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Asian Coleslaw with Sesame Dressing

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    Refreshing and colorful Asian Coleslaw with Sesame Dressing – a perfect salad to complement your BBQ meats, taco dinner, Ahi tuna steak, and other Asian potluck menus.

    Asian Coleslaw with Sesame Dressing on a white plate along with gold fork and knife.

    Looking for the most versatile side dish to go with your Asian theme menu? Try this Asian Coleslaw with bright, crunchy, colorful vegetables! Dressed in a nutty, sesame oil dressing, the slaw is packed with flavors and makes a much healthier and lighter alternative to the mayo-laden types.

    It’s such a fantastic way to eat your colors. Not only it looks refreshing and appetizing, but it is so easy to put together for a weeknight family meal or a big potluck party.

    Asian coleslaw in a glass bowl.

    Asian Coleslaw – Perfect Side Dish

    From sandwiches, burgers, tacos to grilled meats, this is an excellent coleslaw to go with any Asian theme meals. You can also serve it along with deep-fried foods to balance out the richness and grease, thanks to the crunchy texture and refreshing taste.

    Need some inspiration? How about pairing it with some all-star BBQ or summertime dishes such as:

    Asian Coleslaw with Sesame Dressing on a white plate along with gold fork and knife.

    Easy Sesame Dressing for Asian Coleslaw

    Whisk together apple cider vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, roasted sesame seeds, salt & pepper, you’d get a zingy dressing that goes perfectly with the coleslaw. The sugar helps to mellow out the acidity of the vinegar, so don’t skimp on it. You can cut down slightly but have a taste first to see if it achieves the balance you desire. Alternatively, you can also use maple syrup or honey in place of the sugar.

    What I love most about this sesame dressing is its light yet aromatic flavor. It’s incredibly versatile that you can even use the dressing for other green salads or noodle salads. There’s no chopping garlic or grating ginger involved. You will want to make it over and over again for your slaws!

    Alternative Vegetable Choices

    A great thing about this coleslaw recipe is its flexibility. If you don’t like a certain ingredient or don’t have it on hand, feel free to switch it out. For cilantro leaves, people either love or hate it, but I feel like the green herb plays a big role in the coleslaw. Its fresh & citrus-like flavor adds so much more zing to the dish. For those who don’t mind the taste, you don’t want to miss it out.

    Here are a few other vegetables that could go well with the coleslaw. Anything fresh will make the slaw even better!

    • Green Color: edamame, mint, shredded broccoli stem/stalk, shredded zucchini, snap peas
    • Red Color: red bell pepper, red onion, apples
    • Yellow Color: yellow bell pepper, corn, peanuts

    A little sweet, a little tangy and packed with bright flavors,  this Asian Coleslaw is one solid dependable side dish you can show up at any potluck party! And be ready to give out the recipe when asked.

    Asian Coleslaw with Sesame Dressing on a white plate along with gold fork and knife.

    Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

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    4.21 from 53 votes
    Asian Coleslaw with Sesame Dressing on a white plate along with gold fork and knife.
    Asian Coleslaw with Sesame Dressing
    Prep Time
    20 mins
    Total Time
    20 mins

    Refreshing and colorful Asian Coleslaw with Sesame Dressing recipe - a perfect salad to complement BBQ meats, taco dinner, Ahi tuna steak, and other Asian dinner menus.

    Course: Salad
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: coleslaw, vinaigrette coleslaw
    Servings: 4
    Author: Namiko Chen
    • 1 cabbage (I use ½ green and ½ purple)
    • 1 carrot
    • 1 bunch cilantro (½ cup after chopped)
    • 1 green onion/scallion
    • other vegetable choices (shelled edamame, bell peppers)
    • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
    • 3 Tbsp sugar 3 Tbsp sugar might seem a lot when you are making the dressing, but you do need to balance out with ½ cup of apple cider vinegar in the recipe. You can swap sugar with healthier alternatives like maple syrup or honey, but make sure to taste the dressing first if it's not too tangy before combining it with vegetables. 
    • 2 Tbsp sesame oil (roasted)
    • 2 Tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
    • ¼ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt)
    • freshly ground black pepper
    1. Gather all the ingredients.
      Asian Coleslaw Ingredients
    Make the dressing
    1. In a large bowl, combine apple cider vinegar, granulated sugar, sesame oil, kosher salt, and sesame seeds.

      Asian Coleslaw 1
    2. Add freshly ground black pepper and whisk well to combine until sugar is dissolved.

      Asian Coleslaw 2
    Prepare the salad
    1. Peel and julienne the carrot and cut the length in half if necessary.
      Asian Coleslaw 3
    2. Chop cilantro into ½ inch pieces and finely cut the green onions.
      Asian Coleslaw 4
    3. Remove the core of the cabbage and cut (or shred) the cabbage into thinly slices.
      Asian Coleslaw 5
    4. If you use two kinds of cabbage, cut the other one. Wash under cold water and drain completely (I use the salad spinner – works wonderful!).

      Asian Coleslaw 6
    5. Add all vegetables in the bowl with the dressing in it. Toss everything and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

      Asian Coleslaw 7
    To Store
    1. You can keep the salad in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. I don't recommend making this dish ahead (1-2 hours is okay, but not a day before). Enjoy it soon while crunchy and fresh!

    Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on February 23, 2011. The images are updated with new step-by-step pictures in October 2017. The post has been updated in June 2020.


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