I put off dehydrating meat for a long time because I was afraid – how do you know it’s done? What if it goes bad? What if it doesn’t rehydrate well? Can you even put chicken in a dehydrator?
The short answer is yes! You can dehydrate chicken for long-term storage or a lightweight, shelf-stable solution for camping and backpacking meals.
The same as dehydrating everything else, dehydrating chicken is not particularly hard but does take time. For me, it’s worth it to be able to create my own backpacking meals and have chicken as a base for tacos, chicken soup, or even a mushroom risotto creation.
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The trick to dehydrating chicken is to use either canned chicken or pressure cook your own. If you try to dehydrate baked or fried chicken, it may be really tough and hard to eat when rehydrated.
I use canned chicken because I’m lazy and that’s just too easy. Pressure cooking your own has its advantages though, like being able to add onions, garlic cloves, or other herbs to the pressure cooker. Either way, start by draining off any excess liquid and shred the meat or break it up into small, uniform pieces.
Lay paper towels or a clean dishcloth over a cutting board or plate and spread your chicken out over it. Then press out as much liquid as you can with another layer of paper towels or dishcloth on top.
Look it over well and make sure to remove any bits of fat you see before dehydrating, fat doesn’t dry well and will be the first thing to go rancid if a chunk is left on the meat.
How do you dehydrate chicken?
Spread your chicken out on your dehydrator trays. I use and love the Presto 06301 Dehydro dehydrator with the sheets with the smallest holes or even the fruit leather trays since the chicken can turn into tiny pieces after drying out. Or you could line your trays with parchment paper to prevent the meat from falling through while drying.
Dehydrate at 145 degrees F for about 7-8 hours or until totally crunchy and the biggest pieces are dried through.
Let cool and store in an air-tight container or Ziploc bag. Just to be on the safe side, I keep mine in the freezer until ready to pack for a trip.
How long does dehydrated chicken last?
It is best to store dehydrated meat, including chicken, in an airtight container or sealed bag in the freezer until you’re about to use it or pack it for a trip. Try to use up your chicken within six months of dehydrating it and within a week of opening your container or Ziploc bag. While six months is pretty safe, many hikers report using dehydrated meat after six months or more without incident if it was sealed and stored properly. Do so at your own risk and don’t eat anything that smells or looks funny.
Dehydrating Chicken In A Nutshell:
- Drain excess liquid off canned or pressure cooked chicken and then pat dry with paper towels.
- Remove any visible fat.
- Spread out on dehydrator trays.
- Dry at 145 degrees for about 8 hours.
- Let cool and store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.
Pro tip: make note of how many servings of chicken you place in the dehydrator, so you know how to divvy it up into baggies after it’s dried or if you put it all in one bag, label it as X servings of chicken, so you know when it comes time to split it up into meals.
I usually split it up into servings right off the dehydrator, and then also add a serving (or few) of dehydrated veggies to the bag of chicken. Then, as I’m prepping for my trip, I’ll add in any spices, sauce mixes or bouillon to the bag and call it a meal!
Alternatively, you can dehydrate ground chicken the same way you would dehydrate ground beef.
If you try dehydrating chicken for yourself, let us know how it turns out in the comments below!
For more backpacking recipe and meal ideas, check out:
- Keto Friendly Granola Bars For Backpackers
- 3 Tasty Keto Beef Jerky Recipes
- Backpacker’s Pad Thai Recipe
- Quinoa & Summer Sausage: Easy Backpacking Dinner Recipe