Desserts in jars: the magic of the mason jar

Desserts in jars. You have likely heard of these cute little treats or seen them on Pinterest. They are hard to miss. It’s the glare that reflects off the glass, blinding you with their beauty.

I’ve been creating these sweet treats for a few years now with great results. I even wrote a book full of them called Desserts in Jars: 50 Sweet Treats that Shine. My friends and neighbors have been quite receptive to receiving them, and I’ve even had requests for them from adults and children alike. When I don’t show up with armfuls of jars there are cries of protest.

Why desserts in jars, you ask? Why not? In our home, we already use them to drink out of, to store spices, to line the pantry shelves. Still, here are the reasons why I personally love desserts tucked into cute little jars:

Photos by Shaina Olmanson | Food for My Family

  • They’re sustainable. I use glass throughout my home, and so it makes sense that I would continue using it to store things like desserts. I can wash and reuse, wash and reuse, and if I gift a dessert in glass to a friend or neighbor, they can do the same. Whether they use their jar to hold more dessert, leftovers, rubber bands, or a tea light candle is up to them.
  • They have lids and travel well. I like to bring dessert to dinners at friends’ houses or holiday meals with families. While working on this book, I had the pleasure of schlepping desserts all over the place, and the ease with which they travel is fantastic. A simple lid placed on the jar, tucked into a basket or a cardboard box, and we’re off. There was no balancing the cake on my lap for fear that someone would smudge the frosting. The cookies didn’t crack as they shifted on their tray. Everything was packaged and ready, and I could just store it in the back and read my book while my husband drove.
  • They’re perfect for packing. Similar to above, the fact that these desserts are ready to travel makes them easy for packing in lunches for the kids, the spouse, and for yourself. They’re easy to make ahead and freeze or refrigerate and grab when you need just a bit of sweet treat, and they’re already portioned out for you.
  • They make sweet gifts. With Christmas coming up, these make great teacher’s gifts, stocking stuffers, or homemade gifts for anyone on your list. Beyond that, they’re also ideal for new neighbors, new mothers, the mailman, the UPS guy, the garbage man, everyone.
  • They’re easy to eat. Someone once told me they’ve never seen a grown man eat a cupcake without looking like a fool (it was my children’s Christian preschool teacher). They’re difficult to get a hold of and consume if you’re walking around and talking, as you so often are at parties or holiday get-togethers. Other desserts require large knives and small plates to be served. These are ready to go and waiting. Certainly they’re not perfect for all situations, but we’ve had a few cocktail/dessert parties and backyard barbecues that have benefited from the ease of serving desserts right from the jar.

Campfire bars are a quick and easy gift to put together. They’re fun for kids of all ages to help layering into the jar, and you can personalize the labels by letting your children help decorate them and tie or tape them to your jars. Just a bit of melted butter is all that’s needed for these bars to come together, which makes them ideal for everyone regardless of the recipient’s cooking ability.

Campfire Bars Mix for Gifting

1 cup graham crackers pieces, cut into 1″ pieces
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup granola
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sliced or chopped almonds

In a 1-quart jar layer the graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate chips, granola, brown sugar, and almonds, pressing down gently to fit all of the ingredients. Seal with the jar lid and decorate, if desired. Add the label and give as a gift.

Labels can be printed on the Desserts in Jars website, or you can make your own.

For the label:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Pour all the contents of the jar into a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter until all the pieces are coated. Press into a 9-inch square baking pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool. Cut into bars and serve.


This giveaway is now closed. Shaina is giving five Simple Mom readers a copy of her book, Desserts in Jars! To enter, simply leave a comment on this post, telling me your favorite fall dessert. (If you’re reading this via email, please click over to the post and leave a comment directly.)

This giveaway will end tomorrow, Saturday, September 29, and we’ll announce the winners soon after!


Shaina Olmanson is a contributor for Simple Bites and the home cook and photographer behind Food for My Family, where she shares recipes, tips, opinions and her philosophy on food as she wades through the process of feeding her family, her friends and anyone else who will let her. She strives to teach her four children how to eat well: seasonally, locally, organically, deliciously and balanced.

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  1. My favorite fall dessert is cheesecake with a gingerbread crust. So delicious!!

  2. Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

  3. Mine would have to be pumpkin cheesecake! Oh so creamy and rich. A little goes a long way…but I usually eat a lot of it!

  4. Pecan pie – my grandma’s recipe

  5. Oh my! This is fun! I removed the labels from several jars that I have, a task long overdue and I’m thinking of fun ways to use them. Now I have a great reason… Hope I win… 🙂

    My favorite dessert of all time (not just fall! and we don’t have fall here, anyway) is LECHE FLAN! Yum!

  6. I love apple crisp, my husband’s peanut butter filled apple dumplings, AND pumpkin chocolate chip muffins/bread. Sorry, couldn’t pick 1…I love love love fall (and dessert!)

    Thanksfor the giveaway!!

  7. Fav fall dessert? Pumpkin anything (muffins, trifle, cookies, loaves, pie, coffees, cheesecake… ;-), loaded with my fav spices – ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sometimes 5 spice 🙂

  8. Anything with pumpkin, especially pumpkin cheesecake!

  9. Love desserts in jars! How fun! 🙂 We love apple cobbler around here!

  10. Apple Crisp, apple cobbler, or anything with apples. Can apple crisp be made in a jar?

  11. Oatmeal cranberry white chocolate chunk cookies.

  12. Call me boring, but I love a good, traditional pumpkin pie with lots of fresh whipped cream. 🙂

  13. I love making simple “tarte aux pommes” (apple pie without crust on the top) with cinnamon. It’s a family tradition. When I was a kid, my mum would do an apple pie every Sunday evening… I am not that consistent though!

  14. Pumpkin pie!!!

  15. I love those silly pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese in the middle. But anything with pumpkin is amazing in my book.

    This is a great idea for a book, but where do you store all the mason jars? We started doing salads in jars, and it’s hard to fit anything other than those six one-liter jars anywhere.

  16. This is so perfect!
    My favorite fall dessert is spiced apples. A slice up your apples and cook em in a little bit of water with some brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. I like to eat them, you guessed it, right out of a jar 🙂

  17. I love this book! Checked it out from the library months ago and would love to own it. 🙂 My favorite fall desserts are all apply. Apple pie, apple cobbler, apple turnovers, apple cake… cinnamon spice apple goodness. 🙂

  18. Apple Crisp

  19. Amy Monteiro says:

    Pumpkin triffle…would work great in a jar!

  20. Apple pie- would love to make mini ones in jars!

  21. I love this jar idea. I am always looking for a quick, easy, and cute gift to bring friends and family. My favorite fall dessert is pumpkin swirl. It’s pumpkin roll with a cream cheese filling. Delightful!

  22. Polish apple pie, sprinkled with cinnamon. Served warm with a spoonful of ice-cream on the side. I might just give myself the challenge of rethinking this to make it fit in a jar this year. That would definitely come as a surprise to my family. =)

  23. Apple crisp.

  24. Definitely shoo fly pie! It’s been my favorite since I was a kid.

  25. My step-sister made single-serving frozen apple pies in tiny mason jars for everyone for Christmas last year, all we had to do was bake them! I love apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream… Unfortunately apples are going to be hard to come by around here (Michigan) this year due to crazy weather last spring…

  26. Pumpkin pie!

  27. Thanks for the great giveaway.
    My favourite fall dessert is almost leftover summer dessert. I love to go to the Farmer’s Market this time of year and scavenge for whatever local seasonal fruit I can still find. Usually, there are everbearing strawberries, concord grapes, plums and pears (and apples, of course). We make fruit salad with just fruit and gobble it up.

  28. Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Mmmmm!

  29. My moms apple pie, sadly I won’t be getting any this year since I live in Australia now and she’s back in eastern Canada. I’m really missing the fall weather this year.

  30. Apple pie tops my list!

  31. I love gingersnaps and hot apple cider. Those have always been some of my fall staples, especially on Saturday afternoons when the weather starts to get that chill to it.

  32. Yum! My favorite fall desserts are my mom’s pecan pie and pumpkin cheesecake.

  33. My favorite is pumpkin pie

  34. My favorite fall dessert is warm fruit cobbler…apple, peach, blackberry…any fruit is fine.

  35. My favorite fall dessert is caramel apples!

  36. This is tough. I would have to say a fried apple pie. However, I recently made pumpkin spice scones, and they were pretty great. Now, I am hungry.

  37. Crisps! And anything pumpkin 🙂

  38. Christine C says:

    Pumpkin chocolate chip bread. Divine.

  39. I would have to say my favorite fall dessert is fudge. Why don’t I make it any other time of year? I need to change that!

  40. Anything with pumpkin!

  41. Heather Myhr says:

    It is hard to pick a favorite fall dessert but probably either apple pie or apple crisp. Although pumpkin pie is also a favorite.

  42. Retro Mod Momma says:

    Anything pumpkin. Caramel apples. There is a St. Louis guy that makes amazing ones with thick caramel and huge nuts. I eat on it for a week. Yum!

  43. Aaaaand, drool. That not only looks delicious but what a beautiful presentation! Plus, s’mores. Just wow.

    Just FYI, this recipe was so tempting I included it in Organic Baby Nook’s weekly roundup of the best posts from the last seven days. Cheers!

  44. Apple crisp or pumpkin pie — it’s hard to choose!

  45. Desserts in jars are so fun! I’ve never seen this book and I’d love to have it. My favorite fall time dessert is frosted pumpkin bars.

  46. I love fresh apple crisp with a little (or a lot) of caramel drizzled over it. Yum.. 😉

  47. stephanie williams says:

    Apple pie! Yum

  48. pumpkin spice bars with cream cheese frosting! hands down, my favorite fall dessert.

    This book looks great!

  49. How darling! My favorite fall dessert is most certainly pumpkin cheesecake!

  50. Pumpkin scones!

  51. Love love LOVE this! I’m new to the canning scene.. about 2 years in… and LOVE re-using my jars for everything! My littles catch bugs in them and keep them in their room, which is ok with me because I know they can’t easily get the lids off. 😉 I mostly can tomatoes in the summer and grapes (for jam) in the fall. Our house is STOCKED with all sizes and putting desserts in them is just another great idea!!

  52. What an adorable idea! The book looks great! Thanks for the chance to win … My favorite fall dessert is simply pumpkin pie with a dallop of real whipped cream!

  53. Does a pumpkin spice latte count as desert? That’s my favorite fall treat!

  54. Karla Visser says:

    anything pumpkin!

  55. What a great idea! It’s spring now here in Australia but in Autumn, I have to admit I am quite partial to the pumpkin pie I was introduced to in a North American Fall many years ago 😉

  56. Pumpkin pie!

  57. Pumpkin bars. So delicious!

  58. I love anything pumpkin!!!

  59. peanut butter chocolate banana bread!! fantastic – not sure how to transfer to a mason jar treat?

  60. My favorite would have to be pecan pie!

  61. Apple Crisp with cinnamon ice cream!

  62. My favorite fall dessert is pear crisp. Yum!!

  63. Danielle Kreamer says:

    Favorite Fall Dessert is: Apple Crisp with a scoop of French Vanilla Ice Cream!

  64. A caramel apple is my favorite fall dessert. I’d love this book. I’m always in charge of dessert for group meals, and I need to change it up a bit!

  65. My favorite fall dessert is definitely apple pie!

  66. This is such a great idea. I love the idea of giving a treat that can be seen and that the recipient can make at their leisure! My favorite dessert for Fall or any season is my mother’s Cream Pecan Pie! I also love oatmeal chocolate chip cookies! Thank you for your generosity in giving away a gift from your heart! I am going to share this idea with some of my friends who live in Ukraine!

  67. I love pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and I only make them in the fall which makes them more delicious somehow.

  68. My favorite fall dessert is made from scratch peach pie made with peaches from Youth for Christ. I love the vodka pie crust I found on America’s Test Kitchen. I could eat a whole pie all by myself!!!

  69. Elmina Tilley says:

    I love the idea of deserts in a jar! I love my mother’s pumpkin bread for desert in the fall.

  70. Webdy Zeimantz says:

    My favorite fall dessert is no bake cheesecake with frozen blackberries that I’ve picked from the yard. The book sounds interesting. I would love to win a copy! Thanks for offering the free books.

  71. Mmm…grandma’s pecan pie!

  72. Apple crisp, made with apples we get from the orchard.

  73. My favorite fall dessert is the apple pie that my 86 year old Grandma makes. Even when I make her recipe, it’s never as delicious as when she bakes it.

  74. Love to give gifts in jars – books looks great! My favorite fall dessert is bread pudding! Perfect as the weather gets cooler.

  75. My favorite fall dessert is kabocha squash cake (with a hint of sweet curry) topped with coconut cream.

  76. My favorite fall dessert is thick, chunky applesauce. We just made a batch in honor of Johnny Appleseed’s birthday. 🙂

  77. What a fun book! Apple Pastry squares are my favorite. My 14 year old daughter says, “pumpkin cake!”

  78. Pumpkin scones! Love this book! I hope I score one 🙂

  79. My fav fall dessert is pumpkin muffins but I do like apple crisp too both smell so good baking.

  80. My favorite fall dessert would be the cream cheese pumpkin roll…Or maybe chocolate pecan pie!
    mmmm both are delicious!

  81. My favorite fall dessert would be pumpkin or pecan pie. Thanks for the giveaway!

  82. I love the idea of desserts in jars! Take cute jars and yummy desserts, put them together, and does it get any better? Although I don’t think that my favorite fall dessert, which is pumpkin cookies, would fare well in a jar. : )

  83. My favorite fall treat…kind of a dessert…is making caramel apples with toppings. They make great gifts.

  84. Yum. . . Can’t wait to try the Campfire Bars. 🙂
    My favorite fall dessert is sweet potato pie. My mom makes the best! 🙂

  85. It’s hard to beat pumpkin pie in the fall!

  86. My favorite fall dessert is Raspberry and Plum upside down cake. It is the cake I make for my birthday every year. Loads of fruit and butter cooked on the “bottom” with a spice cake “on top”. After cooking, flip it over and wow what a treat!

  87. What fun! My grandkids-both boys and the girls-would love doing this.

  88. I LOVE the dessert in jars idea! Now I know what to do with my leftover jars! My favorite Fall dessert is Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip cookies….mmmmmm!!!

  89. Apple Crisp, but with ice cream…ice cream is not seasonal to me! 🙂

  90. I torn between gingerbread and apple crisp!

  91. Love anything with apples, but apple crisp is my fav! This book looks so fun!

  92. pumpkin bread!

  93. Catherine Scott says:

    I love fall flavors! Chewy gingerbread cookies, apple crisp, and pumpkin pie are some of my favorites. Thanks for the fun post!

  94. Pumpkin cheesecake sounds absolutely delicious! Would love a copy of your book 🙂

  95. My favorite dessert has to be a simple vanilla shake with whipped cream on top.

  96. Jen Bouchard says:

    My favorite fall dessert is hot apple pie with a drizzle of cream on top.

  97. Apple crisp is my all-time favorite dessert for any time of year!

  98. Andrea Dunn says:

    Pumpkin bread pudding with whipped cream. Yum.

  99. My fav fall dessert is pumpkin cheesecake! Though it is a tie with pumpkin pie.

  100. I love apple crisp with some vanilla ice cream. And I also love anything pumpkin.