Spicy Cilantro Slaw

spicy cilantro slaw

We’re on a roll with our Carnitas themed recipes this month. Next on the list? The perfect crunchy, flavorful, and slightly spicy veg to go along with your Carnitas or any other taco meal: Spicy Cilantro Slaw. You are going to love it!

Who among us doesn’t have memories of coleslaw? It’s a Midwest summertime staple, pulling us back to church potlucks and family gatherings, to summertime barbecues with long tables piled with food. The slaw always seemed a bit suspect to me as a child. But, then again, all salads are a bit suspect to children, especially when desserts are mere inches away.

Honestly, I’d still sidestep a salad for a cookie if I had to choose. Thankfully, I don’t have to choose. And neither do you!

spicy cilantro slaw top view

The BEST Slaw

But I’ve come to love slaw, basically a salad made from hearty cabbage. It’s a great alternative to lettuce or other greens, which I also love but need a break from now and then. And an easy way to add veggies and balance out an otherwise heavy meal of rich, roasted or grilled meat. 

Our Spicy Cilantro Slaw is perfect because the cabbage is super crunchy and the dressing has a bright and flavorful base of vinegar, herbs, and spices. Gone is the shred doused in mayonnaise. And we are not the least bit sad about it!

spicy cilantro slaw

Making Your Spicy Cilantro Slaw

A food processor is a great tool for making slaw. (We like this one and use it all the time!) Buying a whole cabbage is usually quite a bit cheaper than buying the pre-made shredded slaw mix, but the bagged stuff is a great, easy substitute. No cutting or shredding required. We love that too.

If you do buy a whole cabbage, core it and cut it into pieces before shredding it with your food processor or a handheld grater. You can also cut it into thin strips using a knife. Do what feels best and easiest to you! Sometimes, cutting with a knife feels soothing to me. The rhythm of it gives me a chance to settle after a busy day. Maybe this is your moment of peace, too? 

The cabbage shredding is the hardest part of this side dish. After that, you really only need to throw ingredients together. First, the dressing gets whisked. Then you add the cabbage and all the other ingredients. Toss and you’re done. Easy peasy. Leaving the bulk of your energy to focus on the main dish.

Give your slaw at least a little time to sit before enjoying, so that the flavors can mingle and come together in their own little party. It is best, though, the day it’s made. Leftovers are still tasty, but the cabbage will lose quite a bit of water overnight, leaving your slaw a bit soggy. Simply drain the liquid and enjoy the slaw again. The cabbage itself will stay crunchy for about a day before it starts to wilt and soften.

spicy cilantro slaw plated angled view

You must make our Instant Pot Carnitas Tacos and serve it with your slaw. It is seriously the BEST and worth every bit of effort. These two dishes together are per-fec-tion. Simple and delicious.

Make some dessert ahead of time and pull it out to finish your meal. Our favorite options right now are Ginger Peach Crisp or some cookies (Dark Chocolate Pecan or Triple Chocolate Chip). 


spicy cilantro slaw

Spicy Cilantro Slaw

This crunchy, slightly spicy, flavorful slaw is the perfect veg to serve with our amazing Carnitas or any other roasted meat or taco meal!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Course Gluten Free, Salad, Side Dish, Vegan, Vegetable, Vegetarian
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings



  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper


  • 14 ounces red or green cabbage, or a mix of both sliced thin and roughly chopped (about 1 medium cabbage)
  • 1 medium carrot shredded
  • 3-4 green onions sliced (white and green parts)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro


  • Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  • Add the cabbage, carrot, onions, and cilantro to the dressing and toss until evenly coated.
  • Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


This slaw is best the day it’s made.
Keyword cabbage, slaw, vegan, vegetarian

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