Homemade Jar Mixes for Holidays and Every Day

Cookie Mix in a Jar Recipes

Image by gizmo333 on Flickr

All About Making Jar Mix Gifts

As budgets are getting tighter, people are trying to find ways to still share special gifts and save money while doing so. A homemade gift has always been a great way to let someone special know you are thinking of them. One of my favorites is jar mixes.

There are so many ways to create a masterpiece in a jar. From cookies to soups - the possibilities are endless! They make great gifts for teachers, your child's bus driver, the postal worker who delivers your mail... anyone! Below you'll find great recipes and tips for any occasion - Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, Weddings, or Just Because.

Picking a Jar

So you want to start making your own jar gifts - welcome aboard! But where do you start? You've come to the right place. The first thing you need is the jar. The most common jar to use is a basic canning jar - also called a Mason Jar. They come in a variety of sizes, but the most common are the pint and quart sizes. There are 2 types of lids - the most common screw-on lid, and also one called a bail-wire-clamp, which keeps the lid secured to the jar even when open.

Some jars also come in colors, such as blue or red. But in order to see the fun layers of ingredients inside, I would recommend staying with a clear jar.

Jars of different shapes can also be used. You may be able to find star-shaped jars, jars with longer necks, hex-shaped jars. You just have to experiment to make sure your ingredients fit nicely into them.

What kind of mixes you can put in your jars

Dessert gifts are just the start of what you can put in your mix jars. Here is just a small list of other mixes you can create. (Click links for more great recipes.)

  • Pancake Mix (Chocolate Chips or Dried Fruit to add variety to your layers.)
  • Cocoa Drink Mixes (Include the marshmallows, add some chocolate chunks or broken candy canes for extra rich flavors)
  • Soups (A variety of pastas or beans make visually appealing layers)
  • Coffee (Dress up instant coffee with creamers, cocoas, peppermints, and sugars)

Filling Your Jars

Before filling your jars, wash them thoroughly and make sure they are completely dry before adding ingredients.

Now you can start filling your jars! This is the fun part! Each jar will be filled with only the dry ingredients. Using a small funnel or a rolled up piece of paper can help with getting the layers to lay just right. You want to make sure you don't shake or tip the jar too much while layering.

To pack down your layers, a great item to use is a tart tamper. Other things that may work is a small ladle, a spoon, mallet or spatula.

Recipes can be adjusted to create cheap holiday gifts that reflect the season. For example, you can make an M&M cookie mix and change the colors of the M&M's to Easter colors, Christmas colors, etc.

Decorating your Label and Jar

Decorating your jar of cookies

Image by mishl982 on Flickr

Time to get creative! You may want to decorate your jar before filling. If the jar is filled to the top so that the contents don't move much, then decorating afterward is fine too. Some items you can use to decorate your jar is fabric, pom poms, ric rac, stickers, glitter glue, imprinted ribbon, sequins, etc. Or if you want to keep it simple, you can let the layers of mix inside be your decoration. A simple personalized hang tag can add just the right personal touch.

But one of most important parts of your jar is the Mixing/Baking instructions. You can attach this with a ribbon to your lid or glue it to the jar itself. You can have fun with this too! Use stamps or stencils to create a one-of-a-kind label. You can also use your computer to personalize your instruction labels and print them on sticker paper.

Decadent Brownies

Jar Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Cocoa
  • 1 cup REESE'S Peanut Butter Chips or HERSHEY'S Premier White Chips
  • 1/2 cup HERSHEY'S Mini Chips Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Filling the Jar:

First stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Layer the ingredients in a 1-quart glass canister or jar in the following order (from bottom to top): sugar, cocoa, flour mixture, peanut butter chips and small chocolate chips. Tap jar gently on the counter to settle each layer before adding the next one.

Instructions to attach to jar:

1. Heat oven to 350 F.

2. Grease and flour an 8x8x2-inch baking pan.

3. Combine 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted and cooled butter and 2 slightly beaten eggs in a large bowl.

4. Gently stir in jar contents.

5. Spread in prepared pan.

6. Bake for 35 minutes.

7. Cool in pan. Cut into bars.

Makes 16 Bars

Cowboy Cookies

Jar Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling the Jar:

Layer the ingredients in a 1 quart jar in the order given. Press each layer firmly in place before adding the next layer.

Instructions to attach to jar:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease cookie sheets.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together 1/2 cup melted butter or margarine, 1 egg, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

3. Stir in the entire contents of the jar. You may need to use your hands to finish mixing.

4. Shape into walnut sized balls. Place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.

5. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven.

6. Transfer from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Friendship Soup

Jar Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup beef bouillon granules
  • 1/4 cup dried minced onion
  • 1/2 cup dried split peas
  • 1/2 cup uncooked twist macaroni
  • 1/4 cup barley
  • 1/2 cup dry lentils
  • 1/3 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 cup uncooked tri-color spiral pasta

Filling the Jar:

Use a canning funnel or any funnel that has about a 2-inch neck. This will make it easier to fill the jar with the ingredients. Be sure to use a wide-mouth, 1-quart canning jar. Layer ingredients in the order given: bouillon, onion flakes, split peas, small shape pasta, barley, lentils, rice, and enough tricolor spiral pasta to fill jar.

Instructions to attach to jar:

1. In large kettle, brown 1 pound ground beef or stew beef cut into bite-size pieces in a little olive oil.

2. Remove tricolor pasta from top of jar and reserve.

3. Add the rest of the jar contents to the kettle with 12 cups water. Let come to a boil and simmer 45 minutes.

4. Add tricolor pasta and simmer 15 minutes more.

5. Serve with your favorite bread or rolls and a tossed salad.

Get more jar recipe ideas

Blueberry Pancakes in a Jar

Jar Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries

Filling the Jar:

In a medium bowl, combine all of the white ingredients. Pour into the jar. A rolled piece of paper makes a perfect funnel for this. Pack the layer down. Add the brown sugar to the jar and pack it down. Add the dried blueberries and pack it down.

Instructions to attach to jar:

* 1 jar Blueberry Pancake Mix

* 1 and 1/4 cups milk

* 1 large egg - beaten

* 2 Tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

In a large bowl, mix the milk, egg and oil. Add the pancake mix to the wet ingredients and and mix until just combined.

Heat a skillet or frying pan to medium-high and give it generous coating of cooking spray. Dollop batter in 1/4 cup amounts to make each pancake. Cook until edges are dry and middles are filled with bubbles. Flip and cook the other side to golden brown (about 2 or 3 minutes per side).

Serve with butter and maple syrup. Enjoy!

Makes 4 Servings

Cocoa Jar Mix

So rich and tasty - they'll never buy packaged cocoa again!

Jar Ingredients:

  • 6 1/2 cups powdered milk
  • 1 (5 ounce) package non-instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup powdered chocolate drink mix
  • 1/2 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Filling the Jar:

In a large bowl, combine powdered milk, chocolate pudding mix, chocolate drink mix powder, creamer, confectioners' sugar, and cocoa. Divide the mixture between two 1 quart jars. Seal, and decorate as desired. These can be stored in a dry area for up to 3 months.

Instructions to attach to jar:

Hot Cocoa: Dissolve 1/3 cup cocoa mix in 1 cup boiling water.

Cocoa mixes make great holiday party favors. As a variation, you could add mini marshmallows on top of the mix, then attach a candy cane and this poem along with the instructions:

Was told you've been real good this year

Always glad to hear it

With freezing weather drawing near

You'll need to warm the spirit

So here's a little Snowman Soup

Complete with stirring stick

Add hot water, sip it slow

It's sure to do the trick!

Jar Mixes for Fun and Profit

Flickr Photo Credit -  @heylovedc
Flickr Photo Credit - @heylovedc

If you find you really enjoy making gift jars, you could make some extra money by selling them at craft fairs. A good way to reel people in is having samples available - such as a crock pot of the soup you're selling, or small chunks of the cookies you have a mix for.

I hope this page helped you learn everything you ever wanted to know about making jar mixes! Your friends and family will appreciate the time you took to create a special gift just for them.

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