How To Pressure Can Ugly Chicken

What is ugly chicken?! The best way to preserve chicken for shelf-stable storage, that’s what it is! Instead of getting freezer burn or going bad when the power goes out, use this step-by-step guide to pressure can chicken, and have a meal ready by simply opening a jar!

When pressure canning chicken with the raw pack method the most common comment I heard was that it was unattractive in the jar. I would have to say that any meats commercially canned would be equally ugly if we purchased them in jars instead of tin cans. Soon I coined the phrase “ugly chicken”. It helps keep expectations real.

I would have to say that the top two things that I am known for are toilet paper and ugly chicken. How’s that for a legacy? Ha!

Personally I think that it is beautiful to see a shelf full of home-canned meats. I also understand that some people are aesthetically driven. If that’s the case with you, pressure canning ugly chicken may not be for you.

There is another way to can chicken that is less “ugly” and we’ll cover that another day.

What Kind of Chicken Should I Use?

For ugly chicken, we use boneless skinless chicken breast. Cut it into pieces around one inch and place them into the jar. You can use pints or quarts. We tend to use pints because as the old rhyme goes โ€œA pint’s a pound, the world around.โ€  and for most meals, we only need a pound of meat.

How to Can Ugly Chicken

Step 1: Prepare chicken breasts

Cut your chicken into approximate 1″ pieces.

Step 2: Fill jars

As you fill your jars, push that chicken down, I mean cram it in. Leave an inch headspace in the jar. This is all that you’ll be adding to the jar, no spices, no liquids, just chicken. By leaving it plain you are allowing for greater flexibility when it comes time to use it.

Step 3: Wipe rims

Once your jars are all filled wipe the rims with water or vinegar.

Step 4: Lids and Rings

Place new canning lids on each jar and put the rings on “finger tight”.

Definition of fingertight. Adjective. (not comparable) As tightly screwed as can be made by the strength of one’s fingers, without the use of any tools: that is, without any special equipment.

Do not crank that ring on.

Step 5: Prepare canner

Fill your canner with 3 inches (or what your manual recommends) of cool water. The contents of the jar will be cool, so should the water.

Typical pressure canners can hold 8-10 pints or 7 quarts. If you have the 23 quart presto canner then with the aid of an additional rack you can double-stack your pint jars. If you prefer to can your chicken in 1/2 pint jars you can also double stack those.

Step 6: Pressure can ugly chicken

When pressure canning chicken the following rules apply for the various size jars.

  • 1/2 pint – Same time as pints – 75 minutes at 11lbs of pressure (or for your altitude)
  • Pint – 75 minutes at 11lbs of pressure (or for your altitude)
  • 1 1/2 pint – Same time as quarts – 90 minutes at 11lbs of pressure (or for your altitude)
  • Quarts – 90 minutes at 11lbs of pressure (or for your altitude)

Check out our video below walking you through the process.

How to Use Ugly Chicken

Ugly chicken can be used for so many different things. Think of it as pre-cooked chicken you did in your Instant Pot, skillet or even from your food storage Costco canned chicken.

  • Chicken salad
  • Casseroles
  • Soups

Ugly chicken is a staple around here and I’m certain that you’ll love having it on your shelves also.

Shelf Stable Chicken

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  1. Nancy J Carney says:

    What is the shelf life for canned ugly chicken. I am just starting on canning meats. I have always canned soups, veggies and jams.

    1. If properly canned, at least 18 months. In reality, years.

  2. Can boneless chicken thighs be canned same as chicken breast and can salt to added ?

    1. Yes, the same method. Salt is no necessary and is easy enough to add when you open the jar. But yes, you can add salt

  3. If I have chicken in the freezer can I follow it and then can. Thank you

    1. Thaw the chicken and then pressure can it, yes

  4. Thatโ€™s it!?! Wow this is easy. Iโ€™m doing it.

  5. So I’ve canned chicken, pork multiple times over the last 4 years and have had little to no issues. Yesterday I had 3 that didn’t seal and I didn’t check them till the next day. Would you still use the meat? I know it now has to be refrigerated though. Thanks for your replying.

    1. Within 24 hours, place in the fridge and enjoy

  6. My canner is going. Oops! But, I cut up some of the chicken and left the chicken tenders whole. Is that ok?

  7. Hi Leisa,
    So when I open a jar, eat 1/2 the contents, is the rest safe to go in the fridge, or should the whole lot be eaten in one sitting? Sorry very new to canning ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Good in the fridge for a week

  8. Can I can quarts and pints together?

  9. Barbara M Bolton says:

    So excited to finally make this tomorrow Leesa! I appreciate you! You are an inspiration!

  10. I used your process and my chicken turned black in the center on the top, and Iโ€™m thinking perhaps I had it packed too much and it burnt the top. Have you experienced this?

  11. Meryl Dorey says:

    I haven’t canned for 25 years or more! But I’ve been watching your channel and you’ve inspired me. Bought the reusable jar lids (thanks for the link!) bought your cookbooks on Etsy, bought the chicken breast, dusted off my All American canner and I’m ready to go! wish me luck ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Leisa,
    Just found your site from a Becoming a Farmgirl youtube video. So glad I did! I have to older style Presto pressure canner that does not have the pressure gauge, which I have yet to use. Does this canner work for meat, such as this recipe, as well? Am nervous to can the meat but I have a bit of frozen chicken breasts that need to come out of the freezer!

    Thank you so very much!


    1. Leisa Sutton says:

      WIthout knowing more about it, i cant say.

  13. I canned 7 pint jars of chicken. 3 jars are full of liquid, 1 is about halfway with liquid, and 3 have almost no liquid. Are the ones with hardly any liquid ok, or do I need to refrigerate or throw away?

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