How to Pressure Can Chicken (Raw Pack Method)

Learn how to pressure can chicken at home with our step-by-step tutorial. Preserve chicken easily and enjoy quick, homemade meals. Whether you’re a seasoned canner or new to preserving food, this tutorial will show you how to safely and effectively can chicken at home.

Four jars of pressure canned chicken sitting on a wooden cutting board, with a bowl of salt to the right.

Why You’ll Love Pressure Canning Chicken to Have on Your Pantry Shelf:

  • Quality Control: No adding any hard-to-pronounce ingredients to home-canned chicken here. Seasoning and chicken, that’s all you need.
  • Cost Effective: Take advantage of store sales and stock up! A 12.5-ounce Walmart brand of canned chicken is $3.56 a pound (last I checked), if you watch for sales you can get boneless skinless chicken breasts for a greater deal.
  • Sourcing: Take control of your meat source by choosing where you get your whole chickens. With a little effort, you can easily find a local meat bird farmer near you.
  • Convenience: While canning chicken is work up front, it’s a huge time saver later. Ready-to-go meat on your shelves to throw in recipes for quick easy dinners. A home-cooked meal on the table, and money saved by not running through the drive-thru!
  • Space Saving: It frees up freezer space! Pressure canning is an excellent option for getting the meat out of the freezer and onto your shelves!
  • Shelf-stable: Canning chicken is a great way to get shelf-stable meat on your pantry shelves. If you find yourself without power for an extended time, you’ll have ready-to-eat cooked meat on your shelves to make an easy and fast meal.

What is Pressure Canning?

“Canning is an important, safe method of food preservation if practiced properly. The canning process involves placing foods in jars or cans and heating them to a temperature that destroys microorganisms that could be a health hazard or cause the food to spoil. Canning also inactivates enzymes that could cause the food to spoil. Air is driven from the jar or can during heating and as it cools a vacuum seal is formed as it cools. This vacuum seal prevents air from getting back into the product bringing with it microorganisms to recontaminate the food.”

What are the two primary canning techniques?

Water bath canning

Water bath canning is a canning method for high-acid foods, such as fruits, pickled vegetables, etc. It creates pressure, from boiling water,  that pushes the air out of the jars.  High-acid foods make it hard for bacteria to thrive and are great for water bath canning.

Pressure canning

Low-acid foods, like meats and most vegetables, need a higher temperature, between 240ºF-250ºF,  to kill off any bacteria, making food shelf-stable and safe to eat. This can only be achieved through pressure canning.

Why it’s Important to use Safe Canning Techniques?

  • You don’t want to get sick. Using unsafe canning methods to pressure can chicken can result in spoiled food and botulism. A spoiled jar of home-canned food is generally easy to spot, but a jar that has grown botulism is not and can result in getting really sick or even death. (This is rare; don’t let it freak you out!)
  • Don’t waste your precious time. Trying to take shortcuts by leaving out steps, or improperly canning food could result in food that spoils and needs to be thrown away. It’s normal to have a jar here and there that you find the seal has failed, but losing mass amounts of jars isn’t normal when using proper canning techniques. Canning is work upfront, and you don’t want to waste your time.

Pressure canning chicken is important because chicken is a low-acid food, it needs a higher temperature only achieved with a pressure canner to make your meat shelf-stable and safe to eat.

What Will I Need to Pressure Can Chicken?

Labeled ingredient shot of cut up raw chicken and salt for pressure canning chicken.

You will need the following ingredients:

  • Raw chicken: I love using boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
  • Salt: canning salt is recommended, you can also use non-iodized salt. I love using Redmond sea salt. Salt is optional, but it does make it taste better right out of the can. Feel free to use other seasonings like chicken bouillon seasoning.

That’s it! Crazy cool, right? You won’t be finding modified food starch up in these jars!

You will need the following supplies:

Pressure canner:

I use a 23-quart induction-compatible pressure canner. This is a great canner for beginners who need a more affordable option. It’s also lighter to use on smooth top glass stoves. It can also double as a water bath canner for high-acid foods. I have never had any issues using a Presto canner for 20 years on a smooth glass stop. Note: Please read your instruction manual and decide if you’re comfortable using your pressure canner on your smooth glass-top stove. The All-American pressure canner is also a fantastic option, and most well-seasoned canners lean in this direction. It’s built well and built to last. I did not choose this option as it would be too heavy for my glass stove top.

Canning rack:

Your pressure canner should come with a canning rack for the bottom of your canner. You never want to put your jars straight on the bottom of the canner. I like to have two racks, one for the bottom and one for stacking jars.

Canning kit:

The canning kit should include a jar grabber, canning funnel, lid magnet, and bubble popper/headspace measurer. This canning kit is excellent for getting started.

Clean kitchen towel or bath towel:

You need a towel to put your hot jars on after they come out of the canner. If you’re canning a smaller batch, a kitchen towel is great. If you have a big canning day ahead of you, kitchen towels will be your best friend.

Canning jars:

I love using wide-mouth jars for canning meat. The wide opening makes it easy for the meat to slide right out. Regular mouth jars will work, too; the meat will need a little help getting out with a fork.

Canning lids and rings:

If you buy new jars, they will come with lids and rings. Canning lids cannot be reused for canning; a new lid is required each time you can. You can, however, reuse old lids for vacuum-sealing jars or everyday use if they are free of dents. I love my For Jars lids! I’ve used ForJars lids for under a year and have had a 100% seal rate. (Code: YRP10 for 10% discount) Save your rings, they can be reused over and over as long as they are in good condition (no dents, major rust, etc.)

Three jars of pressure canned chicken

Before You Get Started

If you’re new to canning, I highly suggest you familiarize yourself with your specific canner’s instruction guide for proper operating techniques before starting.

Give yourself plenty of time! You don’t want to find yourself needing to leave to pick up kids from school but still have 30 minutes left to go on your pressure canner!  A mistake I’ve made plenty of times. 

Clean your space:

It is important to keep your workspaces, tools, and hands clean during canning. We want to maintain the quality of food by not introducing harmful bacteria to it or the jars. You don’t have to go crazy and bleach the whole house. Just maintain cleanliness: clean your work surfaces, wash your hands, and make sure your jars and tools are clean.

Prepare your jars:

  • Wash jars, even if they are new! You don’t need to sterilize your jars. According to the NCHFP (National Center for Home Food Preservation) if jars will be processed for 10 minutes or longer you no longer need to sterilize jars before canning. A hot cycle in the dishwasher or washing and rinsing in hot soapy water will do. 
  • While washing your jars, or taking them out of the dishwasher, check the rims by running your finger over the rims checking for any chips or cracks. Don’t use jars with chips or cracks anywhere, as this will only cause a failed seal or cracked jar, with a side of wasted time and a mess to clean up.

What size of canning jar do I need for pressure canning chicken?

The size of the canning jar you need will depend on a few things:

  • How you intend to use it.
  • How big your family is.

Pint-Sized Jars: Hold approximately 1 pound of meat.

If you are a smaller family and don’t use a lot of chicken all at once, pint jars might be a good option. We are a family of four, two adults and two teenagers who eat like adults. I find that pint jars work great for us in things like soups and casseroles. 1 pint is also great for a quick chicken salad lunch for a couple of people.

Quart-Sized Jars: Hold approximately 2 pounds of meat. 

If you have a larger family, and use more meat in your meals, quart-sized jars might be the better option.

If it’s your first time canning chicken you could do a batch of both sizes and see what you like better.

Prepare your lids:

Check the box your canning lids came in. Some canning lid manufacturers require you to pre-warm the lids in simmering water before putting them on jars. 

Get your Canner Ready:

  • Make sure your canner is clean. (refer to your canner’s manual for in-depth maintenance and care instructions)
  • Make sure the vent pipe in the lid isn’t obstructed, this is how the air escapes. You don’t want it plugged up with anything, hold it up to a light and see if you can see through it.
  • If using a presto canner check your rubber seal underneath the lid. If it has shrunk, become hard, or cracked it needs to be replaced.
  • Add the canning rack to the bottom of the canner.
  • Place the canner on the stove burner. Add three quarts of hot tap water to the canner, if adding hot packed jars, heat water to 180ºF. We are doing the raw pack method with this chicken so hot tap water on low heat is fine. Three quarts of water are needed regardless of how many jars are being canned.

Pressure Canning Chicken Tutorial (Raw Pack Method)

STEP ONE

Prepare your chicken. Trim the excess fat and cut the raw chicken into 1-2 inch chunks. A little fat is fine; you don’t need to stress over every speck of fat unless you want to. 😉 Place the cut-up chicken pieces in a large clean bowl.

Unlabeled jar of ingredients for pressure canned chicken

STEP TWO

Press raw meat pieces into jars, leaving a 1 1/4-inch headspace.

Process photos showing raw chicken in jar and using a headspace tool to measure for 1 1/4-inch headspace.

STEP THREE

Add salt to jars, 1 teaspoon for quarts, and 1/2  teaspoon for pints. Wipe down the rims of the jars, and threads with a clean damp paper towel. Make sure there is no debris on the rim of the jars, this could lead to a failed seal.

Add lid and ring, tightening finger tight, and add the jar to the canner.

Process photos one overhead showing salt on raw chicken in the jar. One is showing the lid and ring on the jar.

STEP FOUR

Once your canner is full of jars, add the pressure canner lid to the canner, for Presto canners line up the V’s, press down, and turn. The handles should line up when the lid is on properly. Leave the weight off the weight (also known as a rocker or jiggler) off the vent. Refer to your owner’s manual for full instructions on how to operate your canner.

STEP FIVE

On medium-high heat, slowly bring the heat up and begin the process of venting the canner, this just means getting all the air pushed out so the pressure canner can reach the proper temperature. When there is a steady stream of steam coming out of the vent pipe, time for 10 minutes. When 10 minutes is up, add your weight.

Slowly increase your temperature; medium-high heat is a good setting on my stove. Avoid high heat to avoid rapid temperature fluctuations.

Start your timer for required processing time once canner has come to pressure.

Process pints for 75 minutes, adjusting for altitude.

Process Quarts for 90 minutes, adjusting for altitude

Pressure canning altitude adjustment chart.

STEP 6

Once your processing time is up, turn off heat and let pressure canner come down from pressure on it’s own. Do not try to speed this process up! Once the canner is depressurized, remove the weight from vent pipe and and let the canner sit for 10 minutes, this allows jars to settle and helps prevent siphoning. (Refer to your canner’s manual for full instructions.)

After 10 minutes, remove the canner’s lid, and be careful of the escaping steam when taking off the lid. Lift out jars with the jar grabber as the jars will be hot. Carefully set jars on a clean kitchen towel leaving space in between each jar to allow for proper cooling. Leave on the counter unbothered for 12-24 hours.

Three jars of processed pressure canned chicken with a chicken salad sandwich in the background

Pressure-canned chicken may look like a science experiment in a jar, but so would store-bought if its container was clear! Don’t let the fact that you can see what’s in your jar turn you off.

Some of our favorite ways to use our pressure-canned chicken are in our chicken pot pie casserole, soups, quesadillas, and more! Whether you own chickens, source local meat chickens, or buy your chicken from the store, canning meat is a fantastic way to get shelf-stable meat on your pantry shelves!

If you need a quick video on my Instagram showing you the basics of pressure canning chicken.

FAQs:

Can I use an instant pot instead of a pressure canner?

No, instant pots are not approved for pressure canning. Temperatures need to reach 240ºF to safely can low-acid foods, instant pots do not have a way to regulate your PSI to adjust for your altitude to ensure proper temperatures are reached.

Can I use a water bath or steam canner to can chicken?

No, you cannot use a water bath or steam canner to can chicken safely. Chicken is a low-acid food and needs to be pressure canned to reach temperatures to safely can chicken. A pressure canner is required to safely can low-acid foods.

Do I add chicken broth or water?

You do not have to had broth or water when using the raw pack method. The chicken will make it’s own broth as it is processed in the pressure canner. If you were going can chicken using the hot pack method, where you partially cook the chicken before you add it to the jars then you would add liquid.

Is the chicken in the jars cooked after they are pressure-canned?

Yes, the chicken cooks during processing in the canner. The chicken will cook at 240ºF for 65-90 minutes (depending on jar size), and be fully cooked and ready to eat. Pressure-canned chicken is shelf-stable meat ready to eat right out of the jar!

What is de-bubbling?

De-bubbling is simply a term for removing trapped air pockets from the jar. Having your food at the proper headspace in the jar is important, if there are too many air pockets in the jar it could result in a lower headspace. The trapped air escapes during canning to create a vacuum seal, the more headspace you have the less vacuum and could result in a failed seal. Different foods require different headspaces, always follow proper headspace guidelines.

How long does pressure-canned chicken last?

Most canning lid manufacturers guarantee their lids to seal for one year. However, your home-canned food can last longer. The nutritional value does go down over time, but as long as there’s a proper seal and no signs of food spoilage, the food is safe to eat. 

What is the texture of pressure-canned chicken like?

The texture of the home-canned chicken is like the canned chicken you buy at the store; I find it tastes way better and is less slimy than some store-bought canned chicken. You can use it just as you would use a can of store-bought chicken.

A bowl of shredded chicken from the jar of pressure-canned chicken to show the texture of the meat.

What does it mean to tighten the ring just finger tight?

Tighten the ring just a notch past the point when you feel resistance. You need air to escape the jar to create the vacuum seal, if the ring is too tight air can’t escape and will lead to buckled lids and a false seal. If your ring is too loose it could wiggle too loose and won’t hold the lid in place properly, also resulting in a false seal.

How to Pressure Can Chicken (Raw Pack Method)

Like canned chicken from the store, but so much better!
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 10-20 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Non-iodized salt/Canning salt (I love using Redmond sea salt)

Instructions

  • My 23-quart Presto pressure canner can hold 7 quart jars, or 20 pints. If I'm doing 7 quarts I get about 10 pounds of chicken to allow for some trimming of fat. If I'm doing pints, I'll get about 25 pounds for 1 batch.
  • Prepare your chicken. Trim the excess fat and cut the raw chicken into 1-2 inch chunks. A little fat is OK; you don’t need to stress over every speck of fat unless you want to. Place the cut-up chicken pieces in a large clean bowl.
  • Press raw meat pieces into jars, leaving a 1 1/4-inch headspace.
  • Add salt to jars, 1 teaspoon for quarts, and 1/2  teaspoon for pints. Wipe down the rims of the jars, and threads with a clean damp paper towel. Make sure there is no debris on the rim of the jars, this could lead to a failed seal.
    Add lid and ring, tightening finger tight, and add the jar to the canner.
  • Once your canner is full of jars, add the pressure canner lid to the canner, for Presto canners line up the V’s, press down, and turn. The handles should line up when the lid is on properly. Leave the weight off the weight (also known as a rocker or jiggler) off the vent. Refer to your owner’s manual for full instructions on how to operate your canner.
  • On medium-high heat, slowly bring the heat up and begin the process of venting the canner, this just means getting all the air pushed out so the pressure canner can reach the proper temperature. When there is a steady stream of steam coming out of the vent pipe, time for 10 minutes. When 10 minutes is up, add your weight.
    Slowly increase your temperature; medium-high heat is a good setting on my stove. Avoid high heat to avoid rapid temperature fluctuations.
    Start your timer for required processing time once canner has come to pressure.Process pints for 75 minutes, adjusting for altitude.
    Process Quarts for 90 minutes, adjusting for altitude
  • Once your processing time is up, turn off heat and let pressure canner come down from pressure on it’s own. Do not try to speed this process up! Once the canner is depressurized, remove the weight from vent pipe and and let the canner sit for 10 minutes, this allows jars to settle and helps prevent siphoning. (Refer to your canner’s manual for full instructions.)
  • After 10 minutes, remove the canner’s lid, and be careful of the escaping steam when taking off the lid. Lift out jars with the jar grabber as the jars will be hot. Carefully set jars on a clean kitchen towel leaving space in between each jar to allow for proper cooling. Leave on the counter unbothered for 12-24 hours.

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