The Mason jar salad might just be one of the greatest convenient healthy lunches out there. You can pack them out with anything you like, and being able to prep them and pop them in the refrigerator means they’re a phenomenal time-saver too.
On a busy day, you’ve got something fresh and delicious you can just grab, shake, and go. If you’re in a more relaxed mood, you can take your time and pat yourself on the back for sorting out a great meal for yourself. Way to go, past you!
There are some staple things to keep in mind when you’re putting together a mason jar salad. You’d be forgiven for thinking that a salad in a jar might not stay crisp, crunchy and delicious. It’s all in the way that you layer.
Get your dressing in there first, then grains or other solid, dependable ingredients; this is where your chickpeas or quinoa go. Now it’s protein time, providing a base for crunchy vegetables than fruits and toppings (bacon, as a delicious example).
Leafy salad greens go right at the top. Then, when it’s time to dine, just give the jar a quick flick upside down and boom, you’ve got a fully dressed salad.
If you’re decanting your salad into a bowl, your green layer ends up under your toppings and dressing. If you’re eating straight from the jar, you can mix it as you go! Bet your mouth is watering now, but one question remains; what makes a great Mason jar salad?
Well, today is your lucky day because we’ve put together six of the best healthy Mason jar salads that should be in your regular rotation. Try them out; they make a great base for modifying with your own favorite ingredients. One of the great things about salad is that it’s so easy to personalize, so mix it up and make your Mason jar salads everyday masterpieces.
Let’s kick off with a classic. You can’t go wrong with a Cobb salad, packed with protein, vitamins, and a great mix of flavors.
The Cobb is an American legend, a signature dish of the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant and named after its owner, Robert Howard Cobb. Fill up your Mason jar with a great California flavor and tip your hat to Mr Cobb with this amazing, sunshine-filled lunch treat.
This recipe leans heavily on the ranch dressing, combining it with grilled chicken, crumbled blue cheese, the unassuming but fabulously earthy garbanzo bean, and fresh cucumber, tomato, and baby-leaf greens.
Half a cup of grape tomatoes, whole.
Your cooked and cooled chicken, diced.
A handful of garbanzo beans.
Half a cucumber, diced.
Around a tablespoon of crumbled gorgonzola.
A generous handful of baby spring mix lettuce.
Avocado and egg, if you’re adding them, should go on top.
- Add an egg, an avocado, or both for even more protein and deliciousness. You can even switch out the dressing if you fancy, though the ranch is such a good choice you’d be hard-pressed to beat it; honey mustard runs it close though!
- To get your Cobb salad prepped, cook your chicken however you prefer it and let it cool, then start off with your dressing in the base of your Mason jar. Add the rest of the ingredients.
- There you have it, a Cobb salad to go, simply ready to grab out of the fridge when you need it!
The Greek salad is an unassailable classic of the salad world and a great way to get a taste of the Mediterranean at any time. Full of big flavors but still fresh and balanced, this is one salad you’ve got to get in your mason jar salad line-up!
It’s also a winner as a jar salad because it contains no leafy ingredients. Everything in a Greek salad is pretty robust, so you can layer as you choose.
Your classic Greek salad is a simple dish. The main ingredients are olives, feta cheese, cucumber, onion, and tomatoes. You’re going to want a decent punch of oregano in there, and either fresh or dried will do the job.
If you can get hold of Greek oregano, so much the better; it’s got an earthy note that brings this whole dish together. That doesn’t mean that you have to go hunting in your local Mediterranean deli for hours though!
Any and all oregano will work, and you can experiment with different types later to fine-tune your salad.
The Greek salad is also ripe for experimentation and augmentation. Some people like honey in their dressing, while others choose to hew closer to the classic horiatiki with just seasoning and good olive oil.
You can add chopped bell peppers, peperoncini, anchovies, raisins, and eggs; the list goes on and there are loads of recorded variations. In Detroit, for example, you’ll find Greek salads often include beets!
Just think about what flavors pair well with the big, salty main players and you’ve got yourself a personalized Greek salad. Try out this recipe with grains for some added healthy heft and chopped green bell peppers for crunch.
Half a cup of your cooked and cooled grain of choice. Quinoa, farro, bulgur wheat, or brown rice all work perfectly with the flavors of this salad.
One-third of a cup of chopped green peppers.
One-third of a cup of roughly chopped cucumber.
One-third of a cup of chopped cherry tomatoes.
A quarter of a small red onion is sliced thinly. You can adjust the amount of onion to your personal taste.
Half a block of feta cheese, chopped into squares.
A quarter of a cup of olives. Black olives are what we prefer, but you can use whatever your favorite may be.
- This version uses a simple dressing of high-quality olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a teaspoon of honey, salt, pepper, and oregano. Give it a good mix and add to the base of your jar, then layer the ingredients!
- Pop this in your refrigerator, then when it’s time for lunch, Kali Orexi! Enjoy your taste of the Mediterranean!
Buddha Bowl in a Jar
Buddha bowls enjoyed their big moment a few years ago, but even though the media spotlight has moved on they’re still a fantastic way to build a salad.
The key to a Buddha bowl is balance and variety. You’ve heard about eating the rainbow, and a Buddha bowl is a delicious way to get a whole spectrum of delicious vegetables together in harmony.
You want to build your Buddha bowl on an earthy base, combining the warmth of nuts into the foundation of a comforting grain. Adding a little tahini and ginger brings out a more cosy flavor.
From there, you can layer in your vegetables. Favorites include roasted sweet potato, avocado, carrot, zucchini, and cabbage.
Raisins, blueberries, and roasted nuts and seeds make for excellent additions to give you more healthy vitamins and minerals while also adding layers and layers of flavor.
This Buddha bowl Mason jar salad is Thai-influenced, with a peanut, honey, and soy sauce dressing. Layers of quinoa and crunchy vegetables combine to take you to lunchtime nirvana!
This is a recipe where, if you have one, a spiralizer really comes into its own. If you don’t have a spiralizer, don’t worry; use a julienne grater or other fine slicing tool to shred your vegetables into small, tasty strips.
A quarter of a cup of quinoa was cooked to the manufacturer’s instructions and cooled.
Half a cup of chickpeas.
A quarter of a medium-sized zucchini (spiralized or julienned).
A little under a quarter of a medium-sized carrot (spiralized or julienned).
A third of a cup of red cabbage (shredded).
A sprinkle of roasted peanuts. You can use any roasted nuts, but honey-roasted peanuts are particularly good in this salad, adding a little extra sweetness and crunch.
- Firstly, make your dressing using sesame oil, rice vinegar, peanut butter, and maple syrup for a little balancing sweetness, soy sauce, and ground ginger. Get that all harmonized and add to your Mason jar, then commence layering.
- Now you’ve got a delicious, crunchy, earthy lunch all ready to go!
Southwest Chicken Salad with Chipotle Greek Yoghurt Dressing
If you’ve got a craving for some classic southwestern flavors, this is the mason jar salad for you.
Mixing up a little bit of spice with a whole bunch of fresh, clean-tasting vegetables and lean, healthy chicken is a recipe for a super-tasty lunch that you can prepare ahead of time and enjoy at a moment’s notice.
This is a great salad to be able to bust out for family lunches, or to have as a dinner with some roasted sweet potatoes and nachos. Of course, it’s also a prime on-the-go lunch if you’ve got a busy work day or a chock-full home schedule.
The key with southwestern chicken salads is in the dressing, and this one is a corker, based on a ranch dressing with a healthy whack of chipotle chili and dill.
That’s a flavor combination that’s going to get your mouth watering! Adding that to chicken marinated in a chili, garlic, herb and lime marinade is just sublime.
If you’re not a meat eater, you can swap out the chicken for tofu, which you can marinate in the same way, or chickpeas. There are black beans in here too providing an additional protein boost, so you won’t be losing out on the balance of the salad at all.
Rounding this awesome salad out, we’ve got a whole array of vegetables. You’ve got tomato, cucumber, avocado, and corn with a big old crunchy handful of Romaine lettuce, plus some tongue-tingling slices of jalapeno to really kick things up a notch.
To take things more Mexican, you could add some roasted bell peppers and cilantro, and swap the lemon juice in the dressing for lime.
There’s a couple of prep steps here, but nothing that really adds too much to your cooking time. First up, you want to get your chicken marinating.
A quarter of a large tomato, sliced.
Just under a quarter of a cup of cucumber, diced.
Just under a quarter of a cup of corn.
A quarter of a cup of black beans.
A quarter pound of your cooked marinated chicken breast, sliced.
A quarter of a jalapeno, sliced.
A quarter of an avocado, diced.
Just over half a cup of Romaine lettuce, chopped.
- You can chop everything and prepare the dressing while that’s happening, and it only needs to be in the marinade for 20 minutes to take on the flavor (though anywhere up to an hour is good).
- Obviously, you then need to cook the chicken and let it cool before adding it to the salad. You also need to combine all of the dressing ingredients, but that’s a quick process. Then you simply layer up.
- When you’re ready, simply shake and serve up the taste of the southwest.
Balsamic Chicken Quinoa Berry Salad
This is a real firework of a salad, bursting with flavor and healthy goodness.
You’ve got creamy avocado and goats cheese playing off against tangy strawberries and a raspberry vinaigrette, juicy blueberries, comforting quinoa and roasted almonds, and delicious balsamic-marinated chicken breast, all topped off with a serving of robust, peppery arugula.
Everything in this salad is designed to make your mouth water, and it’s a great way of integrating some fruit into your lunchtime salad rotation too.
Most folks nowadays know all about the brilliance of juxtaposing fruit with savory salad elements, but this salad really takes it up a notch.
You’ve got half a fruit salad in there, all being used in different ways. The strawberries are the first ingredient added, so they soak in the raspberry vinaigrette.
This infuses them with balsamic flavor, and really makes them more part of the dressing than of the main salad.
The blueberries are added towards the end, keeping them poppable and plump, with little flavor explosions throughout your salad.
Just under a quarter of a cup of chopped strawberries.
Just under a quarter of a cup of cooked and cooled quinoa, or any other grain of your choice.
A small handful of blueberries.
A quarter of a pound of your cooked chicken, sliced.
A decent sprinkling of crumbled goat’s cheese.
A quarter of an avocado, diced.
A good handful of arugula.
A sprinkle of toasted almonds.
- As with the southwest chipotle salad above, you’re going to want to marinate and cook the chicken before you construct the salad, and also prep your dressing ahead of time.
- Neither are lengthy tasks, so you’ll be ready to build this delicious salad in no time! Once your ingredients are all ready, layer up.
- Get your jar in the fridge, and get ready for a flavor-packed lunch tomorrow!
Caprese Mason Jar Salad
Let’s finish up this round-up with an Italian staple. The Caprese is a simple, clean-flavored salad that’s a great base for the mason jar treatment.
Your standard Caprese is very, very straightforward; plump tomato, creamy mozzarella, fragrant basil, maybe some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
This version takes that bare-bones recipe and expands it into something totally meal-worthy with the simple addition of cooked pasta and spinach.
If you fancy taking it one step further, you could even add some grilled chicken! It’s easy, it’s tasty, and it’s healthy.
Half a cup of cooked pasta, your choice of shape!
Half a cup of mozzarella, either a big ball sliced or the little mozzarella pearls work great.
A generous handful of sliced cherry tomatoes. This is a salad where choosing really, really nice tomatoes make a big difference because their flavor is so prominent. It’s going to taste great with whatever tomatoes you have, but this is their time to shine.
A few basil leaves.
A handful of spinach leaves.
- The first step again is to make a dressing, but you can keep it pretty simple for this salad. It’s going to be just balsamic vinegar, or a balsamic reduction if you can get some for the extra sweetness and texture, and olive oil.
- Drop a little seasoning into the taste, then layer up.
- There you go, you’ve now got a great Caprese salad in a jar!
Frequently Asked Questions
Whoa there, cynical! The point of Mason jar salads is to be able to layer ingredients in a container that seals tightly, preventing the layers from mixing and the ingredients spoiling due to exposure to the air.
It’s the best way of preparing a salad in advance. It also happens to look rather attractive and be portable too.
Depending on the ingredients, up to five days. Salads involving dairy, meat, or fish should be consumed within three days.
People will tell you that you’re not supposed to eat it out of the jar, that it’s designed so that it self-dresses as you turn it out into a bowl or onto a plate.
People will also tell you that you shouldn’t get a bowl dirty, given that your salad is already in a jar!
Do you want to know how you’re supposed to eat a Mason jar salad? Here’s the big secret; eat it however you want, with great joy.