Tangy Jamaican Coleslaw Recipe

I’m just speculating, but there are a few reasons why I think Coleslaw Salad is so  popular in Jamaica today.

1. Jamaicans love KFC! Fast food chicken was definitely not around was I was growing up in Jamaica, but today KFC is very popular and may be the inspiration behind why coleslaw salad is almost always served with take-out Jamaican food there and abroad.

2. Cabbage is a lot cheaper than lettuce. You can make A LOT of coleslaw salad with one cabbage and one or two carrots.

3. It lasts. The vinaigrette dressing will preserve this salad for several days. In fact, I think it gets tastier. 

You can expect Jamaican coleslaw to be on the sweet side.  Some people also like to use mayonnaise, but my recipe is traditional and easy. I prefer the clean flavour of a vinaigrette dressing with zing!


Make-ahead tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to a week


  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp (1 mL) salt
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 cups (1.5 L) shredded green cabbage
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  1. In large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar, salt, black pepper and garlic
  2. Add cabbage, carrot and green onions; toss to coat
  3. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving


Comments (13)
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  • Janice Lambert

    I have been searching high and low for this coleslaw recipe as I hate it with mayonnaise. thanks a million

  • Sophie Rousseau

    Thank you so much Fay for this wonderful recipe. This is the only way I like coleslaw and love the tanginess of the vinaigrette, more refreshing! Don’t like mayonnaise in my salads!

  • Luiza

    Hi, Fay! I thought that coleslaw salad is popular only in Poland, where I have lived for 37 years:) But we prefer with mayonnaise because we have rather cold climate – in winter -30 graduates C. And your spaces are good.

  • claudia

    Hi Fay, I was born in jamacia and know how to cook a lot of dishes. However some recepies escape me and it was so great to find your web page. I enjoyed seeing how to make some dishes that i haven eaten in a long time and didnt know how to prepare. My kids love to eat Jamacian food and since we moved away from their Grandmother and Greatgrandmother they’ve been craving the authenticity of grannsy’s cooking.
    Thanks for that and keep up the hard work.

  • Samantha Aoki

    I tried this recipe today and it was delicious! Very fresh and light to eat! I loved it, thank you for the recipe!

  • Kim

    Thanks for the recipe! I ate the slaw over four days, first with jerk tofu and then jerk cod. The only change I made was to cut the oil in half. It was still delicious, and I know I’ll make it again.

  • Keith

    I used this basic recipe and added red cabbage, cilantro, and red onion for color.
    Used minced jalepenos, mango, and habanero sauce for sweet and heat.
    Was served at a picnic along side pulled pork and BBQ…People ate it up and loved it.

    Thank you for the vinegar based version….made it possible to serve at summer picnic with no worry of people having any problems. Safety first!

  • Tracy

    Absolutely delicious. Made some today to go with my jerk chicken and rice and peas for dinner. Used olive oil instead of vegetable thou. Thanks so much for this amazing recipe 🙂

  • Yvonne

    Thank you for this recipe, it was very tasty and easy to make.

  • Mina

    This is by far the best Cole Slaw recipe I have ever found! It is super easy to make, and my family absolutely loves it! Everyone wants to know the recipe and I have referred them here on several occasions. Thank you!!

  • Tim

    I knew I could count on you Miss Fay for another delicious Jamaican concoction. This has become a new staple, especially when served with jerk chicken wings! Many thanks.

  • Bill

    I sautéed cabbage and carrots in olive oil with onions and garlic. I seasoned the dish with salt, pepper, fresh thyme and hot pepper sauce. I finished the dish with your vinaigrette (minus the garlic and onion because it was already in the dish and I cut the sugar in half). It was wonderful on the hot cabbage. The next time I make cole slaw, I will try your dressing exactly like it is. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Fay & Angela

    Hi Rose,
    We’re looking forward to sharing a bulla recipe soon. Still perfecting my recipe. Fay