German Coleslaw is an easy to prepare low carb vegan salad side dish.
The slaw is aromatic and seasoned nicely to bring out the fresh crisp slaw flavors.
I show you how to make a proper German European recipe further below.
What’s the German coleslaw?
The German coleslaw is a traditional shredded cabbage salad.
The slaw is popular in Germany and neighboring countries such as Austria, Poland, and the Czech Republic
Yet, the German coleslaw is also a huge hit on the North American continent, where it was introduced by German immigrants.
In Germany, the coleslaw is known as Krautsalat, which simply means cabbage salad in German.
The german slaw is prepared with simple ingredients but includes common spices from the region.
German Coleslaw ingredients
This cabbage slaw includes a handful of basic ingredients.
The German coleslaw recipe is prepared without mayo and is a vinegar coleslaw.
Use quality ingredients to get the most out of your german coleslaw.
You can use regular white cabbage or purple-red cabbage to make this coleslaw.
However, plain white/green cannonball cabbage is the most commonly used cabbage variety to make coleslaw in Germany.
Other varieties which you can use as well include pointed white cabbage, savoy cabbage, and napa cabbage.
Feel free to use lesser-known cabbage varieties too, just make sure the leaves are crisp and mild in flavor (not overly bitter).
You can use a flavorful vinegar which has character and taste to make a tangy coleslaw dressing.
The vinegar compliments the raw cabbage as it softens the chopped cabbage pieces while retaining the crunchiness.
Lemon juice doesn’t really live up to that and while it can still be used to lend acidity, it is not something I recommend.
So you see, a vinegar-based coleslaw turns the shredded cabbage salad into a proper coleslaw.
I like to use french style apple cider vinegar but you can use flavored vinegar too such as a herb-infused vinegar or berry vinegar or even coconut vinegar.
The oil completes the coleslaw dressing recipe and helps to balance the flavors in your german coleslaw.
Traditionally people tend to use canola/rapeseed or sunflower oil because that’s what grows in Germany.
Besides, canola/rapeseed and sunflower oil tend to be healthier as they contain less saturated fats and almost no trans fats, which are the bad guys in the fats department.
You can also use safflower or soybean oil in this slaw dressing.
Olive Oil is not a suitable oil choice in a traditional coleslaw recipe but you may use it if you like.
Don’t use palm oil, which is the cheapest of the lot because it contains loads of saturated fats, which are not good for your health, and palm oil harms the environment as it is a cause of deforestation in South East Asia.
Salt has it’s own place in this healthy coleslaw recipe as it is an important ingredient.
Salt doesn’t only season your slaw salad but also helps in taking out excess waters from your cabbage.
Shredded cabbage can get soggy when combined with the dressing and the flavors get compromised.
So the cabbage is left to “cure” with quality salt to take out excess liquids before the shredded cabbage is mixed with the dressing.
You can also add a pinch of black salt which adds a special sulphuric flavor to your coleslaw and that way it will taste a bit as if you have added eggs to your shredded salad.
The seasoning is straightforward and includes black pepper and caraway seeds.
I think black pepper is self-explanatory, just make sure to use quality black pepper, it makes a huge difference in terms of flavors.
Caraway seeds are not that common outside Europe but they are what makes central European cuisine to special.
I LOVE my caraway seeds because they are easy to use and add so much flavor to a dish, including this homemade coleslaw.
It’s hard to explain the flavor profile, just know that caraway is related to cumin and sometimes they are confused with each other.
Mainly because caraway is called Kümmel in German and what may be known as caraway seeds in Asia (shahi or shia jeera cumin in India) is not really the same caraways that we have in Europe.
Trust me, I’m always adding caraway seeds to my German cabbage salad
If you like central European cuisine and/or spices, then I recommend you buy caraway seeds whole asap!
Freshly chopped chives are to garnish your coleslaw.
You can do without but the chives lend the salad a nice tangy fresh touch and help you to eat with the eyes.
German Coleslaw variations
You can pep up this basic coleslaw recipe by enhancing it further with more ingredients or by switching out ingredients.
- Add shredded root vegetables such as onion, carrot, kohlrabi or radish
- Include fresh fruits such as pear or apple
- Turn this slaw into a cabbage salad with crispy fried bacon pieces or add small strips of soft lard
- Add celery seeds to make this german salad recipe all the more special
How to make German Coleslaw?
This is an easy coleslaw recipe and the preparation method includes a marination period.
That way your green cabbage slaw will turn into a real delight.
Shredd your cabbage fine.
Place cabbage into a large mixing bowl and drizzle salt over the cabbage, plus add some water.
Mix well and leave your cabbage to marinate aside so that excess waters come out.
Leave your cabbage like this for at least 1 hour or keep overnight as this will soften your cabbage while retaining the crunchiness.
When done, quickly rinse your cabbage under running water to get rid of excess salts.
Strain your cabbage to get rid of excess waters and tap dry with a clean kitchen towel to make sure that no waters are left.
Pour vinegar and oil over cabbage.
Season with black pepper and caraway seeds.
Combine your coleslaw mix.
At this point, you can allow the slaw to marinate further in the dressing to get more flavorful or serve directly if you are in a hurry.
How to serve your German Coleslaw?
Here are some ideas on how you can serve up and enjoy your coleslaw.
I love my coleslaw served with traditional German/Austrian foods but it works great too with any other world food.
The traditional way to serve the slaw
I absolutely adore this slaw with other common meals in the Central European region.
For example, goulash soup or goulash meat gravy with spaetzle is great with a german coleslaw.
Or Knödel dumplings with pork roast or sausages.
Just start a search on my page to find various recipes for goulash, spaetzle, knödel and pork recipes.
More ideas to enjoy your german coleslaw
Over the year I caught myself preparing this slaw with other international meals.
I love this slaw with gravy based suppers, Western and Asian.
For example, curries such as Chicken Tikka Masala are great too with this slaw.
Or I love to serve it too with meat stuffed tomatoes, polenta or zucchini boats.
So, you can experiment and enjoy this german slaw with shrimp and grits if you like and I bet it will taste amazing!
More German Salad Recipes
- Bavarian Warm Potato Salad
- Cucumber Dill Salad
- White Radish Salad
- Sausage Salad (Wurstsalat) by platedcravings.com
- Rapunzel Salad by steffensdinners.com
Dear Reader, have you made this german coleslaw?
German Coleslaw Recipe
For the Marination
- 1.1 pound Cabbage
- 1 Tablespoon Salt *see post for salt qualities
- ½ cup Lukewarm Water
For the Dressing
- chives fresh chopped
- Rinse your cabbage and discard outer tough layer.
- Shred your cabbage and place into a large mixing bowl.
- Add salt and lukewarm water to the cabbage and combine.
- Leave the coleslaw to marinate for at least one hour to take out excess waters and to soften the coleslaw.
- Rinse the coleslaw quickly under running water and strain well + tap dry with a clean kitchen towel to get rid of all waters.
- Pour vinegar and oil over the coleslaw in a salad bowl, season with black pepper and caraway seeds and combine well.
- Sprinkle some cut chives over the slaw to garnish and serve cold.
- The cabbage marinated in the salt and excess salt is rinsed off. So, you don’t need to salt the cabbage later on again. Yet, if you feel your slaw lacks salt, you are free to salt it a little more.