How to Grow Sprouts in a Jar in 8 Simple Steps

Safely growing sprouts at home is easy with these step-by-step instructions.

bean sprouts growing in jars

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Project Overview
  • Skill Level: Beginner

When you want a handful of sprouts to munch on, you can easily satisfy your craving by ordering them on a sandwich or salad. You probably can even find them in the produce section at your local grocery store. But to ensure that you’re eating the freshest sprouts, growing your own sprouts at home is the best option. Sprouting seeds doesn’t take a lot of equipment or money, but it does take a time commitment to grow sprouts safely. These step-by-step instructions will walk you through the safest ways to grow sprouts in a jar.

What Are Sprouts?

Sprouts are the first growth that is produced from a germinated seed. These tiny plant shoots have high levels of key vitamins and minerals. Plus they add a crisp texture to sandwiches, salads, and stir-fries. Unlike most vegetables that often take weeks or months to grow, sprouts mature in 3 to 5 days and don’t need soil, fertilizer, or sunshine to grow. They do, however, need plenty of your attention if you’re going to grow them safely from your home—make sure you follow the cleaning, rinsing, and draining steps outlined below.

How to Eat Sprouts Safely

Sprouts are a known source of foodborne illness due to the warm, humid environment that they’re grown in and the fact that they’re often eaten raw or lightly cooked. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Eating raw or lightly cooked sprouts, such as alfalfa, bean, or another sprout, may lead to food poisoning from Salmonella, E. coli, or Listeria. Thoroughly cooking sprouts kills the harmful germs and reduces the chance of food poisoning.” The CDC recommends that “Children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts).” So, again: If you want to play it safe, thoroughly cook your sprouts before you eat them to reduce your chances of getting food poisoning.

Best Seeds for Sprouting

It's important to only use seeds that are specifically labeled and packaged for sprouting. They have been tested for a high germination rate and are held to higher safety standards than seeds sold for gardening. According to K-State Research and Extension, “In most outbreaks associated with sprouts, the seeds are typically the source of the bacterial contamination.”

Two major United States seed suppliers are International Specialty Supply and Caudill Sprouting. Some of the best types of seeds for sprouts include alfalfa, broccoli, radish, red clover, mung bean, soybean, lentil, wheatgrass, and whole grains. If you’re just getting started on sprouting, try experimenting with just one sprout variety at time.

What You'll Need


  • 1 Packet of seeds for sprouting
  • 1 Piece of cheesecloth and rubber band
  • 1 Quart-size Mason jar
  • 1 Medium-size bowl


  1. Pick a Location

    Choose a light and airy spot in your home for growing sprouts. The temperature of the room where the sprouts are kept should be maintained at about 70°F. The location should also have good air circulation and consistent lighting. Place your sprouting jar away from areas of food preparation, pets, and high household traffic.

  2. Clean and Sanitize Equipment

    Sprouting jars and any utensils used in the sprouting process must be cleaned and sanitized before starting a new batch of seeds. Use ¾ cup of bleach per gallon of water (3 tablespoons per quart) and soak the jar for at least 5 minutes. Then rinse with clean water. You can also sanitize equipment such as jars and cheesecloth by boiling them in tap water for 10 minutes in a large pot. Wash your hands well before handling the seeds, sprouts, or equipment.

  3. Soak the Seeds

    Place a teaspoon of the seeds you want to sprout into a cleaned and sanitized jar filled with water. There should be about four times the amount of water to seeds.

  4. Cover the Jar

    Cover the top of your jar with cheesecloth secured with a rubber band. Sprouting lids that fit on a Mason jar are also an option, which can help make the rinsing process easier.

  5. Rinse and Drain the Seeds

    After 10-12 hours, pour off water and rinse the seeds thoroughly under a cool flowing water tap. Then drain the seeds. Invert jar in a slightly tilted position in your bowl. This will allow excess water to drain away.

  6. Repeat

    At least three times a day or every four hours, rinse and drain the seeds. Be sure to shake or tap your container to remove as much water as possible. Return jar to inverted position.

  7. Harvest the Sprouts

    In three to four days, the sprouts will be one to two inches long and ready for use. Rinse sprouts a final time and drain them thoroughly. Wrap the sprouts in a clean dish towel, then use a salad spinner to dry them or pat them dry with the towel.

  8. Store Sprouts in Fridge

    Refrigerate harvested sprouts in an airtight container for up to five days. Discard sprouts if they start to discolor, develop a sour smell, or have a sweaty or furry appearance.

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