Creamy Cumin Lime Coleslaw

Creamy cumin lime coleslaw is a dynamic coleslaw: intensely flavored by garlic, mellowed by a base of mayonnaise and buttermilk, perked up with a strong jolt of lime, with aromatics of cumin and cilantro perfuming each bite. This coleslaw came into my life when I was 16, my Mom made it for dinner one night and our whole family quickly became obsessed with it.  At one barbecue, I even went so far as to earnestly tell every single guest, what an outstanding coleslaw this was, noting, with the only the gravity a 16 year old can muster, that it was the best coleslaw they would ever eat. I recall one guest stopped me as he was leaving to thank me for my pointed food recommendation noting that I had indeed been correct and that it was the best coleslaw he had ever eaten.  This, slightly tweaked version of my mothers’ coleslaw, is certainly on our favorites list and may just be the best coleslaw you will ever eat!


Yield: Serves 4-6


  • 5 cups thinly sliced or shredded napa cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (1-2 medium sized carrots)
  • 5 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (approximately 1 1/2 cups)


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk (or creme fraiche)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2-3 limes, juiced 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (can also add finely minced jalapeno, or hot sauce of your choice)


  1. Combine the dressing ingredients (mayonnaise, buttermilk, garlic, lime juice, cumin, pepper) in a small bowl and whisk together to combine.  Taste and add more lime or spice to your taste, you should get a nice assertive lime flavor so feel free to add more juice.
  2. In another bowl, combine the coleslaw mixture (cabbage, carrot, green onions and cilantro).  Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to combine. Serve immediately.  


  • Napa cabbage is well worth getting for this recipe, it is a much more delicate version of the traditional white cabbage and works well in coleslaw.
  • Napa cabbage is  also known as Chinese cabbage and widely used in many Asian cuisines.  If your grocery store does not carry it, a local Asian store will.
  • If you are making more then you will eat in one sitting it would be advisable to keep the dressing and coleslaw ingredients separate to prevent second day sogginess.  
  • Napa cabbage and cilantro are two ingredients that may carry with them some lingering dirt or sand.  Make sure to wash them thoroughly so you do not get a gritty mouthful.