The Ultimate Mason Jar Salad Tutorial and Recipe Round Up

The Ultimate Mason Jar Salad Tutorial and Recipe Round Up. How to make Salad in a Jar. Mason Jar Salad Recipes

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.

masonjar1

 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.

masonjar2

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.

masonjar3

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

masonjar5

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.

masonjar4

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.

Here are some mason jar salad recipes from Organize Yourself Skinny.

Fresh Mozzarella and Spinach

Tortellini and Artichoke

Chopped Black Bean and Corn

Buffalo Chicken

Greek

Chopped Taco

Chopped Cobb

Bell Peppers, Veggies, and Goat Cheese

Mason Jar Salad Recipes from other blogs.

Citrus Shrimp and Avocado Mason Jar Salad

Antipasto Mason Jar Salad

Shrimp Feta Cobb Mason Jar Salad

Glowing Green Mason Jar Salad

Spring Pea with Romaine, Radish, and Feta with Buttermilk Ranch

Zucchini Pasta Salad with Avocado Spinach Dressing

Quinoa Salad in A Jar (4 recipes)

And here are some other helpful blog posts on creating mason jar salads.

How to Pack the Perfect Salad in a Jar by the Kitchn

How to Make Mason Jar Salads that Last by Kitchen Daily

Salad in a Jar 101 by Back to her Roots

And here is a list of Pinterest Boards dedicated to mason jar salads.

My Mason Jar Salad Pinterest Board

Pinterest Board 1

Pinterest Board 2

Pinterest Board 3

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.

Comments

  1. Great post – awesome tips! Thanks for including me!

  2. Made my first jars (Cobb salad with goat cheese dressing) yesterday and had my first one for lunch today. Although my avocado did turn brown despite adding lime juice prior to putting in the jar- it still tasted amazing! Looking forward to trying out a different recipe from here each week!!!

  3. Bridget Taylor says:

    My chicken lost it’s rotisserie flavoring and became “mushy” after only 4 days. It was not soaking in the dressing. It lost it’s texture. I layered it last before layering my spinach. Just wondering what I could have done wrong. Didn’t mind it losing the flavoring but was disappointed in the mushy texture. Thanks for all you do!

  4. Is this all that you eat for lunch or do you usually pack other items to eat as well?

  5. Tammy, does it matter what jar lid you use as far as freshness goes? We have the plastic lids that fit the mason jars and i would think buying the regular jar lids would become costly. Do you know if the plastic lids work just as good as the metal lids?(I’m new here and haven’t tried making the salads yet)

    • the plastic lids should work fine. Also the seals and rings that come with the mason jars are re-usable in this application. The only time they are not re-usable is when you use them to actual can (water bath or under pressure) you can not re-use the lids can with again (water bath or pressure) but, you can use the seals for dry storage or for your salads.

  6. Hello, I love this idea! im new to this site, but i am wondering is this possible with fruits and parfaits as well?

    • I am have not tried it with parfaits yet but I know my writer Paula has and she loves them. I will have to give it a try.

    • It’s not quite a parfait but every Sunday when I make my salads I also make five little jars of fridge oats – 1/2 cup rolled (not quick) oats, teaspoon of chia seeds, 1/2 cup skim milt (plus a dash if like me you like your oats to have a bit of fluid) and then top with berries or fruit. You could use nuts and seeds as well. Best.breakfast.ever.

    • Parfaits are awesome!! I use a 4 oz jelly jar place 1/3 c yogurt in bottom top with a couple of ounces of favorite fruit or fruit combo and sprinkle on some homemade granola. I’ve made enough for one a day for a week.

  7. Do you have problems with hard-boiled eggs staying fresh, if you make them 4-5 days ahead??

    • We make boiled eggs all the time and keep them in a bowl on the counter until they’re gone. We’ve never had one go bad. l They are usually there at least a week. :)

  8. I too have fallen in love with this little piece of lunch magic. The only thing that I would add to your fantastic post is that I often used canned beans and lentils and put them on the bottom layer. Also, while I agree re other cheeses, feta is great marinated in dressing so I also put it in the bottom layer.

    I hadn’t thought that chicken/eggs/avocado would last so haven’t used those but will give it a go on your advice.

    I’ve never had an issue with lettuce either though that’s more because I have not yet had room left in the jar!!

  9. Thanks for all the info! I have one more question for you: is it important to fill the jar to the brim and pack the ingredients tightly? Or some air space at the top ok? Thanks!

  10. Hi Tammy!

    This question was asked before but I didn’t see an answer – sorry if you already posted it. But what kind of lid do you use for your Mason jars? The two piece pickling kind? Or the one piece? Thanks!

  11. valerie says:

    Hi there,

    thanks for these helpful hints.
    wondering what size jar do you normally use, 12 oz or 32 oz. does a 12 oz size keep you full? just concerned I might still get hungry.

  12. Silly question. Do you then refrigerate the mason jars? I’m assuming you refrigerate them.

  13. Elisabeth Lilly says:

    Thank you so much for posting such a thorough explanation of all things involved with Mason Jar Salads. I have been wanting to try it, but I thought I was going to have to invest in a vacuum sealer or something. If you don’t have to seal it, you don’t have to keep buying new seals! I’m excited to give it a try! Time to organize myself skinny! :-D

    • Elisabeth Lilly says:

      I do have a question. You said your husband takes it in a paper bag. I’m thinking about letting my son take these to school because he loves salad so much. I think he would have a blast designing different jars as well! My question is: Does he need to keep it cold at school? I figured if your husband brown bags it that he doesn’t keep it cold between leaving and lunch.

  14. Vera Klug says:

    You stated you did not know where Mason jar salads originated. Possibly from Paula Rhodes of saladinajar.com. You’ve added lots of innovative ideas to it!

  15. Shelley Wood says:

    I love this idea…salad in a jar! You have listed loads of options that I could make a different salad for each day for a long long time! I love salads; having a variety to choose from i dont think i would ever get bored/sick of eating salad each day. Thanks for this tutorial it was well done and full of wonderfully tasty ideas. =)’

  16. I won’t tell my whole story. But I am a 73-year-old great grandmother with lots of life left if I can get this blubbery fat gone from my body. Certainly, I have not decided it is time to die. So, I’m giving this weight thing another try…my millionth! Thanks to your Mason Jar Salads.

    Thanks for your inspiration. I hope you’ll follow me some, as I am following you. I look forward to the adventure. And of course, I am organizing to be organized to allow SOME pleasure with family on the 4th!

  17. Thanks for the inspiration! I hope you’ll visit my blog soon.

  18. Lori Hayes says:

    I am excited to start making these salads! I think since I am always obsessive about freshness, I will put my chicken, eggs etc… In the salads I will eat first and as the week goes by, I will be eating the salads with ham, bacon, and such. I know this will be so much fun and good for you. Thanks!

  19. I typically don’t use dressing, but I love a little fruit in my salads, typically apples & berries. In which layer do I put fruit?

  20. I love these salads. Dried fruit, like cranberries are a good add in. Also, I add a folded papertowel on top of the lettuce then close it with the lid. It absorbs any moisture, keeping thinks crispy.

  21. Lagonda says:

    I have the same question about fruit. I have an asian salad I like that uses mandarin oranges. And a couple that use berries or apples.

  22. Happy am I and who says I can’t cook, my fridge is my happy oven! TY

  23. Do you have to pack the jar tight to keep it fresh?

  24. Irma Lucy says:

    Hi, I hope this is not a stupid question, do the jars need to be heated and then cooled before adding the salad ingredients? I’ve been reading a lot about how to use the Mason jars for preserving other than salads and it mentioned heating the mason jars.

  25. Lorri Grimsley says:

    Can hardly wait to try this out.

  26. Hi :)

    I really wanna try these. Will sliced hard boiled eggs and meats be ok in the jar by Friday if you make them for the whole week?

  27. Jennifer says:

    This is genius. I am enjoying my first salad al desko from a jar and it is fabulous. Thanks so much for the tutorial. No more expensive takeout salads for me!

  28. It seems and makes sense that the cherry tomatoes is the best thing to use after the dressing, BUT what would you say is the very next best thing to use? I cannot eat raw tomatoes.

  29. It seems and is understandable that the cherry tomato is the best thing to use after the dressing, BUT what is the very next best thing to use? I cannot eat raw tomatoes.
    Thank You, Jackie

    • FarmFashionista says:

      Why not try, thick slices of the mini-seedless cucumbers like she has in the photo in place of the tomatoes? They are pretty crispy / hard and would keep the other stuff out of your dressing.

    • If you can’t eat tomatoes, olives make a great substitute and “pickle” really well.

  30. Gayle Zuehlke says:

    Do you wash the lettuce first?

  31. Just found your post after a little “salad in a jar” search on Google — so comprehensive! I love it! I keep hearing about mason jar salads and I love that you put together this guide with links for recipe inspiration. Thank you! I’m sharing it for sure…

  32. I wanted to thank you for introducing me to the mason salad jars. I pack mine on Sunday nights and have lunch all week. I’ve even shared the idea with several friends.

  33. How do you wash the jars and lids and seals? Can you put them ALL in a dishwasher? Also… I would love it if you provided some sort of printable step-by-step instruction I could print out to refer to while making my jars for the first few times. ;)

  34. Thanks for the tutorial…is there a way I can print this off ??? I would love to have this in a concise sheet so that I could pass it along to others …thanks

  35. Fantastic web site. Lots of useful information here. I am
    sending it to several friends ans also sharing in delicious.

    And obviously, thank you to your effort!

  36. Tammy,
    Thank you so much for linking to my Glowing Green Mason Jar Salad. Your tutorial is fantastic and I linked it to my “Featured On… page” and I will definitely be sharing it with my readers on FB. I love all the healthy and sensible tips that you share on your site. Thank you!

  37. Dottie Taylor says:

    I apparently love grape tomatoes as much as you do. Slicing them was slowing me down though. I tried putting them between two container lids but had trouble getting my knife all the way through. I found Good Grips Grape and Tomato slicing guide on Amazon. Love it! Really made slicing the tomatoes fast. Though I’d share.

  38. Many people have asked about adding eggs and meat to the salads. I have been eating salads in a jar for about 5 months. I make enough for the week on Sunday. When I add meat or eggs I put them between my pasta/grains and lettuce layer ( I don’t add cheese if I did that would go on top of my eggs). I have never had an issue with my Friday salad. Everything has been very fresh. One note to that is that I don’t use canned meat or anything too juicy. If I added anything from a can (tuna/chicken) I would make sure to drain and pat it dry. I like to use the pre cooked and seasoned chicken like Tyson or Kraft carving board.

  39. Have you had any problems with cruciferous vegetables? I’ve made my first batch of mason jar salads today using your principles. When I posted on FB several friends said I shouldn’t have used broccoli and cauliflower because the gasses will build up in the mason jars. Have you found this to be true? Thanks :)

  40. Marie Stewart says:

    This is my favorite dressing. I use it most of the time.

  41. Marie Stewart you didn’t list the dressing. Which one is your favorite that you use all of the time lol

  42. Personally I love Newmans Own Light Raspberry Vinaigrette and his balsamic.

Trackbacks

  1. […] If you are new to the whole mason jar salad idea, let me explain.  A lot of people ask why we are making our salads in glass jars.  First of all, the glass jars keep your veggies fresher and crisper than a plastic container can.  Secondly, the glass jars will keep your salad fresh for up to five days, meaning you can make them ahead of time for the whole week.  I don’t know about you, but I hate having to make my lunch every night.  For further reading, Tammy did a great post detailing her thoughts on mason jar salads that you can read here. […]

  2. […] If you have questions about how to make a mason jar salad or want to check out other recipes then take a look at my Ultimate Mason Jar Salad tutorial. […]

  3. […] Here’s a great tutorial on Make Ahead Salads […]

  4. […] Salad jars: A salad … in a jar! Easy to prep, doesn’t get soggy and tastes delish. Head over to this blog for more info: http://www.organizeyourselfskinny.com/2014/03/17/the-ultimate-mason-jar-salad-tutorial-and-recipe-ro… […]

  5. […] Mason Jar Salads                                 Quinoa Veggie Salad […]

  6. […] To learn more or have all your mason jar salad questions answered check out this recipe tutorial at Organize Yourself Skinny. […]

  7. […] making salads in mason jars! If you haven’t seen this idea yet, enjoy this great primer on how to build the perfect mason jar salad- without the risk of soggy […]

  8. […] recipes and ways to stack it properly. Here are a lot of different recipes on this blog called organizeyourselfskinny . I personally tried it myself and it wasn’t so successful but that doesn’t stop people for […]

  9. […] recipes and ways to stack it properly. Here are a lot of different recipes on this blog called organizeyourselfskinny . I personally tried it myself and it wasn’t so successful but that doesn’t stop people for […]

  10. […] redundant to blog about Salad-In-A-Jar because so many people have already done so (here, here, and here, for example) but it’s all I can think about. And I realized that, notwithstanding the name, […]

  11. […] up the protein, veggies, or dressing gives you many different options! Check out this link here (http://www.organizeyourselfskinny.com/2014/03/17/the-ultimate-mason-jar-salad-tutorial-and-recipe-ro…) that takes you step by step on how to create your own salad in a jar, and has many different […]

  12. […] more details on mason jar salads, check out the Mason Jar Salad Tutorial over at Organize Yourself Skinny.  This site also has tons of mason jar salad […]

  13. […] good looking options out there, click here, here and here. I also love mason jar salads. Click here for some mason jar salad […]

  14. […] on to my next mission…salad in a jar (seriously, this is a game changer for portion control and building healthy eating […]

  15. […] The Ultimate Mason Jar Salad Tutorial and Recipe Round Up […]

  16. […] the hot sauce and instead use mild buffalo sauce. Use sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes Mason Jar Salads This is the most comprehensive list of mason jar salads I have ever seen. What a great idea as a […]

  17. […] The Ultimate Mason Jar Salad Tutorial and Recipe Round Up […]

  18. […] Slim Fast®, ground flax seed, and coconut milk); grapes and decaf coffee for a morning snack; Mason Jar salad for lunch with range dressing; apple or other fruit for a snack in the afternoon, and then […]

  19. […] to Tammy at Organize Yourself Skinny for linking my Glowing Green Mason Jar Salads on her post The Ultimate Mason Jar Salad Tutorial and Recipe Round Up. What an honor it is to be included in one of her […]

  20. […] started making roll ups because sometimes I want a turkey sandwich or wrap for lunch instead of a mason jar salad. The problem is I don’t always want the carbs that come along with that. I am by no means anti […]

  21. […] via The Ultimate Mason Jar Salad Tutorial and Recipe Round Up. […]

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