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Easy Napa Cabbage Slaw Recipe

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This napa cabbage slaw recipe is the coleslaw you’ll make ALL summer long! My easy napa slaw is the perfect side for summer cookouts, grilled dinners, or a lighter side to a heavier meal. Napa cabbage coleslaw takes just 15 minutes to make and 8 easy ingredients and you probably have most of them already.

This napa slaw salad is a recipe that’s been a summer staple for SO LONG. I grew up eating this salad (it’s inspired by a super old one from a newspaper clipping!) and while it’s an old one, it still manages to taste fresh, light, and modern. Serve this napa cabbage coleslaw for pulled pork, smoked meats, grilled drumsticks, grilled chicken thighs, or even grilled lake trout for the ultimate summer meal.

If napa slaw is new to you, I’ll show you how to buy it, how to slice napa cabbage, and how to whip up the best coleslaw made with napa cabbage. I can’t wait for you to try this one.

Plate of napa slaw with grilled chicken.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

What Is Napa Slaw?

This napa cabbage salad slaw recipe is simply a vinaigrette-based coleslaw made with napa cabbage instead of traditional green cabbage.

Napa cabbage is kind of a cross between regular, green cabbage and lettuce, with a great crunchy texture! It’s less dense than cabbage, but still holds up to dressing well and adds great crunch to so many meals. I also use it in my 5-minute Chinese chicken salad recipe for the best texture.

What You’ll Love About Napa Cabbage Slaw

  • Quick and bright side
  • Always a favorite
  • Pairs with almost anything
  • Takes just 15 minutes to make
  • Made with simple ingredients
  • No mayonnaise
  • Easy to prep ahead

Napa Cabbage Coleslaw Ingredients

The ingredients to make this slaw are pretty basic:

  • Napa Cabbage – Napa cabbage has a longer shape than traditional cabbage and its leaves are a little bumpy.
  • Blue Cheese Crumbles – Crumble the blue cheese for best flavor,
  • White Onion – Slice the onion as thinly as you can. If raw onions are a little strong for you, soak the sliced onions in ice water before using them in the slaw.
  • Garlic – Use fresh garlic for best flavor.
  • Olive Oil – Use high quality olive oil for best flavor.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – This gives great flavor, but you can also use white balsamic vinegar, white vinegar, or even red wine vinegar.
  • Dijon Mustard – Dijon is a classic ingredient in vinaigrettes, don’t skip it as it gives great flavor and also acts as an emulsifier.
  • Honey– You could also use granulated sugar or even maple syrup.
  • Spices – Celery seed, sea salt, black pepper
Ingredients to make napa cabbage slaw recipe.

How to Make Napa Cabbage Slaw

This crunchy napa cabbage slaw is so easy to make and requires just 8 ingredients and about 10-15 minutes of prep.

  • Prep napa cabbage. Wash and thinly slice napa cabbage. Layer in serving bowl with thinly sliced onions and blue cheese crumbles and chill.
Bowl of napa slaw before dressing.
  • Make napa cabbage slaw dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until emulsified.
Bowl of napa slaw dressing

TIP: I like to make the napa salad dressing in a jar – no whisk required and perfect storage.

  • Assemble napa cabbage coleslaw. Combine cabbage slaw and dressing and toss together the napa cabbage and dressing. Top with freshly cracked pepper if desired.
Pouring dressing over napa cabbage slaw in a bowl.

How To Cut Napa Cabbage for Slaw

Don’t worry, it’s easy too cut napa cabbage for slaw. Simply hold the middle or bottom of the napa cabbage with one hand, and use a knife to slice with the other.

how to cut napa cabbage for coleslaw

Storage Instructions

Even though this is a coleslaw, in terms of storage, think more like salad! It’s best fresh as the napa cabbage will wilt.

How to prep ahead

However, if you want to prep the napa cabbage slaw recipe in advance, you can easily do so.

Layer the napa cabbage, onions, and blue cheese in a serving bowl and store in the fridge. Make dressing and store at room temperature if using it within the day. Toss together 5-10 minutes before serving.

Bowl of napa cabbage slaw.

Substitutes + Nutrition

This napa cabbage slaw recipe is pretty forgiving, so if you’re missing an ingredient or need to make a swap, here are few ideas:

  • Napa Cabbage – This is obviously the star of napa cabbage coleslaw recipe, but if you can’t get it, try using savoy cabbage, it’s a little denser, but very similar.
  • Celery Seeds – This ingredient gives the napa cabbage slaw dressing a distinct flavor, but if you don’t have any, you can use celery salt 1/2 teaspoon of celery salt and omit the salt in the dressing. Add more salt to taste if necessary.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – Anything with a sweeter flavor, like a white balsamic or white wine vinegar will work here.
Bowl of napa cabbage coleslaw.

What to Serve with Napa Coleslaw

Try one of these main dishes:

More Easy Salad Recipe

If you like this napa cabbage slaw recipe, you might also like some of these other easy salad recipes:

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Bowl of napa cabbage slaw.

Easy Napa Cabbage Slaw Recipe

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Description

Make this napa cabbage slaw recipe in just 15 minutes! This napa slaw is the perfect summer side for grilled or bbq meats, and I get asked for the recipe.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 medium head of napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz. blue cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • pinch black pepper

Instructions

  1. Prep ingredients:
    Thinly slice cabbage and onion.
    Mince garlic. 
  2. Layer napa cabbage, onions, and blue cheese in serving bowl and chill until serving.
  3. Whisk together garlic, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, celery seed, sea salt, and pepper until emulsified. 
  4. Toss dressing with cabbage and chill for 5-10 minutes before serving.


Notes

  • Feel free to swap apple cider vinegar for a white wine or white balsamic vinegar. 
  • Make and store the napa slaw dressing in a small jar, simply add all of the ingredients, cover, and shake until emulsified. 

Keywords: napa cabbage coleslaw recipe, napa cabbage slaw, napa slaw

Photo Credit: All photos in this post were take by Loren at Sweet Rustic Bakes

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