Layered salads in jars are hot on Pinterest right now.  I couldn’t figure out if they were a gimmick or not, so I decided to give one a try.  When it comes to salads in general, I’m really lazy, so if I can somehow trick myself into making them ahead of time, it helps.  Since I don’t eat nearly enough beans, and I’m guessing you don’t either, why not use all kinds of beans, and remake the old 7 bean salad?  Having them all ready to go like this would be a big encouragement to me.  I can see making up a bunch of these jars on the weekend and using them all through the week.

healthy layered 7-bean salad in jars is perfect for picnics!

These could go from parties, to picnics, to a work-day brown bag.  Using glass jars is eco-friendly, and you don’t have to worry about plastic leaching into your food.  They’re vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, nut free, healthy, and pretty!  I think I’m convincing myself.

The original layered salad concept, I think, was to layer a green salad in the jar with the dressing on the bottom so it won’t wilt the lettuce, etc.  It supposedly lasts for days in the fridge that way.  When you’re ready to eat, flip the jar upside down to let the dressing coat the salad.

My lemon vinaigrette has lots of bright citrus flavor to stand up to the beans.  If you make it in a small food processor the oil and lemon will become emulsified and the dressing won’t separate over time.  All olive oils will solidify in the refrigerator, so let the salad sit out a bit before you serve it.  You could also use a different kind of oil, like walnut, or flax seed  if you want something that will stay liquid when chilled.

A couple of things to remember….you are going to need wide mouth jars for making layered salads-in-a-jar.  Mason jars are cute, but not practical for this.   I used wide mouth pint canning jars, that way they’re easy to layer and easy to get your fork into.  Mine are Kerr, but Ball makes them, too.  These jars are also perfect for jam making later this summer.

I put the onions in first, and then the dressing, so the onions can mellow out a bit, and the dressing stays separate from the rest of the salad.  That isn’t so important with a bean salad, which is pretty sturdy, but if you were layering a classic lettuce salad, putting the dressing in first is crucial so it doesn’t touch the rest of the salad and make it limp and soggy.

I used a mix of canned, frozen, dried and fresh beans.  I used frozen baby limas and edamames, dried red beans and chickpeas, canned black beans, and fresh green beans.  I also had dried French lentils waiting, but couldn’t fit them since I also wanted to include a couple of veggies in there, too, like yellow bell pepper and cucumber.  I layered in fresh thyme leaves, but you can use any herb you want.

The recipe below is more of a guideline than a recipe, adjust it to your taste.

Minimal Monday: Layered 7-Bean Salad in a Jar

Minimal Monday: Layered 7-Bean Salad in a Jar


  • assorted beans, either canned, dried, fresh or frozen (see above for the exact beans I used)
  • colorful bell pepper, finely chopped
  • red onion, minced
  • English cucumber (the kind that comes wrapped in plastic) finely diced. Don't peel!
  • several sprigs of fresh thyme
    lemon vinaigrette:
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil


  1. Make the dressing: Put the lemon juice and zest in a small food processor. With the motor going, slowly drizzle in the olive oil (there is a small hole in the top to allow you to do this.) The dressing will emulsify. Stop the machine and taste periodically so you get it the way you like it. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Do this with a whisk, if you like.
  2. Put a layer of red onion in the bottom of your clean jar.
  3. Add the dressing on top. Be careful not to splatter, I used a funnel.
  4. Begin layering your beans and veggies, pressing down slightly as you go. Keep the layers level, and try to use contrasting colors so it will look appealing. Add in the thyme leaves or sprigs as you go for flavor.
  5. Layer all the way to the top and then cap the salad and refrigerate until ready to eat.
  6. Flip the jar over before eating to let the dressing percolate down over the salad.


  • If using dried beans, cook them according to the package directions first.

What do you think, are these worth bothering with?  My final thought is that you might as well mix the salad together and then fill the jars.  Not as cute, but more practical :)
Happy Monday!


more fun summer salads~

Skinny Broccoli Salad, an American classic made healthier!

Skinny Broccoli Salad

Healthy and colorful Fattoush Salad is a Middle Eastern masterpiece of fresh veggies, and toasted pita, in a tangy lemon dressing


Shaved Apple and Radish Salad is a beautiful way to eat clean this spring!

Shaved Apple and Radish Salad

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32 Responses to Minimal Monday: Layered 7-Bean Salad in a Jar

  1. Marianela says:

    I love the Lemon Thyme Dressing. Thank you for sharing!

  2. […] Layered 7-bean salad in a jar by The View From Great Island. A mason jar is the perfect portion, so you won’t overeat even […]

  3. Dee says:

    try adding jicama, it’s delicious in bean salads.

  4. Midway says:

    I just bought Haulin’ Oats scrumptious breakfast oatmeal which are sold in mason jars. Now I have a reuse recipe that is beautiful to share at picnics with others! Thanks!

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  8. […] Mediterranean Confetti Quinoa Salad 2. Caprese Pasta Salad 3. 7 Bean Salad in a Jar 4. Chickpea, Avocado, and Feta Salad 5. Falafel Roasted Chickpea Salad 6. Sesame Chicken Salad 7. […]

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  10. Mary says:

    I’m going to make this for my son. I do, however, think I will take the suggestion to mix the beans and dressing and then fill the jar. My son is away at college and needs things that are quick and practical. This will be a great surprise for him during the next visit to college. Thanks for the suggestion.

  11. I agree about the beautiful “look” of these, but not the practical side. You end up making the salad in the jar and then dumping it out in a bowl to mix and eat it. Ha! Seems like a way to make more dishes to me. I love bean salad, but I’ve never used some of the beans you suggested. Gonna pin this one too.

  12. Debbi says:

    i do this every day for my daughters lunch… although it DOES look better in a jar than a plastic container!

  13. grace says:

    i don’t peruse pinterest much, but if this is what i’m missing, i need to make a change! this looks beautiful and just happens to center on my favorite family of foods. beans rule.

  14. Chris Scheuer says:

    Looks like a piece of artwork Sue and so yummy too!

  15. Joanne says:

    Taking a jar full of all these colorful healthy ingredients to work for lunch would be much more exciting than a brown bag or a sandwich! Gorgeous!

  16. Mary Younkin says:

    These are adorable, Sue. I’d be more likely to toss the salad together first for myself. Cute is always fun, but I’m always practical in the end. Love the photos!

  17. Eileen says:

    These do sound like a great idea for an easy work lunch! I have to say I’m a bit skeptical about premaking jarred salads with lettuce, whether it’s on top or not–but maybe that’s because things tend to turn upside down in my bag with alarming regularity. :) But a bean salad–that I can get behind!

  18. katrina hall says:

    This is beautiful! Must make asap, I think – and it’s so portable! Outdoor picnics, here we come!

  19. I need to finally try these salad in jar, meals in a jar, etc….
    So simple yet it’s really the best way to eat healthy.

  20. When I saw you post that you were going to make these, once again, I thought to myself “she sure will”. Your dedication and energy still astounds me.
    I’ve always wanted to make these, as well as the pies in a jar. I’ve got the jar, but not the time and energy! These are beautiful, and such a great idea for an outdoor barbecue of picnic. Beautifully done.

    • I think I won’t bother with these too often for myself, but I definitely will make them when I have guests over to dinner this summer. As for pie in a jar, I received some as gifts over the holidays, and they were great!

      • Kary says:

        I’m a bit confused Ann about how much Olive Oil to use when mixing with lemon juice and zest. Also your recipe calls for dried red bean. Can you tell me how this works because I thot dried beans & lentils need to be cooked. Thx for help in advance. I have a hamburger party this week on Wednesday and would love to use this recipe. Would you say this would be a good accompaniment to burgers?

        • Sue says:

          You will drizzle the olive oil in and use it to taste in the dressing, Kary. Whisk or blend it together with the other dressing ingredients and taste as you go, you may prefer it more or less ‘tangy’. You can use dried or canned beans, but if you use dried, cook them according to the package directions first. I think this would be fabulous with burgers!

  21. Cathy says:

    I love this idea for making a week’s worth of lunches in advance. It looks so delicious -It would be fun trying out different combinations.

  22. This is actually the best idea I have seen for the jars..

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