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Jamaican Coleslaw
The Perfect Side For Your Jamaican Dish

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Jamaican Coleslaw | (Photo Credit: Caribbean Nights)Jamaican Coleslaw | (Photo Credit: Caribbean Nights)

By Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

No dish is complete without some yummy veggies on the side. Now, not many of us enjoy veggies and we struggle to find ways to make them more palatable, especially for children. A lot of vegetables provide nutrients that we simply cannot get from starchy side dishes like rice and pasta or from our main dishes like chicken, pork, fish and beef. 

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Besides steamed vegetable dishes like callaloo, pak choi and cabbage the other main ways for Jamaicans to include vegetables into their diet is by adding a mixed vegetable medley of cabbage, carrot and other veggies to the side or making a coleslaw.

While coleslaws are very simple and easy to make, just a slight mistake can throw off the entire dish and you will wish you had stuck to just eating the raw veggies as is, minus the sauce.

What’s great about Jamaican coleslaw though is not only is it so lip-smacking good that even the vegetable hating children will love it, but it goes well with everything. It is the perfect side dish to some rice and peas and fried chicken and you will typically find it served in many local cook shops as well. So whether it is some jerk chicken or fried fish, rest assured that your Jamaican coleslaw will go great with it.

But we get into the recipe, here are a few tips you need to know before you start making your coleslaw. They will make a world of difference.

  1. Add salt - many persons are of the belief that because we are using raw vegetables to make coleslaw, salt won’t be needed. That is far from the truth. The salt really does bring all the different flavours together.

  2. Add a little vinegar - we know coleslaw should be creamy and it is not a vinaigrette, however, a little amount of vinegar goes a long way in coleslaw and really intensifies the otherwise very mild flavour.

  3. Choose the right vegetables - the vegetables are the base of your coleslaw, there is no coleslaw without them. Always choose fresh vegetables and use green leafy cabbage, not hard white ones.

For appearance's sake, shred your vegetables, don’t grate them. 

Jamaican Coleslaw Recipe


  • 3 Cups of shredded Cabbage
  • 1 Cup of shredded Carrot
  • 1 Cup of finely chopped or grated Onion
  • 3 tablespoons of Mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon of Mustard 
  • 1 tablespoon of Sugar (optional)
  • Pinch of Salt and black Pepper
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of Vinegar (depends on how strong your vinegar is)


  1. 1 prepare your vegetables. In a bowl of water, add a bit of salt. Shred any dead leaves from your cabbage then slice it into halves. Remove the ends of your carrots and use a knife to gently scrape them to remove the outer layer. Add them to the salted water and wash them thoroughly.

  2. Peel your onions and use a grater to finely grate them, you want them to add flavour to your coleslaw but not be too visible, easily detected or overpowering. Add to a large mixing bowl.

  3. Grab your cutting board and shredder, and shred both your carrot and cabbage finely using the same size shredding blade for both. Once done add them to the mixing bowl with the onions.

  4. In the mixing bowl, combine all three ingredients, if necessary wash your hands and use your fingers so you can get the vegetables to appear evenly mixed.

  5. In a separate bowl add all your other ingredients, your mustard, mayo, sugar, salt, black pepper and vinegar. Mix well. Taste your sauce. Don’t be afraid to taste and make adjustments if necessary, add more vinegar if it's not as tangy as you would like, more mayo if it is not creamy enough and more sugar if you rather it be a bit sweeter. There is no set rule.

  6. Add the sauce to the mixing bowl with your vegetables and combine both well. Set aside to chill for a bit in your refrigerator.

Serve as a side to your favourite dishes.

Jamaican coleslaw is perfect if you are looking for a quick and easy vegetable side to add to your dish. It won’t take you more than 20 minutes to make this from scratch. Additionally, don’t throw it out, you can keep it refrigerated for up to 3 days. 

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