Home canned ground beef is great to have on hand to make tacos from or to add to stir-fried rice, casseroles, creamed sauces, noodle dishes, chili, etc.
Freeze the broth from the jar; it’s essentially pure beef stock and is great for soups.
Here, we work through the USDA’s directions.
Please note: dry-canning any ground meat is expressly recommended against by the National Center for Home Food preservation for safety reasons.
See also: canning ground pork, and, can ground poultry be home canned?
- 1 Quantities of ground beef needed
- 2 The recipe
- 3 Pressure canning ground beef
- 4 Recipe notes
- 5 Reference information
- 6 Recipe source
- 7 Nutrition
- 8 Do you have to use liquid in the jar?
- 9 Enhancing the taste
- 10 Usage notes
- 11 Cooking from canning recipes
Quantities of ground beef needed
On average, as a very rough guideline, expect to need about 500 g (1 lb) of ground beef per half-litre (US pint) jar of canned ground beef.
Jar size choices: Either half-litre (1 US pint) OR 1 litre (1 US quart)
Processing method: Pressure canning only
Headspace: 3 cm (1 inch)
Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet)
Processing time: Half-litres (pints) 75 minutes; litres (quarts) 90 minutes
Pressure canning ground beef
- ground beef
- pickling salt (optional)
- Spray a skillet with cooking spray or heat a small amount of fat or oil in it.
- Brown the ground meat in the skillet in batches; transfer the browned meat to a covered bowl or pot to keep hot.
- Pack meat loosely into heated half-litre (1 US pint) OR 1 litre (1 US quart) jars.
- Leave 3 cm (1 inch) headspace.
- [Optional]: add ½ teaspoon pickling salt to half-litre (1 US pint) jars; 1 teaspoon of pickling salt to 1 litre (1 US quart) jars.
- Top jars up with a boiling liquid (water from a kettle, meat, stock, or tomato juice) maintaining 3 cm (1 inch) headspace.
- Debubble; adjust headspace.
- Wipe jar rims.
- Put lids on.
- Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet.)
- Processing time: half-litre (US pint) jars for 75 minutes OR 1 litre (US quart) jars for 90 minutes.
Processing guidelines below are for weighted-gauge pressure canners. See also if applicable: Dial-gauge pressures.
|Jar Size||Time||0 to 300 m (0 - 1000 feet) pressure||Above 300 m (1000 ft) pressure|
|½ litre (1 US pint)||75 mins||10 lbs||15 lb|
|1 litre (1 US quart)||90 mins||10 lbs||15 lb|
- The purpose of browning the meat first is so that it won’t clump and form a huge solid dense mass in the year. You must brown it first; there’s no option for raw packing it owing to the risk of it clumping. To be frank, the colour you will get is probably more of a greyish colour / light brown than a deep brown. That is fine. You are not looking to char the meat or sear it or blacken it or make it crispy: just lightly brown it enough so that it will largely remain loose packed in jar and allow heat flow to pass in between.
- If you have a lot of ground meat to brown, you could bake in a hot oven until lightly brown. Use a high-sided baking pan / tray (lined with tin foil for easier cleanup, if desired), and scatter the ground meat evenly over the tray. Bake at around 175 C / 350 F, probably for 20 to 30 minutes depending how hot your oven runs. Take out of oven in middle of baking to break up any large clumps, if needed. A lot of fat will accumulate in baking trays so be careful when lifting out of oven. Drain well afterward. (Tip! Put the drained-off beef fat in a tub in the fridge for roasting potatoes in. Delicious!)
- Instead of the salt, you can use a non-bitter, non-clouding salt sub. We have found Herbamare Sodium-Free performs well in that regard.
- The Ball directions (titled “Chopped Meat” in the Ball Blue Book) do start with having you grind your own beef up from scratch. However, in correspondence with Ball, they clarified to us that it is fine to just start from store-bought ground beef. Ball email to Healthy Canning. 6 September 2022.
How to pressure can.
When pressure canning, you must adjust the pressure for your altitude.
More information on canning meat.
Shelf life of home-canned goods
This recipe comes from the USDA Complete Guide.
- Ground or Chopped Meat. In: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 5- 6.
Serving size: 100 g (3.5 oz), drained (about one-fifth of a ½ litre / US pint jar, if 500 g went into the jar.)
Nutritional information based on extra-lean ground beef being used.
Per 100 g: 124 calories, 62 mg sodium
Weight Watchers PointsPlus®: 100 g (3.5 oz) = 3 points
* Nutrition info provided by https://caloriecount.about.com
* PointsPlus™ calculated by healthycanning.com. Not endorsed by Weight Watchers® International, Inc, which is the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark.
Do you have to use liquid in the jar?
Regardless of what you may see elsewhere on the Internet, there is no dry-pack option that is guaranteed to be safe. The recommendations were developed with a liquid in the jar to ensure a safe and even distribution of heat.
But it’s the work of seconds to drain the jar when opening it, and you get what is fat-free and added-salt free beef stock to freeze for use in soups, stocks, gravies etc.
Enhancing the taste
Some people say that adding beef bouillon to their jars of ground beef enhances the flavour greatly. Suggested proportions of powdered beef bouillon are between ¼ and ½ teaspoon per ½ litre (pint) jar, and ½ teaspoon and 1 teaspoon per litre (quart) jar. You’ll want to ensure this is mixed up before adding to the jars, to avoid density issues with clumps.
Doing so is absolutely fine safety-wise. The USDA directions allow the canning liquid to be “meat broth, tomato juice, or water.”
If you store your jars of canned food in a cool place, when you go to use a jar of ground beef there can appear to be no water in the jar because it has solidified. Yet, you know there is water in there, because you put it in for canning. Just open the jar, tip into a microwave-safe bowl or jug, and zap in microwave for 1 minute to free up the water, then drain through a sieve. That beef broth can be added to a tub and frozen for soups, etc. (No need to drain the jar at all of course if you are using your jar of ground beef for a recipe where you would want the added liquid.)
Here’s information in detail on how to do that: Using home canned ground beef.
Cooking from canning recipes
Minnesota Mix Macaroni Hotdish
|↑1||Ball email to Healthy Canning. 6 September 2022.|
Should the hamburger move in the jar ( like if you put it sideways) two of the eight do? But seem to be sealed?? And if not good how long can it be out of refrigerator before it’s not good ? 24 hours
Ok my boyfriend and I canned some store bought spaghetti sauce which we added fully cooked hamburger..pepperoni and onion and bell pepper too. It was pressure canned at 11 for 30-45 minutes. If it safe to eat since everything was fully cooked and mixed together?
Anything without is 90 mins per quart…75 mins for pints
how does it have to look in the jar?
I’ve canned ground beef before, and once opened, it filled the entire house with the smell of wet dog food. I can’t find any source that could explain why this is, but it’s enough to put off my entire family who won’t eat it! Is this normal? Someone once told me I just need to heat it up and the smell goes away. I’m not sure I could do that and convince them it wasn’t the offending jars. Has anyone else had this problem? I have a dog now who would eat it all in one sitting if I let him, but that would be 12 lbs of ground beef wasted in my eyes. Thanks
If you’re worried about your audience’s reception to home-canned ground beef, probably best not to do it then, especially at today’s prices for beef! You could freeze it, instead. (p.s. it is true that once you open a can and start to use it in something, that canned ground meat smell does go away.)
Hello and thank you for posting this.
Does it matter how much fat the meat has?
Canned up some ground and browned venison. Stored in the root cellar, it appeared dry inside!!! GLAD I READ your article!!
My ground beef taste terrible after canning don’t know why?
Hi, I’ve read through the recipe and comments and can’t see the answer… but is store bought mince okay to use? I’ve got the Ball Guide to Preserving book and Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving book, and both say the first step is to ground the meat. Thank you kindly.
Yes, store bought ground beef is perfectly fine to use.
Hello! We are new to canning meat. We use old El Paso seasoning on our ground beef to make tacos. Can we cook and can that? If so, do we do it as we would unseasoned meat? Thank you!
It is fine to adjust the dry seasoning in canning recipes, and it seems you are just proposing to do that with a dry seasoning mix, so that should be fine.
No, you cannot safely use the Old El Paso Taco Mix to season canned meat. The reason is because of the fillers, thickeners and additives in the commercial seasoning blend.
A better method is to follow the Ball or Presto recipes (same recipe as posted here) to pressure can the meat. Then drain the meat, reserving the liquid. Make taco meat like you normally do , but use the reserved liquid in your taco recipe .
Do you have to use wide mouth jars? Can you use regular mouth jars and successfully get the meat out? Thank you,
Regular mouth jars are fine, too.
I would love to learn more about canning meats.I used to can quite a bit when I had a garden. Especially Green Beans my mother in law always put vinegar in her Beans.But I didn’t.
I have frozen venison and would like to can some of it. Is it Ok to take frozen ground venison, thaw, COOK, and then can?
I have canned vegetables, but never meat.
Yes that is fine. See: Can your freezer
We just canned our first ground beef. We prepared 15 pounds for a canner full (14 pints) but only needed about 11 pounds. We made balls, 1 to 1.5 inches and cooked those about 2/3 complete before moving them to a pot in a 170 degree oven for holding while we completed cooking.
Then we packed the jars with 6 to 8 balls, splitting a few in half to fill the larger gaps but didn’t pack tightly.
I made a broth using 1 cube of beef bouillon per cups – I made 2.5 quarts. I topped to 1-inch headspace, debubbled, adjusted headspace and put on the lids.
The pressure cooker is cooling now so I’ll know soon how they did. (I’m not submitting this just yet.)
Ok, they’re out of the canner. One appears to have boiled over – some fat in the water and this one has only half the liquid. The rest look great. I used 6 tattler lids and 8 metal lids, All but two have sealed already (including the leaker).
We have bought and eaten canned meats, including ground beef, for years. With the Covid pandemic and related food panic, the commercial canned meats have disappeared from the shelves. We’ve had fun this year canning pork, beef, turkey, and now ground beef (chicken’s next). It’s been a great way to replace the food we ate even before the pandemic – and it turns out to be far less expensive.
Sorry for the long comment; just thought I’d share our experience. Thanks for all your great posts and help; we’ve depended on your site a lot to make sense out of the less descriptive instructions from the USDA.
Sorry you had a jar overflow. How do you know the proper amount of fluid to put in with the meat?
The amount of liquid you add all depends on how much meat you have in the jar. The goal is to fill the jar up to 1 inch of the rim. If you have large pieces of meat you will need more liquid than smaller pieces. Hope that helps!
I am a new pressure canner. Could you please tell me how long a pint of ground hamburger meat will last on the shelf before going bad. By-the-way, I love your site.
Hi Steven, see: Shelf Life
I believe it is recommended to eat within a year to 18 months. However it is more event related. In a cool, dark place where the seal is intact and the jars are not exposed to extremes in motion or temperature, I know people have told me that they have eaten meat 4 years later with flavor remaining good. Do not keep your canned food in a warm environment in sunlight.
Very new to canning. Can you used ground beef that is already frozen? I purchased a part of a cow, and it was all frozen when we picked it up. Thank you in advance.
Yes. See here: Can your freezer
Love your website!! I am wondering how double batches should be handled? I’ve tried finding an article on your site and would love to pin it for future reference. For example I had 14 jars of ground beef prepped and jarred, so when one batch was in the pressure canner I put the other one in the fridge since I didn’t think it should stay on the counter. When the first batch was done I then put the ones from the fridge in the canner. Is this ok? How should double or multiple batches be handled?
Only prep and jar as many jars as you have room for in the pressure canners at that time.
Put the rest of the ground beef in the fridge, as you say. Then, when there is room in the pressure canner, bring that ground beef that was in the fridge back up to piping hot temperature, jar it and process etc.
Don’t put the ground beef cold into the jars and start processing like that. You might break the jars from thermal shock. More importantly, the processing times were developed on the expectation that instructions would be followed with hot ground beef going into the jars. If the beef were instead cold, then the jars could be underprocessed and not safe.
Thanks so much for your quick reply! When I took the jars out of the fridge for the next batch they were still warm, but not hot, and I processed for the 90 mins. I’m hoping they will be ok as I didn’t mark which ones were which. 🙁
I just Canned ground beef for the first time…everything turned out as instructions said but need to kno if is ok that jars and lids were a little greasy when I took out of canner…water in canner was turned a little red with tomatoe juice I used instead of water…everything sealed …just wondering since this is my first time thanks!!!!
Sounds completely normal, especially the grease part!
Does the ground beef need to be rinsed with hot water to remove fat?
Just starting canning so please forgive me. Can you add addition spices like cumin, chili powder,onion,pepper flakes for a taco seasoning to the ground meat?
See safe tweaking: https://www.healthycanning.com/safe-tweaking-of-home-canning-recipes/
I tried canning ground beef for the first time. After leaving the jars overnight, they have about 3/4 inch of fat (solidified grease) at the top of each quart. Is the meat still safe? I read that fat should not be canned, but I didn’t know if this small amount is safe or not. The beef was canned in beef broth and tomato juice, but I didn’t drain the fat when frying it because the beef was extra lean with very little grease.
That amount of fat is typical. You will be fine.
I gave you 5 stars because I went by another recipe. Problem: shunk 40% after packing and processing.
The difference I packed the browned meat (little pink) without liquid. So, please help me out and let me know so my next baych will turn out better. Thanks
Hi Rebecca, dry canning ground meat is firmly recommended against on grounds of food safety. https://www.healthycanning.com/dry-canning-ground-meat/
In canning ground beef how much liquid in pint or quart jars is recommended?
I just canned elk burger in a quart size jars. I left a good amount of headspace and the water in my pressure canner looks like some of the jars leaked during processing. The jar sealed but is the meat safe?
Loss of liquid volume during pressure canning is totally normal! If you pressure canned the meat using USDA directions you are fine.
What is the shelf life after canning? I grew up on canned food and I’m teaching my grandchildren as well. I’ve never done ground beef but after seeing this I will now. But also just wondering the shelf life. My husband tells everyone that I can everything I get my hands on.
Thank you in advance
Shelf life information is here: https://www.healthycanning.com/the-shelf-life-of-home-canned-goods/
It’s our first time canning ground beef and some of the jars leaked the juice in the pressure canner but when we took them out one popped in and the other one I touched the top and it popped in, they have meat at the top that isn’t covered in juice, would it last canned at all?
The lids don’t come off at all but I just wanted to know if it was safe and ok to leave them caned or try it again. The rest were perfect and didn’t leak.
Thank you for your response beforehand. Stay Safe.
If you followed the directions to a T, and the jars have sealed, you will be fine. It’s quite common when canning for some of the food in the jar to be above the waterline. That is safe. All that means is that that food will darken more quickly over time. That’s not a safety issue, it could just be unsightly. So put those particular jars at the front for using up first.
Thank you for writing this! I followed the instructions and my results were perfection.
Is there a recommended canning time if you can using smaller jars? (i.e. single serving size jars)
Yes, there are recommendations, see here: using smaller jars for canning
I am wanting to add some chantrelle mushrooms with my ground beef/venison. Can i do this? and should I cook them? or add them raw?
Please check with one of these Master Food Preserver groups for their advice on that combination. https://www.healthycanning.com/master-food-preserver-help-groups/
can I use kosher salt instead of pickling salt?
Yes, if it’s iodine free as kosher salt typically is. The salt here is just for seasoning, you can even omit it entirely if you want. Just don’t use any salt with iodine in it for quality reasons, as it can discolour your home-canned products.
can I mix the cooked ground beef with potatoes and carrots to pressure can it like a beef stew ?
Here is a pressure canning recipe for beef stew.
Can I use the Milex Power Cooker XL (Electrical Pressure Cooker) to do this? It comes with jars for canning? I am in South Africa and not sure on the weight gauges etc on normal ones. Thanks
Do not use those electrical appliances for any home canning, regardless of what the manufacturers say. See here: Canning in Electric Multi-Cookers
Hello there I canned grd beef for the first time and I would like to know what can you do if you doesn’t hear that click sound to know did it seal. Also if didn’t seal can you canned it again. Its my first time canning.
Sometimes you don’t always hear a distinct ping, but you’ll know if it sealed or not when you remove the canning rings after cooling and do your lift test. You can recan it within 24 hours, but it would be awfully dry.
Can this be adapted to the Instant Pot?
Absolutely not. There are warnings right, left and centre from every reputable home canning source not to use the Instant Pot for any home canning, regardless of what the manufacturers claim.
Kimberly A LeMay
I used a USDA approved recipe. When I took the ground beef out of the canner, it was boiling inside and kept doing it for a hour. They all sealed but is it still safe.
Yes. All sounds normal!
What if you pull them out and some are boiling and some aren’t? Thank you so much!
I would think the beef / hamburger meat could be sauteed in the Instant Pot?
I canned my first 3 jars of ground beef and the very top of the beef is not covered in liquid. Is it safe to eat?
Yes, just put those jars at the front of the shelf and use those up first, as the exposed meat may darken over time.
I used boiled beef broth for my liquid, is that okay?
What is the expected shelf life if canned properly?
There is no set shelf life. It is safe to eat as long as the beef was canned properly using USDA procedures, and, the seal remains intact. Rather, instead of absolute shelf life, they focus on “quality life.” See here: https://www.healthycanning.com/the-shelf-life-of-home-canned-goods/
I don’t need to add salt to each jar?
Sure sounds easy1
In the quantities used in home canning, salt is not a safety factor. (It is though a safety factor when fermenting for instance.) So no, don’t need to add salt. You may wish to. But, it’s probably more flexible to leave it out, and then add salt as needed when you go to use it, based on what you are using it for / in.
These are the best canning instructions I have came across. Thank-you so much.
I was told that you should wait 2 weeks before trying a newly canned item. Is that true? I recently canned some meatloaf and I need to check it and make sure it tastes good before I can more.
Hi there, there’s no approved safe way to can meatloaf, as there could be density issues which prevent heat from penetrating the jar thoroughly to kill any botulism spores present. Ground meat can only be safely canned with a loosepack as per USDA guidelines.
That aside, the “sit and mellow” advice applies to canned pickled items such as relishes, chutneys, pickles, etc.
Hope that helps.