The 6 Best Canned Chicken in 2020

Why drive to the deli or grocery store for fresh chicken because you feel like making chicken noodle soup for lunch? Instead, why not reach for some canned chicken? Not only is canned chicken high in protein and low in carbs like fresh chicken, but when it’s canned it usually costs less. As a nation, we’re also less likely to throw canned food away unlike the fresh chicken past its best hidden away at the back of the refrigerator.

Finding premium canned chicken is not always the easiest, some products may contain sauces or fillers which means that they may not be suitable for serving up whichever way you want to. The canned chickens that we are looking at in this review are all chunk canned chickens that contain very few additional ingredients; making them great for hot dishes or just serving from the can on salads or in wraps. There is also the bonus that unlike fresh chicken, the best canned chicken does not have to be used within a few days of purchase.

​Best Pick

Hormel Premium No Salt Added Canned Chunk Chicken Breast in Water

With low sodium, high protein and no MSG, the Hormel Premium No Salt Added Canned Chunk Chicken Breast in Water is our best pick of the premium chunk chickens.

​Budget Pick

Kirkland Signature Chicken Breast

Made from extra lean seasoned chicken chunks, the Kirkland Signature Chicken Breast is our best value choice of canned chicken.

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

Highlighted Features

  • 98% fat free and high protein
  • No added salt

The Hormel Premium No Salt Added Canned Chunk Chicken Breast in Water comes in a 12 pack of 5-ounce cans and is 98% fat free. It does not contain any MSG or preservatives and is also gluten free. A serving of approximately 2-ounce of this chunk chicken contains 45 calories with total fat content of 1g and 40mg of cholesterol.

Within this serving there is also nine grams of protein per serving. Because this canned chicken does not contain any added salt, it may be more suitable for you if you are looking to maintain a lower sodium diet.


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    Low sodium alternative
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    Chunk chicken breast


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    Does not have a ring pull to open the can

2. Kirkland Signature Chicken Breast 

Highlighted Features

  • Made in the USA
  • Extra lean seasoned chicken chunks

The Kirkland Signature chicken breast is produced in the USA and has been inspected by the USDA. Available in a six pack of larger 12.5-ounce cans, this is a seasoned and extra lean chunk chicken breast. It does not contain wheat, rye or barley, however does contain corn starch so may not be suitable for those with a gluten intolerance or allergy.

As well as chunks of chicken breast meat, it contains chicken broth, which you may choose to drain off, depending on how you are planning on using the chicken. A serving contains 1g of fat and 45mg of cholesterol, its sodium content is 190mg, making 8% of the Daily Value of sodium intake. This chicken also contains low amounts of vitamin C, calcium and iron.


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    Available in a larger can
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    USDA inspected chicken


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    Not gluten free

3. Keystone Meats All Natural Canned Chicken

Highlighted Features

  • 12g of protein per 2-ounce serving
  • Produced in the USA by a USDA inspected manufacturer

This super-sized 28-ounce canned chicken contains no added water or preservatives; just chicken and sea salt. Ready cooked and produced by the USDA inspected meat processing facility, Keystone Meats All Natural canned chicken is gluten free and low sodium.

A 2-ounce serving contains zero carbs, 1g of fat and 12g of protein, making this chunk canned chicken a particularly good source of protein. This is an ideal sized can if you need to cook for large get togethers or even for taking out on camping trips.

If the can is maintained in good condition, there is a five-year shelf life on it which also makes it ideal to store with the emergency provisions.


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    High protein content
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    Five-year shelf life on these family-sized cans


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    ​Does contain added salt so may not be ideal for lower sodium diets

4. Swanson White & Dark Premium Chunk Chicken 

Highlighted Features

  • Contains both white and dark meat
  • Free from artificial flavors and MSG

The Swanson White & Dark Premium Chunk Chicken contains antibiotic-free chicken which has been farm raised in the USA. Available in a 12 pack of 9.75-ounce tins it has no artificial flavors or MSG added and is 95% fat free. This canned chicken may not be suitable if you have a gluten intolerance as it does contain corn starch sourced from genetically modified crops.


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    Produced from antibiotic free chickens in the USA
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    Dark and white premium chunk chicken


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    Contains a GMO corn source, which some consumers may choose to avoid
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    Not gluten free

5. Kosher Club Canned Chicken 

Highlighted Features

  • Kosher canned chicken that is USDA inspected

The Kosher Club Canned Chicken is USDA inspected and certified kosher for Passover, offering easy cooking at this time and throughout the rest of the year. This first kosher-approved canned chunk chicken is in water, free from MSG and preservatives. It is also gluten free.


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    Kosher and gluten free
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    Contains no preservatives or MSG


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    Does contain around 10% of sodium Daily Value in a 2-ounce serving, so may not be suitable for lower sodium diets

Things to Consider Before Buying the Product

Ways of Using Canned Chicken

You can use canned chicken in the same way and in the same meals that you would use fresh chicken, with the added advantage that it does not have to be cooked first. You may choose to drain the chicken chunks before serving or if you are adding it to casserole or soup you may wish to add the full contents of the tin - treating the liquid as a stock.

Unlike handling and cooking fresh chicken, using canned chicken reduces the risk of foodborne illness such as that from Campylobacter or Salmonella as canned chicken has already been cooked to a safe temperature to kill these (and other) microorganisms.

However, like using fresh cooked chicken, we should still maintain good kitchen hygiene by washing our hands, covering up leftovers before we put them in the refrigerator and cleaning counters and utensils thoroughly after use.

Canned and Fresh Chicken Nutrition 

There is little difference between the nutritional value of fresh and canned chicken. Protein levels are not affected by canning and canned chicken is low in carbs, calories and fat.

Some canned chicken can contain added salt, which can increase your sodium levels when compared with fresh chicken (depending of course on how this is cooked), but you may choose to buy cans that are lower sodium. Draining canned chicken well before using it can also help reduce some of the total salt intake.

Chicken contains lower levels of saturated fats and cholesterol when compared with red meats such as pork, beef and lamb, which is why the American Heart Association advises that we consume chicken (or fish or beans) instead of red meat to help lower our risk of cholesterol and development of heart disease.

Canned Chicken as a Protein Source

Protein is a macronutrient which means that like carbs and fat, our body needs quite a large intake of it. Chicken is part of the Protein Food Group and how much you need to eat from this group depends upon your sex, age and activity level. Although most of us do tend to eat enough protein regularly; we may need to make leaner and/or more varied choices from the Protein Food Group.

For a 31 to 50 year old, or a 51+ year old woman who beyond normal daily activities has less than 30 minutes daily of moderate physical activity, her protein intake should be around a 5-ounce equivalent.

A male in the 31-50 age group should have a 6-ounce equivalent and a 51+ year old male should have 5.5-ounce equivalent. For those who do undertake more physical activity, more protein may be able to be consumed.

A handy way to measure protein portions is to keep the portion to the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand as this will give you around 3- to 4-ounces of protein in your serving.

Why Protein is Important

Protein is a part of every cell in our body and it is vital to build and repair tissues, especially muscle, bone, cartilage, blood and skin. Protein is a key component in our nails and hair and is needed to make hormones and enzymes.

What type of protein we eat can also affect our overall health. If we consume our protein portions from deli meats or other processed meats such as sausages, this may increase our risk of cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer and type 2 diabetes. By selecting chicken as a protein source, much of the saturated fat is removed - especially in canned chicken as this contains meat rather than skin - it is skin that contains much of the saturated fat.

Chicken is also a source of some micronutrients such as iron.

Lifting the Lid on Canning

Cans are one of the safest types of food packaging available today. They are airtight, thermally sterilized, most have a long shelf life (and are shelf stable) and cannot be tampered with.

Canning as a process was first utilized in 1795 and in 1810 the use of metal containers for canning were patented in England. In 1821, William Underwood moved to Boston from England and established the first US canning plant. The principles of canning remain similar today.

Once food is placed into cans, the cans are vacuum sealed and heat processed at 250°F (121°C). This is an important temperature as it commercially sterilizes the food, destroying microorganisms and inactivating enzymes. These would otherwise cause the food to spoil.

The use of lead soldered cans was stopped in 1991 in the US and in 1995 the FDA prohibited use of lead in all food cans, including those that were imported. Instead, cans are welded closed at the seam and may also contain an inner coating of enamel or vinyl.

Except for some baby foods and infant formula, cans do not have to be dated. Generally, canned food remains at its quality peak for at least two years after canning. For longer times, some food may remain safe and keep its nutritional value, its texture and/or color may change.

The Safety of Dented, Rusted or Swollen (Blown) Cans 

Cans with small dents should be safe to eat, whereas cans with deeper dents should be disposed of, especially if the dent is on the seam as this may allow bacteria to enter the can.

Cans may rust over time and if a can is damaged this can also shorten its shelf life. Heavily rusted cans should be disposed of as bacteria may have entered the can through the rusting. If you can rub off surface rust with a finger then the rusting is not serious and you may wish to eat these cans. If you find rusting inside the can though, always destroy as oxidized iron (rust) is unsafe to consume. Some higher acid foods such as tomatoes also react with cans which can cause a difference in food quality over time.

If you cans are stored at over 100°F this increases the risk of food spoiling. Cans should be kept in a cool dry place, rather than near the stove and they should also be kept away from damp or cold temperature extremes.

If you have accidently left a can in the car overnight and it has frozen you can thaw it out in the refrigerator. Keep the can closed until defrosted and do check the contents before using; if you think it looks or smells different then it’s probably safer to throw it. Otherwise, cook the contents for between 10 and 20 minutes (adjusting boiling times for altitudes) and you can then refrigerate or freeze for later use.

A can that is swollen and one which you know has not been accidentally frozen should be thrown away. It is probably contaminated with bacteria which means the contents are unsafe to consume.

Storing Food in Cans After Opening

Unused canned chicken may be stored in the can in the refrigerator, but to maintain flavor and quality, we are advised to always empty leftovers in to a glass or plastic container before refrigerating. Some cans may explicitly state that leftovers should not be left in the can. Canned chicken should not be stored for longer than four days in the refrigerator once opened.

Some cans, such as canned hams that are purchased refrigerated should always be stored in the refrigerator.

Recycling Cans

Americans use around 100 million steel cans per day and over 67% of these are recycled by North American companies. More steel is recycled annually than glass, paper and plastic aluminum combined and steel is the world’s most recycled material.

Steel can be recycled constantly without any loss of quality and it reduces natural resource and energy use, as well as costing less. For one ton of recycled steel, 2500lbs of iron ore, 1400lb of coal and 120lbs of limestone are conserved.

When you put out your steel cans for curbside collection, they are taken to a material recovery facility or MRF where the cans are magnetically separated from other items, crushed and sent to a foundry or steel mill for recycling. This steel is then melted in the furnace to produce new steel for all types of uses, including new food cans.

BPA in Canned Chicken

BPA or Bisphenol-A is a chemical often found in the lining of the inside of cans. Research shows that the BPA in cans can migrate from the lining of the can into the food that you then eat. Although there is some conflicting evidence as to how this may impact health; research does suggest that there is a link between high levels of BPA, diabetes, heart disease and male sexual dysfunction.

It is for this reason that some of us may choose to limit our intake of canned food or consciously choose to buy cans advertised as BPA-free.

To date, the US Food and Drug Administration’s perspective is that BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in food but the FDA will continue to study BPA and will take additional action if required.


In this review, we have looked at some of the top premium canned chunk chicken that is available. Easy to keep on the shelf and perfect for cooking up or serving in a variety of ways, canned chicken is a biologically safe food that offers good quality protein with minimal fuss.

Whatever way you decide to serve up the best canned chicken you know that you are still eating good value, low fat, low carb and high protein chicken; a meat recognized by the American Heart Association as being a healthier choice for helping to lower our risk of developing heart disease.

1 thought on “The 6 Best Canned Chicken in 2020”

  1. Wow! This was way more info that I had never even considered. Funny how you don’t know what you don’t know until you read a thorough Blog Posting like this. Thank you!

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