These mason jar salads just scream spring and summer. Layered with fresh strawberries, pickled red onion, marinated grilled chicken, mixed greens, chopped pecans and goat cheese crumbles, these salads are flavorful and filled with texture and crunch. Topped with a homemade poppy seed dressing, these strawberry poppy seed mason jar salads taste like something you would order at a cute bistro, but you can control the ingredients yourself.
What’s in these salads?
So many good things! This salad is packed with color, flavor, texture, sweetness, crunch, and savory bites. It’s got it all. This salad features:
- marinated grilled chicken
- fresh strawberries
- pickled red onions
- mixed greens
- homemade poppy seed dressing
- chopped pecans
- crumbled goat cheese
So, what’s the deal with mason jar salads, anyway?
Maybe there is some hype associated with all things mason jars: I mean, can you blame us? They are so multi-purpose. Since they are clear glass, they allow us to store food and keep it fresh. But they also allow us to see right inside; so for this salad, you can visually see all the beauty right from through the glass.
More importantly than that, though, is that using a mason jar to prepare salads actually keeps the ingredients really fresh, and keeps them from getting soggy. There is a method though.
The method to keeping mason jar salad ingredients fresh is the steps you take in layering. I always start with my heavier, wetter, denser ingredients. For this recipe, that’s the strawberries. Since they are bound to release some juice as they sit in the fridge, they make the ideal bottom layer. Then, I used my judgment: to me, the onions seemed like the next best step.
After that, I followed up with the chicken. I always save the toppings for last (here, it’s the goat cheese and pecans), so they go on top of the lettuce at the end. I use the mixed greens to take up the majority of space in the mason jar. You can pack a ton of greens inside a mason jar. For my mason jar salads, I use 32 oz jars.
If you don’t have mason jars, don’t fret (I just happen to have a ton of them on hand at all times). You can prepare all of the ingredients and leave them separately, or you can just line them up in a glass storage container. Whatever works for you!
How to make strawberry poppy seed mason jar salads
Prepping the components
The actual cook time and assembly for these salads is minimal; the most time involved is in preparing the individual pieces of the recipe: 1) the marinade for the chicken, 2) the pickled red onions (which, of course are totally optional), and 3) the homemade poppy seed dressing.
You can prep these three items all at once. They all take only minutes to prepare, it’s really just combining ingredients. No fancy contraptions or weird techniques.
Either the night before (or several hours before) you plan on making the salads, I advise getting the chicken marinade together. To do this, simply combine the marinade ingredients and rub it all over the chicken, and then pop the chicken in the fridge, covered tightly. You can also use a large freezer bag for this.
Ok, so that took 5 minutes.
Next up, let’s get the pickled red onions ready… another 5 minutes. Combine the water, vinegar, and salt in either a bowl or glass jar, and microwave them for about 2 minutes. Then, thinly slice a red onion and smash your garlic cloves, and submerge them in the liquid. If you are using a glass jar, cover it and give it a good shake. Then set the bowl or jar aside until later.
Ok, that was easy! Lastly, let’s make the dressing. This is super easy, not even 5 minutes. Just zest and juice a lemon, and then add all the other ingredients together in a bowl. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.
That’s it, you have officially done the most work that this recipe requires!
Cooking the chicken and assembling the salads
When you are ready to cook the chicken, you can use either a grill pan, an outdoor grill, or even just a regular frying pan. These take no time at all to cook, since they are so thin. Maybe 5 minutes per side.
Once they are cooked, remove them from the pan and set aside on a cutting board. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces, and allow it to cool a bit.
Weigh out your pecans and goat cheese (1 ounce of each).
To assemble the salad, simply layer your ingredients in the mason jar, in order from dense and wet, to light and airy.
The measurements of each salad is as follows:
- 3/4 cup strawberries
- 1/4 cup pickled red onions
- 3/4 cup cooked chicken
- lots of mixed greens
- 1/4 oz pecans
- 1/4 oz goat cheese
- 3 tablespoons of dressing (reserved to the side, add before eating)
Strawberry Poppy Seed Mason Jar Salads
- four 32 oz mason jars (optional)
- grill pan or outdoor grill
- 1.5 lbs chicken breast, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp lemon pepper
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp oregano, dried
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Pickled Red Onions
- 1 red onion, small
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cloves garlic
Poppy Seed Dressing
- 1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp poppy seeds
- 1 tsp sugar
Salad and Toppings
- 8 oz mixed greens
- 1 oz pecans, chopped
- 1 oz goat cheese
- 1 lb strawberries, fresh, chopped
- The night before, or at least 4 hours before prepping, combine the chicken marinade ingredients in a small bowl.
- Toss the chicken in the marinade and cover (you can also use a large freezer bag).
- Refrigerate for 4 hours (or overnight) before cooking.
- Grill the chicken until cooked through (for thin sliced breasts, this should take only 5 minutes per side).
- Place the chicken on a cutting board and chop into bite-sized pieces.
Pickled Red Onions
- When you prepare the chicken marinade, you can also prepare the picking liquid for the red onions.
- Combine the water, vinegar, and salt in a bowl or mason jar.
- Microwave the bowl/jar for about 2 minutes to heat through.
- Thinly slice the red onion, smash the garlic cloves, and submerge them in the pickling liquid.
- Cover the jar and shake it for the contents to combine, if you wish.
- Let the bowl/jar sit in the counter until ready for use.
- Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.
Assembling the Salads
- If using mason jars, layer the salads as such: chopped strawberries, pickled red onions, cooked chicken, mixed greens, pecans, goat cheese.
- Measurements per salad: 3/4 cup strawberries, 1/4 cup pickled red onions, 3/4 cup cooked chicken, mixed greens to fill the jar, 1/4 oz pecans, 1/4 oz goat cheese.
- Leave the dressing on the side. Serving size for dressing: 3 tablespoons per salad.
- 5 WW points per salad (green plan) - calculated using Perdue chicken breast and Fage plain non-fat Greek yogurt
- 4 WW points per salad (blue and purple plans)
Here are some other mason jar salads: