Home Canned Chicken Breasts

Today I wanted to get a 3# bag of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts out of the freezer and into cooked portions ready to use anytime.  I canned them because I’m too impatient to wait for frozen chicken or broth to thaw, even if it’s cooked, before I start a meal.  I make these regularly, and always get just about the same yield.  You need to thaw your chicken a day or two in your refrigerator before canning.  I place the bag in a pan to prevent a mess in my refrigerator if the bag isn't completely watertight.
If you see them on sale, as I did, or you want them in a convenient form to use, this is easy canning, no skinning or boning necessary.  I can any leftover broth alone at 10# pressure for 20 minutes at 1000’ altitude for half pints or pints, or freeze it if it isn't enough to can. 
The day after I canned these last time, I saw pint jars of canned chicken for sale for $6.99 a pint jar at the Dutchman’s in Cantril, Iowa, compared to this entire recipe, which yields 7 half pints or 3 ½ pints and usually costs me less than $6.99 including the chicken and vegetables.  See my cost comparison at the bottom of the recipe.
Think chicken casseroles, soups, creamed chicken on biscuits, noodles or rice, homemade noodles and chicken, chicken salad, and all the variations.  A half pint jar, which I use in this recipe, is about a cup of cooked meat, perfect for many recipes. 
                       Home Canned Chicken Breasts
Yields 7 half pint jars, about 4 ounces cooked meat each.
Thaw your chicken breasts in the refrigerator a day or 2 ahead of canning.
  3             Pounds  Chicken Breasts -- skinless, Boneless
  1             Large  Onion
  1             Stalk  Celery
  1             Large  Carrot
     1/4      Teaspoon  Black Pepper
                 Salt -- to taste
  1             Bay leaf, if desired
  4             Cups  Broth -- and water to make this amount
·        Prepare Chicken:  Cut the thawed chicken breasts in half lengthwise.  Place the chicken breasts in a 4 1/2 quart Dutch oven or soup pot.  Peel the onion, cut it into 4 pieces, and add them to the pot.  Cut the celery into 4 pieces and add them to the pot.  Add just enough cold water to completely cover the chicken and vegetables, then sprinkle with salt and add the bay leaf if using.
·        Cover the pot and bring to a rolling boil over high heat, as soon as the water reaches a vigorous boil, remove the pot from the heat and let it stand, covered, until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 20 minutes for average-size pieces.  Do not overcook.
·        When chicken is done, remove it from the pot, using tongs or a slotted spoon.  Allow the chicken to cool enough to cut into bite-size chunks.  Strain broth for canning liquid, discarding the vegetables and bay leaf.  
While you are waiting for the 20 minutes, you can prepare your equipment.
·        Prepare Canning Equipment: Heat jars in simmering water for 10 minutes, keep in simmering water until ready for filling.  (I do this right in my canner).  Wash an extra 12 ounce jar to pack in in case you have a little more than will go into a half pint.  Prepare lids and rings according to manufacturer's directions.
·        Pack Chicken:  Fill jars with meat, about 4 ounces each.  Cover with hot broth, about 1/3 cup per jar, leaving 1" headspace.  Remove bubbles with plastic knife and wipe jar rim carefully with hot wipe before sealing.  Cover and seal, place in pressure canner (with 2-3 quarts  simmering water, check your canner book for amount for your canner), exhaust steam 10 minutes, process in pints or half pints 1 hour and 15 minutes at 10# at 1000’ altitude.
·        Let pressure drop of own accord (about 30 minutes), open canner, remove jars to clean towel and let cool and seal, setting apart to allow air to circulate.  Remove rings and wash jars carefully after they are completely cooled.
Equipment:  Stock pot or Dutch oven, chopping board, pressure canner, 13 x 9" pan or tray lined with paper towel for jar filling, jars, lids and rings, funnel, lid magnet, jar lifter, plastic knife.
Excellent in sandwiches, creamed or in soups and casseroles.

Cost:  If 3# chicken is $3.99, cost is $5.23 or 75¢ per half pint or 4 oz. meat.  If chicken is $4.99 per 3#, cost is 89¢ per half pint or $6.23 per batch, using purchased vegetables.  I also get about 4-5 half pints of broth.


  1. Great post, Sue. How long do these keep?

    I tried canning chicken bone broth in quart jars and there was an "off" smell once it was opened. The jars sealed tightly but I did have a little "siphoning" because I must've taken the jars out of the canner while they were still too hot. It seems like siphoning is a problem for me if there is too much of a temperature difference between the outside and the inside of the jar. It didn't smell as good as freshly-cooked broth, but it wasn't a spoilage smell, hard to describe. What do you think my problem was? There was a little bit of fat in each jar, do you think the fat went rancid? Of course there's not much fat in chicken breasts, but there is some. It doesn't sound like you had any problems with that. Maybe it just had to do with the fact that it was bone broth.

    I might try again, now that I've seen this, do a few chicken breasts and see if I have any problems with that. It would be super-convenient to have these in the pantry, and a good way to free up freezer space.

    Of course you know how much I enjoy your blog, keep up the good work! Say hello to Myrna for me. Hugs

    1. Well, I haven't noticed any off-smell in any chicken or turkey broth I have canned...or in chicken or turkey meat, for that matter.
      Did you use sage in your broth?...it doesn't do well in canning; gets much stronger.
      I think that head space, getting bubbles out, and not raising and lowering the heat on your canner too much give more problems with siphoning than removing the jars when they are too hot.
      Really, a lot of siphoning is enough head space - it's more than you think, measuring is good to see where it should really be.
      Lowering the heat slowly after the canner reaches pressure so it doesn't need to be raised again helps too.
      I've never had problems with fat (small amounts) in any meat or poultry that I've canned as far as smell or going rancid.
      I have used canned chicken or turkey 5 years after I canned it and couldn't tell the difference between it and recently canned product. I keep my canned goods in a cool, not cold, dark pantry closet.
      Too much heat and light will deteriorate canned fruit and vegetable color especially.
      I usually turn over my canned goods within 1-2 years, however, I don't can in as large amounts as I used to.
      These chicken breasts are easy canning and really convenient too.
      Good luck on your canning endeavors.

    2. Thank you Sue. I tend to allow too much head space, do you think that would be a problem? Well, OK, I'm going to try it, It would sure free up a lot of space in the freezer, and we'd have something to eat if the power was off (been there done that). Now, have you canned cooked ground beef before? I looked in your canning section and didn't see it. I've seen several You-Tubes of people doing it and they say they'll post an update when they've eaten some of it, then don't do that, which makes me worry they don't like the end result. Meat is so expensive, I just hate to try it without somebody I trust telling me it works well.

  2. I can ground beef several times a year and use it right along.
    Hang on, because it will be on the blog next Monday, with some recipes to use it over the rest of that week and the next week.
    The recipe only calls for 2# of ground beef, so it isn't too expensive to try. We like it so well I often double it and can in two canners.
    You can use it anywhere you would use browned ground beef, and you only have the mess once.
    I haven't had a problem with siphoning with too much head space, but you want enough liquid that your solids are covered if possible to prevent discoloration on top. I think you'll like both the chicken and hamburger...and they are both smaller recipes suitable for trying out.

  3. Ilene, I too can chicken and chicken broth. I have never had a problem of an off smell either. I also wonder if you are using some herb. Most of the dried become so much stronger when canned.
    I can ground beef plain. It is really handy not to have to wait for it to thaw if I am running short of time.
    Good luck and a hug for you. Hope your weather is nicer than ours right now.

    1. Myrna, we are under a heat advisory now after getting a good rain. We got 4" over two or three days and it was needed, since we didn't get as much as everyone else in Oklahoma got last time and we had dried out. At the rate of the wind and the level of the heat we are getting, we'll be needing another rain very soon. I'm mulching the garden like crazy so the bugs will have plenty to eat. I think maybe my problem with the broth, as I think about it, was that it was bone broth. I save chicken bones in the freezer and when I have enough to fill my 6-qt pressure cooker, I pressure it for about an hour. The bones are then so soft they can be crushed, so then I take them and bury them in the garden. It might've been the extra calcium undergoing some changes under canning, usually I freeze this broth and there's no off-smell when done that way.

      It seems like I'm forever forgetting to thaw something soon enough to be able to put a meal together, and I'm also running out of space in my freezer. It's so cram-jammed I have to almost unload it to find what I know is in there. Lots of room on the pantry shelves, and lots of jars, so might as well get some of these things processed.

      I sure enjoy you girls, wish I lived close enough to be able to sit at your kitchen table now and then, and you at mine.... Hugs

  4. We are also doing the heat advisory thing. Guess summer has finally arrived. I do hope you try the chicken again. I also save my chicken bones and cook when I have enough. I just simmer on the stove though. I wonder if that is what gives it a off odor.
    Would be nice if you were close enough for coffee and pie now and then.

  5. Hi ladies, I love your blog and have commented occasionally. I can boneless, skinless, chicken breasts a lot because it saves a bunch of time when I need a quick meal I can just open a jar and fix noodles, a casserole, or anything else without having to thaw something or wonder what I an going to fix because I forgot to set something out to thaw! I raw pack my chicken in pints and just pack the meat as tight as I possibly can (a pint usually holds 1 pound of chicken breast) and use 1/2 teaspoon salt and put the lids on and pressure at 10 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes. It makes its own broth this way and stays good for years. I fix pork loin the same way. I am not a major canner but I enjoy the convenience of opening a jar and I know what is put into it.

    1. My brother-in-law and his wife also raw pack their chicken...I like shrinking it a little by poaching because I usually just can in half pints...both are good.
      It's certainly useful, isn't it?


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