These canning chicken directions work for canning chicken, rabbit, duck, goose, turkey, or wild game birds too. Canned chicken is great for homemade soup or casserole recipes.
The directions and pictures here are for a raw pack, bone-in or boneless chicken.
Personally, since it does not save any processing time, I don't see the point in hot packing chicken.
However, the NCHFP says, "The hot pack is preferred for best liquid cover and quality during storage." You may prefer hot pack too.
Either way, hot or raw pack...
...when canning chicken, you must use a pressure canner.
Gather your canning supplies:
Chicken - Your choice of boneless or bone-in. Separate meat at the joints. Remove the skins.
Depending on the size of your chicken pieces, quarts will hold 6 or 7 small drumsticks or 5 to 6 thighs. These estimates are bone-in. For chicken breasts, I'd generally estimate about a pound of chicken per pint, 2 pounds per quart. But that is an estimate.
I always can commercially purchased chicken that has already been dressed and chilled.
If you are butchering your own birds or have fresh birds, you should dress them out and chill them for 6-12 hours before canning. I have not found a clearly stated reason why they need to be chilled first, but I did find this note...
Note: Remember that spoilage and disease-causing microorganisms thrive on meats and poultry. Following the four “C’s” (clean, chill, don’t cross contaminate, and pressure can properly) is critical to producing safe, high quality canned meats. Source: Clemson Edu.
Meat is a place where microorganisms would thrive. Fresh meat needs to be processed and stored with care, so follow all instructions. Be sure the meat has been chilled for 6-12 hours.
And here's a tip. A larger bird will have better flavor for canning. You can process fryers, but the bigger chickens are a better quality.
If you raise meat rabbits and want to can rabbit, you'll follow the same instructions on this page with the addition of a salt water soak. Soak dressed rabbits in a saltwater solution (1 tablespoon of salt to one quart of water). Rinse and proceed with canning instructions.
I can't seem to get past that cuteness factor! I suppose if I'm starving, I could do it. But for now, I'll stick with chicken. :)
Start by preparing jars and getting water in your canner heating. (See pressure canning for full directions.)
Prepare your chicken for either the raw or hot pack. Separate pieces at the joints and debone if you prefer. I can chicken breasts without the bones, but I like canning drumsticks and thighs with the bone in. You can leave skin on or remove it according to your preference. Some say that the skins add flavor.
I don't care for soggy chicken skins, so I remove mine. It still has good flavor!
Raw Pack - Fill your jars loosely with meat pieces, leaving a 1 1/4 inch headspace. Add salt to the jars. Do not add liquid.
Hot Pack - Cook the chicken until about 2/3 done. You can boil, bake, or even steam the chicken for this step. I prefer to boil or bake. Fill your jars with lightly cooked chicken, leaving a 1 1/4 inch headspace. Add salt and top off the jars with chicken broth or water.
After you have filled your jars, remove any air pockets by sliding a narrow, non-metallic item between the jar and the meat. I like to use an orange peeler. A small spatula or other instrument would work also. Do this even if you've filled half of the way and added water, then filled the jar the rest of the way.
Wipe the rims of your jar clean with a damp cloth or paper towel. This prevents any food particles or grease from interfering with the seal.
Add your lids and screw bands.
Place jars in your pressure canner and process according to pressure canning instructions.
Boneless chicken has a different processing time than bone-in chicken. Be sure to read carefully and get the correct time requirements.
Processing instructions from NCHFP's Chicken Page.
I've been asked how to butcher a chicken, and in our house...it is my husband's job. I would do it if I had to but...well...it's not my favorite thing. LOL? I'm blessed that HE loves me enough to process the chicken and bring it to me ready for the pot! Yay, husband!
My friend Melissa has a great article on how to butcher a chicken.
I canned cooked cubed chicken today and I didn't have quite enough to fill that last two quarts up to the inch headroom. They were probably about 1 1/2 inches below the top. I filled each quart with boiling water and processed for 90 min. Now that they have settled it looks like the jars are only a little more than half full of meat, plenty of water though.
My question is this: will they be safe to eat? Everything sealed fine I'm just wondering if the lower level of food will affect the shelf life somehow.
Thanks for any help.
Yes, as long as the jars sealed and you used the correct pressure for your area, your chicken should be just fine! It is good that you added the liquid to the correct headspace. It sounds as if you did it just right!
My husband is slaughtering 26 chickens today, and for the first time I'm thinking I'd like to can some of the meat/broth. I've always froze them whole before and then used them as a three night dinner/stock source. Thinking I'd like to can breasts/drumsticks/thighs/and stock. A couple questions. Will I be limited with soups/stews/casseroles if I can the meat (I've heard it is tender and delicious)? Does the nutrient value of the meat and stock go down after canning chicken? I use bone broth as a healing food for my family. Is the mineral value depleted at all? Thank you so much in advance! love this page!
Remember, if you can it first, it is more suitable for casseroles, etc. It is not like you can open it up and eat it like fried chicken. However, it is perfectly good to just eat it as it is. I'll open up a jar and heat it up and serve. Canning chicken does take away some nutritional value. I have not done extensive research on this, but it is still WAAAAYYY healthier than the stuff you get at the grocer. :)
Page last updated: 10/2/2019.