Fall Slaw 

By Ann Fulton

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A bag of slaw mix offers a convenient shortcut in this crisp, wholesome, seasonal salad. The easy vinaigrette is loaded with flavor and can be used in a variety of other salads.


Not many recipes have extended runs on the weekly dinner rotation in our house. The continual need to develop new recipes means that the favorites are sometimes overlooked for long stretches.

Exceptions arise when recipes are really easy and enjoyed by all. The schedule of a new school year and the arrival of crisp local apples always remind me of the following versatile salad recipe.

For our family, the start of a new school year is accompanied by middle and high school cross country meets. These typically result in a late dinner and not a lot of time to prepare it. I relied on the convenience and fresh taste of the following salad so many times last fall that it became an obvious recipe to pass along.

Of course, when I share a recipe, it has to have a name. Sometimes, recipes that I’ve made for years remain nameless. When someone asks what’s for dinner, I often merely describe it–“You know, that salad-sort-of-thing with the apples and salted almonds that you really love.” (This has always been my subtle way of highlighting the parts of a recipe I know my children will enjoy.)

As I pondered a name for this go-to side dish, and because apples and cabbage are cool weather staples, the name “fall slaw” came to mind. Problem was, it was almost winter. I liked the rhyming cadence of the name and couldn’t think of something better, so I simply saved the recipe for this year.

As the first cross country meet of the season approached a few weeks ago, I found myself once again adding coleslaw mix to my grocery list. (As luck would have it, the packages were buy-one-get-one-free, so we had it twice that first week!) Of course, a combination of shredded cabbage and carrots may be used, but the ease of a pre-cut bag holds its own appeal.

Despite what the name suggests, I do make this recipe throughout the winter months. To complete the meal, simply pair the hearty slaw with your choice of protein–poultry, pork tenderloin, and ham complement nicely.

The advance prep option provides convenience on busy weeknights, and the medley of flavors and textures offers variety from a basic tossed salad. The wholesome ingredients and lightly tangy dressing have proven to be a popular addition to several potluck dinners and holiday buffets, too. As I discovered with my own family, this recipe may even make a fan out of those who are certain they don’t like coleslaw.

A bag of slaw mix offers a convenient shortcut in this crisp, wholesome, seasonal salad. The easy vinaigrette is loaded with flavor and can be used in a variety of other salads.A bag of coleslaw tossed with a speedy, sweet and tangy honey mustard dressing and a few choice add-ins can be a delicious way to eat your veggies. Serve with your favorite chicken, pork tenderloin, or ham for a complete–and completely tasty–meal.  

Fall Slaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings
A bag of slaw mix offers a convenient shortcut in this crisp, wholesome, seasonal salad. The easy vinaigrette is loaded with flavor and is equally delicious on broccoli and kale salads as well as a variety of other green and grain-based salads.
For the honey mustard dressing:
  • ¼ cup (56 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (20 grams) honey
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and a few turns of the pepper mill
For the slaw:
  • 1 apple
  • 1 (14-ounce) bag coleslaw mix*
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced or diced (I include any leaves)
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries
  • ⅓ cup crumbled blue cheese** (may substitute feta)
  • ⅓ cup chopped Smokehouse almonds (may substitute toasted, slivered almonds, walnuts, pecan, and/or roasted sunflower seeds)
  1. Add the dressing ingredients to a small bowl or jar and whisk or shake until thoroughly blended and emulsified. The dressing may be prepared in advance and stored at room temperature for several hours or refrigerated.
  2. Core and thinly slice the apple. (You may further cut into matchsticks or dice the apple if preferred.)
  3. Place the apple, coleslaw, celery, dried cranberries, blue cheese, and almonds in a large bowl. (If you are a fan of the cranberries, cheese, and/or nuts, feel free to use half a cup of these items.)
  4. Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss to evenly coat. (Tip: I start with about two-thirds of the dressing, toss well, and then add more to taste. Any leftover dressing will keep for 2 weeks or more in the fridge.) Enjoy the salad immediately or cover and refrigerate for several hours.
  5. Prep ahead tip: If you prefer to prep the salad more than 2-3 hours in advance, place the apples in the bottom of the salad bowl and toss with the dressing. (This will prevent browning.) Then layer the remaining ingredients on top, ending with the nuts, and lightly cover. Refrigerate until ready to eat, and toss before serving. By the next day, any leftover cabbage will wilt slightly, but the slaw will still taste delicious.

*Prefer to shred your own cabbage? You may substitute shredded cabbage—red, green or a mix, adding carrots if you like—instead of the bagged option. In this case, use about 6 cups total. Any combination of red and green cabbage will taste great, but to mimic the standard slaw mix, I use 3 parts (9 ounces) shredded green cabbage, 1 part (3 ounces) shredded red cabbage, and a little over a ½ part (2 ounces) shredded carrots.

**Gluten-free? Check the blue cheese label and verify that it is, in fact, gluten-free. Some packages of crumbled blue cheese include wheat as an ingredient, although many do not.

Additional variations: Add 3-4 strips of crisp, crumbled bacon, or turn this into an all-in-one meal by mixing in 2 cups (8-10 ounces) chopped or shredded cooked chicken.

Make it vegan: Substitute maple syrup or agave nectar for the honey and omit the blue cheese. In this case, tossing the salad with about ⅓ cup nutritional yeast and an extra pinch or two of salt will lend a cheesy flavor.

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  1. Kelsey

    LOVED this easy recipe. Perfect for the hot fall weather we’ve been having when you want fall flavors but not a heavy or hot side. While it’s great side dish, it’s truly so delicious I could make a meal out of just this it’s that good!

    1. Ann Post author

      So happy to read this, Kelsey! Coincidently, I made this salad the other day and had the leftovers yesterday. I added some chunks of canned salmon, and it was a fabulous meal!

  2. Amber

    Delicious!! I made it for a trial before Thanksgiving. I used feta because I didn’t think most people would like Blue Cheese. Do you think Blue Cheese is the best?

    1. Ann Post author

      That’s fabulous, Amber, and I’m glad you asked about the feta. I’ve made this salad SO many times over the years, often subbing feta for the blue cheese depending on who I’m cooking for and what I have on hand. It tastes great with either, so I will add it to the recipe as an option. Thanks so much for your feedback!

  3. Maria Post author

    Just came looking for the recipe. I start making this in the fall and eat it all winter long. It’s so good!

  4. Mary Lou Keller

    Oh my this looks amazing Ann! I’m putting on my short list of new recipes to try. The flavor combinations are right up my alley.