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Healthy No Mayo Coleslaw

~ This Healthy No Mayo Coleslaw recipe is the perfect middle ground between creamy, deli-style coleslaws and tangy vinegar slaws. It features a lightened-up Greek yogurt coleslaw dressing that needs just a few simple ingredients. Even better? It only takes about 5 minutes to toss together! (Originally published as Greek Yogurt Coleslaw on June 19, 2014) ~

This Recipe Is:     Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Make Ahead    Vegetarian    Gluten Free  

overhead of a serving bowl of coleslaw sitting on a green-striped towel

It’s no secret that I love healthy salads, with lightened-up, homemade salad dressings.

And definitely no secret that I love Greek yogurt.

So you know this was inevitable: a No Mayo Coleslaw recipe that successfully subs Greek yogurt, in place of mayonnaise or those bottled slaw dressings filled with questionable ingredients.

Quick and Easy … Even Without the Mayo!

Think it’s hard to make your own coleslaw, though, without relying on the bottled coleslaw dressing or mayo? Nope, nope, nope. Think again!

We’re talkin’ 5 minutes of prep time and only a few, very simple ingredients, most of which are probably already in your pantry! (Now that’s easy!)

Just take a peek at our video tutorial to see how easy this coleslaw is to make.

Video Tutorial

 


Looks so easy, so simple and delicious, right? (Hint: it’s ALL of that!)

A Perfect Blend of Coleslaw Styles

This version is the perfect middle ground between German-style, tangy, vinegary slaw and creamy, deli-style coleslaw (you know – the kind that’s pretty much just a big blob of mayo with a few shreds of cabbage swimming in it).

Our version is perfectly creamy, sweet, tangy and vinegary … all at once!

closeup of the completed recipe in serving bowl, being scooped by wooden servers

And with both protein-rich Greek yogurt and superhero cabbage (with all its antioxidant nutrition) – this slaw is delicious, yet also incredibly nutritious. Just the way I like it!

But still, it took quite a bit of tinkering to perfectly balance the ingredients so that this doesn’t taste like Greek yogurt coleslaw, but instead like … well … like just-really-good coleslaw! The secret’s in the dressing. 

A Lighter, Healthy Coleslaw Dressing

My goal in creating this coleslaw dressing was to find a healthier, homemade alternative to processed, bottled dressings. And, like I mentioned earlier, I wanted a sweet-tart flavor profile. Not exactly deli-style, but not a true vinegar-based version either.

small glass bowl of coleslaw dressing with a whisk in it, sitting on a green-striped towel with a bowl of the cabbage waiting in the background

This recipe accomplishes all those things!

Nonfat Greek yogurt handily replaces mayo (or Marzetti’s slaw dressing) with a creamy base that slashes both naughty fats and the calories those fats bring along with them. (Why, hello, swimsuit season!) The vinegar gives it a truly coleslaw vibe, and the sugar keeps the tart Greek yogurt and vinegar from being too … well … too tart.

It’s like a little balancing act!

One note I wanted to mention about the sugar: In the six years since we first published this recipe (back in 2014), we’ve gotten a few questions from readers who wanted to know if they could replace the sugar we call for, with something else.

My family doesn’t typically use sugar substitutes (we just moderate the overall sugar in our diet – but that’s a story for another day). But, a number of readers through the years have suggested various sugar substitutes they’ve successfully used. I can’t personally vouch for any of them, but you can peek through the suggestions in our comments at the end of the post if you’re interested in giving that a try. Take our recipe idea and run with it … and make it your healthy coleslaw recipe, just the way you like it!

Picking Your Cabbage

Of course, you can definitely shred your own cabbage from your garden or the farm market. That would be fabulous, for sure!

overhead photo of a glass mixing bowl with shredded cabbage in it, with a smaller bowl of the dressing nearby, waiting to be poured over top

But, to save time, I often just grab the pre-shredded, bagged stuff. 

As you can see in our photos, my family especially likes to use the coleslaw blends that have some carrots and purple cabbage mixed in. Not only does that offer a little diversity in the veggie nutrition we’re getting, but it’s also just a lot prettier!

Serving Ideas For Our No Mayo Coleslaw

This quick, easy coleslaw is fantastic alongside grilled meats. And it fits perfectly into any picnic buffet, potluck party, or summertime backyard BBQ menu.

But you know what we really love to do with it?

What we really designed this coleslaw to be was the topping for sandwiches. Really!

It’s the perfect tangy-sweet, slightly crunchy counterpoint to even the simplest lunch meat sammies, grilled burgers and dogs, pulled pork … you name it.

little oval bowl of this recipe as a side dish, with plates of BBQ chicken and sweet potatoes fries in the background to complete the meal

Backstory on this craaaaaazy slaw-on-sandwiches concept:

My dear friend Gretchen is from Pittsburgh (you remember Gretchen – she and I originally started this blog together). Well, to Gretchen, the idea of piling coleslaw on a sandwich was completely obvious. Apparently, in Pittsburgh, any and all sandwiches should automatically be topped with coleslaw (and fries!). They consider this completely normal.

Surprised?

Believe it or not, I actually wasn’t. (Even though I’m not from Pittsburgh.)

Actually, back when I wore high heels and a suit and commuted two hours to a windowless dungeon-office in the city, coleslaw was my little ray of sunshine (well, that and the Starbucks across the street). The deli next door to my office served up the indulgent cure for all the your-budget-won’t-balance and your-magazine’s-behind-deadline and your-meeting-just-crashed-and-burned days … a monstrous, mile-high sandwich of shaved turkey breast and a mound of luscious coleslaw. That sandwich could fix anything (more or less).

So, coleslaw ON sandwiches. It’s a thing!

And as killer-good as coleslaw is on top of deli sandwiches, it’s even better on top of BBQ! 

a BBQ pulled chicken sandwich on a white plate, with this coleslaw recipe as a sandwich topping

In fact, I originally created this coleslaw recipe specifically as a topper for our Crock-Pot North Carolina BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches (we have an Instant Pot version, too, if that’s more your style). Oh my goodness .. so, so good! A match made in BBQ heaven.

This vinegar-y yet sweet and creamy coleslaw is perfect with the flavors of NC-style barbecue! 

So really, here’s the bottom line on this slaw … whether you just want a super-quick, easy coleslaw recipe for your next cookout, or you’re specifically looking for a no mayo coleslaw recipe with a lighter, healthier dressing … this coleslaw’s a must try!

overhead of a white serving bowl of this coleslaw, with two wooden servers scooping in to serve some up

And, of course, if you’re looking for the ultimate pile-it-high slaw to top a sandwich (especially a BBQ sandwich!), then this recipe’s definitely the one!

Sorry, mayo.

Overhead photo of a white serving bowl full of coleslaw, with a wooden serving set scooping into it

Healthy No Mayo Coleslaw

Yield: 4 1/2 cups (depending on how long it sits)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This Healthy No Mayo Coleslaw recipe is the perfect middle ground between creamy coleslaw and tangy vinegar slaw. Delicious with barbecue!

  Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Make Ahead    Vegetarian    Gluten Free  

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 16 ounces (about 6 1/4 cups) bagged coleslaw blend or shredded cabbage

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine Greek yogurt, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper, whisking until smooth and thoroughly combined.
  2. Place slaw blend/cabbage in a large bowl and pour Greek yogurt dressing mixture over top. Stir to coat cabbage thoroughly.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until using (preferably at least 30 minutes).

Notes

Make-ahead tips: This coleslaw keeps well, covered in the refrigerator, and can easily be made several hours in advance. In fact, we prefer to let it sit for at least half an hour before serving, so that the cabbage softens a bit and the whole salad melds together. We find that it's at its best, though, if eaten within a day or two.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 9 servings Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 37Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 244mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 6gProtein: 2g

Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.

Did You Make This Recipe?

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168 Comments

  1. I just threw this together for July 4th gathering my only change was to use maple syrup for the sugar. No, you can’t taste the maple syrup, it does thin the dressing a bit. The thinner dressing makes it perfect for shaking the sealed Tupperware container to distribute the dressing evenly on the coleslaw blend.

    1. Ooooooh! Thanks for the suggestion to try using maple syrup – I love when readers share their twists and turns and preferences, and I think it’s super-helpful for other readers, too! I really appreciate it, and I’m so delighted our coleslaw was part of your 4th of July celebration! ~Shelley

  2. 3 tablespoons of sugar and you call that healthy!! sugar is why so many Americans are obese

    1. I understand your concern, Raymond. My father-in-law is actually a medical professional spending much of his retirement dedicating time to educating physicians, medical students, and others in the medical community about the obesity crisis in America, including how sugar can play a role in that problem – so this is truly a topic I know quite a bit about. There are a lot of factors that contribute to obesity and specifically to the obesity crisis here in America, including portion sizes (in this case – you’re probably not going to eat that entire bowl of coleslaw and all 3 T of sugar yourself), calorie consumption, lack of exercise and physical activity, and also sugar consumption. But yes – I still think that a big bowlful of protein-packed Greek yogurt and antioxidant-rich cabbage does, in fact, have a LOT of healthfulness to offer, particularly as an alternative to dumping on some of those store-bought coleslaw dressings (particularly if you’ve taken the other critical steps of dealing with the very real sugar issues of sodas, candy bars, packaged snacks, drive-thru foods, etc.). For a whole variety of reasons, we don’t use sugar substitutes at our house (but just make smart sugar choices across all our dietary and recipe selections), but if you’re more comfortable using sugar substitutes, I certainly understand. For some people, those may be better choices. And, you can find some lovely comments from other readers further down in this comments section – detailing what substitutions they successfully made. Also, it sounds like you might rather opt for a coleslaw that’s more of a German-style, tart-vinegar variety. Because I specifically created this particular Greek Yogurt Coleslaw as a companion to a very vinegary BBQ recipe, that bit of sweetness in the coleslaw recipe was key – but there are plenty of terrific recipes out there for tarter coleslaws with less sugar, and those might be a good bet for you to try. Thanks for raising this concern – the obesity crisis is a true problem for our nation, and I think it’s terrific that you’re making careful decisions about the types of recipes that fit best into your healthy lifestyle and mesh with your own personal eating goals! Best of luck! ~Shelley

  3. This was a hit! My sister-in-law wanted the recipe! Do you guys have a mayo-free potato salad recipe in the works?

    1. Oh, Jennifer! Thank you so much for taking a moment to leave such a sweet comment … and a great recipe idea! I actually didn’t have a potato salad in the works (until now LOL)! But, I love your idea – this mayo-free coleslaw recipe has been crazy-popular with my readers and on Pinterest, so I just bet that your idea of a mayo-free potato salad would be appreciated, too! Guess I have some work to do … 😉 Shelley

      1. Hey there, Jennifer! One other thought here (and why didn’t I think of this sooner?!?):
        Although we haven’t yet posted a recipe for a mayo-free potato salad, since you’re loving this idea of a mayo-free coleslaw, maybe you’d like some of our other salad recipes that are also mayo-free. We’ve got a mayo-free Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad (https://twohealthykitchens.com/buffalo-chicken-pasta-salad/), a mayo-free 7-layer Chicken Taco Salad, (https://twohealthykitchens.com/easy-7-layer-chicken-taco-salad/), a mayo-free Chicken Salad (https://twohealthykitchens.com/healthy-chicken-salad-with-grapes-apples-and-tarragon-yogurt-dressing/) and a mayo-free BLT Egg Salad (https://twohealthykitchens.com/blt-egg-salad/). They all use nonfat Greek yogurt. I hope that gives you some more yummy ideas to try. Let me know if you give any of them a shot – I’d love to hear what you think! Hope you’re having a great summer! 😀 ~Shelley

    1. Thanks so much, De! I’m thrilled you enjoyed this coleslaw – it’s actually become one of our most popular recipes, and not just for summer picnics! It’s terrific as a side dish for all sorts of meals! And thanks bunches for the terrific suggestion of using honey – I love using honey as a natural sweetener and am really excited to give your idea a try (and I bet other readers might like to give it a try, too)! Have a wonderful week! ~Shelley

    1. Hi there, Deborah! We get these types of questions on various recipes from time to time. It’s a pretty long-winded response, so rather than go through it all again, may I direct you to the similar question on this specific Greek Yogurt Coleslaw recipe, from Roro (four comments below yours) – and to my response? I hope it helps answer your question – thanks so much! ~Shelley

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