onions and cilantro leaves on top for a pop of color.

Can this recipe be made in advance?

Yes! The cut vegetables can be prepared and stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days before serving. The dressing can be made 2 days before, but make sure to whisk before using to reform the emulsion. Slice the apples the same day to prevent it from turning brown in color. Wait to combine the ingredients until ready to serve, otherwise, it will become too soggy if it sits overnight.

Pouring sesame ginger dressing into a bowl of sliced cabbage and carrots

Ways to customize this recipe

  • Add sliced red bell peppers or bok choy
  • Add edamame beans, sugar snap peas, or snow peas
  • Add mandarin oranges or Asian pear
  • Use tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce to make it gluten-free
  • The mayonnaise can be removed, the texture will be slightly less thick
  • Peanut butter can be added to the dressing for a nutty flavor

What to serve with the slaw

Asian-style coleslaw with sesame seeds sprinkled on top

When to add the dressing

To ensure a super crunchy texture of the slaw ingredients, add the dressing right before serving. If the shredded cabbage sits too long in the acidic sauce, the salad will become watery and wilt. This is due to moisture being released from the cell walls when it comes into contact with the salt from the soy sauce.

Asian Slaw with Sesame Ginger Dressing

This Asian slaw side dish is a simple combination of shredded cabbage, carrots, and sliced apples tossed is a sweet and tangy sesame ginger dressing.
4.60 from 30 votes
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Course Side
Cuisine Asian



  • 4 cups shredded napa cabbage, or green cabbage, ¼-inch thick
  • 3 cups shredded red cabbage, ¼-inch thick
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup thinly sliced fuji apples, or red apples, ⅛-inch thick
  • ¼ sliced green onions, cut on a bias
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, black and white

Dressing (1 cup)

  • ¼ cup rice vinegar, unsweetened
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, toasted
  • ½ cup olive oil


  • In a large bowl combine napa cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, apples, green onions and cilantro leaves.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, honey, mayonnaise, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and black pepper until completely combined. Gradually whisk in sesame oil and olive oil until dressing is lightly thickened. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as desired.
  • Drizzle half of the dressing over the coleslaw, gently toss to combine. Add more to taste, or serve on the side. Serve within 1 hour of combining.



  • Recipe Yield: About 8 cups
  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Make it GLUTEN-FREE: Substitute gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos for soy sauce.
  • Make it PALEO: Substitute coconut aminos for soy sauce and pure maple syrup for honey.
  • Make it VEGAN: Omit the mayonnaise (dressing will be less creamy) and use pure maple syrup instead of honey.
  • Make the sesame seeds more fragrant: Toast them in a saute pan over medium heat until lightly browned or when you can smell the oils. 

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 8 servings
Calories 112kcal (6%)Carbohydrates 8g (3%)Protein 1g (2%)Fat 9g (14%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Cholesterol 1mgSodium 53mg (2%)Potassium 132mg (4%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 5g (6%)Vitamin A 3079IU (62%)Vitamin C 20mg (24%)Calcium 23mg (2%)Iron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Recipe Rating

3 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Donna says

    Love this recipe, although we are not a huge fan of ginger. So I left that out, and the salad and dressing were delicious.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Donna. Happy to hear that the dressing tasted yummy without the ginger.

  2. Robert herlihy says

    Hey JG, New follower here. Just used your technique for making fresh spring rolls and they came out beautifully. As usual, it’s all about technique, and practice, of course. Thanks.