Alice Waters' Coleslaw

Welcome to one of Kitchen Parade's most popular recipes, a favorite recipe among Weight Watchers (low points!) and taste watchers (bright flavors like lime and cilantro!). No mayonnaise! I can't tell you how often I've made this coleslaw, including a giant batch for a day-after wedding barbecue! Total hit!

Alice Waters' Coleslaw ♥, no mayonnaise, bright with lime and cilantro. Vegan. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Weight Watchers Friendly. Great for Meal Prep.

Budget-Friendly. Real Food, Fresh & Seasonal. Summer Classic. Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Carb. Naturally Gluten Free. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Great for Meal Prep.

  • "This is a delicious cole slaw! Yum!" ~ Julie

Who Is the Most Influential Chef in America?

Emeril might come to mind, given the number of BAM! slots he holds on the Food Network. Julia Child, perhaps?

But no.

It’s Alice Waters, dubbed by some the "mother of modern American cooking". Unlike many of today’s food celebrities, she operates but one restaurant where reservations are notoriously difficult to score. She has published only a handful of cookbooks but there are no TV shows, no product lines.

Alice Waters has changed American cooking by returning the farmer to the culinary food chain. She insists on locally grown, seasonal ingredients and preaches sustainable agriculture. She celebrates the experience of discovering a new tomato, a tiny eggplant, at the farmers market.

Alice Waters is the cook who reminds me to slow down, every once in awhile, to examine and appreciate a dish’s ingredients.

You can too, with her simple coleslaw. Does the olive oil taste like fruit? nuts? Open your lungs to the limes’ zest and juice; how are they different? What does salt really taste like? And when your eyes are closed, does sea salt evoke lapping waves like a seashell held to the ear? Examine the tight veins of the cabbage, the perfectly formed seeds of the jalapeño, the coils of the onion. Taste the chopped cilantro, leaves first, then the stems. Mix the salad ingredients with your hands, feeling the coolness between your fingers and up to your wrists. Now consider your hands – how do they feel? look? smell?

Appreciate food for its origins and attributes and suddenly, life will slow, if but for a moment.

Cabbage & Beyond: Some More Coleslaw Recipes to Try

Alice Waters' Coleslaw ♥, no mayonnaise, bright with lime and cilantro. Vegan. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Weight Watchers Friendly. Great for Meal Prep.


Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time to table: 2 hours
Makes 12 cups
  • Zest and juice (about 4 tablespoons) from 2 fresh limes
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (or more to taste)
  • Large pinch of sugar (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3-pound green cabbage, outer leaves and core removed
  • 1 large jalapeño pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro, stems and leaves (no skipping, no skimping, no substitutes)

LIME VINAIGRETTE Whisk together lime zest and juice, vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar and olive oil in a container. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside.

VEGETABLES Cut large chunks from cabbage and chop finely with a sharp knife. (You can also grate the cabbage on the large holes of a cheese grate or in the food processor.) Place in a large container. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings again.

CHILL Cover and refrigerate for an hour or more before serving, stirring occasionally to distribute the dressing.

MAKE AHEAD Alice Waters' Coleslaw keeps for a week or more but is especially fresh and inviting on the first day.

NO SKIPPING, NO SKIMPING, NO SUBSTITUTES To my taste, lime juice and cilantro are essential ingredients. I've tried messing with these. Don't!

MAKE IT A MEAL Some times I sauté this coleslaw, then top it with a fried egg or grilled chicken.

ALANNA's TIPS Chopping the cabbage by hand takes about an extra five minutes. Use packaged chopped cabbage if you must, at the sacrifice of texture and freshness. Do stick to green cabbage. Red cabbage stains the coleslaw, not pretty. So do thin-sliced radishes. Darn it, I'd love to add more color to this slaw! After chopping the jalapeño, wash your hands thoroughly without first touching your eyes, mouth or face. You may think at first that there's not enough dressing for all that cabbage. There is! Just stir really well to distribute the dressing. But do taste for lime, if you can't taste fresh lime, squeeze in a little more. Good news: the olive oil can be omitted entirely, if you like, without change in flavor. The oil does slightly bind the salad together but truly, I don't think many will notice its omission. Orange vs lime: to complement the flavor in some ribs I was cooking to serve with this coleslaw, I substituted orange for the lime. But the orange doesn't by itself add quite enough brightness, so I ended up using both. Perfect! I've also substituted lemon for lime: don't. I often add a grated carrot for a little color but it's not a necessity. For large batches, the day before, make the dressing and chop everything except the cabbage. The day of, chop the cabbage and combine.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per half cup: 33 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 3g Carb; 1g Fiber; 56mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol; 2g Sugars; 1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 0 & PointsPlus 1 & SmartPoints 1 & Freestyle 1 & myWW green 1 & blue 1 & purple 1

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(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Anonymous7/21/2007

    This is a delicious cole slaw! Yum!


  2. Thank you! I was looking for something to go with chili and cornbread, and I didn't want a plain old cole slaw. This looks divine. I love the combination of jalapenos with a pinch of sugar. Sweet and heat. And crunchy. Yum, yum, yum.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna