What is Broccoli Slaw?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Broccoli slaw is a form of coleslaw made with broccoli, instead of the more traditional cabbage. Broccoli and cabbage are actually very close relatives, so the flavor of broccoli and cabbage slaws is very similar, although the substitution results in a more nutritious slaw with a slightly spicier flavor than that of a slaw made with cabbage. As an added bonus, broccoli appears to be less prone to inducing flatulence than cabbage, for people who have experienced undesirable gastrointestinal effects after consuming raw cabbage.

Olive oil, which can be included in broccoli slaw.
Olive oil, which can be included in broccoli slaw.

Dishes similar to coleslaw have been made in Europe since at least the third century BCE, using shredded cabbage and limited numbers of other ingredients like onions, carrots, and so forth in a tangy sauce. Modern coleslaw is often made with a mayonnaise-based sauce, although the traditional sauce was a vinaigrette, and some cooks like to make slaws with Asian-style dressings featuring sesame oil, soil sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar.

Traditional slaws often include a mayonnaise-based dressing.
Traditional slaws often include a mayonnaise-based dressing.

Slaw is commonly used as a side dish, especially with fried food. It is often chilled before consumption, making it into a very refreshing dish, especially in the summer. Slaws are eaten all over the world, and they are a popular potluck dish, since making a large bowl of slaw is very easy, and slaw tends to be crowd-pleaser, especially when people use unusual ingredients or an old family recipe.

Broccoli slaw is a coleslaw made with broccoli instead of cabbage.
Broccoli slaw is a coleslaw made with broccoli instead of cabbage.

Broccoli slaw is made by shredding raw broccoli, including the stems and leafy tops, tossing it with a dressing, and adding in any other desired ingredients. For example, a broccoli slaw recipe could include broccoli, crispy noodle pieces, cashews, and green onions in an Asian-style dressing, or it could be made with broccoli, carrots, and a creamy mayonnaise dressing for a more traditional take on slaw. Some other additives which can appear in broccoli slaw include: dried cranberries, peanuts, sunflower seeds, apple slices, raisins, and shredded meat such as chicken.

For best results, broccoli slaw should be eaten fresh. It can grow soggy and mushy if it is allowed to sit too long in dressing, and in the case of a mayonnaise-based dressing, it is important to keep the slaw refrigerated, and to add an acid such as lemon or lime juice to reduce bacterial growth. For a variation on the rich mayonnaise dressing, it is possible to use yogurt if a creamy dressing is desired, or to mix a creamy vinaigrette with olive oil, vinegar, and a soft cheese such as blue cheese or goat cheese.

To make broccoli slaw, first purchase fresh, bright green broccoli with small, unopened florets.
To make broccoli slaw, first purchase fresh, bright green broccoli with small, unopened florets.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I add the shredded broccoli to omelets or chicken strips and shredded almonds. The broccoli become almost like pasta.


Having suffered from PMS for a long time I was thrilled to be told that certain foods help relieve the symptoms. One of them is broccoli, which is thought to help balance hormones in our body.

Needless to say I eat it as often as possible. Having exhausted all broccoli salad and casserole recipes I am very happy to see some new and delicious sounding options here.


@MsClean - I have an excellent recipe for Asian broccoli slaw that you might want to try. It's really quick and easy and I'm sure your family will enjoy it.

Mix together ten ounces of broccoli, four green onions and about half a cup of toasted almonds. Some people add half a cup of toasted sunflower seeds and/or a teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds.

Add the seasoning packet from one package of uncooked crushed ramen noodles with one third cup olive oil, two tablespoons each of sugar and vinegar and about a teaspoon of pepper.

Pour the mix over the broccoli and sprinkle with crushed ramen noodles just before serving.


@MsClean - A traditional Asian cole slaw dressing would generally include ginger, garlic, fresh lime juice, broccoli, carrots, peanuts, rice vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce. Crushed Asian noodles and sesame seeds are sometimes added.


@babylove - I've made a broccoli slaw similar to yours before only I left out the red cabbage. My kids won't eat the cabbage but that does sound good. It's kind of like your blending the broccoli into the cabbage version.

I'm a big fan of soy sauce so I think I'll give the Asian broccoli slaw a try and see how well it goes over with my family. I wonder though if it's served warm or chilled.

Either way, it sounds good alongside some steamed rice and grilled teriyaki chicken tenders. Yum!


I fixed broccoli cole slaw with Bar-B-Q ribs this past Memorial Day. I make mine with cauliflour, carrots and red cabbage. Does anyone else use those ingredients?

The vegetables all compliment each other very well and it's so colorful. I don't have to worry about storing it because there's never been any leftovers at my house.

My family loves broccoli, especially steamed with a little olive oil and a pinch of garlic and cracked black pepper.

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