Canning meat is one of the simplest and most versatile ways to preserve meat without refrigeration. Learn how to can meat at home including beef, pork, chicken, venison, and more.
Canning meat at home means that you have shelf-stable, ready-to-eat protein at a moment’s notice.
With home canned meat, you don’t have to worry about power outages destroying a freezer full of meat, and there’s no need to thaw can cook at mealtime. In a pinch, you can even just eat canned meat right out of the jar with a fork (though, of course, it’s better if you heat it first).
Low quality, tough cuts are tender and delicious after pressure canning. It’s like they’ve been slowly braising all day long.
What Meats Can Be Canned?
Most types of meat can be canned at home. This includes domesticated farm-raised meat, as well as wild hunted meat.
This includes beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, venison, moose, and bear.
Poultry and small game meat may also be canned, including chicken, turkey, duck, goose and rabbit.
Most (though not all) types of fish and shellfish can also be canned as well, and I’ll cover those in a separate article as they’re a bit more particular when it comes to home canning.
The only safe way to can meat is with a pressure canner, which reaches temperatures over 240 degrees F.
Boiling water bath canners cannot be used to can meat, as they only reach 212 degrees. That’s fine for pickles, jams, and relishes, but water bath canning just doesn’t get hot enough to safely preserve low acid foods like meat.
If you’re not familiar with pressure canning, I’d strongly recommend reading my beginner’s guide to pressure canning before you get started.
Beyond that, be sure that you have a pressure canner (rather than a pressure cooker). Your instant pot will not work for canning, and most electronic countertop pressure cooking appliances don’t work either.
The two most common brands of pressure canner are:
- All American Pressure Canners – Weighted gauge pressure canners that are durable, easy to use, and last a lifetime. No gaskets or seals to replace, and high capacity. This is what I use.
- Presto Pressure Canners – Great for beginners, these are inexpensive and easy to find. They have a dial gauge, which makes them a bit harder to use since you’ll be constantly adjusting the stove to maintain proper pressure. They also have rubber gaskets that need to be replaced regularly.
People often ask, do you cook meat before canning? Is that really necessary, it’s going to be pressure cooked in the jar for an extended period anyway.
You don’t have to cook meat before canning, and it’s perfectly safe to can raw meat. The canning times and pressures for meat are exactly the same for raw packs and hot packs.
The main difference here is quality. If it’s meat you would brown before stewing, then I’d strongly suggest browning it before canning it.
Stew beef chunks, for example, can just be tossed into the pot along with potatoes and carrots for beef stew. The stew tastes much better, however, if you brown the beef before adding it to the stew, even though it’s going to slowly cook all day long in the pot.
I recommend browning beef, lamb, venison, and pork in all cases. Poultry, however, is often simply poached without browning and the results are lovely. I’ll discuss poultry separately, but in general, I would suggest canning poultry as a raw pack and browning (hot packing) all other types of meat.
Canning Red Meat (Beef, Lamb, Pork, Venison, etc)
This includes Bear, Beef, Lamb, Pork, Veal, Venison, Moose, and Goat Meat (Chevon).
The basic instructions for canning meat are to prepare the meat by trimming off as much fat as possible and then browning it in a bit of oil. The meat can be large chunks (roasts), small stew chunks, steaks, strips, loose pack ground meat crumbles, or formed patties.
As I’ve mentioned, browsing is optional, but the end result is much better.
Bone-in chunks are allowed, though bones do take up a lot of space in the jars. This is usually only done for beef short ribs, and other cuts are boned before canning. Canning times and pressures are the same for boned and bone-in cuts. (For poultry, bone-in cuts have different canning times, which I’ll discuss separately).
For Hot Pack, the hot, freshly browned meat is packed into jars leaving 1-inch headspace. It’s then topped with boiling water or meat stock before canning. (Still maintaining a 1” headspace.)
For Raw Pack, the meat is simply packed into jars raw with no added liquid. The meat will let out liquid as it cooks and create its own broth. Be sure to leave 1” headspace.
If you’re not familiar with pressure canning, please read my primer on pressure canning or the manual on your specific canner before beginning.
In general, the process is to seal the jars with 2 part canning lids and load them into a pre-warmed pressure canner. Close up the canner, but don’t seal it yet. Allow steam to vent for 10 minutes to ensure that the chamber is fully hot and full of steam, then seal the chamber and bring it up to pressure.
Once the canner is up to pressure, start the timer and maintain pressure until the canning time is complete.
Canning times and pressures for canning meat can be found in the table below. It’s always 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts, regardless of the type of meat and altitude. The pressure is adjusted based on your altitude, but the canning time remains the same.
Beyond meat cuts, you can also can sausage and hamburger, either as lose pack crumbles or in patties or links. Be sure that the sausage does not contain any ingredients that are not approved for canning. Namely, it should not have flour, corn starch, grains, thickeners of any kind, butter, or dairy products.
The process for canning strained meat stock or broth is a bit different, and I’ll cover that separately.
Beef Canning Recipes (also Lamb, Mutton & Goat)
While beef is the most popular for canning in the US, you can also use lamb, mutton, and goat in any of these recipes.
Pork, chicken, and other meats are also fine safety-wise in these recipes, but they’ve really been formulated for red meats based on the seasonings.
- Canning Chili con Carne (Meat Chili)
- Canning Pasta Sauce with Meat
- Canning Mincemeat Pie Filling
- Canning Beef Short Ribs
- Canning Beef Stew
Pork Canning Recipes
Though the canning times and pressure are the same as for beef, pork canning recipes tend to be a bit different because it’s honestly a completely different animal with very different meat.
There’s more fat to deal with, and the seasonings are very different than dealing with beef. Still, safety-wise you can substitute any meat into these recipes.
Wild Game Canning Recipes (Venison, Bear, etc)
Though wild game seems like it should be different, it’s actually exactly the same as canning farm-raised meat, at least from a food safety perspective.
The one thing to note is that most canning manuals suggest avoiding canning deer bones and deer stock. That’s because the exact nature of “chronic wasting disease,” an issue carried by some deer, is not known. They know it’s not spread through the meat to humans, but bones and other tissues are unclear.
For that reason, they suggest steering clear of cooking with deer bones. (Many people still choose to pressure can venison stock, but be aware that it’s at your own risk.)
Canning Poultry and Rabbit (Chicken, Turkey, Duck, Goose & Rabbit)
In general, the times, pressures, and instructions for canning poultry and rabbit are the same as canning other meats. It’s still 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts, with pressure adjusted for altitude in exactly the same way as for beer and other meats.
The main difference here is when you can “bone-in” chicken, such as a jar of chicken drumsticks, the canning time is less. Bones, specifically poultry and rabbit bones, conduct heat better than plain meat and allow for quicker heat penetration into the center of the jar.
When chicken or rabbit is canned bone in the times are reduced to 65 minutes for pints and 75 minutes for quarts. See the table below for altitude-adjusted pressure.
It’s important to note that these reduced “bone-in” canning times only apply to poultry and rabbit.
Other meats are occasionally canned with bones, such as beef short ribs, but you must use the regular “all meat” canning times (75 and 90 minutes) for those.
While beef and pork are sometimes canned as mince or sausage, that’s not usually done with chicken simply because it’s not the best sausage. Still, if you want to can ground chicken crumbles or homemade chicken sausage, that’s fine provided it doesn’t contain any ingredients that cannot be canned (dairy, flour, etc).
While canning ground chicken isn’t really a thing, canning leftover poultry is quite common. Especially canning leftover turkey after thanksgiving.
Poultry Canning Recipes
Again, all of these recipes can be used with any type of meat, the seasonings are just formulated specific to chicken and other poultry but you could substitute in other types of meat.
If you do substitute red meat for a “bone-in” chicken canning recipe, be sure that you use the full canning times (75 min for pints and 90 minutes for quarts) instead of the reduced bone in canning times that are given for chicken (65 and 75 minutes).
Pressures are the same, and vary by altitude only, not type of meat.
Canning Meat Broth and Stock
Broth and stock are a bit different than canning the meat itself. It’s still a low acid food, of course, and must be pressure canned, but the canning times are much shorter.
The heat from the pressure canner is able to penetrate evenly and quickly throughout broth and stock since there are no solids in the mixture.
That means the total time for canning meat broth is much shorter than canning meat.
Prepare meat broth or stock as you otherwise would, and be sure to filter out all the solids. We use cheesecloth to get every last bit, which results in a much clearer broth.
Load the boiling broth into pint or quart canning jars, leaving 1” headspace. Seal with 2 part lids and load into a pressure canner.
Process the jars for 20 minutes for pints, 25 minutes for quarts, adjusting pressure for your altitude using the table below:
If you’re looking for specific recipes for canning meat stock at home, I have a few to get you started:
I also have a guide to making the best bone broth, so you do the job right.
Canning Fish and Seafood
Once you leave land for creatures of the sea, the canning process gets a bit more complicated. There are very specific instructions for canning tuna, for example, which are much more exacting than canning meat in general.
Even though it’s more complicated, it can be done. There are tested and approved recipes for canning all manner of seafood.
I’ll write up a specific primer on canning fish and seafood soon, but in the meantime, here are some resources for canning fish at home just to get you started.
- Canning Fish (Salmon, Trout, etc…but not tuna)
- Canning Tuna
- Canning Smoked Fish
- Canning Oysters
- Canning Crab
- Canning Clams
Putting up more than just meat this season? I have plenty of canning guides to keep your pantry full!
- 50+ Vegetable Canning Recipes
- 100+ Canning Recipes (How to Can Everything)
- How to Make Jam (with 30+ Recipes)
- 30+ Tomato Canning Recipes
- 12+ Apple Canning Recipes
- Zucchini Canning Recipes
Pressure Canning Recipes
Looking for more pressure canning recipes?