10 of the Best Uses for Canning Jars

updated Jun 5, 2019
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(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

I’ve always aspired to do a lot of canning and preserving, especially in the summer months when cheap produce beckons. A flat of tomatoes that weighs 20 pounds? Sure, why not?

In reality, I end up making a batch of canned tomatoes and maybe some homemade jam only once a year. But once we eat up all our canned goodies, that case of empty canning jars seems to take up an awful lot of space in the kitchen. I’ve been on a quest to find ways to incorporate them into everyday life in the kitchen, and here are some of them!

How To Pack the Perfect Salad in a Jar (Image credit: Emma Christensen)

1. Storage

Mason jars are really just storage containers, albeit nicer-looking than my usual plastic ones. I make sure to buy wide-mouth jars, and use them to store everything from snacks to pantry items to dinner leftovers.

2. Blender Jar

This is a revelation for those who have a traditional upright blender. Did you know you can use a Mason jar as the blending jar? Now you can make personal smoothies without having to wash a blending pitcher. Imagine having your fridge full of Mason jars loaded up with smoothie ingredients and just having to pull one out in the morning and plopping it directly onto the blender base. Genius!

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

3. Whipped Cream

If whipping cream by hand with a whisk isn’t your thing, just throw the cream into a Mason jar and shake away. In about 30 seconds, you’ll have perfectly whipped cream that’s ready to serve. You can also buy whisk attachments that fit onto Mason jars to whisk up everything from salad dressings to scrambled eggs.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

4. Transporting Lunch

Bring your lunch in canning jars! You can make instant noodle cups, layer in salad ingredients, or fill them with leftover soup. If your lunch needs to be heated up in the microwave, just pop the lid off and your lunch is already in a microwave-safe container.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

5. Overnight Oatmeal

If you like to eat steel-cut oats, but don’t want to wake up early in the morning to make them, we have an easy method that starts cooking the oats in the evening. Divvy up these oats into jars, stash in the fridge, and pull one out each morning to top with whatever you feel like. You can also take these oats on the go if you prefer to eat once you get to the office.

(Image credit: Anjali Prasertong)

6. Single-Serving Veggies and Dip

I love this idea of packing single servings of veggies and dip into a jar for a no-fuss, portable snack! Long vegetables work best, so stick with carrots, celery, bell peppers, or even some sugar snap peas.

(Image credit: Tessa Huff)

7. Packaging Food Gifts

I’m not very good at wrapping gifts, so I love to layer baking mixes into jars during the holidays as homemade food gifts. The layered ingredients look beautiful as they are, so I don’t have to do much decoration at all. You can also stack homemade treats, like cookies or candies, in jars and just tie a ribbon around the mouth of each jar.

(Image credit: How Sweet It Is)

8. Baking

Canning jars are obviously designed to sit in hot water baths and withstand high temperatures, so they can do the same thing in the oven. Use canning jars to bake individual cakes or even rolls. Basically, anything a ramekin can do, a canning jar can do too.

(Image credit: Maureen Petrosky)

9. Drinks and Cocktails

Use canning jars to pre-portion out individual cocktails at your next party. Twist on the lids and let your guests help themselves — all they have to do is add ice and give their drink a little shake, and you don’t have to play bartender all night.

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

10. Use the Rings as Muffin Liners

Finally, the jars themselves aren’t the only versatile parts of canning jars. Use the metal rings if you don’t have a muffin pan or just need to bake off a few muffins or cupcakes. If you put the rings on a baking sheet, you can snugly fit a liner in each one, load them up with batter, and bake away!