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This light and fresh Purple Cabbage Citrus Slaw made without mayonnaise is is a delicious and vibrant coleslaw perfect for topping pulled pork sandwiches!

There are a few tricks to get the cabbages shredded really fine. Much of the liquid from the cabbage is released prior to tossing in the lemon vinaigrette, making this coleslaw perfect

pile of purple coleslaw with a no mayo dressing on white plate

Why I prefer purple cabbage:

I just thought this head of cabbage was stunning.  Only nature could provide such an amazing thing as a head of cabbage.  I’m being totally serious.

Have you ever cut into a head of cabbage and studied how each leaf fits perfectly with the next?  If you’ve ever shredded a head of cabbage, you know what I mean.  How else can a tiny little head of cabbage produce so much cole slaw?

I also think the colors are spectacular.  Different shades of purple and green on the outside, and when you shred it, all you see is purple and white.  How does that happen?

To me, purple cabbage, or red cabbage, is much like a red onion is to a yellow onion. Same great flavor, but much more mild and definitely more vibrant to look at.

head of purple cabbage

How to finely shred cabbage:

I think cabbage tastes best when shredded (not chopped) really fine. With my Angel Hair Coleslaw made with green cabbage and a mayonnaise dressing, the finely cut cabbage perfectly absorbs the light dressing.

  • My preferred method these days to shred cabbage as thin as possible is to use a mandolin. I remove the outer leaves, quarter the head, and then shred on the thinnest setting leaving only the core (which I happily feed to my chickens).
  • You can also use a spiral cutter to shred cabbage, as well as to make things like pesto zoodles. This method can be tricky because the cabbage can fall apart.
  • Finally, you can use a food processor, but I find that only really high quality food processors can get the job done right.

pile of shredded red cabbage on brown cutting board

Releasing the liquid:

The trick to this wonderful purple cabbage citrus slaw is to let it sit, coated in sugar and a bit of salt, to allow some of the liquid to extract.

This is how you get a delicious coleslaw and not something that resembles coleslaw soup.

top of purple cabbage slaw with lemon vinaigrette

What to serve with this slaw:

We served up this amazing slaw on top of the most delicious slow cooker pulled pork sandwiches, topped with my favorite whiskey BBQ sauce. Oh dear, now I’m hungry.

pulled pork sandwich topped with purple cabbage slaw and bbq sauce

Purple Cabbage Citrus Slaw

Prep20 minutes
Sit time1 hour
Total1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 8
This light and fresh Purple Cabbage Citrus Slaw made without mayonnaise is is a delicious and vibrant coleslaw perfect for topping pulled pork sandwiches!




  • Toss cabbage with sugar and half of salt and allow to sit in colander for 1-4 hours. Discard any liquid that is created.
  • Whisk oil, lemon (or lime, if using) juice, celery seeds, remaining salt, and fresh ground pepper (if desired) in large bowl. Add cabbage and toss to coat. Chill 1 hour or up to 3 days.


  • To finely shred the cabbage, use a mandolin, spiralizer, or food processor
  • As the cabbage sits in the sugar and salt, toss it every so often to help distribute the ingredients and release the liquid quicker
  • Coleslaw is best served, in my opinion, on the first day as it will continue to release liquid until consumed


Calories: 200kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Sodium: 610mg, Potassium: 261mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 17g, Vitamin A: 1170IU, Vitamin C: 62mg, Calcium: 49mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you make this? Leave me a comment below

This post was originally created in September 2014 and was recently updated for your reading pleasure.

This light and fresh Purple Cabbage Citrus Slaw made without mayonnaise is the perfect healthy side dish. Its delicious and vibrant.

Hi! I’m Krissy.

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  1. 3 stars
    It’s so sweet, and so oily, which are just characteristics slaw doesn’t need to have, especially if you are using it to cut the richness of BBQ pork! I would recommend using that much sugar only if you plan on waiting the full 4 hours and draining it off in the liquid. I waited about 1.5 hours. For the oil, I used MUCH less than 1/2 cup olive oil and it just made the whole thing taste like olive oil, and it covered up the citrus sourness it did have. And I put more lemon juice than called for. And after I finished making it as per recipe, I added apple cider vinegar.

    Most of the reviews are from people who have not yet made the recipe ??

    1. Thank you for the detailed feedback. This was one of the first recipes I made for the blog and it sounds like I need to revisit it! Glad you were able to tweak it to your liking.

  2. 5 stars
    we absolutely love this slaw! I use lime juice because we use it in our fish tacos. Its also delicious just to eat as a side. is definitely my go to recipe!

  3. Followed this recipe exactly using freshly squeezed lemon juice with the other ingredients. Pretty color but zero flavor, what am I missing?

    1. When anything feels like it’s lacking flavor, I always add more salt and more acid (lemon) until it tastes right.

    2. 5 stars
      Mine was yummy! However, heads of cabbage vary widely in size. If yours was on the large end, there may not have been enough sugar, salt, and the finished dressing to flavor all the shredded cabbage. Try using a smaller cabbage or doubling dressing ingredients, including the sugar and salt for extracting moisture.

  4. This is super good and simple! I love the the cabbage is salted to release juice before hand – it’s such a nice texture. Will be eating it on pork sliders tonight!! Thanks for a quick and easy recipe!

  5. 5 stars
    Oil and lemon juice is my favorite salad dressing so I know I’ll love this purple cabbage slaw! Thanks for sharing.

  6. 5 stars
    This is ONE RECIPE I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO TRYING. This is the type of coleslaw to add to the table at outdoor gathering.

  7. I adore purple cabbage and just got a head of it from the organic farmer’s market. I can’t wait to use it for a batch of this slaw!