Healthy No Mayo Coleslaw

by Shelley · May contain affiliate links

~ 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.

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164 thoughts on “Healthy No Mayo Coleslaw”

  1. Might I suggest substituting pickled beets for some or all of the vinegar and sugar. I added dill to mine, which I think I may not repeat, but otherwise our recipes seem largely the same. I used two bags of shredded coleslaw mix and to one regular can of pickled beets, as much juice as seemed warrented.
    The shredded beets give a really bright color and a melding flavor between the carrot and cabbage, and also softens the texture a bit. I loved it with smoked pork.

    Reply
  2. Delicious and so easy. I used Splenda instead of sugar and didn’t have much vinegar so used part no fat Italian dressing. I also added a heaping tablespoon of light mayo, but don’t think I will next time. I added a few tablespoons of chopped onions after it was made because I was chopping them for something else and they did not really add much to the flavor. Thanks for posting, I am adding this to my favorite recipes. Looking forward to trying some add-ins suggested in the comments.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Kat! These are all great substitutions — thanks for sharing, and I’m glad it worked out so well for you! I would definitely recommend trying some add-ins! Our readers have the best ideas! 😉 ~Amy

      Reply
  3. I made this with 3 T Truvia, 1/2 tsp. celery salt and a dab of horseradish, served as a bed for bbq pulled pork, FANTASTIC!

    Reply
  4. I wanted to add – the vegetables release quite a bit of liquid if not eaten immediately, which dilutes the dressing, so I mixed the salt with the veg, covered and refrigerated, made the dressing and kept separate, then before serving drained off the liquid and mixed in the dressing. It stayed creamier.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing that idea – I’m so interested to try it next time I make this coleslaw (which is pretty often, actually). I’ll bet the salt perfectly softens the cabbage up a bit so it’s a great texture when you add the dressing. I love when readers share their innovations – it totally inspires me, and I think it gives other readers great tips to try, too. Such fun swapping recipes and ideas with other foodies, and definitely one of the things I love about my job! Thanks again, Chris! ~Shelley

      Reply
  5. Made this today and it’s perfect 🙂 added 2 tsps olive oil and slightly less sugar. We rarely use sugar in our savory dishes here in Australia. (I visited my sister in Florida earlier this year and the food was tasty but almost everything was sweetened and the portions were huge. Cracker Barrel ‘s brussel sprouts & kale salad is as sweet as a dessert!) But I agree with your earlier post, Shelley, sugar isn’t the main culprit in obesity – it’s more about total daily calorie intake and level of activity. Half tablespoon sugar in a serve of this coleslaw is not much, especially when all the other ingredients are so healthy. Thanks for the great recipe.

    Reply
    • That’s so interesting about the difference you found between your own food in Australia and the food you had here in America! Brussels sprouts and kale that are sweet enough for dessert?!?! Oh my – that’s crazy! But, I can believe it. The creamier coleslaws you’ll find in a lot of American delis (or the dressing poured out of a bottle) can be REALLY sweet – this version was meant to sort of straddle the difference between those traditional, creamy slaws and the tangy, vinegar-based, German-style ones. In terms of sugar content, the German-style slaws are terrific, but because I created this coleslaw recipe specifically to go with my very vinegar-y BBQ recipe, I needed it to have a bit of that creamy-sweetness going on to partner with the tangy sandwiches. At any rate – I was so interested to read your comment, and really delighted you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks bunches for taking the time to share! ~Shelley

      Reply

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Published on
Updated on May 9, 2022
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