Jalapeño Coleslaw Recipe

Lime, chile, and spices give this coleslaw a Tex-Mex kick.

A bowl of jalapeno coleslaw.
The addition of lime, cilantro, cumin, and jalapeño creates a coleslaw with a Tex-Mex character. .

Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Why This Recipe Works

  • A sugar-and-salt mixture purges the cabbage of excess moisture, leaving it tender, but still crunchy, and well-seasoned.
  • Seeding the jalapeños lessens the peppers' heat and gives this slaw a mild spiciness that everyone can enjoy.
  • Cumin, cilantro, and lime add a Tex-Mex flavor that compliments the fruity heat of the jalapeño.

Tex-Mex and barbecue are my two favorite cuisines. Since I've managed to cover a pretty decent range of barbecue-style coleslaws, I figured I'd try out a recipe that has a little something in common with my other great love.

Sour cream seemed like the place to start. I threw in some buttermilk with the mayo. I also replaced the vinegar in favor of bright, tart lime juice and added in some supporting Tex-Mex flavors—namely grassy cilantro, earthy cumin, and hot jalapeño. This is the kind of slaw that would be right at home in a fajita.

The trick for a great coleslaw is getting the veggies to release their excess moisture, leaving the cabbage and carrots tender-crisp, and ready to absorb lots of flavorful dressing. Kenji featured this technique in his classic creamy coleslaw, and I employed it when developing my other coleslaw styles: Lexington-style red slaw, mustardy slaw, bright vinegar slaw, and a tangy apple slaw

June 2014

Recipe Details

Jalapeño Coleslaw Recipe

Active 30 mins
Total 35 mins
Serves 10 to 12 servings

Lime, chile, and spices give this coleslaw a Tex-Mex kick.


For the Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup sour cream

  • 1/3 cup buttermilk

  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 3 tablespoons lime juice plus 1/2 teaspoon lime zest from 3 large limes

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic (about 3 medium cloves)

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Slaw:

  • 1 large head green cabbage (about 3 1/2 pounds), finely shredded on a mandoline or by hand

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater

  • 1 large jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced

  • 2/3 cup sugar

  • 1/3 cup kosher salt


  1. For the Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, buttermilk, vinegar, mayonnaise, sugar, lime juice and zest, cilantro, garlic, cumin, and black pepper.

    Whisking the jalapeno lime dressing for coleslaw.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

  2. For the Slaw: Combine cabbage, carrot, and jalapeño in a large bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and salt and toss to combine. Let stand 5 minutes, then transfer to a large colander and rinse thoroughly under cold running water.

    A bowl of grated vegetables for coleslaw.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

  3. Transfer vegetables to a salad spinner and spin dry. Alternatively, transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet lined with a triple layer of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel and blot mixture dry with more towels. Return to large bowl.

    A bowl of grated vegetables for coleslaw after draining, in the bowl of a salad spinner for drying.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

  4. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, and/or sugar.

    A just-tossed bowl of jalapeno coleslaw.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Special Equipment

Mandoline (optional)

Read More

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
88 Calories
4g Fat
12g Carbs
2g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 88
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 5mg 2%
Sodium 260mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 53mg 263%
Calcium 84mg 6%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 308mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)