Nothing says summer like fresh coleslaw. In fact, I can have this cabbage-based side dish all year. I love how its crunchy texture and tangy dressing add a burst of flavor to any meal or snack.
Besides, it is a prudent strategy to dispose of a head of cabbage from the fridge before it starts to rot. However, to avoid soggy slaw, the cabbage must be salted and drained. Regrettably, this process takes time.
So, what if you’re short of time or simply want to try something new? Can you microwave coleslaw?
The answer is a resounding yes, you can microwave coleslaw! Microwaving is a quick and easy way to draw out water from the cabbage without waiting hours. The result is a crunchy, light slaw that pairs well with other ingredients. Make sure to microwave in short increments to avoid limp, cooked cabbage.
For more insights on microwaving coleslaw, whether it’s nutritious, how long it takes to microwave, step-by-step instructions, and much more, please read on!
Is Coleslaw Good for You?
Coleslaw is a nutritious powerhouse as long as it isn’t unduly laden in mayonnaise or other unhealthy oils and dressings.
You see, mayonnaise is a high-calorie dressing with little nutritional value whatsoever. For instance, it contains 1440 calories per cup – more than an entire day’s worth of saturated fat. Additionally, its sodium content is way too high, accounting for about half of the recommended daily intake for adults.
In other words, don’t drench your coleslaw in mayo or purchase store-bought varieties containing tons of hidden sugars and fats. Instead, opt for a light vinaigrette or creamy dressing made with healthy ingredients such as Greek yogurt.
Oh, and did I mention that coleslaw packs a punch when it comes to fiber, vitamin C and beta-carotene? That’s right! Cabbage, its base ingredient, boosts your immunity and promotes heart health thanks to its rich supply of antioxidants. It also reduces cancer risk, improves digestion, and protects bone density.
Bottom line: if you make smart choices like choosing a low-fat dressing, fresh veggies, and lean proteins, this simple side dish can become a delicious part of your weekly routine.
Can You Microwave Coleslaw
Yes, microwaving is a quick and effective way to draw out water from coleslaw and turn it into a deliciously crunchy, light side dish.
As previously mentioned, cabbage is the main ingredient in coleslaw. However, despite its many health benefits, it has one major drawback that makes it undesirable for dressing salads. It is mostly water, which results in a soggy dish if not properly drained.
I know that feeling all too well. A hot summer day beckons you to the backyard barbecue with its tantalizing aroma of grilled steak and freshly baked corn on the cob. Your stomach starts growling in anticipation, only to find an unappealing pool of water at the bottom of your coleslaw plate. What a bummer!
If this sounds familiar, I’ve good news for you.
One possible solution is to salt and drain your cabbage before mixing it with other ingredients. However, there is one setback to this approach: it takes time. And I’m not talking about a few minutes here. Depending on the size of your cabbage head, it could take up to four hours to adequately extract the water. Let’s be honest; who has time for that?
Luckily, there is another option: the microwave. My immediate reaction was, “No way.” After all, microwaves have a bad rep for overheating, uneven cooking, and generally ruining food. Nevertheless, curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to give it a shot.
Surprisingly, my fears were unfounded! In less than 5 minutes, I had a delicious, crunchy cabbage slaw perfect for any BBQ side dish.
A quick note: microwaving only expedites the process of drawing out the water from the coleslaw, not cooking it.
What Happens When You Heat Coleslaw?
Typically, it depends on various factors, including:
- The Coleslaw Brand: Mayo-based coleslaws are prone to splitting or curdling when heated. Remember, mayonnaise is an emulsion, and overheating can cause the oil and water to separate, altering the flavor of your slaw. As a result, I recommend not dressing your slaw until you’re ready to serve it.
- Time: If heated for too long, the cabbage becomes limp and may even start to cook at the edges. Furthermore, the nutrients significantly diminish, rendering the dish unhealthy. However, if exposed to heat for just enough time, coleslaw becomes tender without losing its crunchy texture and taste.
- Toxins: Store-bought coleslaw comes packed in plastic containers. When exposed to heat, they melt, leaching toxic chemicals into your salad. As a result, I suggest heating your coleslaw in heatproof dishes, especially when using a microwave.
How Long Does It Take to Microwave Coleslaw?
Generally, it will take one head of shredded cabbage about 3 minutes to heat in the microwave.
The goal here is to extract the water without cooking the cabbage. When you microwave it for longer than necessary, the result is limp, soggy coleslaw, which no one likes. Worse, it gives off a sulfur-like odor that permeates the kitchen.
Finding a sweet spot between the right cooking time and microwave power levels can be tricky. You want your cabbage to be light, crunchy, and not slimy and cooked. As a result, I find microwaving in short bursts rather than one long session to work best for me. This way, I can control the process and stop the microwave as needed.
However, bear in mind that time may vary depending on various factors. For instance, a high-wattage microwave cooks faster than a lower-wattage. Furthermore, thicker cabbage slices will take longer to cook than thinner ones, while thawed ones will take less time.
My advice, start with less time and keep an eye on things as you go. If no water is drawn after three minutes, give them another 30 seconds before checking again.
How To Microwave Coleslaw
Now that we’ve established that microwaving is the quickest way to extract water from coleslaw let’s get into the actual procedure.
- In a large bowl, mix one head of shredded cabbage, ½ cup of salt and two tablespoons of sugar with a wooden spoon. The salt acts as a dehydrator, removing water content from the vegetable, while the sugar balances the flavor profile.
- Transfer the mixture into a microwave-safe bowl or dish. Make sure it’s deep enough to hold all the cabbage, but not so much that it doesn’t fit in your microwave.
- Place the bowl in the microwave, loosely covered with plastic wrap (to prevent splatter).
- Microwave it in 30-second bursts for about 3 minutes, or until no water remains.
- Remove the bowl from the microwave and set it aside for at least 5 minutes to allow the leaves to soften.
- Once the time elapses, use tongs to transfer half of the cabbage, or a handful, to a clean dish towel.
- Hold both ends of the towel to form a package-like shape. Twist the towel tightly, squeeze out any excess water, and then transfer to a clean bowl. Repeat the process with the remaining cabbage. And that’s it!
- Now, mix in your favorite ingredients for your signature slaw recipe. Serve alone or on top of your favorite sandwich; I like to tuck this crunchy condiment into my roast beef sandwiches.
How Long Does Coleslaw Last in The Fridge?
Coleslaw is a short-term dish and lasts 3-4 days in an airtight container or a zipper-lock bag in the fridge.
Avoid generic supermarket brands as they are often laden with mayonnaise and other additives that spoil quickly. Instead, opt for a homemade recipe or vinegar-based coleslaw to keep it fresher for longer.
Furthermore, do not leave coleslaw out at room temperature for more than 2 hours as bacteria thrive rapidly between 40°F and 140°F. Keep coleslaw separate from raw meat and fish dishes to avoid cross-contamination.
And if you notice moldy green parts on your slaw or a foul smell, don’t eat it; throw it away!
A microwave is one of the most convenient appliances for making crunchy coleslaw.
It quickly saves you hours you would have otherwise spent salting and draining cabbage the traditional way. Just make sure to microwave in short intervals to avoid limp, soggy and cooked vegetables.
Furthermore, for a healthy coleslaw recipe, opt for vinegar-based versions instead of mayo dressings. When heated, mayonnaise curdles, resulting in a lumpy and greasy slaw.