“Why would anyone can chicken and store in it their pantry?”

“Are we preparing for the end of times?”

“You know, they SELL chicken at grocery stores.”

Responses I receive about canning chicken run from positive to surprised to completely turned off. However, I can give you several reasons why it is a lifesaver to have this pantry staple at the ready:

Convenience: Fully-cooked chicken waiting in your pantry for last minute meals. No defrosting, no cooking, it’s ready.

Space saver: Have you ever bought a lot of chicken (warehouse club, farmer, farm share) and ran out of freezer space? If you pressure can it instead you can store the jars in a pantry, basement, or spare room.

Super high quality: Since you are canning it you can buy the freshest, highest-quality chicken available. Pressure canning means no salt, preservatives or colors. It’s just chicken and you know its origins.

Delicious results: The meat is tender and juicy. Like any pressure cooked product, the result is “fall off the bone” tender. The canning process also creates a broth from the meat that is absolutely delicious.

Alright, obviously you aren’t serving this for your fanciest meals or when your boss is coming for dinner. This chicken is for quick meals such as tacos, pulled chicken sandwiches, rice dishes, chicken salads, etc. I call it the Life Saver for those nights that you need to make dinner, but don’t have anything thawed or prepped. Canned chicken gives you a nutritious meal in a flash.

To ensure you have the very best chicken for future meals you must start with high-quality meat. Any cuts will do, whether it be breasts, thighs or a mix, etc. but quality counts. Pressure canning does not increase a food’s quality so treat yourself to the best.

You must use a pressure canner to chicken. This is a low-acid food that must be processed at 240 degrees to kill toxin-producing spores.  You cannot waterbath can chicken because this method will not get the water temperature hot enough (danger zone).  I bought my pressure canner at Amazon for under $100.

My recipe is just chicken, no additions such as salt, herbs, peppers, etc.  You can absolutely add other ingredients by finding other delicious recipes online.  I prefer a blank canvas so that I am able to customize the flavors later based on what I am making.

Preservation method: Pressure canning

Difficulty level: Experienced

Pressure Canned Chicken

Buy as much high-quality, raw chicken as you’d like to can.  The general rule of thumb is “a pound is a pint”.  For example, 20 pounds of fresh chicken will yield roughly 20 pint or 40 half-pint jars.

  • Fresh, boneless, skinless chicken
  • Canning jars (pint jars or quart jars, but only use only one size in each batch of canning) and lids

Prepare pressure canner and lids according to your canner’s manufacturer’s instructions 30 minutes before you are ready to pack the chicken.  Wash jars, but do not heat (since the chicken that you are packing is chilled).

Remove as much fat as possible from the chicken.  Cut chicken into  that 1-2″ pieces.

Pack tightly into jars leaving 1″ headspace.

Do not add liquid as the chicken will produce its own liquid during the canning process.  Remove any visible air bubbles.  You want the jars to be packed snug.

Wipe rims of jars with towels moistened with vinegar.  Center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.

Place jars in pressure canner.  Lock lid and slowly bring to a boil over medium high heat in tiny increments.  Do not rush this step as jars are cold and heating too quickly can lead to jar breakage.  This step can take up to one hour.  (Why so slow?  There is nothing worse than hearing a jar burst into pieces in your sealed pressure canner.  All you can do is stew for over 100 minutes and picture the broken glass.)  Vent steam for 10 minutes, then close vent.  Continue heating to achieve 11 pounds of pressure.

Process jars for 1 hour 15 minutes (pint jars) or 1 hour 30 minutes (quart jars). Carefully monitor your dial the entire time.  If your reading dips below 11 pounds you must get your reading back up to 11 pounds and start your timer to zero again.

After full processing time turn off heat.  Allow pressure to turn to zero naturally.  When ready (according to your canner’s instructions), open vent.  Remove canner lid.  Wait 10 minutes, then remove jars, and cool for 24 hours undisturbed.

After 24 hours, check lids for seal.  Remove screw bands and check seals.  Wash jars with warm, soapy water.  Label with date.  Jars that have not sealed should be refrigerated immediately and contents eaten within a week.

TIP:  You must clean your jars before putting in your pantry or your pantry will smell like chicken.  To remove oils soak in a sink of 50/50 water and white vinegar.  Scrub with Dawn dish detergent.  Dry jars and store.