Nothing screams fall flavors more than the components of these Autumn Harvest Mason Jar Salads: roasted butternut squash, dried cranberries, walnuts, goat cheese, fresh apples, and grilled chicken mixed together to create a flavor and textural sensation. And to make the salad even better…it is in a mason jar! This salad is so filling, easy to make, and is filled with gorgeous colors and flavors.
Why mason jar salads are one of my favorite meal preps
If you have looked through my website, you may have noticed that I have a handful of mason jar salad recipes. Nothing beats the ease and convenience of a filling salad for meal prep. For me, the best way to store salads to keep them the freshest is by layering the ingredients from most dense to lightest.
I am also a sucker for anything aesthetically pleasing. Being able to see all of the different components and colors of a salad make me so excited to eat it. This salad, especially, has so much to offer. Each ingredient represents the notes of Autumn and is the perfect fall lunch meal prep that will keep you full and satisfied.
What will I need to make this Autumn Harvest Mason Jar Salad?
Here is a list of the ingredients you will need for this salad; don’t be alarmed, this list includes seasonings for every layer of the salad, but most of them can be found in your pantry:
- chicken breast
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- dried thyme
- kosher salt
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- butternut squash
- olive oil spray
- mixed greens
- goat cheese
- dried cranberries
- dried apple chips
- your favorite salad dressing, I used Bolthouse Farms Pomegranate Poppyseed Dressing
How to make Autumn Harvest Mason Jar Salads
Seasoning and cooking the chicken
The best way to prepare the chicken for this salad is to prepare the marinade and get the flavors working together. You can do this the night before, but in a pinch, you can prepare the marinade right before cooking. Simply combine the onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, coriander, salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. When mixed together, it should form a thick paste. Rub the paste over the chicken breasts and store them in an air tight container or plastic bag in the fridge until you are ready to grill them.
I prefer to use an indoor grilling pan, cast iron pan, or frying pan to cook the chicken breasts. Grill the marinated chicken over medium high heat, but be sure to not overcrowd the pan. When the chicken is fully cooked, remove the chicken from the pan onto a cutting board, and cut it into bite size pieces. Add the cut pieces of chicken back into the pan with any residual juices and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over medium heat. This will give the chicken even more flavor. After a few minutes of cooking, set aside to cool.
Roasting the Butternut Squash
The squash can be prepared and cooked while you also cook the chicken; to do this, preheat your oven to 400°F. On a large sheet pan, add the butternut squash, salt, ground cinnamon, coriander, dried thyme, nutmeg, and pepper. Spray with olive oil spray and toss to coat.
Roast for 40 minutes making sure to flip half way. The butternut squash should be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Set aside to cool.
Assembling the Salad
Make sure your cooked components are fully cooled before you assemble the salads, otherwise your salad will become soggy from the heat. In the meantime, prepare the other ingredients: chop the apple, and measure out your toppings (the walnuts, goat cheese, and cranberries).
The key to keeping these salads fresh all week is how you layer your ingredients – heavy, dense or moist ingredients on the bottom, and as you work your way up, keep your lighter ingredients at the top. Put the roasted butternut squash in the mason jar first, followed by the grilled chicken, the apples, followed by the mixed greens, cranberries, walnuts, and goat cheese.
I keep the dressing separate for this recipe, and add it right before eating. That’s it! I don’t eat the salads in the mason jar because it is difficult to get a little bit of all the ingredients at once. I love storing these salads in the mason jars because they stay so fresh the way they’re assembled. Not to mention, they look so cute! If you don’t have mason jars, these salads can be stored in your normal meal prep containers. Before eating, I dump the ingredients into a bowl so that I can mix everything together with the dressing.
Autumn Harvest Mason Jar Salads
- grill pan, cast iron pan or frying pan
- sheet pan
- 32-oz mason jars for storage
- 2.5 lbs chicken breast raw, about 4 chicken breasts
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp salt
- fresh cracked pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon for marinade, 1 tablespoon reserved for cooking
Roasted Butternut Squash
- 1 butternut squash large, peeled, cubed, approximately 40 ounces or 8 cups, raw
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- fresh cracked pepper
- olive oil spray
- 5 oz package mixed greens
- 1 ounce goat cheese
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 2 apples diced, small apples like Gala
- 1/2 cup dressing of choice I used: Bolthouse Farms Raspberry Merlot Dressing
- Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl. It will form a thick paste.
- Rub the paste all over the chicken breasts, and store them in an air tight container or plastic bag in the fridge until you're ready to cook.
- Cook the chicken breasts on an indoor grill pan, cast iron pan, or frying pan. You might have to do this in batches to ensure you don't overcrowd your pan.
- Once cooked through, chop the chicken breast into bite sized pieces on a cutting board.
- Add the cut chicken along with any residual juices back into the grill pan, and add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat and cook over medium heat. This will add even more flavor to the chicken.
- After a few minutes, set aside to cool.
Roasted butternut squash
- Preheat the oven to 400F. (I used convection bake here).
- On a large sheet pan, add the butternut squash and spices. Spray with olive oil spray, and toss to coat (you can use your hands).
- Roast for 40 minutes - flipping halfway.
- After 40 minutes, the squash should be crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside.
- Once done, set aside to cool.
- Add an equal amount of the butternut squash to the bottom of each mason jar.
- Add an equal amount of the cooked, chopped chicken on top of the squash layer.
- Dice the apples and add them on top of the chicken in each jar.
- Divide the mixed greens into 4 servings and pack the greens on top.
- To each jar, add equal amounts of the walnuts, cranberries, and goat cheese.
- I leave the dressing off, and will add right before serving- each salad gets 2 tablespoons of dressing.
- 6 WW points (green plan)
- 4 WW points (blue and purple plans)