Skip to Content

How do you can cooked meat in jars?

Canning cooked meat in jars is a safe and effective way to preserve meat for longer term storage. It allows you to stock up on meat when prices are low or take advantage of bulk meat deals. Canned meat is also convenient to have on hand for quick meals or emergencies. The canning process kills harmful bacteria and seals out oxygen, preventing spoilage. With proper technique, canned meat can be stored for 1-5 years.

Benefits of Canning Meat

– Allows you to buy meat in bulk when it’s on sale
– Provides a long-term storage solution (1-5 years shelf life)
– Enables you to build a food reserve or emergency supply
– Offers a convenient ready-to-eat protein source for meals
– Allows you to preserve meat from hunting or livestock
– Allows you to create customized cans with your preferred cuts of meat

Type of Meats for Canning

Most types of meat, poultry, and fish can be safely canned:

Beef Cuts for Canning

– Ground beef
– Chuck roasts
– Brisket
– Round steaks
– Stew meat
– Corned beef

Pork Cuts for Canning

– Ground pork
– Pork chops
– Country style ribs
– Pork loin
– Ham
– Bacon
– Sausage

Poultry for Canning

– Chicken breast
– Chicken thighs
– Ground turkey
– Duck
– Goose

Other Meats for Canning

– Venison
– Elk
– Rabbit
– Salmon
– Tuna
– Beef tongue
– Organ meats like liver, heart, kidney

In general, choose quality fresh or thoroughly thawed cuts of meat that are trimmed of gristle and excess fat. Ground meats should be 15-20% fat. Avoid canning large cuts like whole chickens, pork roasts or beef roasts as they may not heat thoroughly during processing.

Requirements for Safe Canned Meat

To safely can meat at home, you need:

A pressure canner – Meat must be processed under pressure to reach temperatures high enough to kill bacteria. A pressure canner is the only safe method for low acid foods like meat.

Jars designed for canning – Use Mason/Ball/Kerr type jars made specifically for home canning. Do not use old jars or out of season commercial jars.

New lids and rings – Lids can only be used once for sealing. Always use new rings when canning as bent rings won’t seal properly.

Accurate dial gauge on pressure canner – Have your gauge tested annually to ensure proper pressure and temperature are reached. Inaccurate gauges put you at risk for spoilage or botulism.

Tested canning recipes – Follow recipes from trusted sources like the USDA, Ball, or the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Do not modify or create your own untested recipes.

High quality ingredients – Start with fresh, high quality meats free of spoilage or odor. Use good manufacturing processes.

Choosing a Meat Canning Recipe

There are many delicious tested recipes for canning meat safely. Important factors when choosing a recipe include:

Raw Pack vs Hot Pack

– Raw pack – Raw meat is packed into jars then covered with boiling broth, juice or water. Requires longer processing time.

– Hot pack – Meat is partially cooked on stovetop then packed hot into jars. Faster processing time.

Type of Liquid

– Broth – Made from meat drippings and seasonings, adds flavor

– Juice – Tomato, vegetable, or fruit juice are commonly used

– Water – Keeps meat moist but doesn’t add flavor


– Salt – Enhances flavor and preserves color

– Spices and herbs – Add flavor like chili powder, garlic, and basil

– Avoid heavy vinegar, oil or dense seasonings that may prevent heat penetration


– Usually 1 inch – Leaves room for food expansion as jars heat and seal

Step-by-Step Process for Canning Meat

Follow these steps for safely canned meat:

1. Prepare the meat

– Trim fat, gristle and membranes
– Cut into pieces sized for jars if needed
– Partially cook for hot pack according to recipe

2. Sterilize jars and lids

– Wash jars in hot soapy water and rinse well
– Place jars in boiling water for 10 minutes to sterilize
– Heat new lids in hot but not boiling water

3. Pack jars

– Pack meat pieces tightly into hot jars
– Optionally add seasonings, broth or other hot liquid
– Release air bubbles with a plastic utensil
– Clean jar rims with a damp cloth
– Apply heated lids and screw bands fingertip tight

4. Process the jars

– Place jars on rack in pressure canner, add 2-3 inches of hot water
– Follow processing time and pressure from tested recipe
– Allow canner to vent for 10 minutes before closing vent
– Start timing once pressure is reached
– Regulate heat to maintain steady pressure
– Do not reduce pressure during processing time

5. Cool and test seal

– Let canner depressurize naturally; avoid cold water baths
– After 10 minutes, remove lid tilting away from you
– Let jars cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours
– Test seals by pressing center of lids
– Lids should not flex up and down when pressed
– Remove rings, wash jars, label and store

6. Use within 1 year for best quality

– Check for spoilage before use – look for mold, off odors, spurting liquid
– Boil canned meat for 10 minutes before eating as added precaution
– For best quality and nutrition, use canned meat within 1 year
– Properly sealed and stored jars are safe for up to 5 years

Troubleshooting Problems

Problem Cause Solution
Floating meat Too much fat left on meat Trim fat and re-can meat
Discolored meat Fat exposure, iron content Use broth instead of water, add salt
Fat or grease on jar rim Meat pieces too fatty Carefully trim fat before packing jars
Failure to seal Food debris on jar rims Carefully clean jar rims prior to lidding


Canning cooked meat in jars is a safe, cost-effective way to preserve meat long-term when proper procedures are followed. Be sure to use a pressure canner and tested recipes specifically for meat. Carefully pack trimmed, prepared meat into hot jars, process them under pressure for the full recommended time, then test seals. Store properly sealed canned meat up to 5 years for an easy protein source anytime. Enjoy delicious homemade canned meat meals and the convenience of meat stored on your shelves.