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The Best Canned Chicken: 7 Options to Keep Stocked in Your Pantry

While not as popular as some other types of canned meat and seafood like tuna and salmon, canned chicken is something that should be in every kitchen. It’s a great source of protein and a much easier and quicker way to eat chicken. In fact, canned chicken doesn’t lose any of the essential vitamins and minerals found in other types of chicken, making it a perfect thing to add to any healthy snack or meal.

Your mouth is probably watering already, so let’s get into our list of 7 of the best canned chicken options, as well as some things to consider when shopping. We’ll top this article off with some tasty recipes that use canned chicken!

Best Pick

Swanson Premium White & Dark Chunk Chicken in Water

Our favorite canned chicken product has to be the Swanson Premium White & Dark Chunk Chicken in Water—it’s full of simple ingredients, a great source of protein, and free of antibiotics.

Budget Pick

Swanson Premium White Chunk Chicken Breast

With Swanson Premium White Chunk Chicken Breast, you can get a good source of high-quality protein that’s available and ready to eat immediately!



1. Swanson Premium White & Dark Chunk Chicken in Water

Highlighted Features

  • Produced and sourced in the United States
  • Made with simple, real ingredients
  • The Swanson brand is trusted in many households and restaurants
  • High-quality chicken that can be used in many different meals
  • Free of antibiotics, artificial flavors, and added MSG

Swanson has become one of the most common household names for a reason. They’re driven by a mission to help inspire people around the globe to cook and with products like their canned chicken, they’re just making whipping up a creative meal easier and more affordable.

When it comes to their products, they only use the finest ingredients. They source ripe produce, fresh meat, and fragrant herbs to include in their stocks, broths, and canned meat products.

This is some of our favorite canned chicken as it features both white and dark chunks, making it a great choice for anyone who likes all parts of the chicken. We find that the texture is just like what you would get with roasted or grilled chicken and we enjoy adding this canned chicken to pasta and taco recipes.

Pros

  • Good flavor and texture
  • Swanson is a trusted brand that has been around for awhile
  • 97% fat free
  • White and dark meat chicken, great for those who prefer both
  • 15 grams of protein, 29% RDA                

Cons

  • High sodium content (360 mg per 3 oz serving)
  • Contains genetically-modified ingredients (corn in the modified food starch), which some consumers may choose to avoid
  • The texture isn’t consistent in all cans, some may be a little mushy
  • Contains sodium phosphate, an additive some people might like to avoid

2. Swanson Premium White Chunk Chicken Breast

Highlighted Features

  • Made from chickens who have been farm-raised in the United States
  • The product is ready-to-eat, making it perfect for a quick dinner
  • Free of antibiotics, added preservatives, artificial flavors, and added MSG

Swanson does it again with their premium white chunk chicken breast. Free of antibiotics and naturally low in fat, this is a healthy way to add protein to your diet. You can feel good about making a chicken salad sandwich or adding this to a recipe!

Everyday meals can get a healthy boost with this white chunk chicken meat. We love using it in buffalo chicken dip (recipe at the end of this article) and in chicken tetrazzini.

This all-white meat chicken tastes delicious and has the same texture as other types of chicken. We always have a can in our pantry and recommend that you do the same!

Pros

  • Only white meat, perfect for people who prefer that over dark meat
  • 98% fat free
  • Pre-cooked and ready to eat immediately
  • Easy to add to meals, perfect for late nights or lazy dinners

Cons

  • Contains an additive, sodium phosphate, which some people with kidney or cardiovascular diseases might want to avoid
  • Tastes a little bit salty, so you might want to rinse before eating
  • Cans contain a significant amount of water, so you may want to take that into consideration when planning a meal

3. Kirkland Signature Chicken Breast, Packed in Water

Highlighted Features

  • Excellent source of protein
  • Made with extra lean chicken breast
  • Product of USA

Kirkland is another name that’s found in most kitchens. Their prices may be cheap, but that doesn’t mean that they compromise on quality. Their signature canned chicken breast is excellent for adding to soups and casseroles or using in quesadillas or chicken salad.

It’s produced in the United States, so you can feel confident about its quality. It also has a very satisfying taste and texture, and a long shelf life to boot!

Pros

  • Includes a little bit of chicken broth, which will add some additional flavor
  • Contains 13 grams of protein per 55 g serving
  • Affordable source of good-quality protein
  • Good consistency, doesn’t feel mushy or like chicken gravy
  • Large chunks of chicken taste fresh

Cons

  • Contains genetically modified ingredients and additives like sodium phosphates
  • Although affordable, it’s a little pricier than some of the other options on this list

4. Wild Planet Organic Roasted Chicken Breast, Skinless and Boneless, No Salt Added

Highlighted Features

  • Skinless and boneless
  • No salt added, great for those on a low-sodium diet
  • All nutrients and flavor are retained from the organic chicken breast
  • No fillers, like modified starches, are added
  • Certified humanely-raised chicken
  • Ready-to-eat, great to top on salads, burritos, or soups
  • No liquids added, most of what’s in the can can be eaten

If you’re looking for canned chicken that’s been humanely and organically raised, Wild Planet is the best and most well-known brand to trust. They only use free-range chickens that have been raised in humane conditions that live up to the brand’s strict standards.

The chicken breast used in this product eats a diet of non-GMO food and has not been exposed to pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers. If you’re looking for a natural and sustainable product, this is the best canned chicken for you.

With this type of canned chicken, you get what you pay for: 100% organic chicken breast. No fillers, no water, no processing additives. The chicken is roasted in the can, so the juice that is present is from the chicken itself and adds additional flavor without adding anything else.

Wild Planet is known for some of their other canned meat products: tuna, salmon, white anchovies, and sardines. All of their products are sustainably sourced and support the conservation of wildlife.

Wild Planet is a big supporter of organic agriculture and when we make a purchase for them, we’re supporting their efforts to reduce pollution and keep our waterways and oceans clean. Not only can you feel great about your purchase, but you can feel happy when you enjoy it in a delicious chicken tortilla soup!

Pros

  • Lowest sodium option here, just 25 mg per 2 oz serving
  • Good source of protein (12 g)
  • Sustainably sourced chicken breast supports organic agriculture and a healthy planet
  • All Wild Planet products are third-party tested to be certified gluten free
  • This canned chicken is a great choice for those following a paleo or keto diet

Cons

  • For some, the jelly-like texture isn’t enjoyable (it can be manually shredded though)
  • One of the more expensive options
  • With nothing added for flavor, it may taste bland to some people

5. Valley Fresh Organic Canned Chicken Breast with Rib Meat in Water

Highlighted Features

  • Already prepared, ready to open and eat!
  • USDA certified organic
  • Free of added MSG, fillers, and preservatives

If you’re a fan of simple, natural, and nutritious eating, then the canned chicken breast from Valley Fresh should make it into your grocery list. They don’t include any additives or preservatives, meaning that you’re left with real chicken and a sprinkle of sea salt.

As a healthy addition to any sandwich, salad, or buffalo chicken dip, the organic canned chicken breast from Valley Fresh has been certified by the American Heart Association as a heart-healthy food.

We love to have it stocked in our kitchen for an easy last-minute dinner, but also find that it’s great to bring with us on a hiking or backpacking trip. Add a little bit of olive oil and your favorite spice blend and you have a tasty meal on the go.

Pros

  • Simple, natural ingredients—there’s nothing you can’t pronounce in this canned chicken!
  • Added sea salt gives the canned chicken some extra flavor
  • The chicken has been minimally processed
  • Allergen-free makes it a great choice for people with dietary restrictions
  • Shreds easily with a fork

Cons

  • Only 10 grams of protein per serving (a little lower than the other canned chicken options on this list)
  • Unfortunately, the sea salt adds quite a bit of sodium (240 mg per 56 g serving) so it’s definitely best to drain and rinse this if you’re avoiding extra sodium
  • There’s a decent amount of water in the can so you’ll likely end up requiring several cans for a meal

6. Hormel Premium No Salt Added Canned Chunk Chicken Breast in Water

Highlighted Features

  • Includes 100% real meat that’s ready to eat!
  • 98% fat free
  • Easy to use, no refrigeration required until it’s been opened
  • Great for those following a gluten-free diet
  • No salt added, perfect for individuals reducing the amount of sodium in their diets

Even though it’s free of added salt, this canned chunk chicken certainly isn’t lacking in flavor. You get all of the taste you normally would in chicken, just in a much easier and more affordable way.

Pros

  • Free of preservatives and added MSG
  • Just 80 mg of sodium per 56 g serving

Cons

  • A decent source of protein, but at 9 grams per serving this is lower than some of the other options
  • Does include an additive (sodium phosphates) and modified food starch (which likely contains genetically modified ingredients)
  • Includes “flavoring” which is a Hormel proprietary secret, so you’ll need to call them if you have any concerns about specific ingredients
  • Gel-like texture and a lot of water in the cans

7. Keystone Meats All Natural Canned Chicken

Highlighted Features

  • Simple ingredients, just chicken and sea salt
  • Fully-cooked and ready toad to any meal
  • All-natural product, free of MSG and preservatives
  • Great for chefs, campers, boaters, and survivalists

Keystone Meat is based in the United States and processes their meat in a facility that’s been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture. They’re a family-owned and operated company that is dedicated to producing only the highest-quality ingredients. They’re definitely a name that we trust to have in our kitchen!

We also think that this canned chicken tastes nearly identical to the real thing. It tastes great incorporated into a soup or sandwich and is perfect when you simply don’t have the time to roast or boil a real chicken.

Pros

  • Unlike some other brands, you’ll find large chunks of chicken in this product
  • Good texture and the juice in the can adds some extra flavor
  • Lower in sodium than some other brands (100 mg per 2 oz serving)
  • A good source of protein (12 g per serving)

Cons

  • Not a lot of flavor, especially if you rinse the product to minimize the amount of sodium
  • Awful smell (kind of like sulfur)
  • Higher price than some other options

Things to Consider When the Looking For Canned Chicken

Canned chicken might not be the same as the chicken you’d eat fried, grilled, or freshly roasted. But that certainly doesn’t mean that it isn’t something that should be in every kitchen pantry.

With canned chicken you get two of the things that most of us want when it comes to food: convenience and versatility.

Canned chicken can be eaten on its own or incorporated into a variety of meals. We’ll go into some recipe ideas a bit later, but for now, here are some more things for you to consider when you’re shopping for canned chicken.

Is Canned Chicken Actually Chicken?

One of the most common questions about canned chicken is if it’s actually chicken or not. For some, the texture, appearance, and smell may be a little off-putting, which has led to some people thinking that they’ve purchased “mystery meat” instead of chicken in a can.

But don’t worry, canned chicken is exactly that—canned chicken! It may look a little different than the chicken you’re used to but you can breathe a sigh of relief to know that it’s just chicken meat that’s been hermetically sealed in a can.

Similar to canned tuna, fruit, or vegetables, canned chicken is simply an easier, more affordable way to eat chicken.

Is Canned Chicken Healthy?

Although the chicken may look a little different than its fresh-cooked counterparts when you first see it in the bottom of the can, you can rest assured that it really isn’t. Generally speaking, canned chicken is nutritionally the same as other types of chicken.

Although the chicken has been processed before it goes into your can, no protein is lost during the process, making canned chicken one of the easiest and most affordable protein sources out there.

Even better, canned chicken is relatively low-calorie, and low in fat, too! Plus, even though it’s been processed, canned chicken still retains all of the nutrients found in other types of chicken!

In fact, canned chicken is a complete source of animal protein. What this means is that it contains all of the amino acids (building blocks) required to support the health of our own protein and tissues.

It’s also a good source of B vitamins and is rich in vitamins A and E—which support our visual health and immune health, respectively.  

Are There any Health Concerns to Be Aware of With Canned Chicken?

When it comes to any type of canned food, one of the biggest concerns for most people is sodium. It’s always a good idea to pay attention to the nutrition label and avoid canned chicken that has a lot of sodium.

Anything more than 425 mg of sodium per serving will take up about 18% of your recommended daily value of sodium.

Aside from the high sodium levels, another concern to consider with canned chicken has to do with the additives and preservatives that are sometimes added to keep the chicken fresh.

One specific additive that may cause alarm in some consumers is sodium phosphate.

The reason sodium phosphate is added to some varieties of canned chicken is to keep the chicken looking and feeling like it did when it was packed. It helps to maintain the meat’s texture and shape (otherwise some consumers would end up opening a can of mush!).

While sodium phosphates are used in a variety of different types of food—anything from beef jerky to lunch meat—some people are concerned about this ingredient.

It is considered safe by the FDA but sodium phosphate can also lead to health complications for certain at-risk people.

If you have certain health issues—like cardiovascular disease or kidney disease—you may want to avoid eating canned chicken (or other foods with sodium phosphate) in excess.

How Long Does Canned Chicken Last?

If you store your canned chicken properly—that is, in a dry and clean area where the temperature is around (or below) 75 degrees F—you should be able to store your canned chicken awhile.

Unopened canned chicken can last between 2-5 years. Always check the “best by” date so that you have a better idea of when you’ll need to use yours up by.

Once you’ve opened the canned chicken, remove it from the can to store in a different container (preferably glass) and use it within 5-7 days.

Should I Rinse Canned Chicken?

While you definitely don’t have to rinse your canned chicken before using it, it’s probably a good idea.

In fact, a quick rinse in water before will make the canned chicken even healthier! By rinsing your canned chicken, you’re helping to remove some of the salt that the chicken has likely been packed with.

As sodium is one of the biggest concerns with canned chicken, you’ll be pleased to know that a quick rinse removes up to 40% of the sodium!

It might add a few extra seconds to your prep time but simply doing this will make canned chicken an even better option to always have stocked in your kitchen!

How to Use Canned Chicken

Once you’ve chosen the best canned chicken for you and your family and have rinsed off some of the extra sodium, you can get to the fun part—preparing it for a tasty meal!

We personally love canned chicken when used in a variety of things. We’ll talk about a few recipes but to start getting some meal ideas flowing, here are some things that canned chicken can easily be used for:

  • Sandwiches: Simply mix in some mayonnaise, hummus, or smashed avocado and you’ll have a creamy chicken sandwich in no time.
  • Salads: Just like how you would use tuna, top any salad with some canned chicken!
  • Soups: If you’re planning on making some soup, consider adding some canned chicken as an easy and delicious source of protein.
  • Breakfast: This may sound a bit strange, but canned chicken mixed into your morning scrambled eggs is a great way to get a lot of protein early in the morning.

Canned Chicken Recipes

Now we’ll get into some of the tastiest canned chicken recipes we found online. You might be surprised to find that canned chicken works well in nearly anything—it’s one of the best and most versatile protein staples to have on hand.

Chicken Noodle Soup

We’ll start out with one recipe that everyone should know: chicken noodle soup—perfect for a winter’s day or a quick and filling lunch or dinner.

Canned chicken is super easy to incorporate into any chicken noodle soup recipe. All you need to do is replace the cooked chicken breast for canned chicken and add broth, cream of chicken soup, egg noodles, and vegetables like onion, carrots, and celery.

We typically use this recipe from Taste of Home and simply replace the chicken in the ingredient list with two or three cans of canned chicken.

Chicken Nachos

Need something quick and delicious for game day? Everyone likes chicken nachos and when you have the option of using canned chicken you simply can’t go wrong.

We found a super simple recipe for you—it only takes 15 minutes to make six servings of cheesy, delicious nachos! Thanks, Delish, we can’t wait to try it!

Simply add picante sauce, cheddar cheese soup, and canned chicken to a bag of tortilla chips. Sprinkle on some green onion and tomato and you have a tasty treat that everyone will love!

Chicken Parmesan Patties

If you’re looking for something different for dinner, look no further than the Chicken Parmesan Patties from The Big Man’s World. Try these once and they’re sure to become one of your favorite go-to recipes in no time.

This healthy meal combines canned chicken with grated zucchini and baby spinach to form patties that are sprinkled with parmesan cheese and some of your favorite herbs and spices. They’re a filling and tasty family-friendly meal.

BLT Ranch Chicken Wraps

For a go-to lunch meal that will have you thinking that you’re at your favorite restaurant, you should try the BLT Ranch Chicken Wraps recipe, from Taste & Tell.

The best part about these wraps is that they require only six ingredients: canned chicken, ranch dressing, flour tortillas, bacon, lettuce, and tomato! You can whip them up in no time and have a picnic!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Here’s another gameday favorite (although this is something great to have anyday!): buffalo chicken dip! We always use the recipe from All Recipes, because it’s sure to be crowd-pleaser.

The tangy spice from the hot sauce gets combined with cool cream cheese. Add in some canned chicken, shredded cheddar cheese, ranch dressing, and celery and voila! You’ve got a snack that’s ready in no time (and will be eaten just as quickly!).

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie is an American staple for a reason—it’s a hearty meal that the whole family will love. And when you have canned chicken in your cupboard, this meal gets even easier!

In just 40 minutes, you can have a warm and bubbly dinner. Your canned chicken will be combined with hard boiled eggs, carrots, corn, chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, biscuit mix, milk, and butter. Thanks for the recipe, Lil Luna! We can’t wait to try this ourselves.

Chicken Tacos

For this recipe, we looked to Mex Grocer. Their experience with authentic Mexican food makes them a perfect source for taco recipes!

They give two versions of a chicken taco recipe: the purist’s way and the cheater’s way. We don’t like to think of it as “cheating” but sometimes it’s nice to be able to skip the step where we would have to bake chicken breasts for 30 minutes!

With canned chicken, all you need to do is combine two cans with salsa fresca, garlic, and salt and pepper. We like to add toppings like thinly sliced avocado, shredded Mexican cheese, and cilantro. YUM!

Conclusion

It’s great to know that we can have such a great source of protein that we always have available in our pantries. With canned chicken, you get all of the benefits of chicken in an easy and affordable way.

We hope that you feel inspired to try some canned chicken for yourself! Now that you know what to look for, who makes the best canned chicken, and what recipes to use with your canned chicken, we can’t wait until you try it for yourself. If you do, let us know what recipe you used in the comments below!

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