Spicy Cilantro Lime Slaw

5 from 6 votes

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Cilantro lime slaw is easy to make and seriously delicious! Make this spicy coleslaw recipe to serve on fish tacos or BBQ sandwiches, or as a side dish with your favorite grilled meats.

side view: creamy cilantro dressing tossed with shredded green and purple cabbage and carrots

If you’re looking for a fresh way to add flavor to your favorite barbecue foods, coleslaw is a simple solution. Not only great as a flavorful side dish, slaw adds the perfect crunch to an otherwise soft sandwich.

Types of Coleslaw

The base ingredient for any slaw is usually a simple vegetable like cabbage or broccoli. What really makes a difference in the overall flavor is the coleslaw dressing. The ingredients can vary but there are three basic types of dressing; sweet, tangy, and spicy.


The base ingredient of many sweet coleslaw recipes is often white or brown sugar, combined with mayonnaise. This isn’t always the case though!

Using fruit as the key ingredient allows for natural sweetness, eliminating the need for additional sugar. For example, I use apples in the slaw for my chipotle chicken tacos..


Instead of mayo, recipes for tangy coleslaw usually use an acid for the dressing. Using buttermilk, citrus juice, or vinegar adds a delicious tangy flavor.

This is the case with my southern coleslaw recipe, making it the perfect topping for sandwiches with sweet sauce, like root beer pulled pork.


Spicy coleslaw recipes are my favorite kind! The dressing can be either sweet or tangy, and the heat comes from a spicy ingredient like chili peppers.

This type makes a fantastic fish taco coleslaw because it adds a kick of heat to flavor up the bland fish.

overhead: creamy cilantro lime dressing and salad mixture to make spicy coleslaw recipe

Ingredients in cilantro lime slaw

  • Shredded vegetables– For this recipe, I keep things quick and simple, using a basic coleslaw blend of green and purple cabbage, plus shredded carrots. I just buy the premade blend from the produce section of the grocery store.

    If you’d like to use homemade coleslaw mix, it’s simple to make. You’ll just need to shred whatever vegetables you want to include in a food processor.

    Another option is to use a chef’s knife to chop the vegetables into thin, julienne-cut strips. You’ll need a total of 8 cups of shredded veggies.
making a spicy coleslaw recipe by pouring creamy green dressing over bowl of shredded cabbage and carrots

Ingredients for spicy coleslaw dressing

  • Plain Greek yogurt– Yogurt gives the dressing a nice tangy favor, without needing to use vinegar. If you’ll be serving it as a fish taco coleslaw, feel free to kick up the citrus flavor by using lime flavored Greek yogurt
  • Mayonnaise– Feel free to use any variety; full-fat, light, or non-fat
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Green onions (also known as scallions)
  • Fresh garlic cloves
  • Limes– You’ll need at least 2 limes, to zest and to squeeze for 1/4 cup of fresh juice 
  • Chile peppers– One jalapeño or serrano chile will give the cilantro lime slaw a nice, feisty bite. If you want a spicier coleslaw, use more than one chie, or use a pepper that’s higher on the Scoville scale
  • Spices– One of the best ways to make coleslaw taste better is to add spices! Just a bit of salt, black pepper and cumin make a big difference
  • Toasted pepitas or pumpkin seeds– The seeds add a nice salty crunch to the slaw dressing. You can certainly substitute and use a different type, like sunflower seeds
white bowl of cilantro lime coleslaw on table with bottle of homemade coleslaw dressing in background


What can I put coleslaw on?

There are plenty of way to use coleslaw other than on bbq sandwiches or fish tacos.

Try it on grilled chicken tostadas or as the base of a chicken taco salad. It’s even great without the vegetables; coleslaw dressing is a fantastic substitute for mayo in tuna or egg salad!

How long will homemade slaw last in the fridge?

Just like cucumber salad, after a few days of marinating in the dressing, cabbage starts to break down and become mushy. It tastes best within the first 4 to 5 days.

side view: close up of cilantro lime slaw in white serving bowl
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side view: creamy cilantro dressing tossed with shredded green and purple cabbage and carrots

Spicy Cilantro Lime Slaw

5 from 6 votes
Cilantro lime slaw is easy to make and seriously delicious! Make this spicy coleslaw recipe to serve with fish tacos or summer sandwiches.
Servings: 8
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes



  • Combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, cilantro, green onions, garlic, 1/4 cup lime juice plus zest, jalapeño, cumin, salt, black pepper and pumpkin seeds in a food processor or blender. Pulse a few times until the mixture is blended (See Note 4).
  • Place the cole slaw mix in a large salad bowl. Pour the dressing over the cole slaw, tossing until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Season with extra salt and or pepper if needed.
  • Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.


  1. I often times will use coleslaw already mixed in bags from the grocer. You can also shred green cabbage with a little purple for 7 cups and add 1 cup shredded carrot if you prefer.
  2. You will need 2 limes at least to get 1/4 cup lime juice. Use the zest from 1/2 of 1 lime.
  3. You can substitute roasted sunflower seeds for the pumpkin seeds as well. It is a really good substitute flavor and texture wise.
  4. A hand held immersion blender (stick blender) work wonderfully as well.


Calories: 147kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 256mg | Potassium: 214mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 220IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: side dishes
Cuisine: American, Tex Mex
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image shows closeup of spicy fish taco coleslaw in white serving bowl


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. 5 stars
    I love the large variety of Tex-Mex — While I know Tex-Mex exists, I did not know to what extent — Thanks so for keeping us informed regarding the wonderful recipes you have created — I know your followers will never tire of reading what is new.

  2. 5 stars
    made this tonight. I tweaked it a little, i added some red onion and chopped cilantro to the cabbage. I put it on top of my bbq chicken sandwich.

      1. 5 stars
        Again, thank you Kevin. I plan to make the delicious coleslaw for Memorial Day. My guests will love it!