Skip to content

Cookouts and BBQs are among the nicer summer traditions, a really great way to hang out with loved ones and rascals.

I will ask what I can bring and my host(ess) will say, “Ooh, would you bring that coleslaw of yours?”

Of course I will! I am pretty proud of it, and nothing makes me feel better than when someone loves something I have cooked for them. Unless maybe when someone loves a sweater I’ve knit for them, but I’m a slow knitter so that doesn’t happen as often. 

This coleslaw is bright, crisp, a little sweet from beets and carrot, a little vinegary. It’s really pretty if I do say so myself. It goes with all the great summer foods from hot dogs to grilled fish, and from burgers to ribs smoked in one of those Big Green Eggs (I’m saving up for one of those). Speckled slaw is mandatory for tacos at our house, so nice next to a warm bowl of beans and rice. I think you will love it, and all your friends will be asking you to bring it to their cookouts. 

I love Napa cabbage for this, but other types work too. I use my beloved and inexpensive mandolin to cut the onion and cabbage and I grate the carrots and beets on a box grater. (I am loyal to the humungous carrots you find loose in the produce section. Always sweeter than the regular sized carrots). This slaw has a lot of cilantro, including the stems and roots, which are the best parts. You can make the whole thing the day before your cookout and dress it before serving.

Wishing everyone some easy summer days with the ones you love.  Speckled slaw goes like this:


For the slaw:

Half a large head of Napa cabbage, cut in half and sliced with a mandolin, or as thinly as you can with a knife

2 jumbo carrots, scrubbed and grated

2 medium beets, trimmed, peeled, and grated

Half a large red onion, sliced with a mandolin, or as thinly as you can with a knife

1 large bunch cilantro (with roots that are intact if you can find them), rinsed, spun or towel dried, and coarsely chopped (including the roots!)

For the dressing:

2 limes

¼ cup cider vinegar

2/3 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 Tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar

Salt and black pepper to taste


Toss vegetables and cilantro together and chill until ready to serve.

Whisk all ingredients for the dressing together.

Toss the slaw with the dressing and let sit for a few minutes. Serve chilled. Leftovers keep well for days.

Serves 8 as a side, doubles or triples like a dream.

File it!

Save Sarah’s recipes in your MDK account with one click.

MDK receives a commission for the game-changing, can’t recommend them highly enough mandolines purchased through the link in this post. Thanks!

About The Author

For Sarah Ross, everyday cooking is about winging it—with a classic or an old favorite recipe given to her by a friend. These are the recipes that get stained with spills from being on repeat, the ones to share.


  • This sounds lovely. I’m going to serve a t for dinner tonight. Thank you.

  • Thank you! Love that this is a cruelty free recipe. Will be adding it to my repertoire to serve with healthy bean recipes.

  • Looks delicious. Going to make this weekend.

  • This looks so good! I am a carrot aficionado (my favorite vegetable), and I agree that those anemic looking carrots are not the ones you want. I am going to try this very soon. Got any more great recipes?

    • I just made this and it’s sheer genius. Thank you!

  • Sounds and looks delicious and as pretty as speckled yarn. Thanks for the recipe!

  • I am goingbto try this if I can get a napa cabbage. Unfortunately I am a person that cilantro tastes like soap, is there anything that would be a good substitute? Parsley?

    • If you’re willing to experiment, try pulsing some cilantro and mint together into a rough paste and taste it. Does that also taste like soap? If not, you may have found a way to incorporate the flavor! Cilantro and mint play very well together. Unfortunately I don’t think there is a substitute for the unique flavor of cilantro leaves, parsley is something else entirely that will give you the visual but not the taste.

      For a split second I thought of coriander powder but that tastes completely different – it’s a spice, not a herb.

      Good luck from a cilantro lover who hopes you can join the fold.

      • Great idea to try mint and cilantro, also I love dill with this slaw.

      • Cilantro and mint together sounds so refreshing!

  • Thank you Sarah for the recipe, can’t wait to make it.

  • Thank you! This sounds lovely and I have beets and cilantro from my garden. I hear you on carrots! When I lived in the UK, the carrots were big and gorgeous. I can rarely find any like that stateside! Grating the puny things adds flesh to whatever I am making! LOL

  • Wow that looks fresh and cool.

    I’m all: roots of cilantro?!?! And then I’m all: um, carrots are a root. Beets are a root. Roots are where all the fun is.

    • The roots were news to me but now I’m trekking to Chinatown every week where they leave the roots on.

      • Great idea I will speak the the IT dept about this.

  • Sounds delicious. Going to give it try this weekend. (On a side note, could recipes be made printable? Or are they and I’m overlooking it? Thank you. )

  • This looks really good. But as a serious consumer of cilantro (every Indian savory dish, bar none, is garnished with cilantro), I am super weirded out at the idea of using cilantro roots. Stalks, definitely! They are very flavorful.

  • Ooo Sarah, this looks so good! Yesterday, my bottle of sorghum from Ghetto Gastro arrived and I will definitely be trying it in this recipe!

    • I need to try sorghum!

  • Thanks Sarah! Can’t wait to try this on July 4th!

  • O you cook the beet first?

    • Raw beets for this one.

  • I appreciate these recipes. I’ve incorporated all of them into the menu rotation, jazzing up the pandemic-wearied old favorites. Thank you!

    • So kind. I am thrilled that you like my recipes.

  • I don’t usually like slaw because I don’t like mayo. But this sounds delicious.

  • Has the beetroot been cooked first? I have never seen a recipe with raw beetroot here in the UK,

  • Thanks all for your comments and for trying this recipe. What a great community we have here. I’m on the road and thinking of something sweet for August.

  • This looks really good except, unfortunately, I really don’t like beets… is there anything else I can use instead? Or should I just use more carrots?

    (And yes – I have had “really good” beets! Somehow, they all taste like dirt to me…?)

  • Made this for the 4th. Fantastic! My local grocery store didn’t have Napa cabbage so I used regular. I always make a slaw for family barbecues and this was a fun variation! My daughter kept saying, “This is good, Mom, this is really good!”

  • Making this! Thank you Sarah!

  • Thank you for this wonderful and different slaw recipe! It is delightful and refreshing! This will be a mainstay.

  • Holy moly! I missed this the first time around. Oh my, it is so good! Thank you!

  • I made this last night for supper. It is absolutely delicious! Making it again tonight.
    All your recipes that I have tried so far are great…keep them coming. Thanks

My Cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping