This vegan coleslaw recipe is made with fresh cabbage, apples, and chickpeas tossed in a citrusy, no-mayo tahini dressing. Prep it up to five days in advance for a side dish or quick weekday lunches.
Coleslaw (slaw for short) is a classic fresh cabbage salad that's usually coated in a dressing that's either mayo or vinegar-based. While there's nothing wrong with either traditional version, I wanted to try something different.
I set out to create a vegan coleslaw with a nod toward the creamy texture of mayo-based dressings. No surprise, Lemon Tahini was the first condiment that came to mind. It has all of the creaminess and tanginess a good coleslaw dressing needs, plus the added bonus of nutty sesame seeds.
This apple slaw is the kind of thing you can have alongside a bowl of soup for lunch and then again as a make-ahead side dish for dinner.
Lemon Tahini No-Mayo Coleslaw Dressing:
- Tahini - A seed "butter" made from ground sesame seeds.
- Lemon - I like to use the peel and juice, but you can also just buy bottled lemon juice if you want.
- Garlic - Same here, feel free to use pre-minced garlic.
- Maple syrup - Preferably 100% pure.
- Shredded cabbage - Look for both green and red shreds.
- Celery - For extra crunchy texture.
- Apple - Any type works. Remove the core, and then slice the apple into thin strips roughly the same size as the shredded cabbage.
- Green onion - Also called scallion.
- Cooked chickpeas - Prep dry chickpeas in advance, or just use one 15-ounce can of chickpeas instead. If you use canned chickpeas, drain and rinse them first.
- Optionally, have fresh herbs, such as parsley and mint, and chopped pecans on hand for garnish.
There are two major steps for making this vegan coleslaw recipe: mixing the dressing and prepping the fruits and veggies for the salad.
Prep the Lemon Tahini Dressing:
To make the dressing, add tahini, lemon, garlic, and maple syrup to a bowl or liquid measuring glass. Then, stir in a spoonful of water to thin out the dressing. Continue gradually stirring in water until the dressing is the right consistency. (It should be thick and creamy yet still easy to pour.) The exact amount of water you use will depend on how thick your tahini is.
Once the lemon tahini dressing is mixed, stir in a little salt and pepper and taste. Adjust the seasoning as needed and set the dressing aside until the slaw is ready.
Prep the Vegan Coleslaw:
To prepare the coleslaw, stir cabbage, celery, apples, green onion, and chickpeas in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the tahini dressing and toss until the slaw is evenly coated.
To serve, transfer the coleslaw to a serving dish and garnish with fresh parsley and mint leaves, chopped pecans, and apple and lemon slices if desired. (I especially love the dark color and crunchy texture of the pecans so I wouldn't skip those!)
Can you make this recipe in advance?
This coleslaw recipe is a convenient vegan salad or side dish to prep in advance. Make the entire recipe up to five days ahead if you'd like.
What's the best way to store it?
Store vegan coleslaw in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to five days.
Scaling the Recipe
You can scale the recipe up or down as needed, depending on how many portions you'd like to prepare. You can also make a bigger batch of tahini dressing so you can use the leftovers for salads, grain bowls, or as a sandwich condiment.
Potential Recipe Modifications
This apple coleslaw is naturally vegan, vegetarian, soy-free, and gluten-free.
- If you don't have red cabbage, substitute additional shredded green cabbage.
- Instead of apples, try this vegan slaw with pears for a twist.
- Omit the pecans or substitute sunflower seeds to make this recipe nut-free.
- No tahini? Swap in sunflower seed butter, cashew butter, or creamy peanut butter.
Best Dishes to Serve with This Recipe:
- 7-Ingredient BBQ Tempeh Loaded Sweet Potatoes
- Vegan Corn Chowder
- Tomato Mozzarella Sandwiches with Blueberry Balsamic Reduction
- Crispy Eggplant "BLT" with Harissa Mayo
- Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Strata
Lemon Tahini Apple Slaw
- Knife and cutting board
Lemon Tahini Dressing:
- ¼ cup tahini
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 4 tablespoons water or as needed to thin
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 2 cups shredded green cabbage
- 1 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1 rib celery, diced, including leaves
- 1 apple, cored and sliced into thin strips
- 1 green onion, chopped
- 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (dry or canned)
Optional for Serving:
- Fresh parsley leaves, torn
- Fresh mint leaves, torn
- Chopped pecans
- Apple slices
- Lemon slices
Prepare Lemon Tahini Dressing:
- Whisk tahini, lemon peel, lemon juice, garlic, maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon water. If this mixture is too thick, gradually add water 1 tablespoon at a time until your desired consistency is reached. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
Prepare Apple Slaw:
- Stir green cabbage, red cabbage, celery, apple, green onion, and chickpeas in a large mixing bowl. Pour in tahini dressing and toss until the slaw is evenly coated with dressing.
- Transfer slaw to a serving dish and garnish with parsley, mint, pecans, apple slices, and lemon slices if desired.
If you tried this recipe, leave a star rating in the recipe card above. I appreciate your feedback!
Like this recipe? Subscribe to Grateful Grazer's newsletter to get plant-based meal ideas sent to your inbox weekly.