This apple coleslaw with cranberries and pecans is a crunchy, sweet, and savory twist on classic coleslaw. Tossed with a creamy maple balsamic dressing, this apple slaw still features healthy and fiber-rich (and cheap!) green cabbage. Plus, it’s easy to make ahead of time and the leftovers hold up really well, making it perfect for a get-together, potluck, or for meal prep.
While this coleslaw recipe screams “fall,” I think this salad is the perfect side dish all year round. It would be just as at home on your Thanksgiving table as it would be for a summer evening BBQ.
While it’s a great side dish, you can also add your favorite protein like roast or grilled chicken to it for a meal!
The dressing it’s tossed with is a simple mixture of mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and olive oil. I put this stuff on everything, and I even have a post on how to make creamy maple balsamic dressing on its own. I also love putting it on a green salad with cranberries and goat cheese.
You’ll be able to whip up this easy apple coleslaw recipe in only 15 minutes or so. Even my five-year-old daughter gave it “two thumbs up!” Let’s get to it.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Shredded Green Cabbage – I used about a half of a head for this.
- Apple – you can use any kind. I used Fuji – my favorite. A pear or Asian pear would also do well here.
- Red Onion – I find red to be the best raw onion, but you can use a sweet onion thinly sliced, or any other onion you enjoy raw.
- Dried cranberries – I recommend sweetened, but unsweetened will do if you like the tart flavor. Other dried fruit like raisins or chopped dried figs would also be good here.
- Candied pecans – or another candied nut, like homemade candied walnuts. You can also use non-candied nuts, like slivered or sliced almonds (toasted or not), pistachios, or whatever you have! For a nut-free version, use pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds.
- Mayonnaise – or Greek yogurt. Use a vegan mayo substitute for a vegan version.
- Maple syrup – or another sweetener of choice.
- Balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil, salt, and pepper
How to make Apple Coleslaw
Just whisk together the ingredients for the dressing in the bottom of a large bowl. Then, add all the remaining ingredients and toss together well using tongs to coat everything. If you like, you can let it sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to marry a bit and the cabbage to soften, but you can also serve it right away.
Can I make it vegan?
Yes! Just use a vegan mayonnaise substitute in the dressing, and be sure any candied nuts you use are vegan as well.
Can I make coleslaw ahead of time?
I think this coleslaw is best when served within 30 minutes to an hour of tossing together, though the leftovers do hold up extremely well. If you want to make it ahead of time, I recommend prepping the dressing and all the other ingredients separately, and tossing together just before, or up to about 30 minutes, before serving. But don’t fret it if sits for longer. I ate this two days after tossing it together and it was still delicious!
Other cabbage recipes you’ll love
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Apple Coleslaw with Cranberries and Pecans
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt plus more if needed
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper plus more if needed
- 4 cups shredded green cabbage (from about ½ head of cabbage)
- 1 large apple cut into matchsticks (any kind will work)
- ½ cup thinly sliced red onion (from about ½ of a medium onion)
- ½ cup dried cranberries (I used sweetened)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- ½ cup candied pecans chopped (see notes for alternatives)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the ¼ cup mayonnaise, the 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, the 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, the 2 tablespoons maple syrup, the ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and the ¼ teaspoon black pepper until smooth.
- Add the 4 cups shredded green cabbage, the 1 large apple sliced into matchsticks, the ½ cup thinly sliced red onion, the ½ cup dried cranberries, the 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, and the ½ cup candied pecans, chopped.
- Use tongs to mix everything together well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend together.
- To make ahead, I recommend mixing the dressing separately and tossing the coleslaw together up to 30 minutes before serving. This is when it’s at its best. However, the leftovers are also great, and hold up really well, even the day after it’s been tossed together!
- This serves 8 as a side, and the nutrition information is estimated for this amount. This coleslaw can also serve 4 as a more substantial salad, perfect to pair with roasted chicken or a protein of your choice.
- Candied pecans can usually be found with the other nuts at your grocery store. You can also make your own candied nuts. Other nuts, such as plain or toasted slivered or sliced almonds, pistachios, or whatever you have around will work just fine as an alternative. For a nut-free version, feel free to use pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds.
- For a vegan version, use a vegan mayo substitute in the dressing, and make sure your candied nuts are vegan.
- Other ingredient substitutions: Greek yogurt may be used in place of mayonnaise (add more salt to the dressing in this case), honey or another sweetener may be used in place of maple syrup, pear may be used in place of apple, and other dried fruit such as raisins or chopped figs may be used in place of the cranberries.
Nutrition Information Disclaimer
The provided nutrition information is my best estimate and does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information. Feel free to calculate it yourself using one of these tools: