Tri-Colored Citrusy Slaw


Slaw, Re-imagined

Do you like slaw? A few years ago, I would have said no. Classic slaw, i.e. the kind that's made with mayo, is a total turn-off for me. But then I fell in love with cabbage and started making fresh, bright, acidic slaws and they turned my whole perspective around. This one is my go-to and is infinitely variable.

I'm a firm believer that the term "slaw" should apply to the shape of the veggies (i.e. cut into thin ribbons) rather than the ingredients in particular. While the classic American perception of slaw has connotations of heavy, mayo-filled, wilty and sulfury cabbage, I don't think it needs to be like that.

Instead, let's re-imagine slaw as a bright, colorful, fresh, citrusy dish that's loaded with nutrients and can complement any meal. This one has arisen as the product of years (seriously!) of experimentation and I'm so excited to share it with you. I think it completely challenges the stereotype and deserves star-status on the table.

Colorful Ingredients, Lots of Citrus

This slaw relies on three different veggies that create wonderful variability in texture and flavor. There's crunchy red cabbage, sweet orange carrot, and chewy green kale. The combination is so diverse and fun to eat, and of course fun to look at as well! Although the addition of kale brings this closer to salad territory, I think it's the perfect complement to the other veggies (and really, do we care whether it's technically a slaw or salad?).

The"dressing" here is also very non-traditional in that it's mostly citrus juice. Goodbye, heavy boring slaw! Citrus adds so much pop and freshness. You'll marinate the cabbage and carrot ribbons in citrus for a couple hours so that they become infused with flavor, a bit tenderized, and very lightly pickled. Add the kale toward the end, garnish it up, and you're ready to serve. The citrus tames all of the veggies making them a crunchy and colorful joy to eat raw.

Timing and Make-Ahead Tips

Don't let the timing on this turn you off; it's almost all hands-off, with your slaw just sitting in the fridge. You'll just need to think a couple hours ahead, or you could even prep the cabbage and carrots the night before.

Because of that timing, this slaw is a great make-ahead dish. The cabbage and carrots will get even more flavorful and tender if you let them sit in the marinade overnight. Add the kale as much as a couple hours ahead of time (and you could always clean it and cut it the day before). When you're ready to serve, just transfer it all to a platter and garnish. Make sure to leave the nuts off until the end so they keep their crunch!

Flavor Variations

The best thing about this slaw? It's infinitely customizable! You'll need to choose your favorite citrus, a dash of oil, a bit of sweetness, and generous salt... and then of course all those fun garnishes! I've made this about a million different ways, but here are a couple of my favorites.

  • Mexican-inspired: lime juice, avocado oil, and agave; garnish with pepitas
  • Thai-inspired: lime juice, olive oil with a tiny dash of toasted sesame oil, and honey; garnish with cashews and sesame seeds
  • Hawaiian-inspired: grapefruit juice, sunflower oil, and honey; garnish with macadamia nuts
  • Mediterranean-inspired: orange juice, olive oil, and honey; garnish with almonds
  • Holiday-inspired: orange juice, olive oil, and maple syrup; garnish with pecans

Really any combination will work great though! The version shown here is sort of a Mexican-Thai fusion. The slaw is marinated in lime juice, avocado oil, and honey, then I garnished with almonds, sesame seeds, and kumquat slices. Let me know what variations you try, I'm so excited to hear!

Let's Talk Ingredients

Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.

  • Citrus juice. Lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice... you get the idea. Use one or multiple. See the ideas above for flavor combinations!
  • Oil. Again, see the ideas above. You'll want to use something that remains liquid in the fridge, so coconut oil isn't a great option here. Olive oil, flavored olive oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil, etc, are all good options.
  • Liquid sweetener. Maple syrup, honey, or agave will be your best bets; choose one to match your other flavors.
  • Sea salt
  • Purple cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Lacinato or green kale
  • Nuts and seeds. Choose one or a few to match your flavor profile.
  • Citrus slices. For garnish! Just set aside a few slices before you juice the rest of the fruit for your marinade.

Closing Thoughts

You can use this slaw in so many fun ways! We often enjoy it as a dinner salad, with some beans and quinoa underneath and avocado slices on top. It would be a great side dish for any get-together and travels really well. Or, it can act as a bed for your grilled protein of choice to make a BBQ feel a little bit fresher. Because these are all really hearty veggies, leftovers are great the next day (I've even been known to have leftovers of this slaw for breakfast!).

Want to know something funny? This past year, I used this slaw as a Valentine for Dave. No joke! I shaped it into a heart and called it a "Kalentine". Am I awesome, or what??

I really hope you guys enjoy this one and find it useful and versatile. It's a dish I make again and again, and it's never the same twice. So let's say goodbye to sad, boring slaw and hello to this cirtus-kissed, super-fresh, colorful version!

Share It!

It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.

Suggested Pairings

Coconut Paloma

Tropical Guacamole

Kaua'i Hummus

Fruit Salsa Guide

Tropical Sweet Potatoes with Macadamia Dukkah

Tri-Colored Citrusy Slaw

This colorful and fresh show-stopper will change your thoughts about cabbage forever. It's half slaw, half salad, and entirely awesome.



  • 0.25 c citrus juice of choice
  • 1 tbsp oil of choice
  • 1 tbsp liquid sweetener of choice
  • Generous sea salt
  • Quarter head of purple cabbage
  • Few large carrots
  • Large bunch of lacinato or green kale
  • Nuts and seeds of choice
  • Few citrus slices of choice


  1. In a large mixing bowl (ideally with a lid), mix up the marinade for the slaw (citrus juice, oil, sweetener, and salt).
  2. Cut the cabbage into thin ribbons and add the ribbons to the mixing bowl with the marinade.
  3. Using a peeler, peel the carrots into ribbons and add them to the cabbage.
  4. Cover the bowl and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two; this will very lightly pickle the cabbage and carrots and infuse them with flavor. Toss it whenever you walk by.
  5. Cut the kale into thin ribbons and toss it in with the cabbage and carrots, then let it sit for another half hour to tenderize.
  6. When you're ready to serve, put the slaw on a serving platter or in a bowl. Garnish with your nuts and seeds of choice, and finish it off with a few citrus slices.

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Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you make this recipe? Did you make substitutions? How did you serve it? Any helpful tips? Please share your thoughts, since these insights are really useful to both me and to other readers.

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