- When it comes to something as timeless as a Mason jar, you can't beat a classic.
- The Ball brand name still represents everything you could want in a good Mason jar with sturdy glass, tight-sealing two-piece lids, and old-school American-made quality.
- Due to unusually high demand and supply shortage, many Mason jars are out of stock at major retailers. We continue to monitor inventory and update this guide accordingly.
Mason jars are one of those simple items that are wonderful to have but easy to take for granted. Named after American inventor John Landis Mason, Mason jars are distinguished by their airtight screw-top lids (usually with a two-piece design), glass construction, and old-fashioned American aesthetic that hasn't changed much since they were first patented in the 19th century.
Glass Mason jars are typically used for preserving perishable food products, and they are handy for many other things as well. Canning homemade goodies including jam, storing dry food items such as herbs and spices, and serving as airtight containers for keeping things like coffee or pipe tobacco fresh (two of my personal favorite uses). They're also often used as decorative items, to hold candles, or even for drinking, as the popularity of Mason jar mugs has shown.
True Mason jars should always be made of glass, not plastic, and have a lid that creates an airtight seal. Two-piece Mason jar closures typically feature a rubberized rim underneath the flat part of the lid. This is securely pressed onto the jar's opening by the ring part of the lid, or "band," which screws down, thus creating a tight seal. These lids also usually have a "popper" in the center. After spending time in the fridge, after being boiled for canning, or if the jar contains something that consumes oxygen, a properly sealed lid will pop when opened due to the pressurized air inside.
Here are the best Mason jars:
- Best Mason jars overall: Ball Mason jars
- Best with smooth sides: Anchor Hocking Mason jars
- Best with wide mouths: Kerr wide-mouth Mason jars
- Best with bail tops: Bormioli Rocco bail top Mason jars
- Best with handles: Libbey handled drinking Mason jars
Prices and links are current as of 8/27/20. We updated the formatting of this post and added a product showcase so you can easily shop all our picks. We also added a selection of related buying guides.
The best overall
Ball is a 19th-century American icon in the world of home canning, and its Mason jars have stood the test of time owing to their great US-made quality, tightly sealing lids, and low price.
When shopping for Mason jars, Ball is the name you're going to see the most. The Ball Corporation has been making jars and other home canning products since 1880 and continues to offer high-quality American-made Mason jars to this day. Your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents probably used Ball jars. You'll even hear many people refer to all Mason jars in general as "Ball jars."
I have a simple rule that I apply to many things around the home: If it's grandma- and grandpa-approved, it's probably solid. I've personally used Ball Mason jars for years, although not for canning jams or other kitchen creations as I'm not much of a home chef. I use mine to store pipe tobacco and coffee beans. I have about 18 of them (in various sizes) for these purposes and they're all well-made with airtight lids that have kept their seal after years of regular use.
If there's one flaw, it's that the rubberized rim of the lids tends to absorb and retain the aromas of the jar's content. I use the term "flaw" loosely, as this is something that will affect all two-piece lid designs that feature this rubber seal. It's the rubber itself that likes to hold onto odors, and this can be a bear to get out.
White vinegar soaks help but don't completely eliminate lingering smells. This may or may not be a problem for you depending on what you're using your jars for, but you can easily buy new lids separately if it is. On the brighter side, the lids do exactly what they need to do and are coated on the underside to prevent certain foods (particularly acidic ones) from reacting with and tainting the jar's contents.
Pros: Made in America, durable glass bodies, two-piece lid design seals tightly, heat- and freezer-safe, raised measurement markings on the side, and they're super cheap by the dozen
Cons: The rubber seals on the lids absorb and retain odors
The best smooth-sided Mason jars
Whether it's for presenting gifts, attaching custom sticker labels, arts and crafts projects, or just showing off your creations on a shelf, these smooth-sided Mason Jars from Anchor Hocking offer American quality.
Most Mason jars you'll see, including pretty much all of our top picks except for this one, have raised markings on the side. These aren't necessarily unattractive; in fact, they do impart a bit of traditional charm.
But if you're presenting your homemade canned treats as gifts, or just want a jar without markings for aesthetic reasons, then smooth-sided Mason jars like these from Anchor Hocking might be a more suitable alternative to standard Ball and Kerr jars. Smooth-sided jars are also great if you like to attach your own sticker labels, as raised markings can leave unsightly bumps and air pockets or can even make the labels fall off.
Most of the Mason jars I use at home have markings (some are also the quilted-style jelly jars), and I find that the raised markings and bumps make it tricky for even masking tape to stay stuck to the sides of the jars. The Anchor Hocking Mason jars also feature gold-toned lids instead of the usual silver and are also free of markings and branding, which looks a bit nicer and more gift-friendly.
Other than the smooth-sided design and attractive gold lids, the Anchor Hocking Mason jars offer everything else you could want: They're made in the U.S., the glass is thick and sturdy, and the lids seal down well, although some buyers report that the jars don't provide an airtight seal as reliably as Ball jars.
Pros: Made in America, durable glass bodies, smooth-sided jars with no raised markings or branding, attractive gold-tone lids
Cons: The lids are not as reliably airtight as those of Ball and Kerr Mason jars
The best wide-mouth Mason jars
For juices, soups, sauces, and other liquid contents, large wide-mouth jars like these Kerr Mason jars are just the ticket for clean and easy pouring.
As we've stated, Mason jars have a ton of uses, from canning homemade goods like jams and jellies to storing wet and dry cooking ingredients. Owing to their airtight lid design and heat-resistant glass construction, Mason jars are also great for holding liquids like homemade soups, sauces, and juices.
Standard Mason jars might be a bit small for this endeavor, however. At the very least, the somewhat narrow mouths of most jars can make pouring liquids unnecessarily messy and difficult. In this case, what you need are Mason jars with wide mouths like these ones from Kerr, which feature a larger opening that makes it easier to add and remove wet or larger contents (while also making the jars easier to clean by hand).
If the Kerr jars and their packaging looks eerily similar to that of Ball jars, it's because they're basically the same: Both Ball and Kerr brands are now owned and manufactured by the parent company Jarden. That means that the Kerr Mason jars boast all of the tough American-made quality of their Ball counterparts, so you can buy with confidence.
Like other Ball and Kerr jars, these are also safe for heating and freezing and are available in various sizes to suit your need.
Pros: Made in America, solid construction quality with tightly-sealing lids, wide mouths make it easier to pour liquid contents cleanly, replacement lids are readily available, and they're heat- and freezer-safe
Cons: The larger ones are slightly more expensive than their normal-mouth counterparts
The best bail-top Mason jars
If you don't need jars specifically for canning and you'd rather not deal with two-piece lids that can get lost or worn out, then the bail top design of the Italian-made Bormioli Rocco Fido jars are a great addition to any kitchen.
Traditional Mason jars with screw-top lids are great for canning and storage, but not so convenient for providing quick access to daily-use items that you want to grab quickly. For that, you might want to consider something with a captive-lid "bail top" design like the European-made Fido jars from Italian maker Bormioli Rocco, which feature a handy closure that can be opened and closed in seconds with one hand — while still offering an airtight seal that'll keep contents fresh.
Purists may assert that these technically aren't "Mason jars," as they eschew the traditional two-piece lid for a captive hinged closure that seals with a rubber gasket. Admittedly, they're not wrong, but we've decided to include these anyway as the Bormioli Rocco Fido jars serve much the same purpose as airtight containers for your goodies with a lid design that many will find more convenient.
The rubber gaskets seal very well, the lids are weighty and sturdy (as are the glass bodies), and the metal bails are solid and easy to open and close. If there's one drawback to the bail top lid design, though, it's that the jars can't really be used for traditional canning that involves boiling the jars with their contents inside. You'll need standard Mason jars for that.
For pretty much every other kitchen use, however, the Bormioli Rocco Fido jars are great, and the flip-open lid makes these especially suitable for keeping things like candies, nuts, and other treats within easy reach on a table or counter.
They're available in a ton of different sizes, too (marked in metric since they're European), including ones considerably larger than most American Mason jars. They're a bit more expensive due to their design, but not unreasonably so for Italian-made glass jars that can last a lifetime.
Pros: Made in Italy, robust glass construction, the bail top design is convenient and the rubber gaskets provide an airtight seal, available in a ton of larger sizes, and they look great
Cons: They're not nearly as cheap as standard Mason jars, and the bail top design prevents these from being boiled for canning
The best with handles
The Libbey County Fair Mason jar mugs have all of the rustic charm of Mason jars along with a sturdy handle for safe and comfortable drinking.
The design of Mason jars hasn't changed much (if at all) since the 19th century, but their continued popularity has led makers and users alike to adapt these handy containers for a myriad of different uses. Perhaps the most popular among these innovations are Mason jars that feature added handles, converting them into safe and convenient drinking glasses.
And why not? Mason jars are made of glass, have wide openings and they simply look great. The County Fair handled mugs from Libbey have all of the classic charm of Mason jars, but with a simple, sturdy glass handle attached to the side. On the front, a raised design depicts a rooster motif along with lettering that reads "County Fair Drinking Jar," a nice departure from the standard raised branding you usually see.
Like most Libbey glassware, the County Fair Mason jar mugs are made in the United States. They're very well made and, being glass, are safe to drink from (no BPAs or other chemical components that can leech into your drinks like with plastic containers). They're also generously sized at 16 ounces, although they don't come with any lids.
Thankfully, however, standard Ball or Kerr Mason jar lids do work with these if you'd like to steal your jar up to take your drink with you or keep it fresh in the fridge.
Pros: Made in America of durable glass, a thick and sturdy handle for safely and comfortably drinking from the jar, a nice country-style raised design that sets them apart from other Mason jars, and standard Mason jar lids can fit onto the threaded opening
Cons: They're more expensive than standard Mason jars, and lids must be purchased separately
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