Wayne’s Weekend: Mason Jar Picnic

Make seven layer salads in individual mason jars.

I'm always looking for fun and creative ways to enjoy outdoor dining.  Layering a salad in individual mason jars came from my friend and my oral hygienist, Cheryl Masumoto.  Cheryl's a total foodie and a culinary genius and we talk food, recipes and restaurants every time I'm in for my 6-month visit.  Well, actually, she talks and I mostly listen since she's doing the dental work at the time.  Anyway, creating individual 7-layer salads for a picnic makes a color presentation and it's interactive.  Guests shake up their mason jars to toss their salad. They are also simple and easy to prepare.  The recipe below is terrific as is.  But, feel free to experiment with other ingredients and customize it for your taste and your guests. 

The dessert idea of little banana cremes evolved from our salad discussion so I decide to include the recipe here as well.  I used 4-ounce jars, but if you have bigger appetites, you could certainly use larger mason jars and double the ingredients. 

Because both the salads and banana cremes are packed in individual mason jars, they are portable, easy to store and can be made early in the day.  Enjoy!

Individual Seven Layer Salad

yields four individual servings in Mason Jars


4 Wide Mouth Mason Jars with Lids, 16oz size
6 tbl Vinaigrette Dressing, your own recipe or favorite brand
3/4 cu Pitted Kalamata Olives, sliced
2 lg Carrots, finely sliced
1/2 lg Seedless Cucumber, small dice
2 lg Celery Stalks, finely sliced
2 lg Eggs, boiled, peeled, and egg and yolk chopped separately
4 Slices Bacon, cooked, and chopped
3 cu Romaine Lettuce, julienned
Salt and Pepper
Decorative Ribbon or String (optional)
Decorative Fabric or Napkin for the top (optional)


If you have a mandolin, use it for slicing many of these ingredients.  But, if not, this dish will be equally as successful if you thinly slice everything by hand. 

Wash and dry mason jars.  Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dressing in the bottom of each jar.  Add 1/4 of the chopped olives.  Carefully layer 1/4 of the carrots over the olives followed by the cucumbers, celery, eggs and bacon.  This should fill about 2/3 of the mason jar.  Lastly, add a pinch of salt and pepper and then pack the remaining space with shredded Romaine lettuce.  Seal the jar and tie ribbon or string around the collar for decoration.  You can also cover the top with a colorful napkin or small piece of fabric and then secure it with the ribbon or string.  Refrigerate until ready to eat.  To serve the salads, simply shake each jar to distribute the ingredients, remove the top and enjoy with a fork.

Individual Banana Cremes
yields four individual servings in Mason Jars


4 Small Mason Jars with Lids, 4oz size
8 Vanilla Wafers
2 tsp Mini Chocolate Morsels
1 lg Banana, thinly sliced
1 1/4 cu Prepared Whipped Topping
Decorative Ribbon or String (optional)


Wash and dry mason jars.  Transfer the whipped topping to a sealable bag.  Cut off a small portion of one of the bottom corners of the bag.  Push the topping towards the open corner and squeeze about a tablespoon of topping into the bottom of each jar.  Crumble two vanilla wafers over the topping.  Carefully layer 1/4 of the bananas over the wafers and then fill the remaining space with whipped topping, leaving about 1/8" space at the top.  Sprinkle mini morsels over topping and then seal the jars.  Tie ribbon or string around the collar for decoration and then refrigerate until ready to serve.  When ready to serve, simply remove the top and enjoy with a spoon.

Thanks again to my friend Cheryl for this terrific idea.  I'm sure I'll get another one from her in six months.  If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

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