How To “Can” Chicken Breast


Canning meat is one of the most feared things to “can” at home. It is actually very easy, more nutritious and cheaper than buying canned meat. Here’s how…


Guest-post by Christine


Home Canning: Chicken Breast

At the time of this posting, a 6-ounce tin of canned chicken at Wal-Mart was $3.
I spent $30 on Boneless Chicken (on sale) and I canned 13 pint jars (16 oz).

My jars, rings and lids are reusable so there are no other costs, other than a few pennies worth of salt. This brought the cost to only $2.31 for each 16 oz jar.

If you read the ingredients label on the “canned” chicken that you buy at the store, there are many chemicals, fillers and preservatives. They sometimes even have artificial flavoring. The ingredients here are simple: Chicken and Salt.

Begin by cutting your boneless chicken into chunks, then pack them raw into the jars, leaving about 3/4th of an inch head-space at the top.


Next add 3/4 teaspoon of salt to each jar


Wipe the rims with a damp clean cloth and then place the lids and rings on the jars.
Note: If you are using Tattler lids, back them off 1/4 inch.

After you get the lids and rings on, place the jars into your canner with the required water for a long processing time. You do not want it to boil dry during processing.

Use the canner’s racks in between levels of jars.


Place the lid onto your canner and then bring it to a boil. You want the steam to vent out of the stem for about 10 minutes.

Then place your weight on the canner and set to 15lb (or the recommended pressure for your elevation).

Once the canner gets to the correct pressure, then time it…
75 minutes for pints
90 minutes for quarts

Note: From the experts, the new ‘bible’ in home preserving,
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving


Once the time is up, then slide your canner off the burner to a cool spot. Do not try to rapidly reduce the pressure, to avoid jar breakage and seal failure.

After it has cooled sufficiently with no pressure left, remove the lid carefully (the steam can burn you).

Then using a jar lifter, remove the jars and place them on a clean dry towel. The jars are very hot at this point and may still be boiling inside the jar.

If you are using Tattler lids, then now is the time to tighten the rings down. Once again use oven mits as the jars are very hot.

Leave the jars undisturbed until they are fully cooled.

After they have cooled, then place a piece of tape on the lid and mark the date (and the contents).

Chicken prepared like this is great for many dishes but our favorite is chicken salad for sandwiches.

Chicken Salad

1 jar canned chicken
6 hard boiled eggs
salt/pepper to taste
Chopped green onions
chopped celery if desired

Place into a bowl the drained chicken broken up, the cut up hard boiled eggs, the chopped onions and celery. Then add relish to taste and Mayo to desired consistency, salt and pepper to taste. Put whatever amount you want on bread or crackers and enjoy. It is beautiful served on a lettuce leaf.

All American Pressure Canner



  1. Good Information Christine, I’m glad to see your instructions include the use of a pressure cooker. I have seen other articles on canning meat where a water bath canner is utilized. Just not safe to do it that way, the tempuratures needed can not be attained that way. Thanks Christine!

    1. Roger, I prefer to use a pressure canner with anything that I can utilize it for. The only things I use a water bath on is pickles, jam, jelly, and some fruits. Pressure canners are safer and I can put way more jars in it. For example 7 pints in a water bath versus 20 in my pressure canner. It is a lot faster and easier that way. There are some things that have to be water bathed though.My poor old canner was made in 1980 my grandmother used it for 10 years before she gave it to me and it has been used by me non stop all year round for 22 years since then. I can not preach enough that it is safer to use a pressure canner for home canning…..

      1. @christine, Given that your pressure canner has been used so much over all these years, I’m curious to know which brand it is – since it is obviously very reliable for you…

        1. It is a Mirro Model M-0522 It is a good one. They changed the gasket style in 83 and I have to special order gaskets but they last several years as long as you use it regularly. Not using it will cause the gaskets to fail, the rubber gets hard and then does not seal right. I have extra gaskets stored just in case though……

        2. Those old Mirro’s are great! I have my grandma’s Mirro and I order 3 gaskets at a time to make sure I always have at least one or two good ones on hand.
          I have been looking at the new gasketless cookers. I’m not sure how much I would like using a new cooker, but eventually the gaskets are going to become impossible to get.

        1. @ penny
          I have Pressure-Cooked-Caned bacon, chicken, beef, and pork, I don’t add any liquid to my stuff. I just make sure to pack it without air in the meats. When it cooks it always seems to produce enough liquid.

        2. @ JoAnna Kauffman
          I don’t add salt, some people I know do, Recipes vary to add or not. I guess it’s a personal call.

  2. Thank you so much for this article. It is a little bit of a challenge to overcome the fear of canning meat, especially when you have never done it before. The pictures and instructions are very helpful.

  3. Great article Christine.

    I like to add poultry seasonings (herbs from my garden-sage, rosemary, thyme & garlic) to some of the jars. Those jars make a good base for chicken soup.

    1. I read several websites that say not to add sage to meats and things until after you open the jar to use. They said it develops a bad taste while canning. Have you experienced this at all? I like sage and would like to try canning sausage with it.

  4. How much water do you put in the pressure cooker? Do you fill it up over the lids or does it need to be below the lid? I am guessing the latter as you state that it is possible to have multiple layers of jars.

    Also, getting a canning funnel would be a really good idea for this. The damp rag should remove the food, but may still leave a thin film of fat which may affect the seal.

    You should test all the jars for a seal before putting them away. Like a regular can, the lid should be firmly sucked in.

    We have been cleaning out the parents house and are finding canning jars that are 30 and even 40 years old and are still sealed. Some of the contents did not look too appetizing, but I am assuming it still would have been edible if necessary. The main problem was rust as the basement has been damp in recent years and some lids had rusted through.

    1. a-nerd, The amount of water in a pressure canner does not need to cover the jars. You only need put enough so that it does not boil dry during the canning process. for 90 minutes usually about 4 inches of water is enough. Better to be safe than sorry and add a little more. If your canner runs dry it can break your jars and you will not attain the correct pressures.

      I have a couple funnels but I have found that with this particular thing it is easier to not use it as you are having to pack it in quite tightly. You must just make sure that you wipe it well and of course try to be careful to not just smear the chicken all over the rims. I rarely have a jar that does not seal. I have been canning meat for about 20 of my 30 years canning and this method has always worked well for me. Yes you must always check your seals. I use tattler lids which are re-useable(No repeated cost of buying lids and also I will have them in a TEOTWAWKI situation when all the stores are empty). Also they are made of a type of plastic so there is no problem with lid decomposure from rust. You can not see the “sucked down” with them but instead you check for a seal by picking up on the lid if it stays and you can lift the jar by the lid then it is sealed. Otherwise the lid will just fall off.

  5. While there is lots of good info in this artical, and learning how to can protien is a great idea, it’s best not to fudge on cost comparisons. 12.5oz canned chicken at Wal-Mart is $1.98. Name brand is $2.08. Of course you do have to put up with who knows what being added to it.

    1. Six pack of 12.5 oz cans is 10.00 at Costco. Again I think you are better knowing what is in what you are eating so making it yourself would be better but if you don’t have a pressure caner ( I don’t yet ) this is a good alternative.

  6. No fudging intended at our Wal-Mart the only chicken breast they had was 2.98 and a small tin at that (The size of a small tuna can). They also add water to make it weigh more and a bunch of chemicals. There is no water and there are no additives by canning it yourself. Also you know how the food is handled. I have worked in a canning factory and a chicken plant both when I was 18. If you knew just how much bugs and trash is allowed you would never want store bought anything again. If you buy canned meat at a survival site or lehmans it is even more pricey. When you can get the meat on sale it makes it even cheaper to do it yourself.

    1. And when you keep chickens, like I do, you pay even less for the meat, and you know exactly what went into that chicken, and you know how that chicken was treated during his life. Hell, he might even have a name. I’ve eaten plenty of my roosters that had names.
      And the FLAVOR! Home grown chickens taste nothing like that bland stuff you find at the store. Store chickens are slaughtered at 8 weeks, kinda like chicken veal. If they live for a few months more they develop a lot of flavor and much more bulk.
      LOL, I have about a 3 page ramble running through my head about the advantages of home grown chickens vs. store bought, but I’ll limit it to the 2 top reasons I prefer my own chickens. Flavor & size.

  7. I really like this site.

    I have’nt gotten into canning much at all yet, but I am thinking very seriously about propane powered freezers… Still a ways from being prepped properly but this site is godsend and the best I’ve found to that aim. Thanks MSB!

    1. @StealthSurvivor The big drawback to a propane freezer is that if we go grid down for an extended period of time (say after a replay of the 1859 carrington event) then your propane will run out and you will not be able to replenish. If you have already learned the arts of other preservation like canning which can be done on a wood stove then when it does run out you will have a way to save your food. If you do not learn it now when the equipment and knowledge from others is available then you will be hard pressed to learn how in a pinch when it is not. Not telling you what to do I am only trying to be of assistance.

      1. Propane will run out, but not as fast as one might think. We moved our kitchen in September to the other side of the house and hooked up our propane cook stove (high altitude, huge burners) to a 100 pound propane bottle. That’s less than 20 gallons. We cook on it twice daily and are still on the same bottle. I don’t know how much gas a propane fridge uses, but it is a fairly small flame. Seems like a year or more on a 500 gallon tank would be totally feasible. Just don’t try to use propane for heat in one of those situations, you’ll run out way too soon.

  8. Hi there – just happened upon this site (and I love it!) I would like to do chicken in 1/2 pint jars, would the process time just be the same as pints?

  9. Yes I process half pints at the same time as pints in the same canner. It comes out wonderful…

  10. I have 4 canners plus a pressure cooker. I just bought an All American 30 quart liquid capacity (14 quarts capacity) canner. It is wonderful and a lot of money but it will be passed on to the kids, but only when i no longer need it! I got tired of taking all day to can so at least now i can do 14 in the time it used to take to process 5 or 7.
    The gasketless All American is the only way to go, however i have spare gaskets in stock also for all the other canners and still use them for the “smaller” jobs.

  11. I didn’t see this addressed so I hope I am not repeating a question but how long will the meat last canned like this? I am assuming that after that long of processing the meat is fully cooked and ready for use.

    1. Your home-canned food, including meats will be safe to eat for many, many years as long as they maintain their seal and as long as you processed the jars for the correct amount of time.

      Rule of thumb… “when in doubt, throw it out”. If you open a 5 year old jar of ‘canned’ meat and don’t hear that whoosh sound from the lid opening its vacuum seal, then don’t eat it.

      Boiling the food prior to eating is a very good safety measure.

  12. Better watch out….We’ll all be on a list if we run out and buy Pressure cookers!!! LOL. Thank you for the information, very good and helpful article.

  13. Our pressure cooker and pressure canners get a workout around here. We can rabbit quarters, chicken quarters, beef & venison, plus oodles of vegetables. Since I picked over a bushel of green beans last night, you can guess what we’re doing. This will make 5 bushels so far this season. Now, we’ll see if the pole beans are going to make anything. The heat is hard on them. I personally like the all-American 930, although the presto 7qt has been good to us over the years. Usually good tools will last a life time if taken care of.

  14. I think this is an amazing skill. My Mother/Grandmother used to can chicken, and EVERYONE loved it. Pretty sure she only added water and salt. Still recal when we moved off the farm, and bought some store bought canned chicken…wow, horrible compared to the “real” stuff.

    have also tasted home canned fresh caught fish, which was also amazing.

    Folks like this, who are a whiz at canning, truly have valuable skills.

  15. Another article worth reading Ken. I have eaten canned foods all my life. I really never got to eat “smuckers” as it was and still is expensive. With the cost of everything going up but wages I was thinking of giving this a try. I do have a question. Do you have to have a locking pressure cooker to do this or can you use a stock pot and listen for the “pop” in the seals? I realize having a presto 1000 that hold 12 jars is nice. Especially the ones with a pressure gauge so you can be exact on temp, time and so on? Seemed to me my granny used to put them in her stock pot with the lid on then waited till she heard the “pop”? I realize using a stock pot wouldn’t be a precise a method of using the Presto but can it be done?

  16. I am canning chicken and wonder. You have times for pint and quarts but is there a special pressure cooker time for 1/2 pints?

    1. Maybe Christine will give her opinion (or anyone else) if she happens to read this comment, but my instinct says that you might want to cook for the same amount of time as for a pint jar in this case (chicken), for safety sake.

      1. Thank you. It’s what I’ve been doing–just in case. I appreciate your comment.

  17. I know I am late to this dance, however, I really enjoyed the info presented. What is the shelf-life of meat prepared and preserved this way? Thanks!!

  18. I fully enjoyed this article and just the other day I bought many pound of chicken breast on sale just to try this out. I have a presto pressure canner I just bought for this purpose and now I have to get up the nerve to try it!

  19. I’m so glad I found this site. I have 7 pints of cut up boneless chicken breasts in the pressure canner at the moment.
    I’m planning on getting a small flock of meat birds in the Spring and learning how to butcher. I’m going to try skinning as well as plucking when the time comes.
    By canning my chicken I’ll save a lot of freezer space. Thanks for your help.

  20. Hi there. You mention that if using Tattler lids to “back them off a 1/4 inch”. What did you mean by that? I am just starting to use Tattler lids, so I am not completely familar with them. Thanks,

  21. I just used a jar of chicken I canned this summer. While it doesn’t look very appetizing from the outside,one thing that struck me when I opened it was this-it smelled just like cooked chicken. When I open the commercially canned chicken , it smells terrible-probably from the metal can.
    I made enchiladas but now that I know it doesn’t have a strong odor that needs to be covered up,I will also make chicken salad. A friend asked me why I would want to can chicken when I can just freeze it and I replied, “if the electricity goes out, I have to figure out how to keep my frozen chicken frozen or I have to cook it all up and eat it. If it is canned, I don’t have to worry about any of that!”

  22. Hi. Nice web site. I’m awaiting delivery of my pressure canner & bought it primarily for chicken & beef. I plan on raw packing boneless, skinless chicken breasts in pint jars.

    I’d like to know if you can add a very small amount of veggies into the jar with the chicken? I’m thinking one very thin slice of a small onion, half of a baby carrot julienned, a 1 & 1/2″ piece of celery about width of a pencil & a few pepper corns.

    I also like lemon pepper chicken. Could I add 2 or 3 very thin slices of lemon (halved), maybe one teaspoon Real Lemon juice & either pepper corns or sprinkling fresh cracked pepper directly onto the chicken pieces?

    Can you marinate chicken (or beef) before packing into jars, such as in low-salt soy sauce or one of my own concoctions without oil/fat?

    After canning & storing, do spices intensify?

    Thank you.

  23. I use a mirromatic pressure cooker.

    $5 or $6 at yard sales or Goodwill or at Salvation Army.

    (Be sure the popper and seal are included, they cost up to $15 each).

    I remove the metal spacer. The lids do not touch the top cover,

    Holds 3 large mouth pint jars then follow instructions.

    Experts say, its a no no.

    I’m canning 3 pints as I’m typing this.

    A 100 % success so far.

    Family pak chicken breasts at ALDI. One day from expiry. $.85 a pound, bot


    4 lb paks.

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