Mayonnaise tends to bring out strong feelings in people, both for and against. So if you happen to sidle into your next cookout with a mayo-based slaw, you run the risk of creating unintended division in the party ranks. I don’t hate mayo, but I do think it tends to weigh down slaws. Especially in summer, I prefer something lighter with more zip.

You can make slaws with almost any fruit or vegetable, although cabbage is a staple. A few tips:

  • To shred cabbage, divide the head into quarters and cut out the core. Remove a few leaves at a time to form a stack and then slice those to form thin strips. You can also use your food processor, of course.
  • Not all recipes call for it, but if you’d like to help the cabbage wilt a bit and release extra moisture — not to mention add flavor — you can salt the cabbage. Place the shredded leaves in a colander, generously salt and let them drain in the sink or a large bowl for 20 to 30 minutes. Squeeze out the extra liquid and proceed with your recipe.
  • Almost any slaw will benefit from being made in advance, at least a day and often more. Just think about all the ingredients and hold back on adding any that might suffer from longer storage — fresh herbs, for instance.
  • Another make-ahead option for recipes that use more of a dressing is to make that in advance and toss it with the salad later. Cabbage and other vegetables can be prepped ahead of time, too.

Now, on to the mayo-free recipes. Here are six great ones from our archives:

Vinegary Montreal Slaw, above. An excellent accompaniment to richer dishes, and we especially liked the look of this when we used several colors of carrots.



(Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Spicy Tahini Slaw. The creaminess comes from tahini instead of mayo. Prepackaged cabbage mix makes this super-quick, but you can, of course, put together your own.



(Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel)

North Carolina Piedmont Slaw. This slaw is dressed with what is essentially a homemade barbecue sauce. Stay away from the bottled stuff, since you can’t control what’s in there.



(Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post; food styling by Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post)

Asian Kohlrabi Slaw. If you’ve never tried kohlrabi raw — or at all — here’s your chance. The dish is a wonderful side, but there are also suggestions for how to turn it into a main meal.



(Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post)

Spicy Ruby Slaw. The color is vivid, thanks to the red cabbage, and so is the flavor, thanks to lots of fresh ginger.



(Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Cabbage Slaw With Orange-Pumpkin Seed Dressing. A reminder that it’s okay to put something crunchy in your slaw. Here, it’s pumpkin seeds. Other possibilities: nuts, corn nuts (roasted or fried kernels that are downright addictive) or even pomegranate seeds.

More from Voraciously:

Upgrade your cookout contribution from a boring six-pack to one of these crowd-pleasing recipes

The best way to grill a burger keeps it off the grate

8 trusty tips for hosting a cookout in a public park (no holiday required)