Mason Jar Meals: Ranch Chicken Salad in a Jar

An easy on-the-go lunch or dinner, this ranch chicken salad is a great way to repurpose your leftovers, make lunch grab-and-go, and ensure you’re eating right even when life feels like it’s running a marathon.

I roll over, kicking the covers off and lying there in my bed, letting myself adjust to the temperature difference. The cold air washes over me. Slowly, I open my eyes, daylight streaming in through the windows feels far too bright for the time of day.

Closing my eyes again, I listen for the sounds of life in the house.

In a perfect world, I’ll have a few minutes to sit at the computer, letting the feeling of being upright rush over me and sipping a cup of coffee before the kids come running out needing help finding clothes, breakfast, testing the weather to see if they can get away with shorts, searching for the homework they swear up and down to have put in their backpack last night that has mysteriously vanished. And lunches.

Every evening after dinner I spend a few minutes repackaging our leftovers so they’re easy to grab for lunches. Including Ole, there are currently four lunches that need to go out the door each morning. Having those things together, even partially, before the morning rush hits does a lot to keep me sane. Enter: the mason jar.

The jar does a lot to keep the things inside fresh, the lunch in one neat package, and to keep packing it simple. I loathe the lunches that have seven separate containers that never seem to fit in the dedicated lunch box. Not to mention that those school lunch emergencies always seem to occur five minutes before the bus pulls up. The jar means I just need to add an apple on the side, a slice of bread, a simple snack and everything is ready to fly out the door. Additionally, it makes a great picnic meal, with everyone getting a jar and a fork instead of multiple dishes and plates, and when you’re done, it’s easy to cap off and carry back instead of storing dirty dishes somewhere.

Last month I had the opportunity to travel to New York to shoot a video for Hellmann’s Mayonnaise. My job is hard. I get to see people I love, like Amanda. It involves staying in Kimpton Hotels, which are easily my favorite hotel chain and have been for the last four years. You can see our gorgeous rooms at the Eventi Hotel on Amanda’s site. Finally, it involves laughing in the green room with a bunch of wonderful bloggers. Oh, and that bit about shooting a video. There was some of that going on, too.

Amanda is addicted to Instagram, which I’m sure is why she has her phone out in this photo. At the moment she’s in Italy, and her pictures of her trip have been just amazing. It was Amanda’s idea to make our dish in a jar. It’s because she’s a dessert lover, and I’m pretty sure the jars remind her of the photo shoot we did for Desserts in Jars last October.

Ignore that I tell you this twice in the video thanks to editing: The wet ingredients go on the bottom. It keeps them separate from the lettuce, which prevents it from wilting. Wilted lettuce does not a good salad make.

The Facts

  • I used a 1-Liter Leifheit Canning Jar They are one of my favorite jar manufacturers. You can use any 1-quart or 1-liter jars, but be sure you pick one with a wide-mouth lid.
  • This will easily stay 5 or so days in the refrigerator, so you can make a variety on Sunday night and have lunches for the week ready to go.
  • If you skip the video, you can just shake it up to combine all the ingredients before you eat, or you can just open it and stir it as you go.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
2 teaspoons fresh chives, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
kosher salt and pepper
6 ounces cooked pasta shells or other small shape
6 ounces chicken, cooked and cut into pieces
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach or baby lettuces

In a medium bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, parsley, chives, dill, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add in the pasta and stir until combined. Split the creamy pasta between two 1 quart or 1 liter mason jars.

On top of the pasta layer, add the chicken pieces, split between the two jars. Next, layer the diced red pepper, and finally, top the jar with the lettuce. Seal and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

When time to serve, shake the jar until all the ingredients are covered in the sauce. Unscrew the lid and eat.

Makes 2 salads in a jar.
Copyright © Food for My Family.


  1. What a perfectly portable idea! I love it

  2. oh that was so fun watching you guys!! and that salad looks and sounds amazing!!

  3. beyond.reasons says:

    Isn’t is dangerous giving kids a glass jar? Mine would get it broken or lost…. Maybe a plastic jar?

    • I think it would depend on your kids. Mine haven’t had issues with it, but they have cloth lunch boxes, and I send most everything in heavy glass or metal containers. That said, you could always go the plastic route (peanut butter jars, Twist ‘n Loc containers), but I’m not comfortable giving my kids plastics for everything.

  4. Love this idea! Packing lunches is always a challenge and I love that you do it the night before, very smart!

  5. You are clever and adorable as ever, Shaina. I so wish I could James on board with this for his lunches.. but he refuses to eat cold chicken in salads. Seems to defeat the purpose if I leave the chicken separate for him to nuke. *sigh* Why are men so difficult?

  6. Looks delicious! I’m always on the lookout for more salad in a jar ideas!
    And, I’m addicted to instagram too, what can I say… so many fun pictures to make me feel like I vicariously live through other people’s vacations (ah hem, Italy, what a dreeeeam!)

  7. What a great idea for a fabulous lunch! And it even gets in on the whole ‘going green’ idea – recycling and leaving less of a carbon footprint on our delicate earth. No baggies or foil; I love it!

  8. So great to see you both! love the salad on the go 🙂

  9. I love this idea for a quick and fresh lunch!! I’m not hungry at ALL in the mornings lately…but I’m STARVING around 11. I’d love to have a few of these in the fridge 🙂

  10. I just had dinner, and now I’m hungry again! That looks awesome! I’m going to try that tomorrow. yum.

  11. Now that’s my kind of food-in-a-jar!

  12. How fun! I can’t wait for your book to release. Such great ideas.

  13. What a FUN project and lunch! You girls look wonderful. 🙂

  14. What fun – you gals look like you’re having a lot of fun – and I just love this idea of salad in a jar.

  15. Love Love Love this idea & how GORGEOUS do you look in the photos! I have serious hair envy ; ) xoxo

  16. Lunch in a jar! What a great idea. And this recipe looks amazing. I can’t wait to try it.

  17. You are both too cute in that video! This is such a great idea to use up leftovers, and of course, I love that it’s in a jar!

  18. It sure sounds like you had a lot of fun. Love the on set photos of you and Amanda and this salad – it looks just perfect!

  19. I love foods in mason jars and even cooking in them. This is a brilliant idea and perfect when you’re on the go or even to take to work. Just pop in the refrigerator and it’s ready when you are. I love this idea.

    I missed your tv appearance. Is it posted someplace to view?

  20. Love the jars you used… what brand, size and where did you get them?!

  21. You guys are naturals on camera, you make it look easy!

  22. I loved the video! You guys look gorgeous!

  23. Thanks for linking up again Shaina!! I’m head over heals in love with this!
    I featured your post in my wrap up!

    Have a great weekend!

  24. Great looking salad! Love the idea of make ahead salads to keep in the fridge. Same question as Michelle about jars….brand, size and where to purchase. Thanks!!!

  25. That looks beautiful and incredibly tasty. And great job on the video!!

  26. Stacy Blake says:

    That looks weirdly tasty. I enjoyed watching the video.
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe.


  27. How cool is this! I love the idea of a little salad in a jar. Cute.

  28. Salad in a jar?! Brilliant! This looks so delicious. What a great opportunity you and Amanda had, too. Thanks for sharing, Shaina!

  29. this looks seriously delish! and styled soooo very prettily! xo

    would love to have ya pop by for a visit sometime – giveaway going on now!

  30. First of all I love everything about this post – you look absolutely adorable! Second, LOVE the shout out to Kimpton – my husband’s worked for the company for years 🙂

  31. This makes me miss you!!

  32. Hi there, This is such great idea, salad in a jar!! looking forward to more such innovative recipes from you .

  33. This is actually a great idea … I will try out this salad on my next picnic ………

  34. My mouth is saying I want this right now. I LOVE Chicken Salad; just had it today for lunch and seriously cannot get enough…it’s something that never gets old for me! Such a cute idea in the jar. Congrats on your NYC trip for Hellman’s; so fun! Wish I knew you were in NYC as that’s where I live! I am SO excited to meet you in Seattle for BlogHer Food and the TreeTop tour this week/weekend!

  35. One of my student’s mom made this for me the last week of school as a special gift….lunch in a box…The best chicken salad I have ever eaten!

  36. Awesome idea!! So I will do this for my dinner. Love the idea the salad to go.

  37. Not one review that has been posted TASTED the recipe. Salad in a jar is not new and has been in use for some time. Probably in use before tupperware. Now that I have put in google as my website, I feel sure that a less than positive review will be immediately ignored.

    Having said that, I won’t try the recipe based on the fact that some people ‘think’ it is a good idea and others think that your video make it look yummy.

  38. G’day! What a great idea, TRUE!
    Perfect for picnics, entertaining or camping outdoors too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  39. Where did you find those wood (bamboo?) flatware? So cool!

  40. This ranch chicken salad is so Instagrammable and adorable! I’m also gonna pin this post on my Pinterest board my followers will love it. Thanks for sharing, Shaina!


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