How to Pressure Can Turkey: A Comprehensive Guide

Whether you’re looking to preserve Thanksgiving leftovers or take advantage of holiday sales to stock your pantry, pressure canning turkey is a fantastic way to ensure you have delicious, ready-to-use protein on hand all year long. This detailed guide will walk you through the entire process, from preparing the turkey to safely canning it for long-term storage.

Why Pressure Can Turkey?

Pressure canning is the only safe method for canning meats, including turkey. Unlike water bath canning, which doesn’t reach high enough temperatures to kill harmful bacteria, pressure canning heats the jars to 240°F (116°C), effectively eliminating any potential hazards This ensures your canned turkey is safe to consume and will last for months on your pantry shelf.

Preparing the Turkey

1 Choose Your Turkey:

  • Fresh or Frozen: You can use either fresh or frozen turkey for canning. If using frozen, thaw it completely in the refrigerator before proceeding.
  • Whole or Pieces: While canning whole turkey pieces is possible, it’s more common to use boneless or bone-in turkey pieces. This makes it easier to pack the jars and utilize the canned meat later.

2. Cook the Turkey:

  • Hot Pack: Cook the turkey pieces until about two-thirds done using your preferred method (boiling, baking, steaming, or pressure cooking). This ensures the meat is partially cooked but still retains moisture for canning.
  • Raw Pack: Alternatively, you can use the raw pack method, where the raw turkey pieces are packed into the jars and cooked during the pressure canning process. However, this method requires longer processing times and may result in slightly drier meat.

3. Remove Bones (Optional):

  • If using bone-in turkey pieces, remove the bones after cooking. This makes the canned meat more versatile and easier to use in various recipes.

4. Cut into Chunks or Strips:

  • Cut the cooked or raw turkey into bite-sized chunks or strips, depending on your preference. Avoid shredding the meat, as it may compress in the jar and hinder proper heat penetration during canning.

Pressure Canning the Turkey

1. Gather Your Supplies:

  • Pressure canner with canning rack
  • Canning jars (pint or quart size)
  • Canning lids and bands (new lids for each jar, bands can be reused)
  • Canning tools: jar lifter, canning ladle, funnel, and bubble popper
  • Large pot for heating stock
  • Kitchen towels

2. Prepare the Jars:

  • Wash the jars, lids, bands, and canning tools thoroughly in hot, soapy water. Rinse well and set the lids and bands aside to air dry.
  • Fill the jars with hot water and place them in the pressure canner. Bring the canner to a simmer for 10 minutes (180°F) to sterilize the jars.

3. Heat the Stock:

  • Prepare your desired canning liquid, either plain water or turkey stock. If using homemade stock, remove any excess fat and heat it in a large pot.
  • If you refrigerated the cooked turkey, add it to the hot stock to reheat it before filling the jars.

4. Fill the Jars:

  • Using a canning funnel, loosely pack the jars with the turkey pieces, leaving 1 inch of headspace at the top.
  • Pour the hot stock over the turkey, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Use a bubble popper to remove any trapped air bubbles.
  • Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp towel to remove any residue.
  • Center a lid on each jar, place the band over the lid, and tighten it fingertip-tight.

5. Pressure Can the Jars:

  • Place the filled jars on the canning rack in the pressure canner.
  • Close the canner lid and lock it securely.
  • Follow the instructions for your specific pressure canner to vent steam and build pressure.
  • Once the pressure reaches the recommended level (10 pounds for weighted gauge canners, 11 pounds for dial gauge canners), start the processing timer.

6. Process the Jars:

  • The processing time for turkey depends on the jar size and whether you used the hot or raw pack method.
  • For pint jars using the hot pack method, process for 75 minutes. For quarts, process for 90 minutes.
  • For pint jars using the raw pack method, process for 90 minutes. For quarts, process for 105 minutes.
  • Adjust processing times for higher altitudes according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

7. Cool and Store the Jars:

  • Once the processing time is complete, turn off the heat and allow the pressure to release naturally.
  • Carefully remove the jars from the canner using a jar lifter and place them on a clean towel to cool completely.
  • Check the seals of the jars after 12-24 hours. The lids should be slightly indented and not flex when pressed.
  • Label and date the jars and store them in a cool, dark location for up to 12-18 months.

Tips for Canning Turkey

  • Use fresh, high-quality turkey.
  • Avoid overpacking the jars.
  • Use a bubble popper to remove air bubbles.
  • Wipe the rims of the jars before sealing.
  • Follow the processing times precisely.
  • Check the seals of the jars after cooling.
  • Store the jars in a cool, dark location.

Using Canned Turkey

Canned turkey is a versatile ingredient that can be used in various dishes, including:

  • Soups and stews: Add canned turkey to your favorite soup or stew recipe for extra protein and flavor.
  • Sandwiches and wraps: Use canned turkey for quick and easy sandwiches or wraps.
  • Casseroles: Incorporate canned turkey into casseroles for a hearty and satisfying meal.
  • Salads: Add chunks of canned turkey to salads for a protein boost.
  • Fried rice: Use canned turkey in fried rice for a delicious and easy one-pan meal.

With a little planning and effort, you can easily pressure can turkey and enjoy delicious, home-preserved protein for months to come. So, grab your turkey and get canning!

Processing times for turkey pieces, boneless

Processing times apply to both raw or hot pack. Processing guidelines below are for weighted-gauge pressure canners. See also if applicable: Dial-gauge pressures.

Jar Size Time 0 to 300 m (0 – 1000 feet) pressure Above 300 m (1000 ft) pressure
½ litre (1 US pint) 75 mins 10 lbs 15 lb
1 litre (1 US quart) 90 mins 10 lbs 15 lb

How to pressure can.

When pressure canning, you must adjust the pressure for your altitude.

how to pressure can turkey

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 5 – 5.

Note: The USDA Complete Guide for Home Canning, in its directions for Chicken or Rabbit on page 5-5 (2015 edition) does not explicitly mention that the method can also be used for turkey. But the Ball / Bernardin Complete does (2015, p. 398), as does So Easy to Preserve (2014, p. 98), and, Clemson Cooperative Extension .

Modifications made:

  • I did not include the raw pack method for turkey morsels, but there is one. Refer to USDA directions for that. Deboning a raw turkey would be a nightmare, but you might want to consider the raw pack method if you had bought raw boneless turkey breasts.

Varies based on % mix of dark meat and light meat.

150 g (1 cup) white-meat cooked skinless, boneless turkey: 220 calories, 4. 5 g fat, o carbs, 41. 9 g protein, fibre 0, 97 mg cholesterol, 90 mg sodium. 5 Weight Watchers PointsPlus®.

150 g (1 cup) dark-meat cooked skinless, boneless turkey: 262 calories, 10. 1 g fat, 0 carbs, 40 g protein, fibre 0, 119 mg cholesterol, 111 mg sodium. 6 Weight Watchers PointsPlus®.

* Nutrition info provided by

* PointsPlus™ calculated by healthycanning. com. Not endorsed by Weight Watchers® International, Inc, which is the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark. Points based on caloriecount nutrition info. Weight Watchers calculator actually gives value of 4 points for both light and dark per 150 g.

Canning turkey giblets, hearts, livers and gizzards

Leave turkey giblets, hearts and livers out of the rest of the turkey meat when canning that meat.

All the old canning books (Kerr 1948; USDA Home Canning Bulletin 242, May 1947; etc. suggested that because of the strong flavor they would impart to the remaining meat during canning, livers, giblets, and hearts should be canned separately from the rest of the chicken or turkey.

The Putting Food By authors say,

The USDA Complete Guide 2015 is silent on the matter.

The University of Wisconsin Extension Service does have detailed directions on canning gizzards for those interested. See:

Ingham, Barbara, et al. Wisconsin Safe Food Preservation Guide. Wisconsin Safe Food Preservation Series: Meat, Wild Game & Poultry Recipes. B3345. 2002. Page 23.

We don’t know if the advice for canning gizzards extends to giblets, hearts and livers. Before attempting to can those, we would suggest that you get in touch with the University of Wisconsin or the NCHFP to find out their most recent guidelines.

Pressure canning turkey, raw pack method


How long do you pressure canning turkey stock?

Put lids on, put in pressure canner. Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet.) Processing time: half-litre (1 US pint) jars for 20 minutes. OR 1 litre (1 US quart) jars for 25 minutes.

Can leftover turkey be canned?

After all, turkey can weigh anywhere from eight to more than 20 pounds, making for a lot of additional meat, especially if you have a small family. Fortunately, you can save a lot of those leftovers to eat later. Sure, you can freeze the bird, but you might want to consider home-canning those leftovers instead.

How do you preserve turkey meat?

If your turkey has been properly handled, you can refrigerate and eat it for up to four days. If you are planning to freeze it, it’s best to freeze it within one day of cooking for optimal texture and taste. However, leftover turkey can be frozen after three days and it will be fine.

Can You Pressure Cook a Turkey?

Put a can of turkey meat on some bread and have a sandwich. Alternatively, you can serve the canned turkey in its broth with white rice for a warm but hearty meal. Just avoid making these pressure-canning blunders, and you’ll be fine. If you’re planning on canning a turkey from the start, it’s recommended not to cook it all the way through.

How do you can a cooked turkey?

Since it’s cooked it will shrink less than raw meat, but still be sure to pack the turkey tightly into canning jars. Your goal is to get as much meat as possible into each jar while still leaving a full 1 1/4 inch headspace at the top of the jar. Pour boiling turkey stock over the meat, and use a nonmetal implement to remove air bubbles.

Should you can a cooked turkey?

With canning, you don’t risk accidentally exposing your cooked meat to freezer burn, which can lower its overall quality. Freezer burn is caused by the loss of moisture in food. Likewise, when you’re ready to eat, you don’t have to wait for your turkey to thaw. All you have to do is pop the lid on that jar, and your meal is ready to heat.

Does pre cooked turkey shrink during canning?

Food shrinks during the canning process, and pre-cooked turkey is no exception. Since it’s cooked it will shrink less than raw meat, but still be sure to pack the turkey tightly into canning jars. Your goal is to get as much meat as possible into each jar while still leaving a full 1 1/4 inch headspace at the top of the jar.

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