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Person filling a mason jar with fresh granola

Aren’t mason jars great? They serve a variety of culinary and decorative purposes, including that you can meal prep a whole week’s worth of lunches in them! Mason jars are the perfect vessel for an easy on-the-go lunch. These fall-themed mason jar recipes combine festive, autumnal ingredients (hello, pumpkin!) and plenty of flavor for the ultimate Insta-worthy meal.

But before you get to jarring, remember to be careful when baking your mason jar lunches. Use oven mitts to handle hot jars, baking sheets, and other cookware, and let jars cool completely before eating or refrigerating.

1. Fall Mason Jar Salad with Maple Cider Vinaigrette

With roasted butternut squash, protein-packed white beans, quinoa, and crunchy purple cabbage, this mason jar salad recipe is fall-timey and filling. The dressing and heartier ingredients are on the bottom, and the soft toppings and greens are on top, so nothing gets soggy.

When you’re ready to eat, empty a jar right onto a plate and enjoy. Salad in a jar! It couldn’t be easier.

The vinaigrette uses two tablespoons of maple syrup, which keeps the recipe vegan, but you could swap it for honey or leave out sweetener entirely for an even tangier dressing.

Fall mason jar salad with butternut squash and maple cider vinaigrette

Ingredients:

For the salads:

  • 4 16-ounce mason jars
  • 2 pounds butternut squash peeled, seeds removed, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 head purple cabbage (or 3 cups shredded)
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained (or 1.5 cups cooked white beans)
  • 5-6 cups mixed greens

For the maple cider vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon or whole grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Roast the butternut squash. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Toss squash in olive oil and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Add a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 25-30 minutes or until fork-tender, flipping the squash halfway through baking.
  2. Cook the quinoa. While squash is roasting, combine dry quinoa and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover with lid and lower heat to a simmer, cooking 15 minutes until quinoa is tender.
  3. Prepare the dressing. Add maple cider vinaigrette ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake well to combine.
  4. Assemble the salads. Add 1/4 cup of vinaigrette to the bottom of one jar, followed by 1 cup shredded cabbage, a scant 1/4 cup diced red onion, 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, a scant 1 cup of roasted butternut squash, and 1/2 cup white beans. Fill the rest of the jar with tightly packed mixed greens and seal with a lid. Repeat the layering process for each jar and store in the fridge for up to five days.
  5. To serve, dump the contents right onto a plate or in a large bowl to thoroughly combine and coat with vinaigrette.

Yield: 4 16-ounce jars

Adapted from Detoxinista

2. Shepherd’s Pie in a Jar

Make a week’s worth of lunches with this shepherd’s pie in a jar recipe that is equal parts nutritious and delicious. Lean ground turkey, tons of veggies, and fluffy mashed potatoes prove that mason jar lunch recipes aren’t limited to salads.

Just remember not to serve these fresh out of the oven. The jars will be hot, so give them a moment to cool. These easily reheat in the microwave (remember to take off the metal lid!) for a minute or two.

You can also reheat them at 400˚ F in the oven for 20 minutes. Set jars on top of a sturdy baking sheet, so they don’t accidentally tip over.

Mason jar with shepherd's pie with peas and carrots

Ingredients:

  • 4 16-ounce mason jars
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 3 medium carrots, shredded
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

For the mashed potatoes:

  • 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  1. Boil the potatoes. Chop potatoes into chunks and cook in a pot of boiling water for 15-20 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain when finished cooking and set aside.
  2. Make the turkey and veggie filling. In a large pan over medium-high heat, add a drizzle of oil and sauté onions for 2-3 minutes. Then, add carrots and garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes. Lastly, add ground turkey and sliced mushrooms, breaking up the turkey until it’s fully browned.
  3. Add flour, thyme, and rosemary to the turkey and veggies. Stir to combine. Add peas, tomato paste, beef broth, and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes until slightly thickened.
  4. Prepare the mashed potatoes. In the same pot they were cooked in, add milk, sour cream, and salt. Mash or hand mix until potatoes are creamy.
  5. Assemble the jars. Fill four 16-ounce jars with a serving of meat and veggies, and top with mashed potatoes. Garnish with shredded cheese or herbs, if desired.

Yield: 4 16-ounce jars

Adapted from Super Healthy Kids

3. Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oats

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it might also be the most neglected – the average person eats breakfast just three times a week. If you’re looking for a reason to eat breakfast or want to switch up your morning routine, try a making jar of pumpkin spice overnight oats. This fall-flavored mason jar breakfast is sure to brighten your day.

Pumpkin creme brulee in a jar

Ingredients:

  • 1 16-ounce mason jar
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • Dash of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg

Instructions:

  1. Add the ingredients to a medium bowl. Stir to combine.
  2. Pour mixture into a 16-ounce mason jar.
  3. Cover with a lid and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Microwave for 1 minute to eat (lid off!) or enjoy cold.

Yield: 1 16-ounce jar

Adapted from Mason Jar Breakfast & More

4. Mini Chicken Pot Pies

It’s full of the flavors you know and love, just in miniature form! These mini chicken pot pies are baked in 4-ounce jelly jars, so you can get your flaky pie crust fix without the guilt. This recipe also freezes well, and you can pop the jars right in the oven or microwave (lid off!) when you’re ready to eat.

Chicken pot pie in a jar

Ingredients:

  • 8 4-ounce jelly jars
  • 2 packages refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 cups shredded rotisserie or cooked chicken
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425˚ F. Cut pie crusts into quarters and press each quarter into a jar, making sure the crust completely covers the jar.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 2 minutes, until fragrant.
  3. Add flour, salt, and pepper, and mix well. Gradually pour in broth and milk, stirring continuously until thickened and well combined.
  4. Add frozen vegetables are stir until incorporated. Then, add chicken.
  5. Prepare the jars. Spoon the chicken and vegetables into the jars, filling to the brim. Top each jar with remaining pie crust quarters and make vents to allow steam to escape. Bake 15 minutes until crust turns golden brown. Cover in foil and bake another 15-20 minutes.
  6. Let cool before serving, or cover with lids and store in the fridge or freezer.

Yield: 8 4-ounce jars

Adapted from The Nerd’s Wife

5. Chili and Cornbread in a Jar

What a unique way to serve up this classic recipe! Chili and cornbread in a jar is the perfect game day meal or cozy lunch on a chilly day. This recipe is meatless, but you could easily add ground beef or turkey for more protein.

Chili and cornbread in a mason jar

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed
  • Cornbread, homemade or store-bought, for layering
  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • Sliced scallions, for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot over medium-low heat, heat a generous drizzle of oil. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste. Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat and simmer on low, partially covered, 10 minutes.
  3. Add beans and simmer, partially covered, until chili thickens and vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from burner and let cool.
  4. Assemble the jars by alternating layers of chili and crumbled cornbread. Garnish with sour cream and scallions.

Yield: 6 16-ounce jars

Adapted from Delish

6. 5-Layer Taco Dip

Who doesn’t love taco dip, especially when it’s served in adorable individual portions? Mason jar taco dip is great to keep in the fridge or stash in your bag for an extra special snack at work. This recipe yields four 16-ounce jars of taco dip, but you could use 4-ounce jelly jars instead. Smaller portions are perfect for serving groups on game day or packing in school lunches.

Mason jar taco dip

Ingredients:

  • 4 16-ounce wide mouth mason jars
  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1 16-ounce can refried beans
  • 1 cup guacamole, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 cup pico de gallo, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions:

  1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and cook until browned, 3-5 minutes, breaking it up as it cooks. Stir in taco seasoning. Drain fat.
  2. Divide beef among four 16-ounce glass jars. Top with a layer of refried beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, and cheese.
  3. Serve with tortilla chips.

Yield: 4 16-ounce jars

Adapted from Damn Delicious

7. Vegan Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

There is always room for dessert with these mini vegan pumpkin crème brûlées baked in tiny 4-ounce jelly jars. They stash perfectly in your lunch bag so you can satisfy your sweet tooth without totally overdoing it.

Mini pumpkin creme brulee in a jar

Ingredients:

  • 4 4-ounce jelly jars
  • Hot water
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/3 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 4 teaspoons granulated sugar, for brûléeing

Instructions:

  1. Begin boiling a large saucepan of water and preheat oven to 300˚ F.
  2. Place egg yolks in a mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the brown sugar, salt, and half the heavy cream to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and other spices. Allow mixture to steep for a few minutes, then add remaining cream.
  4. Whisk the eggs while slowly and gradually pouring in the cream. Once all cream is added and the yolks are warm, whisk in the pumpkin. Transfer custard filling to a spouted dish or liquid measuring cup and divide equally among four 4-ounce mason jars or ramekins.
  5. Make the water bath. Line a larger baking dish with a clean dish towel and set the ramekins inside. Carefully pour some of the hot water around the ramekins, about 2/3 of the way up. Bake 40-45 minutes or until edges are set, but centers are jiggly.
  6. Remove ramekins from water bath and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.
  7. Sprinkle approximately 1 teaspoon of granulated or demerara sugar atop each custard. Brûlée with a kitchen torch or under the broiler for 5-10 minutes, frequently rotating to caramelize evenly.

Yield: 4 4-ounce jars

Adapted from Baking a Moment

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