The Best Method for Canning Turkey Meat

When pressure-canning turkey, chop the meat into 1-inch cubes and boil until 2/3 cooked. Pack the pieces in hot jars and add stock or water to the jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Process pint jars for 75 minutes and quart jars for 90 minutes.

What is the Best Way to Can Turkey?

Turkey is a low-acid food, and pressure canning is the best way to preserve it. Pressure-canning meat ensures it is free of harmful bacteria such as Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism.

Never use a boiling water bath canner to process low-acid foods like turkey, as they don’t reach a high enough temperature to safely remove bacteria.

Canning Turkey in a Pressure Canner

Follow this canning process guide for pressure canning turkey:

  1. Only can fresh turkey meat, whether raw or partially cooked. Thanksgiving leftovers aren’t suitable for canning.
  2. Wash the canning tools, jars, lids, and bands in warm, soapy water and rinse well.
  3. Sanitize the canning jars by placing them in boiling water for 10 minutes and keeping them hot until filled.
  4. Chop the turkey meat into 1-inch pieces.
  5. In a large stockpot, boil the meat over medium heat until it is 2/3 cooked.
  6. Use a slotted spoon to pack the turkey pieces loosely into the hot jars.
  7. Use a bubble popper to push the pieces down and eliminate air bubbles.
  8. Cover the turkey meat with hot turkey stock, leaving 1-inch headspace. Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart jar or 1/2 teaspoon to pint jars, if desired.
  9. Wipe the jar rims clean with paper towels, and then apply new canning lids on the jars. Place the screw bands and tighten the ring until fingertip-tight.
  10. Prepare the pressure canner by inserting the jar rack based on the manufacturer’s directions. Fill it with water, about 2 to 3 inches, depending on the user manual.
  11. Place the pressure canner on a stove and heat the water. Using a jar lifter, place the hot jars on the canning rack, ensuring there’s space between the jars.
  12. Cover the canner with a lid and bring the water in the canner to a boil. Let it vent steam for 10 minutes.
  13. Let the pressure build to the recommended level based on the elevation and canner type:

Processing time and pressure for boneless turkey in a dial-gauge pressure canner:

Altitude (ft)0 – 2,0002,001 – 4,0004,001 – 6,0006,001 – 8,000
Pint jars (75 mins)11 lbs12 lbs13 lbs14 lbs
Quart jars (90 mins)11 lbs12 lbs13 lbs14 lbs

Processing time and PSI for boneless turkey in a weighted-gauge pressure canner:

Altitude (ft)0 – 1,0001,001 +
Pint jars (75 mins)10 lbs15 lbs
Quart jars (90 mins)10 lbs15 lbs
  1. Process pint jars for 75 minutes and quart jars for 90 minutes.
  2. Once the recommended processing time is up, turn off the stove and let the pressure return to zero before removing the lid.
  3. Remove the jars from the canner using a jar lifter and place them on a cushioned surface. Let the jars cool completely for 12–24 hours undisturbed.
  4. Remove the screw bands from the jars.
  5. Check for proper sealing of the jars. The lids aren’t sealed if they flex up and down when the center is pressed.
  6. Label and store sealed jars of canned turkey in a cool, dry place.
Canned turkey in jar
Canned turkey

What is the Difference Between Canning Raw and Cooked Turkey?

Here are some major differences between canning raw and cooked turkey:

  • Canning liquid: When canning turkey meat, you can add water, stock, or tomato juice to the packed jars before processing. No liquid is added when raw canning. The liquid cover in hot packing turkey ensures quality during storage, while the raw turkey fat and juices are usually not enough to fully cover the meat in raw packs.
  • Flavor: Pre-cooked turkey has a better flavor than raw turkey. Raw turkey misses the extra flavor a good bone broth can provide.
  • Texture: Pressure-canned raw turkey may have a firmer texture than cooked turkey, which is more tender and partially cooked before canning.
  • Time: Raw packs save you time compared to hot packs. Pre-cooking the turkey and preparing the stock for packing takes extra work.
Diced raw turkey breast on cutting board
Raw turkey breast

How Long Do You Cook Turkey Before Canning It?

According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, turkey meat should be boiled until it is two-thirds cooked or has reached an internal temperature of 165°F before canning. Testing the internal temperature requires the use of a food thermometer. Pressure canning finishes cooking the turkey.

How Long Does Canning Turkey Take?

The processing time for pressure canning turkey is the same for both raw and hot packs. It takes between 75 and 90 minutes of canning time for pints and quarts. This does not include the prep time or cook time required for hot pack jars.

What are the Benefits of Canning Turkey?

Home canning turkey offers the following key benefits:

  • Canned turkey can provide a convenient and ready-to-eat source of protein
  • Canned turkey is versatile and can be used in stews and casseroles
  • Canning both dark meat and white meat is possible when home-canning turkey
  • Canning turkey can be cost-effective, especially if you can source turkey meat at a lower cost
  • Flavor the turkey as you like by customizing it with your favorite spices
  • Save freezer space and store canned turkey for up to 1 year without refrigeration
  • Turkey can also be preserved with fall veggies by canning turkey soup
  • Use the bones from leftover turkey to make turkey broth
Bowl of turkey soup
Turkey soup

What is the Shelf Life of Canned Turkey?

Canned turkey lasts up to 1 year if stored in a cool, dry place, such as a cupboard or the kitchen pantry. Keep canned turkey away from direct sunlight and moisture, and store canned turkey jars at least 6 inches off of the ground.


Patrick has a farming background and is a full-time food writer and recipe creator. His goal is to help you discover how fantastic canning is by sharing his knowledge. Outside of the kitchen, Patrick enjoys outdoor activities and exploring nature in all its beauty.

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