Mason Jar Salads: Bottled Up Creativity

Today during a cooking class we made those Mason jar salads that seem to be everywhere on social media. These are assembled in layers, starting with the dressing and then ending with the fragile lettuce leaves on top. So, how’d it go, assembling salad with kids ranging from age 8-10, and promoting the idea that they might want to actually eat it with dinner?

In the words of my 18-year-old helper, Nick: “Mom, I’ve never seen kids so excited to make SALAD.”

Yep, they loved it. I think it’s because it’s part salad bar, part art project and completely creative. They get to choose what to put in and how much of each ingredient. Jar_salad

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 quart wide mouth glass mason jar. These are standard issue.
  • Salad dressing
  • Assortment of hard veggies — Carrots, celery, cucumbers, onions, cherry tomatoes
  • Assortment of less sturdy or oddly shapped veggies — zucchini, mushrooms, chick peas, corn, black beans, kidney beans, olives
  • Lettuce (we used iceberg, romaine and an assortment of small “fancy” heads. You could use spinach, too.)
  • Topping: Sunflower seeds, raisins, craisins, granola, nuts. (We used sunflower seeds only.) No croutons because they’ll absorb the moisture from the lettuce, etc. and become weird bread pieces.


  • Cooked pasta (Rotini, fusilli, elbow work well)
  • Cheese
  • Meat (chicken, turkey, tuna, or even hard-boiled eggs)

By “sturdy,” I mean veggies that don’t soak up dressing. The important part of this is the attention to the layering process, so the final product isn’t pickley and soggy. Yuck. Instead, let’s make something that’s “yum”:

  1. Add dressing. We made oil and vinegar using 3 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp vinegar. Stir with a fork to emulsify.
  2. Add sturdy veggies. We used cucumbers, carrots, a little bit of onion and cherry tomatoes.
  3. Add next group of veggies. We used beans and corn.
  4. Add lettuce. Some used all different kinds, others none.
  5. Add pasta. We used rotini. Those that opted against lettuce used pasta.
  6. Finish with topping. If you are using cheese and meat, put those in and THEN the topping.

Pictured is one made for my hubby’s lunch tomorrow, using pasta and tuna. Aren’t they pretty? The kids today made really beautiful jarred salads. Using different types of lettuce really gives the meal a richer look, I think.

Ideally, this should fill the glass jar, eliminating any air gap. If you are eating within the next day, a gap shouldn’t matter. I know people who pack five of these on Sunday and use one a day for lunch. If that’s your plan, fill it to the top. Either way, use glass jars because the contents keep fresher longer. Remember too, to dump it on a substantial size plate, that way the dressing will be on top. Of course there’s nothing wrong with eating it upside down (especially if you’re at work and forgot the plate. Not sure I’d want to eat on one of those “community” plates in the lunchroom!)

Now enjoy your work and eat!

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