The stuff of barbecues, deli cases, and grandma’s fridge, coleslaw is a classic summer side dish. But gone are the soggy salads of days past; in recent years coleslaw has been made over into a tastier, healthier, and more exotic version of itself. Served as a sandwich topping or side dish, today’s slaws combine crisp veggies, creamy (often mayo-free) dressings, and a wide variety of mix-ins. In honor of Labor Day and those fast-approaching final summer barbecue parties, here are nine coleslaws that will have you refilling your paper plate.
Sweet Potato Slaw
Lime and sesame oil lend Asian flavor to the traditional shredded cabbage. Shredded sweet potato adds sweetness and fresh texture, as scallions and a spicy pepper leave a little spice lingering behind. Serve this colorful slaw alongside poached or steamed fish instead of the usual potatoes and salad side dishes.
Grilled Peach Slaw
Summer grilling can jazz up a whole lot more than burgers. This recipe takes advantage of seasonal fruit by sweetening juicy peaches on the grill. Once cooked, toss them with mint and pecans, then balance all that sweetness with a more acidic dressing of apple cider vinegar and mustard. Pair this side dish with grilled meat and barbecue sauce for a lip-smacking, sweet-savory pairing.
Sweet and Tangy Melon Slaw
The flavors and textures of the season make this summer-worthy slaw work. Toss shredded scallions with juicy watermelon and pear, crisp jicama, and cool cucumber and then top it all off with a sweet honey-and-mint dressing.
Instead of using mayo, this slaw scores its creaminess from a peanut butter sauce with garlic, rice vinegar, and soy and hot sauce. Complement all that creaminess with crunchy chives, bell peppers, cilantro, and some sesame seeds to add some South Pacific flair to the shredded cabbage. Serve it up with pulled pork for a luau-ready meal.
Sweet and Spicy Slaw
Whether you scoop it into fish tacos or serve it on the side, this slaw can be as spicy as you like, thanks to some jalapeno-pepper jelly (add more for extra heat). After mixing in enough jelly to spice things up, balance it with juicy apples, crisp cabbage, smoky cumin, and roasted pumpkin seeds.
A fancy spin on the traditional mayo-based slaw, this version bumps up the flavor profile with nuts, raisins, and apples while a dollop of horseradish spices things up. Serve it with some shrimp cocktail, close your eyes, and imagine you’re sitting poolside in The Hamptons.
Chopped Coleslaw Salad
The flavors in this make-ahead version meld together into sweet creaminess as a mustard, white wine vinegar, and sugar dressing work bell pepper and two types of cabbage to a crispy goodness. Toasting the mustard seeds in the pan releases their flavor and gives an extra crunch to the finished salad. Try scooping it onto a baguette for an all-American summer bruschetta.
Asian Chicken Slaw
Whether you eat it alone or scoop it into a sandwich, the addition of shredded chicken makes this slaw main-dish worthy. Snap peas, red bell pepper, and water chestnuts add crunchy sweetness, and slivered almonds and sesame seeds add a needed bite.
This citrusy spin on slaw boasts spiciness with a kicked-up flavor, making it a fresh topping for grilled burgers or sandwiches. The simple combination of lime juice, cilantro, and red onion adds some south-of-the-border flair to the classic summer dish.