Learn how to layer healthy Mason jar salads by strategically layering your greens, cheese, grains, meats, and salad dressing to ensure a crisp salad.
Mason jar salads are a convenient way to prep a healthy lunch in a portable container. What I love about them is how customizable they are. With just a few little tricks to help your salad remain crispy and not soggy, you have a great way of planning ahead.
One of the most important things I feel when it comes to meal prep is that there is variety. You don’t want to deal with getting bored with your lunch every day because then you’re just not excited to eat it, and we want you to have something to look forward to at lunchtime.
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Reasons you will love Salad in a Jar
- Meal prep I like to do all my prep on the weekend and then your free for meals the rest of the week.
- Money-saving this recipe is a great money saver instead of overspending on takeout because that is very easy to do. Bring a great healthy homemade lunch
- Healthier mason jar salads make it easy to add a lot more vegetables to you daily intake and if you want a boost of protein, you can add that too.
- Lots of customization you can the same salad every week and switch up the ingredients and never end up with the same salad every day.
Let’s talk about all the layers
Let’s talk about what you will need to create a jar salad. The great thing about creating your own salad recipe with what you have on hand or customizing an existing salad recipe by simply layering in the ingredients
First layer: the salad dressing
- The first layer is always the salad dressing, and you can use any dressing you like. I like to use a vingerette, but you can always use a creamy dressing like ranch or blue cheese or a simple olive oil and vingerette dressing; it can be anything you want it to be.
- A tip when choosing your dressing for your jar is that if you choose an oil-based or vingerette dressing, it will come out of the jar a little bit easier. If you use a creamy and thicker dressing, you have to give it a good shake or scrape the inside with a fork to get all the delicious dressing out.
- Depending on the size of your jar, I like to use around 2–4 tablespoons of dressing.
Second layer: Vegetables
This layer is essential because it prevents the lettuce and other ingredients from getting in touch with the dressing, which can make things soggy. You are looking for vegetables that can hold up to sitting in the dressing for a week or so.
What you want to think of here are vegetables that you would want to marinate or pickle. Here are a few suggestions:
- Cherry tomato
- Red Onion
Any hard, hearty vegetable you like can be added here.
Third layer: Beans and other softer vegetables
This is the layer where you will want to add your beans and softer vegetables. You can use a softer vegetable here because they are not touching the vingerette like the last layer.
- black beans
- sprouts (alfalfa, mung bean, or radish)
- green beans
This layer is used to also make sure the lettuce and the dressing stay separate until you’re ready for them to mix together. You want this layer to stay away from the dressing layer, but it will be ok if they do mingle a little bit.
If you’re wanting to use a soft fruit like avocado this is where you would want to put it.
Fourth Layer: Pasta and Grains
This is the layer to which you want to add your pasta and grains, and this is only if you want them; this is an optional layer. But it is great if you want to use a variety of grains, pastas, or even gluten-free pasta, so it allows you to be pretty creative.
Fifth layer: protein and cheese
I like to have this layer in there because a good boost of protein is always great in a healthy salad. I like to keep these ingredients out of the dressing; I just don’t feel they do very well if they sit in the dressing for a few days or more. This is why I like to have them higher up in the layers.
- boiled eggs
- Feta Cheese
- goat cheese
- grated cheddar cheese
- cubed cheese
- blue cheese
If you have a favorite cheese you can put it into this jar.
Sixth layer: lettuce, nuts, and seeds
This is the last salad layer; you want to put ingredients that would become wilted and soggy if they touched the salad dressing.
This layer includes any lettuce or greens. I also like to add nuts in this layer because if they are near the dressing in the jar, they will lose the crunch in the dressing, and you want to avoid this.
- Baby spinach
- Romaine lettuce
- Field greens
Nuts and Seeds
- sliver almonds
- flax seeds
- pumpkin seeds
- soy nuts
- pine nuts
- sunflower seeds
These are just a few of my favorites, but you can use your favorite blend of greens, nuts, and seeds.
Final Step: Seal and store in the fridge
After you have filled your jar with all your delicious salad layers, you can place a lid on top and close it tightly.
When you’re putting in your ingredients, there is no rule of how many ingredients there need to be in each layer. The only layer I feel needs to be specific is the 2nd layer. You want enough of the hearty vegetables to keep the dressing and lettuce away from each other, so I like to make that a chunkier layer, so sometimes I will add 2 or 3 of the items on that list, like tomatoes, cucumbers, and cauliflower, which are my favorites.
How to serve jar salads
When it comes to this part, there are two ways of doing it, and it will depend on where you are when you are eating your salad.
You can eat this delicious salad right from the jar; just give it a little shake to mix the salad dressing in with the rest of your salad components. Grab a fork and enjoy!
The second option is that if you are at home, you can pour the salad into a bowl; you more than likely will not need to toss it since everything will come from the bottom onto the plate.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does a salad in a jar last?
If stored properly, most salads in a jar can last 4-5 days in the fridge. Just remember that some ingredients will last longer than others in the fridge. If you’re making multiple jars of salad for meal planning, I recommend eating the jars with the veggies first, which might not make them as long.
Why do you use mason jars and not plastic containers?
I have used both plastic and glass jars, but I prefer to use a jar for a few reasons.
In my experience, a jar will keep the salad fresh longer. I have been able to eat a salad 7 days after making it and it is still fresh. I have not had this experience with plastic. For 2-3 days, it will stay fresh, and the reason for this is because the jar will keep out a lot of air where the plastic doesn’t.
What I love about the jar salad is that you can store everything in one container. So you don’t have to worry about remembering the dressing or finding a spot to store your container.
How long do certain dressings stay fresh in the fridge?
Depending on the type of dressing you are using, it will last between 5 and 7 days. Typically, vinegar- and oil-based dressings last for 5 days, yoghurt dressing for 7 days, and hummus dressing for 7 days.
What’s the best jar to use?
I like to use a wide-mouth pint to a pint and half size that’s around 16–24 ounces. It really depends on how much you want to eat. Whichever size you use, I highly recommend using a wide-mouth jar; it makes it easier to fill it up and dump out the ingredients. Whichever size you decide on, you want to make sure to follow the layering guidelines above.