If you’re a fan of fish tacos, then you know that the perfect slaw can take your taco game to the next level. That’s where our Red Cabbage Slaw comes in! This colorful slaw is made with shredded red cabbage, red onion, and a zesty dressing of lime juice, mayonnaise, and sour cream. Topped with scallions and fresh cilantro, it adds just the right amount of crunch and flavor to your tacos.
Plus, it’s easy to make and can be prepped ahead of time. It’s versatile enough for all your favorite tacos (our current fav? Salmon Tacos!), but it’s also fantastic on burgers, sandwiches, or even grilled chicken and fish.
If you enjoy this cabbage slaw for tacos, be sure to try our foolproof Coleslaw For Pulled Pork! It’s got a sweet and tangy flavor that is perfect with bbq!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Shredded red cabbage (also called purple cabbage): You can finely shred the cabbage yourself or buy pre-shredded. Don’t want to use red cabbage? Green cabbage, savoy cabbage, and napa cabbage all work just fine.
- Red onion: For this cabbage slaw recipe, you’ll need half a thinly sliced red onion. For a less intense onion flavor, you can omit the red onion and stick to scallions.
- 2 limes: Add about 2-3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice — it’s so much better than jarred! Feel free to substitute with other fresh citrus. Fresh orange juice would be delicious!
- Mayonnaise and sour cream: To give it a slightly creamy texture and tang! Don’t worry, it’s not super thick — the lime juice will help to thin it out so it’s still got a light texture. For a slightly healthier cream base, use Greek yogurt.
- Scallions: We love the flavor that green onion adds to the slaw!
- Fresh cilantro: This adds a bright, fresh taste that makes this slaw pair well with everything from Mexican-inspired dishes to Asian meals as well.
How To Make Red Cabbage Slaw For Tacos
- Shred the cabbage. Begin by finely shredding the red cabbage and slicing the red onion thinly. It’s absolutely fine to buy pre-shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix!
- Salt and drain the slaw. To help keep the cabbage crisp, sprinkle it with Kosher salt, then toss and place over a colander. This will help to drain the excess moisture.
- Make the quick dressing. While the cabbage is draining, whisk together the mayonnaise, and sour cream, and lime juice until smooth.
- Toss, then refrigerate.Add the shredded cabbage, sliced onion, scallions, and cilantro to the bowl and toss well to coat with the dressing.
- Chill, then serve. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Taste, adjust seasoning as needed, then serve!
- For best results, use a mandoline or a sharp knife to finely shred the red cabbage. This will give the slaw a better texture and ensure that it’s evenly coated with the dressing.
- Salt and drain the cabbage! This is the trick to keeping cabbage and coleslaw crispy hours, or days, later!
- Don’t skip the refrigeration step! Allowing the slaw to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes will give the flavors time to develop and make for a more delicious slaw.
How To Shred Cabbage Like A Pro!
I’m a stickler for wanting cabbage to be evenly cut. You’ve got a couple of options to accomplish this:
- You can use a mandoline! Set the blade to about ⅛” thick, then carefully slice.
- Use a food processor! As long as the food processor has a shredding attachment, you can just pop quartered pieces of cabbage into the top piece, then press down with the food pro press while the motor is running.
- Cut by hand! This is my preferred method.
Our best tips for shredded cabbage by hand: remove the outer layers, then cut off the root of the cabbage. Next, slice the cabbage in half, directly through the stem. Cut each half into another half (so you’re left with quarters).
From here, make sure to cut out the stem completely. You do this by cutting on a diagonal, simply removing the stem. Place the quartered cabbage cut side down on a cutting board then thinly slice with a sharp knife.
Remove the outer layers of the cabbage, then cut off the root. Next, slice the cabbage in half, directly through the stem. Cut each half into another half (so you’re left with quarters).
From here, make sure to cut out the stem completely. You do this by cutting on a diagonal — discard the stem. Place the quartered cabbage cut side down on a cutting board then thinly slice with a sharp knife.
Yes! This slaw can be made up to 2 days in advance. Just be sure to keep it refrigerated until ready to serve.
While you can certainly use green cabbage in this recipe, we recommend sticking with red cabbage for its beautiful color.
Store in an airtight container in a fridge for up to 4-5 days! (Though it’s crunchiest on the first day.)
We really love the creamy addition of mayo and sour cream. You can give it a try with dairy-free substitute if you like, but we haven’t tested it that way.
How To Serve Red Cabbage Slaw
Our favorite use for crunchy red cabbage slaw is fish tacos! From Salmon Tacos with Pineapple Salsa and Cilantro Lime Crema to Grilled Fish Tacos, it would even be fantastic on fried fish tacos! Simply top your taco with a generous helping of the slaw for a burst of fresh flavor and crunch.
You might also enjoy it as a topping for burgers or sandwiches, such as our Turkey Feta Burgers or our favorite Crab Cake Sandwich. That with some tartar sauce would be amazingly delicious.
It’s crunchy, it’s got a vibrant color, and it’s perfectly well seasoned. You’re going to love this one!
If you make this Red Cabbage Slaw recipe, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below!
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How To Make Red Cabbage Slaw (For Fish Tacos!)
- 2 cups shredded red cabbage pre-shredded is fine
- ½ small red onion thinly sliced into half moons
- 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp sour cream
- 2 limes juiced, about 2-3 Tbsp
- 3 scallions thinly sliced, green and white parts
- ¼ cup cilantro finely chopped
- Salt and drain the cabbage. Place 2 cups shredded cabbage in a large colander set over a sink or large bowl. Sprinkle with ½ tsp Kosher salt, then toss to thoroughly coat. Allow cabbage to drain for 10-15 minutes.
- Make the dressing. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp mayo, 1 Tbsp sour cream, and the juice of 2 limes.
- Toss, then chill. Transfer the drained cabbage to the large mixing bowl with the dressing, then add thinly sliced red onion, scallions, and ¼ cup fresh cilantro. Toss well, then refrigerate until needed, at least 30 minutes. Taste, adjust seasoning, then serve!
- Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in a fridge for 4-5 days. The slaw will be crunchiest on the first day.
Photography by Jo Harding.
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