This Cranberry Coleslaw is a festive fresh side dish that’s perfect for the holidays or absolutely any time of year. With dried cranberries and sunflower kernels, plus a lightly creamy dressing that’s tangy from red wine vinegar, it’s one of the very best coleslaw recipes out there!

Overhead view of a bowl of cranberry coleslaw


Easy Coleslaw with Cranberries and Sunflower Seeds

When you think coleslaw, you likely don’t think cranberries. Neither did I, until just recently. Mom shared this Cranberry Coleslaw recipe with to me, and I’m so glad she did. It’s savory and sweet, so pretty, and absolutely delicious!

Mom originally got this easy coleslaw recipe from my aunt Joan. It comes together in just a few minutes and is packed with texture and flavor. I love how the fresh coleslaw mix and greens onions invite the dried cranberries and sunflower kernels in to play.

And the dressing is different than the ordinary coleslaw, too. It’s tangy and lightly creamy – plus it includes red wine vinegar, a bit unexpected, and so lovely with the cranberries.

While this coleslaw can certainly be enjoyed any time of year, it’s especially beautiful for fall and winter. Talk about a perfect fresh side dish for Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Overhead view of cranberry coleslaw ingredients

What You’ll Need

This dried cranberry recipe requires less than 10 ingredients to make. The perfect quick and easy side dish for any occasion! Scroll down to the recipe box for the measurements.

  • Mayo – I recommend Hellman’s but any quality mayonnaise brand will work. (Don’t use Miracle Whip.)
  • Red wine vinegar – Adds tang and a delicious flavor twist to the dressing.
  • Sugar – Helps to balance the vinegar for a slightly sweeter flavor.
  • Salt & pepper
  • Coleslaw mix – You can shred cabbage and carrots yourself if you want, but I like to keep things easy and start with a packaged mix.
  • Green onion – Adds bright green onion flavor to the coleslaw.
  • Dried cranberries – The star of the dish. The dried cranberries add a pop of color and bursts of chewy, sweet-tart flavor. I like this brand, found at our local Cub Foods and on Amazon.
  • Sunflower kernels – Roasted & salted sunflower kernels add the most flavor and crunchy texture.
Coleslaw ingredients in a bowl

Recipe Variations

This cranberry coleslaw recipe is quite adaptable to whatever you have on hand. Here are several ways to mix it up.

  • Add different nuts. You can substitute sliced or slivered almonds in place of the sunflower seeds if desired. Chopped pecans or walnuts would also be good. I just recommend that the nuts be roasted and salted, for the best texture and flavor.
  • Add an apple or two. Apple pairs well with the cranberries in this dish, plus it adds another layer of fresh crunch. Just core and dice a flavorful apple and fold it into the mix.
  • Add more onion. I sometimes like to add a bit of diced red onion. If you’re an onion fan, give it a try.
  • Use honey instead of sugar. If you prefer a natural sweetener, you can use honey instead of granulated sugar.

How to Make Cranberry Coleslaw

Here’s how to make this easy holiday side dish.

  • Make the dressing. Whisk together the mayo, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper.
  • Combine all ingredients. Add the coleslaw and green onion to a large pour. Pour the dressing over the top then stir to combine.
  • Chill. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Overhead view of a bowl of cranberry coleslaw
  • Serve. Fold in the cranberries and sunflower kernels just before serving. Enjoy!

Seriously, could a fresh salad be any easier?!

Make It In One Bowl

If you want to save on dishes, you can easily make this cranberry coleslaw in just one bowl.

Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a large bowl, then add the coleslaw and green onion on top. Fold to combine, then refrigerate. Just before serving, stir in the cranberries and sunflower seeds.

What to Serve with Cranberry Coleslaw

One reason I love this cranberry coleslaw is that it’s so versatile. It makes a great holiday side dish for both Christmas and Thanksgiving, thanks to the cranberries. Serve it beside grilled turkey tenderloin or mustard pork loin roast or stuffed pork chops as a festive fresh side.

But it can also be served at family gatherings and cookouts throughout the year. You can serve it with a Thanksgiving turkey just as easily as you can with some pulled pork, grilled chicken, and burgers.

But of course, when we’re talking about the best coleslaw recipe, there’s always my mom’s sweet onion & vinegar coleslaw and this classic creamy coleslaw to consider. So many great coleslaw recipes – how to decide?!

Can This Be Made In Advance?

I recommend making this cranberry coleslaw about 2 hours in advance (but wait to add the cranberries and sunflower kernels until right before serving). That’s just enough time for the flavors to meld and chill. If you need to serve it sooner, that’s okay too!

However, I don’t recommend making this too far in advance. This creamy coleslaw is definitely best enjoyed the day it’s made, especially once you add the cranberries and sunflower seeds. After it sits for too long, the sunflower seeds will lose their crunchy texture.

If you do have leftovers, keep them stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

More Holiday Side Dishes:

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Overhead view of a bowl of cranberry coleslaw

Cranberry Coleslaw

Yield: 8 servings
prep time: 10 minutes
total time: 10 minutes
This Cranberry Coleslaw is a festive fresh side dish that's perfect for the holidays or absolutely any time of year. With dried cranberries and sunflower kernels, plus a lightly creamy dressing that's tangy from red wine vinegar, it's one of the very best coleslaw recipes out there!
4.3 Stars (6 Reviews)


  • cup good quality mayonnaise – I recommend Hellman’s
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 16 ounces shredded coleslaw mix
  • ¼ cup sliced green onion
  • cup dried cranberries – I like these dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup roasted salted sunflower kernels – or substitute roasted, salted sliced or slivered almonds


  • In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper.
  • Add coleslaw mix and green onion to a large bowl, then pour dressing over the top. Fold to combine. Refrigerate up to 2 hours prior to serving.
  • Before serving, fold in cranberries and sunflower kernels. Sprinkle a bit more of these, plus some sliced green onion, over the top, if desired.


You can also just mix this in one bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Then add the coleslaw and fold to combine.
Adapted just slightly from a recipe Mom makes, originally shared by my aunt Joan Renelt

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1 Calories: 353kcal Carbohydrates: 33g Protein: 4g Fat: 25g Saturated Fat: 3g Polyunsaturated Fat: 20g Cholesterol: 9mg Sodium: 222mg Fiber: 4g Sugar: 26g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Spoonacular. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
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Overhead view of a bowl of cranberry coleslaw