Salad in a jar

This article was originally published in January 2015

Healthy, portable and versatile, mason jar salads are the perfect weekday lunch solution. Thanks to an easy layering technique and glass storage, they’ll keep for up to five days, so you can make them over the weekend and enjoy fresh salad all week long.

The basic method is simple, with room for creativity and your own personal tastes. Whether you have three layers or seven is up to you. Just make sure there are enough ingredients between the bottom layer (dressing) and the top layer (greens) so the greens stay crisp and don’t succumb to sogginess.If possible, use wide-mouth jars as you’ll have an easier time getting the ingredients in and out. Pint-sized jars are great for side salads with just a few ingredients while quart-sized jars are best for an entree-size salad with multiple components.


Layer 1: Dressing

The first layer always will be the dressing. Choose a vinaigrette or go with something creamy; drizzle your desired amount on the bottom of the jar.

Layer 2: Hearty vegetables

What you put in this layer needs to hold up well and withstand being submerged in dressing for several days. Think hearty vegetables that often are marinated or pickled — cucumbers, radishes, onions, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus, etc.

Layer 3: Other vegetables

Here you’ll add ingredients that still may be heavy but you don’t necessarily want sitting in dressing. They’ll still act as a barrier to the salad greens and a little exposure to the dressing won’t be the end of the world. Think mushrooms, zucchini, avocados, butternut squash, corn, etc.

Layer 4: Beans, pasta and grains

Garbanzo beans, small-shaped pasta, couscous, quinoa, farro and rice are all tasty possibilities for this layer. If you don’t want to include beans or grains, that’s totally fine too.

Layer 5: Proteins

It’s best to keep these items away from the dressing. Think diced ham or chopped bacon, shredded Parmesan, blue cheese crumbles, cubed feta, etc.

Layer 6: Greens

Finally, the lettuce! Or arugula, spinach, mixed greens, kale, etc.

Layer 7: Fruit, nuts and seeds

Certain fruit, such as berries, are delicate and easily can get mushy. Adding them on the very top ensures they’ll be protected and kept fresh. Same goes for nuts, such as chopped walnuts or slivered almonds, which can lose their crunch.


3 salads to try

From layer 1 to layer 7.

Italian Pasta Salad

  1. balsamic vinaigrette

  2. cherry tomatoes

  3. artichoke hearts

  4. kalamata olives

  5. cooked tortellini

  6. goat cheese

  7. spinach or arugula

Crunchy Thai Salad

  1. sesame-ginger vinaigrette

  2. carrots

  3. cabbage

  4. snow peas

  5. cooked brown rice

  6. spinach

  7. peanuts

Sunny Kale Salad

  1. lemon or poppyseed dressing
  2. radishes
  3. sweet onions
  4. avocados
  5. baby kale or mixed greens
  6. walnuts
  7. tangerine segments

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