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How to Can Chicken- Step by Step Canning Tutorial
Have you found a great deal on chicken but the freezer is full? Raised a batch of broilers but you need a zombie-proof, off-the-grid storage option? This is the blog post for you!Jump to Recipe
How to Can Chicken with a Pressure Canner
Learning how to can chicken is not only a great storage option, it’s also a great way to speed up your meal prep on busy nights.
Canning chicken is a simple process that even beginner canners can tackle with confidence. This tutorial will demonstrate and explain each step of process in a way that is easy to follow and will set you up for success.
Once you know how to can chicken, you’ll be able to save everything from cubed chicken breasts to drumsticks to wings in a shelf-stable way- not reliant on freezers or electricity. Canning is the ultimate long-term storage option- ready to use right out of the jar without rehydrating or thawing whatsoever.
Ingredients for Pressure Canning Chicken
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ingredients needed to can chicken at home are few.
The main ingredient, and only requirement, is some chicken.
This can be homegrown or store-bought chicken.
It can be raw or cooked chicken.
Bone-in or boneless.
As long as the chicken fits into your canning jars, it can be canned.
My favorite chicken to can is cubed, raw, boneless, skinless breasts. After canning, these cubes of chicken are cooked, rather moist, and ready to shred and add directly to soups, salads, rice, etc. without needing to pick out any bones.
Canned drumsticks are another great option- they’re easy to prep, and after canning the meat is tender and easy to shred and use in quick dishes.
Besides chicken, you may also want to have some salt or other seasonings to add to the jars before processing.
Some people also like to add broth or water to their jars, but I’ve found that it is unnecessary. The chicken will release its own juices as it cooks in the canner, and will come out tender even without the extra liquid.
Equipment for Canning Chicken
Canning chicken at home doesn’t require any fancy equipment or complicated tools.
First, you’ll need a canner. I use my trusty 23QT Presto Canner- it’s about a decade old, and has only had to have the gasket replaced once. They’re reliable and easy to use, I highly recommend them, for experienced and beginner canners alike. (You can find it on Amazon HERE- they were recently on sale for less than $100- a great deal in this time of inflation)
I pressure can meat and other low acid foods.
This is the recommended method for canning these foods for both safety and product quality. I prefer pressure canning simply because it is faster and requires less babysitting than water bath canning. That said, water bath canning meats is common practice in some countries (and communities in the US)- processing times are generally 3 hours at a full, rolling boil.
Because I use a pressure canner, that is the method I’ll be describing in this tutorial.
In addition to the canner, you’ll need jars with rings and lids. You can can chicken in any size jar, but my preference is to use wide mouth quart jars.
You’ll also need a jar lifter, a towel, a cutting board, and a knife.
How to Can Chicken- Step by Step
With all of our equipment gathered and our chickens wrangled up, it’s time to actually start the chicken canning process.
Step 1 is to prep the chicken- this step will look different depending on what cuts of chicken you’ll be canning, and whether or not the chicken has been cooked.
I find that it is easiest to can raw chicken- either in cuts or cubes of meat- because you can simply load the chicken into the jars as-is and it will cook during the canning process. Drumsticks and thighs both will fit in quart jars perfectly. (3 – 5 drumsticks or thighs per jar) I like to cube up boneless, skinless chicken breasts before placing them in jars though.
Cooked chicken can be loaded into jars in whatever state it’s in- cold, hot, bone-in, boneless, etc.
To prep the chicken, cut as needed to fit into the jars you’ll use (wide mouth quart jars are my preference BTW- easy to load and clean out after).
Step 2 is to load the chicken into the jars. Drumsticks, thighs, wings, etc can simply be placed in the jars as is. Cube, shred, skin, etc as desired or required.
Whether you’re canning raw or cooked chicken, be sure to leave at least 1” of headspace.
Step 3 is to add any seasonings, salt, liquids etc. as desired. I prefer to can chicken plain or with just salt so that it can be added to any sort of cuisine without issue. If you’re trying to pre-plan meals in a jar, canning chicken with salt, cumin, garlic, salsa, broth, onions, etc. can lend to specific recipes later on.
Step 4 we’ll add the rings and lids to the jars. Be sure that the rings are snug.
Step 5 is the start of the actual canning process. Start by placing the rack in the bottom of your canner, then add the jars, then water.
The rack in the bottom of the canner helps to prevent thermal shock to the jars (reducing the chance of cracking) by keeping the temperature more even. Placing the jars in the canner is simple. The jars can touch and will process without issue if they do. If you don’t have enough jars to fill the canner completely, you’ll need to have about 3 quart jars (or 4 pint jars) to run the canner. If you don’t have enough chicken to fill that many jars (or just have more space in the canner generally), I’d suggest canning some beans too. Dried beans have the same processing time as meat- including chicken- and are very simple. (You can find my bean canning tutorial here.)
Once the jars are loaded in the canner, add water as directed in your canners instruction manual. (The Presto 23QT canner needs 3 quarts of water for example)
Step 6 is pretty simple- adding the lid to your canner and turning on the stove. Make sure the weight is off the vent and the stove is turned up to high.
Once the canner has come up to a boil and has begun to vent steam consistently and strongly, set a timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes of venting steam, add the weight to the vent. The weight will allow the canner to start building up pressure.
Step 7- the point at which your canner has reached the appropriate pressure for your elevation- is easy peasy: turn down the stove slightly to maintain that pressure. Start a timer at this point as well: 90 minutes for quart jars and 75 minutes for pint jars.
Step 8- once the timer goes off, turn off the stove and let the canner depressurize on its own time. Once the pressure has dropped to 0, you can remove the lid and gently remove the jars with a jar lifter. (You can also leave the jars in the canner to cool longer, up to overnight) Let the jars cool on a towel-lined canner for 12+ hours.
After the jars have totally cooled for the 12 or so hours, you can take of the rings and check the seals of the jars. Label the jars (I like masking tape) and place them in storage.
How to Can Chicken- Tips
Raw chicken will cook over the course of the canning process; this can make preserving homegrown chickens (or even chicken bought on sale) a very quick process without a lot of prep work required.
Adding seasonings to the jars of chicken before canning can be a great way to preseason/marinade the chicken in preparation for future recipes. (Chili seasonings, fajita seasonings, even barbecue etc.)
If you don’t have enough chicken to fill your jars/canner full, add a few jars of dried beans. Dried beans and all types of meat have the same processing time (90 minutes for quart jars, 75 minutes for pint jars) and are very easy to prepare. (Again, I have a full set of directions here) (For a general tutorial on canning all varieties of meat, check out this post)
If you want to can chicken dishes (such as a chicken soup, stew, or stir fry) the processing times will also need to be 90 minutes for quart jars or 75 minutes for pint jars.
Processing times start at the point that the canner has reached the appropriate pressure for your elevation- venting and coming up to pressure do not count towards the processing time.
How to Can Chicken FAQ’s
Can you can raw chicken?
Yes, you can can raw chicken. This is called “raw pack” canning, because the jars are packed with the raw ingredients- in this case chicken.
Raw pack canning chicken is the easiest method of canning, since the chicken will cook as the jars are processed, and doesn’t require separate cooking.
Can you can cooked chicken?
Yes, you can can cooked chicken. The processing times for cooked chicken are the same as for raw chicken- 75 minutes for pint jars and 90 minutes for quart jars.
Canning cooked chicken is a great way to preserve leftovers for long-term storage.
Can you can store bought chicken?
Of course! Canning is a great method of preserving chicken, whether it’s store bought or homegrown, all chicken- cooked or raw, seasoned or unseasoned- can be canned.
Can you can chicken with other ingredients?
Yes, chicken can be canned by itself, or in combination with other ingredients.
Adding broth, onions, peppers, beans, rice, etc. can be a great way to have meals ready to go, right out of the jar, or to get a jump on future meal prep.
No matter what you add to the jars when canning chicken, the processing time will be the same- 90 minutes for quart jars and 75 minutes for pint jars.
Do you need to add liquid when canning chicken?
No- chicken can be canned without any additional liquid added. As the chicken cooks it will release its own juices, which can help keep the meat tender, even after long term storage.
How long is canned chicken good for?
Home-canned foods, including chicken, are considered safe for 18 months, per the manufacturers of most canning lids and jars.
From personal and anecdotal evidence, home-canned goods have a shelf-life in excess of several years.
What can you use canned chicken for?
Canned chicken can be used in all the same recipes that you would use fresh, or uncanned, chicken.
From soups to stews to fried rice to chicken salad- canned chicken is ready to use or eat right out of the jar.
How long does canned chicken last once opened?
If stored in the fridge, I’ve found that a jar of canned chicken, once opened can last about 1 week.
How long does canned chicken last unopened?
On the shelf in your pantry, unopened, canned chicken can last 18 months or more.
Is canned chicken healthy?
Canned chicken is healthy and has all of the same nutrients as freshly-cooked chicken.
Chicken is high in protein, and depending on the cut of chicken, it can also be a great source of collagen.
Is canned chicken good for dogs?
Canned chicken is also good for dogs, because of its high protein content. However, you should take care to remove any bones before giving it to your dogs as they can pose a choking hazard.
Is canned chicken cooked?
Canned chicken is cooked. Whether the jars were packed raw or filled with leftover cooked chicken, the canning process will raise the temperature high enough and long enough to cook the chicken, seal the jars, and kill possible pathogens simultaneously.
Is canned chicken ready to eat?
Because canned chicken is cooked while processing in the jars, canned chicken is ready to eat as-is- right out of the jar.
Does canned chicken go bad?
If a jar of canned chicken is opened and left open for an extended period of time it can spoil, just like freshly cooked chicken. I recommend using the canned chicken soon after opening, and storing any leftovers in the fridge.
On the pantry shelf, unopened, sealed jars of canned chicken are unlikely to spoil. The lid of the canning jar is designed to stay sealed and prevent spoilage by oxygen or bacteria.
If the lid experiences a seal failure, the chicken could spoil a few days after canning. If this occurs, there will be an obvious smell and potentially visible mold. It should be difficult to remove the lids from your canning jars. If in doubt, feed it to your chickens or compost pile.
Does canned chicken taste good?
Canned chicken tastes like, well, chicken. If you like chicken, you’ll probably like canned chicken.
Some people find that canned chicken has a stronger smell or a more dry texture. If that’s the case for you, I’d suggest using your canned chicken in a recipe (such as a soup or a casserole) rather than eating it plain.
Can canned chicken be pink?
Canned chicken can be slightly pink in color. This does not indicate that the chicken is unsafe or uncooked- it’s a variation of normal.
Can canned chicken have botulism?
Theoretically, most any food could contain botulism since it is a bacteria found in soil. When kept in an anaerobic environment (such as a sealed jar or bottle) the bacteria can produce toxic spores.
However, the chicken you’ll be canning has been washed (and potentially cooked beforehand) so the risk for contamination from dirt- and thus potential botulism- is extremely low. Practice good hygiene throughout and follow the correct processing times and your risk of contamination will most likely be near zero.
Can canned chicken be used in soup?
Yes, using canned chicken in soup is one of my favorite quick dinner hacks. With home canned carrots (how-to here), home canned onions (here), and homemade broth (recipe here, canning tutorial here)- getting a delicious pot of soup bubbling away on the stove is as simple as opening jars, and maybe adding some rice or pasta. If you want to speed up your meal prep, home canned chicken can’t be beat.
Canning Chicken- In Conclusion
I hope that this tutorial has demonstrated just how simple canning chicken can be. It’s a great option for long term food storage, even if you have the freezer space; because it doesn’t rely on electricity and is ready to go right out of the jar. Once you’ve given canning chicken a try you’ll want to make it a regular part of your seasonal food preservation routine.
Thanks for reading and happy homesteading!
How to Can Chicken
- Pressure Canner
- Cutting board & Knife
- Jars, rings, lids
- Jar lifter, Towel
- Chicken Raw or Cooked
- Salt, Broth, Seasonings, Etc Optional
- Start by prepping the chicken. Dice, part, skin, shred, etc. as required to fit the chicken into the jars.
- Load the chicken into the jars, leaving 1" + of headspace.
- Add seasonings and broth, as desired.Add rings and lids, tightening rings snugly.
- Load jars into canner. Add water as directed in your canner's instruction manual. (3 quarts in a Presto 23Q)
- Add the lid to the canner, leaving the weight off the vent, and turn the stove on to high.Once the canner has come to a boil and begun to vent steam consistently, set a timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes of venting, add the weight.
- Once the canner is up to the appropriate pressure for your elevation, turn down the stove slightly to maintain the canner at that pressure. Set a timer for 90 minutes for quart jars (75 minutes for pint jars) and watch the stove to make sure that the appropriate pressure is maintained.
- When the timer goes off, turn off the stove, and let the canner depressurize on its own.
- Once the canner has depressurized, use the jar lifter to carefully remove the jars and arrange them on a towel-lined counter to cool overnight.
- The next day, remove the rings to check the seals of the jars. Label the jars. Store.