Canning chicken meat at home is pretty simple. There are a few different ways to do it. In this post, we will go over how to can chicken three different ways, and then I’ll show you step by step how I do this.
Over the years, I’ve gotten so much better at meal planning, shopping for what I need instead of what I think I need, and staying within a budget.
However, I am still not as good when it comes to thawing things ahead of time so I can use them in the said meal plan… Which is a problem… And also the reason that I learned how to can meat.
It might take a little extra work, but once you place that sealed jar on the pantry shelf it’s there to save you in case of brain malfunction. It saves me over and over again I tell you.
I don’t can all of my meat but I try to always have a few jars on the shelf. It really doesn’t take too much time and it’s a super simple process. Let me show you how to can chicken meat.
Canning Chicken Step by Step…
Before we start, there is one more benefit of canning meat that I am sure you can surmise, especially if you are a homesteader or a (and) a hunter… You guessed it, saving freezer space it is.
There are many ways to preserve meat, but the easiest of them all is throwing whatever you got in the freezer. And so, I do this a lot, especially with meat. A couple of years ago, I ran out of freezer space during the hunting season. I didn’t have a smoker or a dehydrator so I decided to try to can some meat.
I always assumed that it would be this huge project that I would have to spend a lot of time researching and performing but I was so surprised to find out that canning meat is really very simple.
Even though you can can all kinds of meat pretty much the same way, I chose to can chicken meat a little bit differently. More on that below…
Here is what we are going to go over in this post…
- Raw pack vs. hot pack.
- Canning chicken 3 different ways.
- Equipment needed for canning chicken.
- Preparing the chicken for canning.
- How to Can Chicken.
- Storing and using your home-canned chicken.
Raw Pack vs. Hot Pack…
When canning meat, you can choose to use the raw pack or the hot pack method.
In the raw pack method, you cut the meat, pack it into the jar, add a tiny bit of liquid or nothing at all, and process the meat. It’s a simple method that I show how to do in my post about canning venison meat.
In the hot pack method, you cook the meat just a little bit before you pack it into the jars, add some liquid and process.
The benefit of the hot pack method is that during the cooking the meat loses water content and shrinks and you can pack more into a jar. Some say that it also improves the shelf life (however, I gotta say that my raw pack venison lasts for a year and more…).
Anyway, for meat like venison or beef, I always prefer the raw pack method.
But when it comes to poultry or rabbit meat I prefer the hot pack method simply because it’s hard to take the raw meat off the bone and I feel like a whole lot of it is left behind.
Before we start this hot pack canning chicken tutorial, it’s important to mention all the possible ways of canning chicken so you can choose for yourself which one to follow.
Canning Chicken 3 Different Ways…
Between the hot pack and the raw pack, there are three different ways to can chicken meat (or any other kind of poultry and also rabbit meat).
The first way is to cut your whole chicken into pieces, leave the bone in and pack your jars with the chicken pieces (bone-in). Then, clean the rim of the jar, cover with the lid and close with the band, and process in the pressure canner the exact same way I do below.
So in this way, we left the bone in and didn’t add any liquid to the jars. The chicken will release its own juices while you process it in the canner.
My problem with this was that it’s just hard to stick the pieces of chicken with the bones inside of the jars. It seems like there is a lot of wasted room and I don’t eat the bones so why can them?
The second way to do this is to try to take the raw meat off the bones, pack the jars with the raw meat (don’t add any liquid), clean the rim, close the jar and process the same way that I do below.
My problem with this method is that it takes forever to remove the meat from the small bones, it’s a nightmare of a job, and there is always a lot that is left behind.
If you are canning chicken breast or boneless chicken thighs from the store, this will probably be the easiest way to go, but here on the homestead chicken comes whole so this doesn’t work for me.
So I choose the third way… I choose the hot pack when it comes to poultry (or rabbit) meat. When the chicken is cooked, the meat is falling off the bone and it takes just minutes to pack the jars.
I get to use ALL of the meat, nothing is left behind. In this canning chicken tutorial, I’ll show you step by step how I do this but first, let’s go over the equipment we will need for canning chicken.
Equipment Needed For Canning Chicken…
Here is all the equipment you’ll need to can your chicken the same way I show in this post…
Cutting board – it’s better to always use a non-wooden cutting board when working with raw chicken simply because clean up is easier.
Pressure cooker – to process the chicken before we can the meat.
Pint jars – I used regular mouth pint jars but of course you can use quart jars as well. I’ll give you instructions for processing both sizes.
Lids and bands – to close the jars. Use new lids to ensure the rubber is not damaged and that your jars seal properly. You can always reuse bands as long as they are in good shape.
Ok, let’s learn how to can chicken!
Preparing the Chicken For Canning…
I raise my own chickens for meat here on the homestead. This is the hen that I skinned in my post on how to skin a chicken. She was an older hen and a very annoying one. Even though I clipped her wings she still somehow kept finding a way to get out of the fence and ruin the garden.
It was time for her to go (read here about how to butcher a chicken). Since I just used my last jar of canned venison that week, I thought it was a good idea to can her meat instead of wrapping her and sending her to the freezer.
She wasn’t a Black Australorp chicken, which is the breed I now raise for both meat and egg production, but an Ameraucana chicken that I got way back when so we can have some colored eggs (she was laying green, beautiful eggs).
She was a smaller chicken than the common Cornish Cross that you might choose to raise for meat and also smaller than the Australorps so I only got two pints of meat, but still, I wanted to go ahead and can the meat so I have something on the shelf.
Since she was small, she fit right into my Presto pressure cooker that is not too big… Sometimes, if I process a larger chicken or a few of them I have to cut it up. If I do, I make sure to find room for the carcass in the pot (there is still a whole lot of meat on it) or I use it to make chicken stock.
If you pluck your chickens you can leave the skin on and can it or you can remove it. It doesn’t matter, it’s your choice.
To the Presto cooker, I add four cups of water. Then, I close the pot, set it on the stovetop and turn the heat to high. When the weight starts to wiggle, I lower the heat just a little bit to keep the weight at a gentle wiggle and cook the chicken for 30 minutes.
30 minutes might be a little longer than the pressure cooker book is going to tell you that you need to process a chicken (so its meat will fall off the bone). I do 30 minutes because I don’t raise meat breed chickens, which are not so active. Breeds like the Cornish Cross, which is what we buy at the store, don’t move much so their meat is more tender.
My chickens are more active so their meat is a bit tougher and so I need to cook it a bit longer to bring it to the point of falling off the bone. If I am processing a larger, older chicken, I might even add an additional 10 minutes or so.
Also, if you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can just boil the chicken in water until the meat is soft. This takes longer so I always use my pressure cooker instead (in many cases you can also use your pressure canner as a pressure cooker. They are bigger and you can fit a few chickens inside).
After 30 minutes, I remove the pot from the stovetop and take it to the sink. I let cold water cool it for a couple of minutes.
When it’s cooled enough I open the lid carefully…
I remove the chicken from the pot (save the pot with the liquid in it close by, we are going to use that liquid in a moment), I let the chicken cool for a moment and then I take all the meat off the bones (with my hands).
How to Can Chicken…
Step 1: Packing the jars…
Now that we have the meat ready it’s time to pack the jars. Before I do that I make sure to wash my jars with hot water and a little bit of dish soap. Also, I wash the lids and bands and set them aside.
This is also a good time to add 2” of water to your pressure canner, set it on the stovetop and turn the heat to high. We want the water in the canner to start warming up. Since meat is a low acid food we are going to have to use a pressure canner to can it safely, no water bath here, but it’s very simple… You’ll see.
So now I pack the jars with the cooked chicken making sure to leave 1” headspace.
Next, I need to add some liquid and there is no better liquid than what I used to cook the chicken in, it’s basically a fresh chicken stock. I use the canning funnel and fill the jars with the chicken stock making sure to still leave 1” headspace.
You have a couple of options here… If for some reason you don’t want to use the water you cooked the chicken in (or if you are canning leftover Thanksgiving turkey or roasted chicken), you can use water or homemade chicken stock or store-bought.
You also have the choice of adding salt. I don’t add salt most of the time but some people say that it preserves the taste better. If you add salt, add 1/2 teaspoon to a pint jar or 1 teaspoon to a quart jar.
Step 2: Remove Air Bubbles and Close Jars…
Before I close the jar I use the bubble remover to remove any air bubbles…
Then, I use a clean paper towel to clean the rim of the jar…
And then I center the clean lids and close the jars with the bands not too tight.
Step 3: Processing the Jars in the Pressure Canner…
We are ready to process those jars! By now, the water in the canner is simmering, I place the jars in the canner on the rack…
Close the canner and turn the heat to high. At this point, the weight is off the vent. I want the temperature in the canner to rise to the point that steam starts to come out of the vent.
Once the canner starts to vent steam I set my timer to 10 minutes and I let the canner vent for that time. I usually lower the heat just a little bit at that point.
After 10 minutes of venting, I place the weight on the vent and watch the dial. We process pint jars for 75 minutes and quart jars for 90 minutes no matter what type of canner you are using.
Depending on where you live, you might need to adjust the pressure according to the table above. I live under 2000 ft in elevation, processing pint jars, and using a dial-gauge canner. So for me, it was 75 minutes on 11 psi.
If you are using a weighted-gauge canner, you can follow the table above for the correct pressure or find more information on the National Center for Home Food Preservation here.
Once the processing time is up, turn off the heat and let the canner cool slowly. Don’t try to open it, just let it cool for a couple of hours. when it has cooled completely, open the lid and remove it but don’t remove the jars just yet. Let the jars sit in the warm water for 10 more minutes.
After 10 minutes, use your jar lifters to remove the jars and set them on the counter to cool undisturbed overnight.
Storing and Using Your Home Canned Chicken…
When my jars have cooled completely, I check to make sure that they sealed (by pressing on the center of the lid, there should be no movement there), then I remove the bands, wipe the jars, and store in a cool and dark place (like a root cellar or a pantry).
I always store my sealed jars without the bands. The reason is that I am able to monitor what’s going on inside of the jar better that way. If anything funky is developing inside of the jar it’s usually above the food. Removing the band makes it easier for me to see that space. Another reason is simply that these bands rust over time and get stuck. I had to throw away a few jars in the past simply because I couldn’t open them!
You can use both the chicken and the stock in any recipe. Think chicken tacos, BBQ pulled chicken, chicken soup, chicken chili… The possibilities are endless.
What do you think? Canning chicken might sound like a complicated process but it’s really simple. Once you do it a time or two you’ll see that it’s really easy. Think about Thanksgiving… Can you can some of that leftover turkey? It might be a great way to preserve it.
Your meat should last for a long time, however, I personally try to use all of my canned goods within a year. I find that the food starts to lose its flavor after that.
If you liked this canning tutorial, make sure to check these as well…
- 1 medium whole chicken
- Chicken stock or water
- Salt (optional)
- Place your chicken in a pressure cooker, add 4 cups of water, close the pot and set on the stovetop.
- Turn the heat to high, once the weight starts to rock, lower the heat a bit to keep it rocking gently. Cook your chicken for about 30 minutes (see notes below if you don't have a pressure cooker).
- Transfer your pressure cooker to the sink and rinse it with cold water to release the pressure and cool it quickly. Open the pot carefully and remove the chicken. Set the pot with the chicken stock that is in it aside, we'll use it in a minute.
- Take all the chicken meat off the bones.
- Fill your pressure canner (not cooker) with 2'' of water. Set on the stovetop and turn the heat on high to start heating the water in the canner.
- Wash your jars, lids, and bands with soapy, hot water.
- Pack the jars with the chicken meat. Make sure to leave 1'' headspace.
- Add the chicken stock from the pressure cooker to each jar making sure to leave 1'' headspace. If for some reason you don't want to use your fresh chicken stock you can use water or store-bought chicken stock.
- It is optional to add salt. If you choose to add salt, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint jar or 1 teaspoon of salt to each quart jar.
- Use the bubble remover to remove air bubbles.
- Use a clean paper towel to clean the rim of the jar.
- Center the lid and close the jar with the band not too tight.
- Place your jars inside the pressure canner on the rack. Make sure the jars don't touch each other.
- Close the canner and turn the heat on high (if it's not already on high). Make sure the weight is not on the vent.
- Once steam starts to vent, lower the heat just a bit and set your timer to 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, place the weight on the vent. Process pint jars for 75 minutes and quart jars for 90 minutes. See notes below for processing pressure depending on your altitude and the type of canner you are using.
- Once the time is up, turn off the heat and let the canner cool slowly (for a couple of hours).
- When the canner is cool, open it but don't remove the jars just yet. Let them stay in the warm water for an additional 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, use your jar lifters to remove the jars from the canner. Set them on the counter to cool completely overnight.
- Check that all the jars have sealed before removing the bands and storing them in the pantry or root cellar.
If you don't have a pressure cooker you can simply boil the chicken until the meat can be taken off the bone easily. You can also can poultry meat that is already cooked, for example, leftover turkey or roasted chicken.
Follow the table below to adjust the pressure depending on where you live and follow the weight guidelines for a weighted gauge canner...
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1 pint jar
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 558Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 267mgSodium: 712mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 85g