Dehydrating Chicken

Dehydrating chicken that rehydrates well is not as cut and dried as you might think. I have tried baking, poaching, frying and grilling it with the same results – tough dried chicken!

During the course of my quest to find a way to dry chicken that would return to tenderness on the trail, I put some canned chicken in the dehydrator and that was the answer. Canned chicken rehydrates nicely in meals.

I believe the difference has to do with the way that canned chicken is pressure cooked right in the can in a process called retort cooking. If you have a pressure cooker at home, you might give it a try. I don’t currently own one, so dehydrating canned chicken is the quick solution for me.

I have dried several brands including Swanson, Target, Hormel, and Tyson. They all turn out very tender when rehydrated.

I also dehydrated a couple of brands of pouched chicken which is also pressure cooked. The pouched chicken turned out more tender than my home cooked chicken, but was a little chewier than the canned chicken.

Dehydrating Chicken from a Can or Pouch

  • Drain liquid from can. If there is any fat adhering to the chicken, rinse away under hot water.
  • Pull chunks apart into smaller pieces and spread out on dehydrator tray.
  • Dry at 145 degrees for approximately eight hours.

When dry, a 12.5 ounce can yields a little less than a cup and will weigh 1.5 to 2 ounces.

Store dehydrated chicken in the freezer until you are ready to use it or pack for a trip.

Canned chicken is not widely available outside the United States – something I discovered when I went looking for it in Switzerland. If you can’t find it, there are two other methods – steam cooking or buying broasted chicken – which PasnThru and Jeff the Chef have shared further down the page.

Dried Chicken Tips & Recipes

1. Substitute chicken for ground beef or ham in any of the Backpacking Chef recipes to add variety to your backpacking menu.

2. Chicken goes well with rice and vegetables in backpacking meals.

  • To add extra flavor, precook the rice in fat-free chicken broth before drying it.
  • For an Asian flair, add a few teaspoons of soy sauce to the cooked rice before you dry it.

See Dehydrating Rice & Risotto.

Dehydrating Chicken – Jamaican Jerk Recipe (shown at right)


In my book, Recipes for Adventure, you’ll find more chicken recipes like Chicken & Rice Cacciatore and Curry Chicken & Rice shown below.


Here are two other methods of dehydrating chicken shared by Backpacking Chef readers:

Dehydrating Steamed Chicken

Shared by Jeff the Chef:

  • Buy a large chicken, not extra large, so as not to get a fatty bird.
  • Skin and trim all the fat.
  • Cut it in half and steam for one hour until falling apart.
  • Remove bones and pull meat apart into small pieces.
  • Hit with seasoning salt or a little soy sauce if for Asian dish.
  • Dehydrate at 145° - 155° until dry (time varies with dehydrator model)

Yield: 15-20 ¼ cup portions for the price of two cans!

Jeff says, "Steamed chicken has excellent flavor and less fat than canned chicken. The fat drips off the bird during steaming and can be helped along by pouring hot water over the bird. I do this with turkey and duck also."

Dehydrating Broasted Chicken (from store or restaurant)

Shared by PasnThru:

Broasting is pressure cooking with oil. The photo above shows dried breast meat on left and thigh meat on right with the rehydrated meat in the foreground. PasnThru was pleased with the results. Because the meat is cooked under pressure, much less oil enters the meat compared to open frying. Fast food restaurants publish nutritional information on their websites. I noticed that Kentucky Fried Chicken uses mono sodium glutamate in their chicken which is troublesome for some folks.



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