Spicy Cabbage and Corn Slaw

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This Spicy Cabbage and Corn Slaw made with fresh corn, shredded green cabbage, and a creamy lime dressing will be your favorite summer side dish.

88 CAL 15g CARBS 3g FAT 2g PROTEIN 1

If you aren't making corn slaw yet, it's time.  The sweet notes of the corn are the perfect addition to pretty much any slaw. In fact, I will be adding it to my two other favorite slaw recipes as well - Asian Kale Apple Slaw and Celery Ranch Slaw.

This slaw. Seriously. Run out and make it immediately. Crunchy cabbage, sweet summer corn, spicy jalapenos, tangy lime juice, and smoky chili powder come together to make one amazingly delicious side dish. While I wish I could take credit for this Mexican Street Corn inspired slaw, the credit belongs to Serious Eats who created this delectable dish. Make it as a side dish on its own, use it to top tacos or pulled pork, or take a page from my playbook and eat practically the whole recipe out of the bowl over the sink. It's delish.

Let's dig into this corn slaw recipe a bit more and talk about everything that makes it so delicious. It all starts with the corn. Now you have two options when it comes to corn - fresh or frozen. Fresh corn is always my choice when it is in season. However, when I can't find fresh corn, there are actually pretty great frozen options.

Look for a sweet yellow or white corn that was flash frozen after being picked. Since these are picked and frozen at the peak of the season, they are sometimes even better than the fresh options. Wondering about canned corn? Personally, it's not my favorite option for this recipe since it tends to be a bit mushy. However, it will definitely work if that is what you have.

Next comes the cabbage. To keep things easy, I like to use shredded coleslaw mix or bagged shredded green cabbage. It's super affordable and saves tons of time. However, you can definitely use fresh green cabbage and shred or chop it yourself. Purple cabbage works as well, but I prefer the milder taste of green cabbage for this corn slaw.

To bring everything together, this recipe uses the most delicious creamy, spicy dressing. It's made with a combination of fresh jalapenos, cilantro, light mayo, lime juice, honey, and spices. It's creamy and sweet and spicy and tangy. It's delicious. And depending on your audience, you can always adjust the spice level. Leave out the jalapenos and chili powder for a spice-free version or kick up the spice by adding a serrano pepper instead of the jalapeno. It's totally up to you and comes out great either way.

Cabbage and corn slaw with a spicy dressing in a wooden bowl with shredded carrots, cabbage, and corn.

What to serve with Spicy Cabbage and Corn Slaw?

There are so many options when it comes to main dishes to serve with this corn slaw. My absolute favorite is the Chorizo Spiced Pulled Pork recipe I am sharing below but it is also delicious with chicken, seafood, pork, steak, and tofu.

  • This Slow Cooker Chorizo Spiced Pulled Pork is amazing with corn slaw on top. Toss this in the slow cooker and once it is ready, warm up some corn tortillas and pile this corn slaw on top. 
  • Try this family favorite Grilled Pineapple Barbecue Chicken and serve this slaw on the side. The spicy flavors complement the sweeter chicken and it's a fun twist instead of just serving corn on the cob.
  • Salmon is one of my go-to recipes for busy weeknights. Often I will pair this Cajun Salmon with this corn slaw. Then the next day I add a bunch of greens for a tasty salmon and corn slaw salad.
  • We love grilling steak in the summer and this works well with that dish. Usually, I will just coat the steak in a simple steak seasoning. 
  • If you are looking for a meatless option, try grilling or broiling tofu.  This Cilantro Lime Tofu is a great option and works with the cilantro and lime in the slaw.

How can I make this less spicy?

If you prefer less heat in your food, it is easy to make a non-spicy version of this corn slaw. Simply leave out the fresh jalapeno peppers and the chili powder. If you want some extra smoky flavor, you can use a little extra cumin. You can also add a diced red pepper for some added crunch, color, and sweetness.

This fish taco slaw is also a great option for a less spicy slaw for tacos.

Can I make this in advance?

This is a great recipe to make in advance. If you are only making it a few hours in advance, you can follow the recipe as written and store in the fridge. The cabbage is sturdy enough that it won't wilt in the dressing and the flavors actually have time to come together for an even better flavor. If you need to make this 1-2 days in advance, I would recommend tossing together the cabbage, corn, jalapenos, and cilantro. Then combine the other ingredients to make the dressing. Toss together about an hour before you would like to serve it.

Spicy cabbage slaw with corn and carrots in a wooden bowl with creamy dressing and a spoon.

Recipe Ideas for Cabbage and Corn Slaw

If you are looking to personalize this recipe and add your own twist, here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Add cheese: Traditional Mexican corn usually includes queso cotija or Parmesan cheese. Take inspiration from that dish and add some cheese to the slaw. It would also be delicious with feta cheese or queso fresco.
  • Add more veggies: If you want to make this into more of a salad instead of a slaw, you could add cherry tomatoes, chopped Romaine, red onion, and avocado. 
  • Make it a meal: Add your favorite protein and serve it over a big bowl of greens or grains.
  • Make it vegan: Instead of the mayonnaise, use vegan mayo or mashed avocado.
  • Lighten it up: Use non-fat Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise.
  • Use different herbs: If you aren't a cilantro fan, you could substitute parsley or basil instead. You can also use lemon juice instead of lime juice for slightly different take. You could also add some orange juice for some extra sweetness.

More healthy slaw recipes

The Recipe
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Spicy Cabbage and Corn Slaw

Adapted from seriouseats.com
88 CAL 15g CARBS 3g FAT 2g PROTEIN 1
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  • 2 cups fresh (or frozen) corn, cooked
  • 14 oz. shredded cabbage coleslaw mix
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 limes, juice
  • 1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • Salt and pepper

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Toss together the corn, coleslaw, and jalapeno peppers. In another bowl stir together the remaining ingredients.

Tossing together cabbage, carrots, and corn in a bowl.

Toss the veggies and dressing together. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cabbage and corn slaw being tossed with a creamy spicy dressing.
Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 2/3 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 88
Calories from Fat 28
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g
Saturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 88mg
Total Carbohydrate 15g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 7g
Protein 2g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Spicy Cabbage and Corn Slaw
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Heather Jackson
July 2, 2021 - 17:21
Sooooo good. Thank you.
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Jennifer Christ
May 23, 2016 - 20:45
Add a Rating:
This made the perfect taco!! Such good slaw.
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Erin van Bohemen
April 13, 2016 - 14:24
Add a Rating:
This was absolutely delicious! Fresh, crisp, and flavorful. I made it to go with the chorizo pulled pork, but started munching on it before I served dinner.
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Jennifer Christ
March 14, 2016 - 18:40
Add a Rating:
I made this slaw with the Chorizo spiced Pork and it was delicious. Together on a taco they were so good, then I just sat and ate the slaw alone. Yum.
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Sarah Nau
March 4, 2016 - 06:23
Add a Rating:
Five out of five thumbs up! The first time I made this, I forgot the chili powder. Still delicious - just more limey. Served with BBQ.
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