February 27, 2024
Discover if coleslaw is gluten-free and learn how to make safe and delicious coleslaw dishes. Explore common myths, easy recipes, and tips for making the best gluten-free coleslaw for your needs.


For those on a gluten-free diet, even seemingly innocent dishes like coleslaw can pose a risk. Whether you’re planning a backyard BBQ or simply looking for an easy summer side dish, it’s important to know what’s in your coleslaw. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of gluten-free coleslaw, from traditional ingredients to unexpected twists. By the end, you’ll have everything you need to make or buy gluten-free coleslaw with confidence.

The Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free Coleslaw: Everything You Need to Know

Let’s start with the basics: what is coleslaw? Traditionally, coleslaw is a salad made from shredded cabbage and mayonnaise-based dressing. However, there are countless variations on this classic recipe, with ingredients like carrots, apples, and even bacon making appearances.

So, where does gluten fit in? While cabbage and mayonnaise are naturally gluten-free, some coleslaw dressings may contain wheat-based ingredients like soy sauce or malt vinegar. To ensure that your coleslaw is gluten-free, check the ingredient list before you buy or make it. Look out for any ingredients that seem unfamiliar or hard to pronounce, as these may indicate hidden sources of gluten.

If you’re making coleslaw at home, take extra care to use gluten-free versions of ingredients like mayonnaise, vinegar, and mustard. You can also experiment with gluten-free dressings like yogurt or sour cream-based alternatives.

Going Gluten-Free? Try These Delicious Coleslaw Recipes

Now that you know how to make or buy gluten-free coleslaw, it’s time to get creative in the kitchen. Here are three flavorful and gluten-free coleslaw recipes to try:

1. Classic Creamy Coleslaw

  • 1 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (gluten-free)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

2. Spicy Mexican Coleslaw

  • 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper. Toss cabbage, cilantro, and jalapeño in a large bowl, then pour dressing over and mix well.

3. Asian-Inspired Coleslaw

  • 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (gluten-free)
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • Sesame seeds, sliced green onions, and/or chopped peanuts for garnish

In a small bowl, whisk together sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and ginger. Toss cabbage and carrot in a large bowl, then pour dressing over and mix well. Garnish with sesame seeds, green onions, and/or peanuts as desired.

Coleslaw and Gluten: Separating Fact from Fiction

There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding gluten and coleslaw. Here are a few to be aware of:

Myth #1: All coleslaw contains gluten.

As we’ve already established, this is simply not true. While some coleslaw dressings may contain gluten, there are plenty of gluten-free options available as well.

Myth #2: Gluten-free coleslaw is always healthier than traditional coleslaw.

While gluten-free coleslaw may be necessary for those with gluten sensitivities, it’s not automatically healthier or lower in calories than traditional coleslaw. In fact, some gluten-free coleslaw dressings may contain more sugar or fat than their gluten-containing counterparts.

Myth #3 Gluten-free coleslaw always tastes different from traditional coleslaw.

While there may be slight differences in flavor or texture due to different ingredients or cooking methods, many gluten-free coleslaw recipes are just as tasty as traditional coleslaw. The key is to experiment with different dressings and ingredients until you find a recipe that suits your tastes.

Gluten-Free Cooking: Tips for Making the Perfect Coleslaw

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a beginner cook, there are a few tips to keep in mind when making gluten-free coleslaw:

1. Make sure your ingredients are fresh.

Coleslaw relies on fresh ingredients to shine, so be sure to use the best quality cabbage, carrots, and other ingredients you can find. If you’re using pre-shredded cabbage or bagged slaw mix, check the expiration date to ensure that it’s still fresh.

2. Choose the right dressing.

The dressing is arguably the most important part of coleslaw, as it provides flavor and moisture. When choosing a gluten-free dressing, look for options that are labeled “gluten-free” or that contain no wheat, barley, rye, or other gluten-containing grains. If you’re making your own dressing, use gluten-free ingredients like apple cider vinegar or Dijon mustard.

3. Experiment with different ingredients.

While traditional coleslaw relies on cabbage and carrots, there are plenty of other vegetables and fruits that can add flavor, texture, and nutrition to your coleslaw. Try adding ingredients like broccoli, raisins, or even pineapple to your next batch of gluten-free coleslaw.

4. Refrigerate before serving.

Allowing coleslaw to chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving can help the flavors meld together and make for a more refreshing dish.

The Pros and Cons of Gluten-Free Coleslaw: Is It Right for You?

So, should you choose gluten-free coleslaw the next time you’re in the mood for this classic dish? Let’s break down the pros and cons:


  • Essential for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease
  • May offer more variety and creativity than traditional coleslaw
  • Can be just as tasty as gluten-containing coleslaw


  • May be more expensive or difficult to find than traditional coleslaw
  • May contain more sugar or fat than traditional coleslaw
  • May require more time and effort to make from scratch

Ultimately, whether or not to choose gluten-free coleslaw is a personal decision that depends on your individual needs and preferences. If you have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, gluten-free coleslaw is likely a must-have. If you simply prefer the taste or variety of gluten-free coleslaw, it may be worth the extra effort and expense.

5 Surprisingly Gluten-Free Coleslaw Ingredients to Try Today

If you’re looking to shake up your coleslaw game, try incorporating these five naturally gluten-free ingredients:

1. Pomegranate seeds

These tart and juicy seeds add a refreshing burst of flavor to coleslaw.

2. Sunflower seeds

For a crunchy, nutty addition to your coleslaw, try tossing in some sunflower seeds.

3. Tofu

Cut into small cubes or crumbled, tofu can be a great protein source and a unique texture addition to coleslaw.

4. Edamame

This soybean snack can also be a great way to add protein and color to your coleslaw.

5. Shredded sweet potato

A fun twist on traditional coleslaw, shredded sweet potato adds a hint of sweetness and a pop of orange color to your dish.


Whether you’re a fan of traditional coleslaw or prefer to mix things up with gluten-free ingredients, we hope this guide has provided you with plenty of inspiration and information. By choosing gluten-free coleslaw, you can enjoy all the classic flavors and textures of this summer staple without worrying about hidden sources of gluten.

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