SURVIVAL KITCHEN

Dehydrated Chicken Strips | How I Make and Store Them

I recently came across a jar of dehydrated chicken strips from a batch made several years ago. I sampled it, and am happy to report they were delicious! Proof that shelf life can be long, if dehydrated and stored properly (details below).

Here’s how I make dehydrated chicken strips:

UPDATED (Safety Guidelines)

Tip: The dehydrator that we use is the Excalibur.

>> Excalibur Food Dehydrator
(view on amzn)
Front view of Excalibur food dehydrator

How I Make Dehydrated Chicken Strips

It’s better to use chicken breast rather than dark meat. That’s because the dark meat has more fat in it and will spoil more quickly than the breast meat.

I recently used chicken breast that was still ‘on the bone’ (because it was on sale). I simply sliced the meat off the bone with a sharp knife.

Having a very sharp knife is important!

The next step is to trim away all skin and fat from the meat. Why? Because the fat will go rancid if you leave it on.

As you can see in the picture, I simply used a cutting board, a sharp knife, and kept a bowl nearby to throw in the fatty pieces of meat.

I discarded the skin but saved the fatty pieces of trimmed chicken to cook them separately for immediate consumption by our mini-Dachshund ;) – less waste that way…

how-to-make-dehydrated-chicken-strips

 
I sliced the meat into strips about 1/4-inch thick. If you cut with the grain, the result will be a slightly more chewy meat. If you cut across the grain, the dehydrated result will snap easier into small pieces. It depends what you want…

Tip: If you partially freeze the chicken, it is easier to cut the strips to a consistent thickness because it’s firmer.

 
I then placed the chicken strips on my dehydrator trays and set the dehydrator temperature to it’s max setting.

Safety Guideline Update

First, I’ve done it this way for awhile without issue. That is, placing raw chicken strips on trays and dehydrating at the highest temperature setting until done. HOWEVER, some dehydrators don’t get hot enough for meats. Additionally, the USDA has released guidelines for safety in this regard. Here’s the present recommendation:

“Steam or roast meat to 160 °F and poultry to 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer before dehydrating it.”

Safety concerns related to E. coli O157:H7 are minimized if the chicken is precooked to 165 °F prior to drying.

Therefore I recommend placing your cut chicken strips in a appropriate baking pan. Set oven temperature to a low setting so as not to “cook”. You just want to heat the strips up up to at least 165 °F. So, an oven temp of say, 275 °F (time will vary depending on your oven and strip thickness). Go ahead and heat the chicken and periodically check internal meat temperature with a quick-read thermometer until at least 165 °F.

Then you can place on dehydrator trays:

chicken-strips-on-dehydrator-tray

 
Dehydrate the chicken strips until they at least reach a leathery consistency. Personally I like to dry them longer until they’re very crisp. This way they’re drier and they will last longer.

The dehydrate time will vary quite widely, depending on thickness of the chicken strips, your environmental conditions, the dehydrator itself, temperature, and how dry that you want them. This could vary anywhere from 6 to 12 hours!

Plan on starting this process in the morning so that you won’t run out of time before having to call it a night and go to bed…

dehydrate-chicken

After the chicken strips have finished dehydrating, I break them up into smaller pieces. This way they fit into canning jars which I sealed with a vacuum sealer ‘jar sealer’ attachment.

How Long Does Dehydrated Chicken Last?

Predicting how long dehydrated foods will last is not exact. Why? Because there are lots of variables including the final moisture content, storage temperature, method, oxygen content and more…

TIP: Shelf life will be significantly longer if foods are dehydrated to crisp and brittle. When they “snap” while breaking. With that said, somewhere between being somewhat pliable and crisp is a preferred doneness for some.

We often store our various home dehydrated foods in canning jars. We vacuum seal them with a Jar Sealer, an accessory attachment for vacuum sealers having an external hose port.

>> Jar Sealer (regular mouth)

Vacuum sealed greatly enhances the shelf life!
>> Food Saver Vacuum Sealer
(view on amzn)

[ Read: Things You Can Seal With A Vacuum Sealer ]

 
Here’s a picture of a ‘canning jar’ filled with dehydrated chicken strips:

dehydrated-chicken-shelf-life

[ Read: 4 Factors That Affect Dehydrated Food Shelf Life ]

I cannot advise an accurate number for shelf life. I can tell you that I’ve eaten well dehydrated chicken strips several years afterwards (stored in vacuum sealed jar in a cool, dark environment). But yours might only last 2 months. It’s going to depend.

The thing is, It’s difficult to test the actual shelf life because these things disappear (consumed!) sooner rather than later…

Continue reading: Safe Jerky In A Home Dehydrator

[ Read: NESCO Dehydrator | A Great Economical Choice ]

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57 Comments

  1. I like to can chicken breasts. You cut them in chunky strips, put them in prepared pint jars, no water, no salt, and process them in a pressure canner for 90 min. I use 15 pounds of pressure because of my altitude. They make their own broth which you can use or keep for later. The chicken is cooked and ready for a variety of meals.

    1. @ old lady

      I agree 1000%, I do the same, but “chunk” mine rather than strips.

      FYI taste a HECK of a lot better that that store bought canned chicken.

      NRP

      1. We can “cooked deer roast”, potatoes, carrots, chopped onions, peas from the garden and gravy all in one jar. Take it out, heat it up and it is one of the most delicious meals ready to eat. I have never dried chicken before but will have to try it.

      2. I have dried Italian prunes for many years
        I do not drive them to a crisp they are still pliable. I then seal them with a vacuum sealer sometimes as you seal them you see the juice release a little bit from the fruit. When we beat them up they are awesome they are so flavorful they’re not dry. I was wondering if anybody else does that
        They are like the prunes in the stores

    2. If you cook chicken breast then dehydrate them, how to you rehydrate them. I thought you put them in liquid, I also hear of steaming them. How long does it take and what really works.

    3. Old lady,
      So are you saying you raw pack your chicken? I have seen this done on YouTube and it looks so easy I think I could do it. The only issue I have with it is it looks funky, like a science project when it’s done. Quite ugly in the jar….Am I being too particular? Hugs

      1. Yes you are. This is as tasty as it is easy to do. Easy, delicious and, if you follow the steps, safe.

      1. Idacanner, The advantage is they can be eaten as they are, or rehydrated and used in any recipe that uses chicken..- it is cooked so add: canned or dehydrated( and soaked to prepare for recipe) veggies, chicken that has soaked in warm water to a pasta or rice that has cooked 3/4of the time in recipe…., add seasoning. eat thru and done..

  2. Ken,

    Is there some reason you don’t cut the fillets into little pieces before dehydrating? It would seem they’d dry faster, and easier to cut.

    1. You’re probably right – it would dry a bit faster.

      The dog likes them this way though (he told me so… ;) )

      Actually, I like them this way too! Eat them like ‘chips’…

      1. So for you to eat them like “chips”, they are raw, right? Does dehydration kill salmonella? I read dehydrated raw meat in pet food that Salmonella can persist indefinitely in a dehydrated state such that it remains viable in low heat situations.

        I don’t trust store bought chicken because of salmonella poisoning, and I would cook them first for my consumption.

        1. Salmonella dies if held at about 150 degrees for three minutes. Meat is supposed to be dehydrated at 160 to 165, usually for several hours (until chewy or crispy depending on preference). There should be no danger if done properly. Thick meat that doesn’t reach that temperature on the inside may still be a risk, but generally after an hour or so any thickness of sliced meat would reach at least 150.

        2. I agree but would consider dehydrating cooked chicken and wonder how long it would last without freezing. I’d like to use it as a meal in a jar kind of thing.

        3. Apparently, generally, salmonella bacterium is killed off at temperatures above 140 degrees-F. There is the ‘rule of thumb’ though for poultry to be 165 degrees, while beef okay at 145 degrees.

          With that said, my dehydrator will go up to 155, so, I suppose I’m fairly safe. So far, so good…

        4. I always put mine in a 275 degree oven for 10 minutes after dehydrated. Just for a little extra peace of mind for me.

        5. When my Gram would leave food out and not return it to the fridge, I would warn her to be careful or Sam and Ella would come and visit- those two will make you sick!

        6. You all will croak when you read this, but until about 1980 if there were leftovers I didn’t refrigerate my fried chicken. Just put it in the pie safe and we ate it the next day. This was the way I was raised, so was my mother and her mother! The pie safe which I inherited belonged to my great-grandmother and I’m sure she passed along her room temp chicken tolerance. (Of course she married in 1890 and didn’t get an electric ‘icebox’ until the mid 1940’s.)

          I woke up one day and wondered what in the world I was doing, and it finally went in the refrigerator. I guess we were just lucky all those years. Of course, I’m a poor cook who consistently overcooks meat so maybe that helped lol.

          1. Kate114,
            My dad loves to tell me how, when he went off to college, his mother would ship him a shoebox full of fried chicken halfway across the state. It would arrive a week later. He said it tasted great! This was around 1953. Always makes me cringe…

            That man NEVER has an upset stomach…no wonder!
            dude

          2. Too funny! I wonder if chicken was a better quality product decades ago, or would we still have no problems keeping it without refrigeration today? I’m too chicken (ha) to find out…

          3. More likely folks built up a tolerance to salmonella. A lot of the modern food safety rules are designed to protect the elderly, small children, and others that may have weak immune systems. If humans were as fragile as the food safety rules imply there wouldn’t be 6+ billion of us.

          4. I would guess it is more likely that in the 50’s chicken wasn’t processed in salmonella factories. It either came from your local butcher or farmer and hadn’t had many hands touching it. Our “modern” food system is in itself a safety hazard.

  3. Great share Ken :)

    Two questions:

    I don’t have a dehydrator, can you do 155 in a regular oven?

    Did you salt these?

    Salt being a preservative could that enhance shelf/freezer life?

    Thanks in advance for any input~

    1. Be careful using a regular oven because the heat of the tray will add to your temperature–100 degrees (from the oven) + perhaps 50 degrees (from the tray). The actual temperatures are a guess. I use window screen as a tray when I’m using the oven–it lets the air through like a dehydrator. The temps in an oven aren’t as carefully controlled as in a dehydrator, so while the oven says 200 degrees it might be a few degrees higher or lower (particularly with the door open, as you need air circulation for dehydrating).

      1. What kind of screen? Metal I think is usually aluminum nowadays and I believe the non-metallic is made from fiberglass. I could definitely be wrong on this one.

        1. Just my 2cents, I wouldnt use alum, its just a bad metal, and it will leach. Try to find a stainless screen. I found round stainless frying pan splash screens fit my dehydrator perfectly. I cut the welded handle off and it gives me a very nice reinforced round screen. Found them for like 8bucks at the BassPro shops / Cabellas in the cooking dept next to the cast cookery.

      2. The ONLY time a tray will add to the temperature in the oven is if the tray was heated above the oven temperature, Ovens are VERY precise on their temperature settings, ad are required to be checked AT THE FACTORY before going out the door to ensure the temperatures are accurate. This is part of the ongoing Consumer protection act that ensures appliances do what they are advertised to.

        1. It’s my understanding that oven temps are like a sine wave. They go up a few degrees above the set temp then the element turns off and the temp falls to the oven air temp but since the element(in electric) has turned off it takes time to come to temp and while that happens the the oven temp falls below the set temp. Gas works basically the same way. Think about it. You have what is basically a sealed box.The things you learn from old “Good Eats episodes” lol

    2. Yes you could do it in an oven, IF the oven can go down that low. If you go much higher, the meat will ‘cook’. Many ovens cannot go that low – although many of the new ovens can. In fact our oven even has a ‘dehydrate’ mode on it (although I haven’t used it because I have a ‘real’ dehydrator ;) )

      I do not salt the chicken because I’m feeding to the dog as treats.

      If I was purely doing it for me, I would indeed sprinkle some salt on it for taste.

      1. the only salt used on any heat or sun dried meats should be “to taste”. Heat or Sun Dried Meats are not Salt Meats (meats cured in pure salt to dry them). and have greater latitude in their use, Salted Meats on the other hand need further preparation to make them palatable, for example Salt Pork is equivalent to brined but unsmoked bacon, with an unhealthy salt level

      2. Not be be “that guy” but you keep saying the meat will cook, but the reality is the meat HAS cooked. With chicken the temperature of cooked chicken IS 165. With beef you have different levels of “doneness” from rare to well done. Medium rare is 130-135ºF internal temperature. When making jerky the temperature you are aiming for is generally less that that(provided you are using whole cuts of meat not store bought ground).

    3. Don’t add salt if you will be feeding some to your animals. Dogs do not sweat out salt like people do so too much salt is NOT good for them.

  4. I dehydrated some venison strips, which had been marinated in soy sauce, salt, sugar and red pepper. Did this in December of 2014, and they still taste good right out of the plastic bag today.

    I did put some dried rice in the bag as a primitive water absorbent before closing.

  5. NRP,

    Absolutely true about the store. You know you are in a true Asian store when none of the packages are in English.LOL!

    Have eaten both cat and dog in other parts of the world. Monkey too along with Tapir down south way south of you.

    My wife has promised me Tom Yum Kai with chicken satay. She makes a great Thai salad with lean beef chilled and her homemade peanut sauce for the satay. Looking forward to Saturdays dinner. She serves the soup in a Thai hot pot and cooks the satay on a tabletop grill. Thai rice too of course.
    I guess I’m back in her good graces again…LOL!

    1. @ Bill Jenkins Horse

      “My wife has promised me Tom Yum Kai with chicken satay.She makes a great Thai salad with lean beef chilled and her homemade peanut sauce for the satay. Looking forward to Saturdays dinner.”

      Well you may be back on the wife’s good graces, but your now on MY SH!T LIST!!!!! HAHAHAHA

      I bet ya even know what “Naem” is or as some call it “Nam”? Just to upset and drive crazy a lot of people that don’t know, it’s Raw Fermented Ground Pork and Rice mixed and set at room temp for 3-6 days, than eaten uncooked…. OMG is it good. :-) :-) Hey, 3 billion Asians cant be wrong….

      NRP

      PS; Welcome to MSB cooking channel… HAHAHA

      1. NRP, with all due respect I would rather be on your sh** list than my wifes!HAHAHA!

        There’s something called Nano too. Fermented beans that looks like snot with beans mixed in. Pretty tasty!

        MSB cooking channel is the best!LOL!

        1. NRP and Bill Jenkins Horse and their own cooking show?
          That is hysterical!!!!

          Please please contact Food Network now and send in your demo video

          Your fans are waiting…

          And hey rats are fine, but no cats or dogs, or guinea pigs (too cute)
          though I know people who eat guinea pigs them – anyway
          you don’t want to be on Stardust’s (animal lover) and my (animal lover) “list” LOL

          Be good boys!! ;)

          1. And they could demonstrate the whole process, from wild capture to dinner table. :) An additional draw!

  6. @ Bill Jenkins Horse

    Don’t laugh, I believe I have had that in Laos.
    Wonder how well it would freeze dry? hummmmm

    NRP

  7. Hey Bill

    Ya do know we drive Ken 3/4 crazy when we get off on a tangent like this…. right?

    NRP

  8. and we all know that rats have tape worms and round worms and hanta virus and fleas and bot fly infestations and…

  9. Oldhomesteader,I’m game for the franchising. We will have to come up with a catchy name like Rat in the trap or something…
    And of course Ken would get a percentage too. He may draw the line on us advertising on the site though…

  10. Antique Collector, I see a job as our quality control manager in our little venture in your future!LOL!

  11. @ Bill Jenkins Horse

    I might add Bill, that always limiting our choices in life as well as in food seems to me kinda nonsense, Just look at some of the GREAT ideas (recipes) that have popped up here on MSB. I for one have never asked “what is this” when being offered some new culinary delight. Especially abroad, the mixtures of flavors is unbelievable to say the least. And what a waste of taste buds to eat only McDonalds Hamburgers everyday.

    Ya really want to have fun, watch the faces of 10 Thai Ladies when you’re sitting on the floor eating traditional Asian Food and you eat “something different” or something a little “HOTER than the hinges of he11 itself” … HAHAHA Let me tell ya, they laugh their heads off at the Farang.

    I personally feel the same goes for living life to it’s fullest, ya gata remember “Varity is the ‘spice’ of life” BUT of course one must also remember there is nothing that too much “spice” will not pickle, that is why I’m waiting on that Skydiving Adventure till I hit, ohhhhh around 105 Years Old hehehehe

    I, like Bill, know we kinda got off subject here some, but isn’t it nice to just relax a little and have some fun? And thanks to Ken for not going off the nut to much, but I believe the Old-Man knows we all have a very serious side when needed. I know I would trust the Old Grump to have my 6 if needed, and that’s what it’s all about, Respect.

    NRP

  12. Reminded me of a story about rats in Vietnam. When I first got there they told me the rats got as big as cats. Well I found it hard to believe and one night on guard duty I saw what appeared to be a normal sized rat. I commented to the guy I was in the guard post with that it was no bigger than the rats we had back home. He looked at me and said, “that’s a mouse”.

    I concur cats are stringy but I thought they tasted more like pork, might have been the way it was cooked.

  13. Thank you for the timely article! I’ve not been able to find clear advice about the actual shelf life of dried meat. Once I get more “ingredients” together, I’m very interested in creating one-jar dehydrated meals, but shelf life of meats has been an unknown. I’m just beginning to explore the methods of backpackers who create complete meals, then dehydrate them and package them in single-meal amounts. Pretty good resource there!

  14. Tom, it depends on the thickness of the chicken. Shreds do not take as long as other thicker,more substantial pieces. You will need to experiment with each food. ANY thing i am dehydrating.. i cover with very warm water. and give it 30-90 minutes.Then add it to my recipe..if going to use as an ingredient.
    Also remember that those dehydrated foods CAN be eaten dry- they are cooked already by the dehydration process.
    I have used more of the veggies dehydrated than meats… even string beans and okra take 45 minutes.

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