salad-in-a-jar 101

Fool-Proof Salad in a Jar RecipesSalad in a Jar 101

salads in a jar

A few weeks ago, when I posted about my weekly food prep routine, I briefly mentioned that I like to make salads-in-a-jar each week. Apparently, you all are super interested in my jarred salads because I got so many comments and emails requesting more info!

Now, let me note, I am in no-shape-way-or-from the originator of this idea. I’ve seen it pinned from numerous sources in the holy land of Pinterest. I’m creative, but not nearly clever enough to come up with this one on my own. But I am smart enough to know a great idea when I see it and latch onto it! If any of you happen to know who the original genius behind these salad jars is, let me know, because I’d love to bow down to them give them the credit they deserve.

salad jars

I have four of my favorite combos to share with you guys today, but before I get to those recipes, I thought maybe I’d give you a quick primer on the things I’ve learned in my jar-making experience:

  • Most important rule: dressing at the bottom, greens at the top. Keep them as far away from one another as possible. If you do that, your greens will stay crispy and fresh, no problem.
  • Use the resting time to your advantage. Place items that’ll soak up and marinade in the dressing as the next layer for the best salad flavor. Cooked grains, tofu, meats, mushrooms—anything that is spongy and will suck up that yumminess as the jar sits in the fridge.
  • To make the salads a little more hearty and filling, try adding a protein like chicken, quinoa, beans or cubed tofu.
  • We’ve had these salads last as long as 10 days in the fridge without getting soggy, yucky or anything but delicious. We haven’t tried going longer than that because they are so yummy, they don’t last long in our house!
  • Really jam-pack the jars full. Not only does this give you the most veggies for your space, but it also helps keep things from shifting and moving around (which is particularly helpful if you are packing a jar in a lunch and it happens to tip over on its side). I shove so many greens in that I have to hold them down with one hand while I place the lid on with the other. It should be like a lettuce jack-in-the-box when you open that jar!
  • We use pint-sized canning jars and they end up making a nice-sized side salad—a pint Mason jar full of soup and a pint Mason jar full of salad would make for a perfect-sized, easy-to-pack workplace lunch (plus, you can just take the lid off the soup and microwave it right in the jar). If you want to go for a big, entree-sized salad, use quart-sized jars.
  • I try to keep the ratio of each jar about half-and-half—half toppings, dressing, grains, proteins and half greens.
  • There are two ways to eat these guys. You can either dump it all into a bowl—the dressing and toppings fall just beautifully over the greens when you dump—or, if you’re short a bowl, you can eat it directly out of the jar. Because they are so full, you might have to eat off a layer or two of greens, then replace the lid, shake the heck out of it to distribute the dressing, and then dig right in with a fork. It makes a super easy grab-and-go snack. I’ve been known to toss a salad jar in my purse when I go grocery shopping. What? Is that weird? Normal people don’t carry salads in their purses?

salad jars

Below you’ll find four of my favorite combos, but it should be said that I’m much more apt to “freestyle” my salad jars each week. I mostly use whatever we have leftover in the fridge—it’s a great way to use up that 1/2 cup leftover quinoa from dinner three nights ago. They key is finding dressings that you really, really love, because that dressing will flavor everything in that jar. Experiment and figure out what works for you and your family.

Onto the combos…

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Strawberry Spinach Salad with Strawberry-Lime Vinaigrette

strawberry spinach salad

This is one of my absolute favorite salads—in a jar or out. The sweet strawberries are a beautiful pairing with the creamy and tangy feta. I mixed up a super quick and easy strawberry-lime vinaigrette to flavor the whole thing. I used protein-packed quinoa and crunchy sunflower seeds, but you could easily sub in your favorite grain and seed.

salad jar ingredients

To make this salad, in the jar, put items in this order:

  • Strawberry-Lime Vinaigrette (see recipe below—I use about two tablespoons of dressing per pint-sized jar)
  • Cooked Quinoa
  • Sliced Strawberries
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Sliced Green Onions
  • Crumbled Feta
  • Baby Spinach

Depending on how juicy your strawberries are, you might want to put them down lower in the jar (before the quinoa) to keep them even further away from the spinach.

Strawberry-Lime Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons strawberry preserves
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Close and shake until emulsified. Makes about four tablespoons of dressing (enough for two-pint-sized jars).

Mexican Chickpea Salad with Chile-Lime Dressing

mexican chickpea salad in a jar

Oh man, this one is so flavorful and delicious! The salsa really makes this salad shine, so make sure to use something you love. I really like the texture of chickpeas in this salad (and they hold up really well to the dressing) but you could easily sub in black beans, kidney beans or lentils and get the same kind of nutrition and flavor profile.

mexican chickpea salad jar ingredients

To make this salad, in the jar, put items in this order:

  • Chile-Lime Dressing (see recipe below—I use about two tablespoons of dressing per pint-sized jar)
  • Cooked Brown Rice
  • Cooked Chickpeas
  • Salsa
  • Red Onions
  • Halved Grape Tomatoes
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Chopped Romaine

Because of the tomatoes and salsa, this salad is a bit “wetter” than others and care should be taken not to tip it or turn it to avoid the romaine getting soggy.

Chile-Lime Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground cumin
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Close and shake until emulsified. Makes about four tablespoons of dressing (enough for two-pint-sized jars).

Tofu Living Salad with Sesame-Lemon Dressing

living salad in a jar

You’ve seen the big version of this salad posted here before, but with a few tweaks and additions, it makes an awesome salad-in-a-jar. The flavors of this salad (and specifically, the dressing) are definite favorites in our house. Yum!

living salad ingredients

To make this salad, in the jar, put items in this order:

  • Sesame-Lemon Dressing  (see recipe below—I use about two tablespoons of dressing per pint-sized jar)
  • Drained, Pressed and Cubed Extra Firm Tofu
  • Sliced Red Bell Pepper
  • Chopped Cucumbers
  • Sprouted Lentils
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Chopped Parsley
  • Chopped Romaine

Small cubes of firm tofu act like little protein-packed sponges soaking up all the dressing goodness. Not into tofu? No problem. Shelled edamame would work great as a replacement.

Sesame-Lemon Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Close and shake until emulsified. Makes about four tablespoons of dressing (enough for two-pint-sized jars).

Sunshine Salad with Orange Marmalade Vinaigrette

sunshine salad jar
The original Sunshine Salad recipe is one I made for my friends over at Anytime Fitness, and I loved it so much that I decided to turn it into a salad-in-a-jar for everyday eating.

sunshine salad jar ingredients

To make this salad, in the jar, put items in this order:

  • Orange Marmalade Vinaigrette (see recipe below—I use about two tablespoons of dressing per pint-sized jar)
  • Cooked Quinoa
  • Clementine Wedges
  • Sliced Red Onions
  • Sprouted Lentils
  • Pine Nuts
  • Chopped Romaine
  • Baby Spinach

I use fresh clementine wedges, because I always seem to have them kicking around, but you can just as easily use canned mandarin slices—just make sure to drain them well before adding to the jar.

Orange-Marmalade Vinaigrette

  • 2 teaspoons orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Close and shake until emulsified. Makes about four tablespoons of dressing (enough for two-pint-sized jars).


Like I said, these are just four of millions of possibilities! Let your imagination run wild. Just as long as you keep the wet layers away from the greens, your creation should be incredible! This might even be a fun way to get kids excited about eating their veggies. You can use smaller-sized jars (like jelly jars), set up a salad jar bar, and then let them assemble their own delicious, nutrient-packed creations.

Happy jar-making!

What’s your favorite salad combo? Do you have any go-to dressing recipes to share for folks to try in their jars?

157 Comments

  1. says

    I love your recipes for salads in a jar. I have never tried this, but am inspired with all of your great ideas. I have even (just now) posted about your blog on my site – giving links for your posts about salads in a jar, and prepping food for a week. Thanks for sharing all your great ideas!

  2. Phyllis says

    I’m sure everyone will think this is a dumb question but I’m stumped as to how you eat these salads. Do you eat out of the jar or do you pour it onto a plate, which would mean carrying a plate with you.

  3. Pooka says

    Oh girl….I have just made your Strawberry Spinach salad (with a couple of tweaks, I used goats cheese instead of Feta, and just couldn’t resign myself to adding jam to the dressing so I squished two strawberries instead!); goodgod…I think I’ve just died and gone to heaven! It was DELICIOUS! So good in fact that I wolfed into the second jar I’d made for tomorrow, only to feel incredibly full halfway through it; I was going to force-feed it into me (no way was I wasting such a culinary delight) when I realised I could just put it back in the jar (I was a bit generous with the spinach) and have it for lunch tomorrow!!!
    So thankyou; thankyou; thankyou for such amazing recipes. Can’t wait to try another!!! x

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