Looking for a delicious and refreshing side dish to accompany your Chinese cuisine? Look no further than this Easy Chinese Coleslaw recipe! Featuring a colorful and crunchy combination of shredded purple cabbage, julienned carrot, sliced green onion, and toasted peanuts, this coleslaw is topped off with a flavorful dressing made with peanut oil, Chinkiang vinegar, low-sodium soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, garlic, and kosher salt.
The result is a perfect balance of sweet, salty, and tangy flavors that will make this coleslaw a hit at any meal. Plus, it's super easy to make and can be ready in just a few minutes. So try this delicious and colorful side dish and impress your family and friends!
What is Chinese Coleslaw?
Chinese coleslaw is a variation of the classic coleslaw recipe incorporating traditional Chinese ingredients and flavors. It typically features a mix of crunchy vegetables, such as shredded cabbage, carrot, and green onion, then tossed with a flavorful dressing made from Chinese condiments and spices.
The dressing often includes peanut oil, Chinkiang vinegar, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, garlic, and salt, which gives the coleslaw a sweet, salty, and tangy taste. Chinese coleslaw is a refreshing and colorful side dish that pairs well with many Chinese dishes and is a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your meal.
Chinese coleslaw Ingredients
Note: The full ingredients list is provided in the recipe card below.
- Purple Cabbage: Finely sliced and shredded purple cabbage adds a vibrant color and texture to the coleslaw and provides a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and other essential nutrients.
- Carrot: Julienned carrot adds a subtle sweetness and crunch to the coleslaw and boosts vitamin A and other nutrients.
- Green Onion: Finely sliced green onion adds a mild onion flavor and a refreshing crunch to the coleslaw, as well as a variety of beneficial vitamins and minerals.
- Toasted Peanuts: Coarsely chopped toasted peanuts add a rich and nutty flavor to the coleslaw, a satisfying crunch, and are a good source of protein and healthy fats.
- Cilantro: Minced cilantro (with the stems removed) adds a bright and herbaceous flavor to the coleslaw and various beneficial vitamins and minerals.
For the Dressing:
- Peanut Oil or Canola Oil: The oil serves as the base of the dressing, providing a smooth and creamy texture and a source of healthy fats.
- Chinkiang Vinegar: This type of vinegar is a staple in Chinese cuisine and provides a tangy and slightly sweet flavor to the dressing.
- Low-Sodium Soy Sauce: Soy sauce adds a savory and salty flavor to the dressing, while the low-sodium variety helps keep the sodium content in check.
- Honey: Honey provides a natural sweetness to the dressing while also helping to balance out the acidity of the vinegar.
- Sesame Oil: Sesame oil adds a nutty and aromatic flavor to the dressing, as well as a variety of beneficial antioxidants and healthy fats.
- Garlic: Minced garlic adds a pungent and slightly spicy flavor to the dressing and has various health benefits.
- Kosher Salt: A pinch of kosher salt helps enhance the coleslaw's overall flavor and bring out the natural sweetness of the vegetables.
Tools you'll need
How to Make Chinese Coleslaw
Note: The full instructions are provided in the recipe card below.
In a small bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Combine the cabbage, carrot, green onion, peanuts, and cilantro in a separate large bowl. Pour in the dressing and toss with tongs to mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover and refrigerate the Chinese Coleslaw for at least ten minutes so the vegetables can soak up the dressing. Enjoy!
- Purple Cabbage: You can use regular green cabbage or a mix of different types of cabbage instead of purple cabbage.
- Carrot: You can use other crunchy vegetables, such as jicama, radishes, or bell peppers, instead of carrots.
- Green Onion: You can use chopped scallions or shallots instead of green onions.
- Toasted Peanuts: You can use other nuts, such as cashews, almonds, or pecans, instead of peanuts. Or, you can omit the nuts altogether if you have a nut allergy.
- Cilantro: If you don't like the taste of cilantro, you can use parsley or basil instead or omit the herb.
- Honey: Instead of honey, you can use other natural sweeteners, such as maple syrup or agave nectar.
- Sesame Oil: If you don't have sesame oil, you can use another flavorful oil, such as olive or avocado, instead.
- Garlic: If you don't have fresh garlic, use garlic powder or minced garlic from a jar instead.
- Kosher Salt: You can use other types of salt, such as sea salt or table salt, instead of kosher salt, but you may need to adjust the amount of salt in the recipe accordingly.
- Spicy Coleslaw: Add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce to the dressing for a spicy kick.
- Creamy Coleslaw: Add a few tablespoons of mayonnaise or Greek yogurt to the dressing to make it creamier.
- Ginger Coleslaw: Add a teaspoon of grated ginger to the dressing for a subtle, warming flavor.
- Orange Coleslaw: Substitute orange juice for the Chinkiang vinegar in the dressing for a citrusy twist.
- Thai Coleslaw: Substitute fish sauce for the soy sauce in the dressing and add some chopped mint and basil for a Thai-inspired flavor.
- Korean Coleslaw: Substitute gochujang (Korean chili paste) for the garlic in the dressing for a spicy, umami flavor.
- Tofu Coleslaw: Add some cubed or crumbled tofu to the coleslaw for a protein boost.
- Fruit Coleslaw: Add some diced pineapple, mango, or apple to the coleslaw for a sweet and tangy twist.
- Peanut Coleslaw: Add some extra chopped peanuts to the coleslaw for a more pronounced peanut flavor and a satisfying crunch.
How to Serve
The Easy Chinese Coleslaw is a versatile and flavorful dish that can be served in many ways. As a side dish, it pairs perfectly with various Chinese dishes, such as stir-fries, noodles, and dumplings. Its refreshing and crunchy texture also makes it an excellent topping for sandwiches or wraps or a light lunch or dinner, with some protein on top. For a larger gathering or party, make a big batch and serve it as a colorful and healthy side dish to impress your guests.
Alternatively, pack it in a lunchbox or meal prep container for a convenient and satisfying meal on the go. Garnish it with extra chopped peanuts and cilantro for a more pronounced flavor and a visual appeal, or top it with some crispy wonton strips for an added crunch. However you decide to serve it, the Easy Chinese Coleslaw will surely be a crowd-pleaser!
How to Store
The Easy Chinese Coleslaw can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you plan to hold it longer, it's best to keep the dressing and the coleslaw separate and mix them right before serving for the best flavor. Since coleslaw is usually served cold, reheating it is unnecessary. However, if you prefer it at room temperature, let it sit on the counter for a few minutes before serving.
Remember that the vegetables may become slightly softer if not kept refrigerated. If the coleslaw seems dry or limp after being stored in the refrigerator, refresh it by adding some extra dressing or a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Freezing coleslaw is not recommended, as the vegetables become mushy and lose their texture when thawed. Following these simple tips, you can store and reheat the Easy Chinese Coleslaw and enjoy its delicious flavors and textures for days.
The Easy Chinese Coleslaw can be made ahead of time for convenience. You can prepare the vegetables and the dressing separately and store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Then, when you're ready to serve the coleslaw, toss the vegetables and the dressing together and garnish with some chopped peanuts and cilantro. If you plan to serve the coleslaw later, it's best to keep the dressing and the vegetables separate until you're ready to serve, as the vegetables may become soggy if they sit in the dressing for too long.
Making the coleslaw ahead is a great way to save time and reduce stress when hosting a party or preparing a meal. It's also a great option for meal prepping or packing lunches for the week. By following these simple steps, you can make the Easy Chinese Coleslaw ahead of time and enjoy its delicious flavors and textures whenever you like!
Tips for Making The Best Chinese Coleslaw
- Shred the cabbage finely: To ensure that it is easy to eat and has a nice texture, shred it. You can use a mandoline slicer, a food processor, or a sharp knife.
- Use fresh ingredients: To get the best flavor and texture, use fresh vegetables and herbs. Ensure they are washed and dried correctly before adding them to the coleslaw.
- Toasting the peanuts will bring out their nutty flavor and add a nice crunch to the coleslaw. You can toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat, frequently stirring until golden brown.
- Make the dressing in advance: The flavors will blend and become more intense if you make it in advance and let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours.
- Refrain from overdressing the coleslaw: You want the dressing to coat the vegetables nicely without overwhelming them. Start by adding a little bit of dressing and toss the coleslaw well. Add more dressing if needed, a little bit at a time.
- Let it chill: To allow the flavors to blend and the vegetables to absorb the dressing, let the coleslaw chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- Customize to your taste: Feel free to add or omit ingredients based on your preferences. You can also adjust the amount of sweet, salty, or tangy flavors in the dressing to suit your liking.
My coleslaw is too soggy. What went wrong?
Overmixing the coleslaw with the dressing can cause the vegetables to release their moisture and become soggy. It's best to mix just before serving or use a slotted spoon to serve. Finely slice or shred the cabbage and other vegetables, as larger pieces can release more moisture.
The flavor of the dressing is too strong/salty. How can I adjust it?
You can dilute a strong or salty dressing by adding more peanut or canola oil or a bit of water. Alternatively, you can add more vegetables to balance out the flavors.
I don’t have Chinkiang vinegar. Can I use another type of vinegar?
While Chinkiang vinegar provides a unique flavor, you can substitute it with rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar, though the flavor profile might change slightly.
My dressing is too thick/thin. How can I adjust it?
If it's too thick, you can thin it with a bit of water or more peanut or canola oil. If it's too thin, adding more honey can help thicken it, but it may lead to a sweeter dressing.
The peanuts got soft in the coleslaw. How can I keep them crunchy?
To preserve the crunch of the peanuts, add them just before serving, or you can serve them on the side and let guests sprinkle them on top.
Can I use green cabbage instead of purple cabbage?
Yes, green cabbage can be used as a substitute for purple cabbage. The flavor will be very similar, but the color will be different.
My coleslaw tastes a bit bland. How can I enhance the flavor?
Adjusting the salt can often help enhance other flavors. Additionally, add more sesame oil, garlic, or soy sauce for a stronger flavor.
- 4 cups sliced purple cabbage , finely shredded (or 4 cups coleslaw mix)
- 1 carrot , julienned
- 1 green onion , finely sliced
- ⅓ cup toasted peanuts , coarsely chopped
- ½ bunch cilantro , minced (steam removed)
- In a small bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients. In a separate large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrot, green onion, peanuts, and cilantro.
- Pour in the dressing and toss with a pair of tongs to mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Cover and refrigerate the Chinese Coleslaw for at least ten minutes, so the vegetables have a chance to soak up the dressing. Enjoy!
All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.