Summer Napa Cabbage Slaw Mayonnaise Recipe on Food52 (2024)

Make Ahead

by: Amanda Hesser



7 Ratings

  • Serves 6

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Author Notes

Cooks often attempt to lighten up coleslaw by removing the mayonnaise from the dressing. But why take away the joy? Instead, lighten it by replacing the sturdy cabbage with crisper, featherweight napa cabbage. Here, sliced almonds and sesame seeds add a little crunch and heft, and ginger brightens up the dressing. Add as much mayonnaise as you like. A giant dollop, you crazy cat! - Amanda —Amanda Hesser

  • Test Kitchen-Approved

What You'll Need

  • 1/2 to 1 napa cabbage, trimmed and very thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
  • 1/2 cupsliced almonds, toasted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoonssesame seeds, toasted
  • 3 tablespoonsbasil leaves, thinly sliced (or torn)
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoonslemon juice (or lemon and lime)
  • 1 teaspoongrated ginger
  • 2 tablespoonsmayonnaise
  • Salt
  • 4 to 5 tablespoonsolive oil
  1. Combine the sliced cabbage, almonds, sesame seeds, basil, and scallions in a large bowl. Mix together.
  2. Whisk together the lemon juice, ginger, and mayonnaise. Season with salt. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until smooth.
  3. Pour most but not all of the dressing over the cabbage mixture, and toss until lightly coated with the dressing. Taste, and add more dressing or seasoning as needed. Feel free to add more oil or mayo if desired. Eat soon. The cabbage gets watery as it wilts.


  • Salad
  • American
  • Vegetable
  • Green Onion/Scallion
  • Mayonnaise
  • Lemon Juice
  • Sesame
  • Make Ahead
  • Serves a Crowd
  • Summer
  • Vegetarian
  • Gluten-Free

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

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17 Reviews

Hilbjak June 14, 2018

Feeding extended family at the Jersey Shore and needed ideas for fresh slaw. This was easy and delicious - using what was available in fridge, I replaced basil with cilantro and omitted the sesame seeds. Lots of options for variation. Thanks, Amanda

Amanda H. June 14, 2018

Glad you went your own way -- it's meant to be flexible and I like the sound of your changes!

Rhonda35 August 19, 2016

Skipped the basil and only used 1/4 tsp ginger, but otherwise followed the recipe and then used the slaw in grilled fish tacos - major yum!

Jenny June 17, 2016

Sliced up some crisp apples in there too to add some more freshness and sweetness because I don't have basil and I tried mixing sesame oil with olive oil. Turned out great! Thank you Amanda!

Amanda H. June 18, 2016

Thanks for giving it a try! Bet the sesame oil was a good addition.

[emailprotected] June 26, 2014

Being of Polish descent, my son and I love all things cabbage. I made this coleslaw and my son absolutely loves it! In fact, he asked that this recipe be the only one that I use from now on. ;-)

Amanda H. June 26, 2014


za'atar July 4, 2013

Love the napa cabbage! This is a refreshing change of pace from more traditional slaws - everyone really enjoyed it.

baltimoregon June 7, 2012

Nice! Just made, spiking the dressing with a splash of fish sauce and rice wine vinegar for added zing. Used fresh young garlic shoots instead of scallions. Chopped salty roasted peanuts and a little Thai chili would be nice additions. Thanks for the inspiration!

IthacaNancy July 30, 2011

I doubled the amount of cabbage, and used a cucumber-chili aioli instead of mayonnaise, and forgot to add the basil, so maybe I shouldn't even comment . . . but everyone liked it. It's nice it wasn't too sweet and the flavor was quite mild.

Amanda H. August 3, 2011

Glad you commented -- you should add the recipe to the site, it sounds terrific.

gaelc July 10, 2011

Amanda...friends and I on an art retreat (with the emphasis on "eat") made your summer slaw and voted it one of the best of our 6 day stay. We used savoy cabbage because I thought the napa was a bit too "lettuce-y." Of course, it was fine. The flavor was so delicate and refreshing with the ginger, and the tiny amount of Hellman's mayo gave it all the creaminess it needed. Thank you so much!

Amanda H. July 10, 2011

Delighted to hear this -- and I'll have to try it with savoy. I love savoy and don't eat enough of it!

mayuchico June 27, 2011

I had a cabbage I have to use in the fridge, so I used it instead of napa. I also used cilantro, chopped hazel nuts. It still came out really refreshing and so summer!

Amanda H. July 10, 2011

Glad you liked it!

Polly H. June 26, 2011

Just beautiful -- and imagine the delicious 'crunch' as a well sharpened chef's knife slices into that cabbage. My cooking mantra is 'notice ALL the benefits of preparing good things to eat.'

Amanda H. July 10, 2011

Napa cabbage is very satisfying to slice because it's so light and crisp -- and you don't have to work all that hard.

Summer Napa Cabbage Slaw Mayonnaise Recipe on Food52 (2024)


What salad is made from shredded raw cabbage with mayonnaise as a dressing? ›

Most people refer to sliced or shredded raw cabbage coated with mayo- or vinegar-based dressing as coleslaw (or just slaw).

What is the difference between cabbage slaw and coleslaw? ›

While cabbage salad often consists only of one vegetable seasoned and dressed, coleslaw can include a few other ingredients like shredded veggies, fruits, or seasonings to give some variety to the dish. While both feature cabbage as the star of the show, the different dressings set the two apart.

How do you keep coleslaw from getting soggy? ›

It turns out that there's an easy technique to prevent this unfortunate result. The problem is that cabbage naturally contains a lot of water, which can leak out to create a coleslaw soup. The solution is to salt the cabbage first. This will draw out the moisture and allow you to make a perfect, non-watery coleslaw.

What do you call a salad that use thick dressing like mayonnaise? ›

Bound salads are assembled with thick sauces such as mayonnaise. One portion of a bound salad will hold its shape when placed on a plate with a scoop. Examples of bound salad include tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, coleslaw, and potato salad. Some bound salads are used as sandwich fillings.

What is the difference between real mayonnaise and salad dressing? ›

Salad dressing is made with the same basic ingredients as mayonnaise. However, it has more water by weight than oil. It is also sweeter than mayonnaise, usually with high fructose corn syrup.

Why did KFC stop selling coleslaw? ›

The fast food chain was forced to stop selling its coleslaw tubs when a supply issue meant the slaw would have to be served up without the dressing. “We are currently experiencing a supply issue with our KFC coleslaw dressing,” a KFC spokesperson said. The slaw is made up of cabbage and carrots coated in mayonnaise.

Why is KFC coleslaw so good? ›

Finely diced ingredients

What's more, KFC finely dices everything so you don't have to chew that much, and all the flavors and textures blend perfectly. More specifically, they dice cabbage, carrots, and onions, which are all crunchy and have a pleasant mouth feel.

Which is healthier cabbage slaw or broccoli slaw? ›

It's perfect for any type of meal, but especially with anything grilled or anything BBQ-style. Broccoli slaw is an elevated, even more nutritious cousin of traditional coleslaw. It's packed with fiber, natural hydration, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Can I shred cabbage with a box grater? ›

Shred cabbage with a box grater

(We like these flexible chopping mats that make pouring cabbage into a pot or bowl easy.) Then, hold the flat side of the cabbage head against the largest holes on the box grater and slide the cabbage down over the holes. Repeat until the cabbage is shredded.

How to fix too much mayo in coleslaw? ›

To offset the creaminess (and potentially wetness) of too much mayo, try adding in more of whatever crunchy element you were using. Celery and red onion are some of the most common ones, but you can also try chopped red peppers, bacon bits, carrots, cabbage, apples, chopped nuts, and more.

Why does coleslaw go bad so quickly? ›

Like the cabbage, these veggie add-ins can also become breeding grounds for bacteria when left unrefrigerated. Coleslaw dressing often includes vinegar that acidulates the mixture, making it a less hospitable environment for those pesky bacteria. But unfortunately, it's not enough to halt bacterial growth completely.

Why does my homemade coleslaw go watery? ›

Cabbage contains lots of water. Alton Brown suggests salting the cabbage and letting the water drain for two hours, then rinsing the cabbage and spinning it dry before dressing it. That purges the excess water out of the cabbage before it is dressed, so it doesn't get watery.

What is another name for shredded cabbage salad? ›

Coleslaw (from the Dutch term koolsla meaning 'cabbage salad'), also known as cole slaw, or simply as slaw, is a side dish consisting primarily of finely shredded raw cabbage with a salad dressing or condiment, commonly either vinaigrette or mayonnaise.

What is a mayonnaise salad dressing? ›

Mayonnaise * A smooth, creamy, semi-solid emulsified dressing consisting of vegetable oil (65%) and eggs, acidified with vinegar or lemon juice and delicately spiced. No other emulsifiers are allowed in this product. Often used as a base for other dressings.

Why is it called Cole Slaw? ›

In fact, the term coleslaw originates from the Dutch expression koosla, which means “cabbage salad.” Recipes similar to coleslaw have been found and used in American homes from as early as 1770.


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