Over the last year I have been a mason jar salad making queen. I absolutely love making these salads and really can’t imagine life without them. There are now 100s of mason jar ideas floating around pinterest so I am not sure who the original brain child for mason jar salads is but whoever you are you are my hero. Seriously, I love you.
Through trial and error, I feel I have become quite the expert on making mason jar salads so I wanted to do a follow up tutorial to the mini one I did a year ago.
Before I get to the step by step instructions and recipe round up I want to first go over some common questions I get every time I post a new mason jar salad recipe. Hopefully, I get them all but if you have a question you don’t see answered here leave a comment below and I will respond with an answer.
Common Mason Jar Salad Questions
What size mason jar do you use?
I use wide mouth quart size mason jars for my mason jar salads. These make for a lot of salad so if you wanted to use a smaller size you certainly could. But that is the size I use. I highly recommend whatever size you use get wide mouth. It makes it much easier to fill up and dump out the ingredients. No matter what size you use always follow the same steps for layering that I am going to show you below.
Where do I buy mason jars?
Mason jars are sometimes tricky to find. I originally purchased mine at Wegmans in the baking section. However, that does not mean they will always be in that section because in other stores I have seen them stocked next to the storage containers or even in the kitchen utensil section. Sometimes I think stores are just not sure where to put mason jars so if you can’t find them then ask someone.
Also, between salads, crafts, and the many other uses for mason jars they are becoming quite the hot item to find so it is very likely they could be sold out too. If that is the case or if you don’t feel like searching all over town you can always order them off Amazon. In fact, next time I need mason jars I am most likely just going to get them from Amazon because they have every size available and really who has the time to search these out.
Why do you use mason jars and not plastic containers?
I have used both plastic and glass jars to store salads in and I prefer mason jars for a few different reasons. First, in my experience, I feel the mason jar keep my salad fresh for much longer. I have eaten a mason jar salad 7 days after making it and it was just as fresh as the first day. Can’t say the same for plastic containers. You get a better seal with a mason jar than with a plastic container so that helps to keep food fresh longer.
Also, the whole appeal (at least to me) behind mason jar salads is that you can store the salad dressing in the same container. Therefore you don’t have to worry about remembering to bring dressing with you. Or bringing dressing to work only to have other people use it and when you need it the dressing is gone. Just sayin…if you work in an office you know that happens. Now bringing salad dressing with you might not be an issue for some of you but for me it was. I cannot tell you the number of times I would bring a salad with me and forget the salad dressing. Mason jars are the perfect shape that let you put the salad dressing on the bottom and layer the rest of the ingredients on top so you never have to worry about forgetting dressing. I was never able to successfully do this with plastic containers. This brings me to next common question…
Doesn’t the lettuce get soggy?
I can honestly say that in the year I have been making mason jar salads I have never had soggy lettuce – not one time. Even the times my jar tips over in my bag and the dressing sneaks up to the lettuce everything is still fine. The key to non-soggy lettuce is to layer ingredients correctly and keep the dressing and lettuce away from each other. I will go over all that below.
Do the ingredients layered in the dressing get soggy?
In order for a mason jar salad to work you need to have hearty vegetables acting as a barricade between the dressing and lettuce. I typically use tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and onions. Basically, these vegetables end up pickling in the dressing so any vegetable that you think would taste good pickled would be fine in the barricade layer. By the end of the week these are delicious. The tomatoes pickle the best and are definitely my favorite part of the salad.
I don’t like tomatoes, what other vegetable can I use?
Like I said above any hearty vegetable that you think would taste good pickled would do fine in the dressing. I give more examples of hearty vegetables to use in the “how to” instructions below.
How long do mason jar salads last?
I make these salads to eat during the week for work so I always eat them within 5 days. So at minimum they will last at least 5 days. However, I have had one 6-7 days after I made them and they were still fresh. So depending on the ingredients mason jar salads can last 5-7 days in the refrigerator.
Doesn’t the avocado turn brown?
I use avocado in my mason jar salads sometimes, especially when I make my cobb salad. Whenever I do I always squirt either lime or lemon juice on it before I layer it into the mason jar salad. That combined with being in the mason jar seems to do the trick with keeping the avocado green. I think the mason jar does a great job of keeping air out so this helps to keep the avocado fresh as well.
Do you vacuum seal your mason jars?
No I do not. I just fill them with ingredients, put the top on, and twist it closed. I have never had an issue with freshness doing it this way so I personally do not see a need to use a vacuum seal.
How do you eat the mason jar salads? Do you eat them straight from the jar?
I shake the salads then dump into another bowl I bring with me. When I first started to eat these I tried eating them from the jar but it was just a little to akward for me. I prefer putting into a bowl. Now some people think that is too much work or too many bowls to bring to work. But honestly it does not bother me at all. I just grab a medium to large glad container or use a glass bowl at work. I find the benefits of eating a fresh healthy delicious salad every day outweigh the annoyance of bringing a bowl with me.
Do you have to use a mason jar? Or can you use any glass jar?
I have only used mason jar salad but as long as the jar has a tight fitting lid I am sure any glass container would do.
Are these salads difficult to transport? They seem heavy.
Glass is certainly heavier than plastic but I would not consider these so heavy that they become a burden to transport. My husband uses a lunch bag that keeps his pretty stable and I throw mine into a canvas bag. Again, it is a small price to pay for eating a healthy homemade lunch everyday.
Are there better dressings than others to use?
I think it completely depends on your taste. I have used both vinaigrettes and creamy dressings. My personal favorites are the vinaigrettes because I love the way the tomatoes and other vegetables taste after they have been marinating in it all week. But the creamy dressings are good too. The thing to keep in mind with the creamier dressing is you have to shake the jar a bit more to get it all out. Not a biggie but just one difference between the creamy and vinaigrettes dressings.
Again, if I missed any of your questions let me know if the comments and I will update the post as needed.
Okay, now let’s get to the “how to” part of this mason jar salad tutorial.
Layer 1: The Dressing
The first layer of the mason jar salad is always the dressing. You can use any type of dressing you like. As I said I prefer a vinaigrette dressing but I do like a creamy ranch and blue cheese too. It completely depends on your preference. Also, like I said before the vinaigrette dressing will come out of the mason jar easier. If you use a thicker dressing you will have to give it a good shake and probably use your fork to scrape it out. I use between 2-3 tablespoons of dressing. Currently I use bottle dressings but you can certainly use homemade dressing if you want.
Layer 2: Hearty Vegetables
This layer is very important because it is used to shield the dressing from the lettuce and other vulnerable ingredients. In this layer you would use vegetables that can hold up to being in dressing for a week or so. Like I said think vegetables that would do well in a marinade or pickled. Vegetables I have used are tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, celery, carrots, peppers, and any other hearty vegetable you like.
Layer 3: Beans and Other Less Hearty Vegetables
This layer is where you will put beans and other less hearty vegetables like mushrooms, zucchini, sprouts, green beans, corn etc if you choose to use them. If you are using an avocado then that would be in this layer too. Basically, this layer acts as a second defense between the dressing and lettuce. You don’t want this layer marinating in the dressing but it will be fine should some of the ingredients get exposed.
Layer 4: Pasta and Grain Layer
This layer is where you add your pasta and/or other grain if using. At this point the other 1-2 layers should keep the dressing away from this layer. However, if by some chance dressing does make its way to this layer no worries everything should be fine. For pasta and grains you can use any type of pasta, rice, couscous, and/or quinoa. Really anything would work so get creative.
Layer 5: Protein and Cheese
In this layer I put meat, eggs, and cheese. I like to keep these ingredients away from the dressing because I do not feel they do well if sitting in dressing for a couple days or more. If you are using shrimp or other seafood I would add those ingredients to this layer. For cheese, I have used blue cheese crumbles, feta cheese, goat cheese, shredded cheese, and cubed cheese in my mason jar salad. Each of them has worked fine
Layer 6: Lettuce, nuts, and seeds.
In this last layer you want to put ingredients that would wilt or become to soft and soggy if exposed to dressing to soon. This definitely includes any type of lettuce or green. I also included nuts in this layer because I have found that the nuts at times lose their crunch if to close to the first layer. My favorite green to use are arugula, baby spinach, and field greens. But of course you can use whatever you prefer.
After you fill the mason jar with the different salad layers you just put the top on and close tight.
Also, there is really no rule with the amount of ingredients to put in each layer or that you must include all layers. The most important layer is the layer 2 with the hearty veggies. You just want to make sure to have enough ingredients to keep the dressing and lettuce away from each other. If you are concerned with calories or the nutritional information in the mason jar salads you can always calculate that information ahead of time using My Fitness Pal. I show you how to do that in this post.
If you would like to watch a quick “how to” video on making a mason jar salad check out this one by Lisa from Whole Foods. It is easy to follow and shows you exactly how to put one together.
Here are some mason jar salad recipes from Organize Yourself Skinny.
Mason Jar Salad Recipes from other blogs.
And here are some other helpful blog posts on creating mason jar salads.
Salad in a Jar 101 by Back to her Roots
And here is a list of Pinterest Boards dedicated to mason jar salads.
As I find other boards I will add them to this list.
I love mason jar salads and I hope you found the information in this tutorial helpful so you can also start to enjoy them as much as I do. As I get more information and or recipes I will update this tutorial.