Canned meats are great in all sorts of recipes, not just as sandwich fillers. 54 ideas for great meals!

Canned Meat Meal Ideas

Canned meats are great in all sorts of recipes, not just as sandwich fillers.  Using my canned meat tips, almost any recipe can be adapted to use canned meat.  The main difference is that you don’t want to brown the canned meat, and you need to alter the way you prepare the dish so that you add the canned meat as late in the preparation as possible.  Use the list below to stir your imagination:


  • Pasta alfredo or pesto
  • Ham cakes (basically, crab cakes made with ham)
  • Scrambled eggs with ham (good with onions, green peppers, cheese, tomatoes, etc., too)
  • Ham loaf
  • Ham salad sandwiches
  • Pasta primavera
  • Jambalaya
  • Hobo dinner
  • Rice or pasta salad

Chicken or turkey:

  • Enchiladas
  • Chicken paella
  • Stir fry
  • Hobo dinner (sauteed with potatoes, carrots and onions)
  • Pesto pasta with mushrooms
  • Soup
  • Pasta primavera
  • Chicken or turkey salad sandwiches
  • Mexican Chicken Casserole


  • Tuna cakes (variation on fish cakes)
  • Pasta alfredo
  • Rice or pasta salad
  • Tuna casserole
  • Tuna salad sandwiches


  • Crab cakes
  • Pasta alfredo (particularly if you get lump meat)
  • Stuffed tomatoes
  • Crab Rangoon
  • Crab dip


  • Pasta alfredo
  • Shrimp cakes (like crab cakes but made with tiny shrimp)
  • Stir fry
  • Pasta primavera
  • Stuffed tomatoes
  • Shrimp paella
  • Rice or pasta salad

Corned Beef:

  • Meat cakes
  • Sandwiches (if you can’t refrigerate it and slice it, try mashing it up with some diced onion and ketchup)

Roast Beef:

  • Chili
  • Goulash
  • Spanish rice
  • Beef enchiladas
  • Hobo dinner (saute carrots, potatoes and onions, add roast beef)
  • Stew or soup
  • Meat pie
  • Sandwiches — hot or cold
  • Also good just heated up!


  • Clam chowder
  • Linguine with clam sauce
  • Paella


  • Jambalaya
  • Oyster stuffing
  • Paella
  • Pasta with oysters
  • Oyster stew
If you have other favorite ways to use canned meats, please leave a note in the comments below.

If you’re interested in more canned meat recipes, The Boat Galley Cookbook has a full chapter devoted to canned meat.  And the recipes are good, not just making do!

  • Danielle
    Posted at 03 December 2010 Reply

    Thanks for the ideas! I really like using Kirkland canned chicken, even though it is not as widely available as I would like. Try the “Oh-so-good Chicken” recipe from, it’s delicious and can make several servings for a cruising couple:

    4 teaspoons olive oil
    6 tablespoons sour cream
    4 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
    2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
    1 (16 ounce) jar salsa
    2 cups cooked white rice
    8 ounces boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and diced
    1.In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute mushrooms.
    2.Combine mushrooms, sour cream, cheese, salsa, rice, and chicken. Place in a greased casserole dish.
    3.Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 35 minutes.

    What could cruisers use in place of sour cream? Plain yogurt? Or is there a way to “make your own” sour cream from milk?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 03 December 2010 Reply

      The recipe looks great. Thanks for adding it! I used the Kirkland chicken a lot in Mexico — several stores there carried it — and also liked it.

      I’ve just added a recipe for Making Your Own Sour Cream — it’s very simple, the ingredients are easy to find, and they’ll last almost forever.

  • David
    Posted at 09 December 2010 Reply

    Hi Carolyn, We’re new to your web site and love it. Just read your canned meat article and just want to make sure you know about “Yoder’s Meat and Cheese Co.” We were introduced to these products last year as we were leaving Florida. An Amish Menonite company, no fillers, preservitaves etc. The best taste and texture of any we have tried. So Far we’ve used the canned chicken and beef only, but based on that we will try other things from them as well this year.
    Keep up the good work!

    David Schachter
    S/V Cloud Messenger
    P.S. we didn’t order from them on line, found their products in an Amish deli (didn’t even know such things existed) near Coco, FL.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 09 December 2010 Reply

      I’d never heard of them, but I did check out Yoder’s website after reading your comment. Unfortunately, they don’t sell online and don’t list retail outlets other than their own store in Shipshewana, IN. But I did find a couple of places that sell their canned goods online (warning: they’re not cheap):

      Camping Survival — they also have canned cheese and butter on the same page

      Amazon also lists the Yoder Canned Beef, Chicken and Bacon but they are all listed as “unavailable” as I write this.

  • Emily Clough on Facebook
    Posted at 19 March 2012 Reply

    I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the food website Food52, but they recently ran a contest for recipes using canned fish. Not all of them are boat appropriate, but I thought it might help provide some extra inspiration:

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 19 March 2012 Reply

    Thanks — I’ll look at them! Always looking for more ideas . . .

  • Patrick Parmentier on Facebook
    Posted at 19 March 2012 Reply

    too much sodium in can meat. there are other ways beside canned meat……

    • Alex
      Posted at 30 October 2012 Reply

      Please share other solutions. I just looked at my cans of tuna and salmon, and they have 10% or less than RDA for sodium. That seems very reasonable to me. The canned mushrooms next to them have much more. Not everyone needs to watch their sodium. Personally, as an endurance athlete, I need extra sodium intake. I appreciate these inspirational articles. Also, having made dinner last night with no power due to hurricane, the thought of having canned meat as a backup if it lasted more than a day was comforting.

  • Mary Dixon
    Posted at 20 March 2012 Reply

    I keep canned meats on the boat as backup. However, I don’t use canned meats on a regular basis due to the high salt content. Instead, I use fresh or frozen meats since we have a freezer onboard.

  • MaryJo
    Posted at 02 May 2012 Reply

    We just tried the canned beef from Costco tonight. Stroganof using 1 can of beef (plus juice), 1 can of beef broth, about 2 tablespoons of corn starch, 2 4-oz cans of mushrooms, and 1 cup of sour cream. Serve over noodles. We couldn’t believe how good it was. I wouldn’t be at all embarassed to serve it to company!

  • Patricia
    Posted at 16 August 2012 Reply

    I like to make corned beef hash from canned corned beef, Thinly slice potatoes and onions. Put in a skillet with some oil. Slowly cook until potatoes start to soften. Keep an eye on it as the potatoes will want to stick to the bottom of the pan. Use the turner to roughly chop up the potatoes. Add on can of corned beef. Mix into the potatoes and onions and heat through. Season with a little salt and pepper the serve. It’s a favorite here and I think it would adjust easily to the galley!

  • Sue Klumb on Facebook
    Posted at 30 October 2012 Reply

    I am so happy I bought your boat galley cookbook 🙂

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 30 October 2012 Reply

    Thanks Sue! I’m really glad you’re liking it!!

  • Beverly Venable
    Posted at 25 September 2013 Reply

    We use canned beef often. It makes great tacos instead of hamberger. Also shepherd’s pie–layered with meat & gravy in bottom of cassarole, grated cheese, peas, mashed potaoes. Bake til heated through.
    We also have Origio alcohol 2 burner stove on our Hunter 26 and love it. Cannisters last a long time even without evaporation gaskets in place. Stove is hot and does good job heating skillets or boiling water. Alcohol is easy to find and cheaper at hardware stores than marine supply stores.We have two aluminum pint water bottles that are dedicated to alcohol, stow easily, and make handy re-fillers.

  • Dave Skolnick (S/V Auspicious)
    Posted at 16 March 2014 Reply

    We haven’t found a decent canned ham yet. Any ideas?

  • Dee
    Posted at 02 June 2014 Reply

    I use canned meat a lot. I restrict my sodium and I’ve never noticed any higher salt content and I am sensitive to any extra salt. We camp a lot and have recently joined the boating community with a new (to us) Newport 16 small sailboat. I have been enjoying you website immensely! A lot of mistakes would have been made already if not for you, Thank you!! A quick recipe that my kids love and is always so easy and quick to make weather power outage, over a campfire, on the boat, or simply too tired to cook.

    Quick Corned Beef Stoop (Not stew, not soup)

    1 can corned beef
    1 can green beans
    1 can diced or sliced potatoes

    Open all cans, dump them in a saucepan, heat and eat. Doesn’t need salt but pepper is always good. Don’t drain the cans, the water makes it stoopy. Don’t knock until you’ve tried it and if I can get the kids to eat it is gotta be good. Add some fresh french bread and you’ve got a meal in 10 minutes. I double the brans and potatoes when I need more.

  • Becky
    Posted at 15 July 2014 Reply

    About the “salt content” —I drain most canned goods (veggies, and meats) and soak them a bit in water in my salad spinner, then either spin or let it drain. That reduces so many additives and salts and sugars, and does not affect the taste.

  • Rick Garvin
    Posted at 13 October 2015 Reply

    We’ve been working through some of the ideas in the cookbook. They generally turn out tasty. We’re headed out for month across the USVI/SVI/BVI and we’ll post pics of some of our Boat Galley meals. Great to see you two in Annapolis!

  • Jane Gammons
    Posted at 13 October 2015 Reply

    At one time there was a Spam Cookbook available.

  • CD
    Posted at 13 October 2015 Reply

    I have a cookbook called Tin Can Magic that has hundreds of great recipes using canned foods. It was written by a boater, and can be found on eBay or Amazon.

  • Lynn Kaak
    Posted at 13 October 2015 Reply

    And when some cruisers get to the French islands (St. Martin, Guadeloupe and Martinique) the canned meat options get very good. Duck confit is readily available, plus some other excellent choices.

  • Joe Murphy
    Posted at 14 October 2015 Reply

    Thanks for the heads up on this site. Hope you’re both doing well.

  • Joe Murphy
    Posted at 14 October 2015 Reply

    Beth just reminded me that you told her about this cookbook and she bought it. Dooh

  • Jackie
    Posted at 05 January 2016 Reply

    I noticed salt seemed to be an issue, I don’t boat, but I can most of my meat that I keep in storage. I usually lose a freezer full of food a year (just lucky) so I started canning my meat instead of holding it in a freezer. When canning you own meat, you can eliminate the salt all together if you want to. Ball Canning Co. puts out the Ball Blue Book, and it has easy to follow instructions on the process. Lost the freezer and lost the electric bills that went with it, and ended up with the best convenience food there is. I haven’t canned fish yet, but nearly everything else. Love the recipe posted above and look forward to exploring your site and books. thanks.

  • Don Avant
    Posted at 09 July 2016 Reply

    This article would have been MUCH more helpful with links to the recipes…Just a thought…

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 10 July 2016 Reply

      I have put links where the recipe is on this site. Almost all the recipes are in The Boat Galley Cookbook and hence not online.

  • Alice R. Smith
    Posted at 23 March 2017 Reply

    I use Sweet Sue’s Whole Chicken in a can….to make my mama’s chicken and dressing, chicken and Spighetti, and chicken and rice. Also makes great chicken and dumplings, chicken tortilla soup.

  • Sharon
    Posted at 16 April 2017 Reply

    Living in the Alaska bush I always canned my own Deer meat no salt added. Always reusing my canning jars. I also can pumpkin for pumpkin cookies.

  • Zach
    Posted at 22 April 2017 Reply

    What about Spam? What is spam ? I draw the line at being that adventurous. ….I’d rather fish or go spear fishing lol… but is spam good for you? ..

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 22 April 2017 Reply

      Spam is just ham and spices . . . the name comes from SPiced hAM.

  • Margaret Shaw
    Posted at 01 August 2017 Reply

    Two staples my parents prepared in the 50s were creamed chipped beef on toast and baked eggs in corned beef hash. Both simple with few ingredients. Creamed chipped beef has an alias thanks to the Army that I won’t repeat. If you are watching salt, I’d check the sodium in both. I kept ingredients for both in my pantry for years in case of an emergency. Chipped beef is not jerky but dried beef and should be good in soups and maybe other recipes. Several choices for chipped beef and corned beef hash are available on Amazon. Recipes for both are on-line. Corned beef hash with baked eggs could be made in a skillet with a lid, I’d think.

    Another staple growing up was salmon croquettes. Recipes on line seem to be mostly shaped into patties like crab cakes, but my mom shaped them into prisms. Canned salmon could be substituted for the tuna and maybe the crab in the recipes above.

    BTW these were all family favorites, but we balked when they tried to introduce Spam.

  • Liana
    Posted at 27 November 2017 Reply

    In Puerto Rico we love preparing canned corned beef and serving it over white rice. Sauté a medium onion, then add sofrito (cilantro, garlic and peppers finely chopped will do). Add the contents of the canned corned beef, plus a pack of sofrito and a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste. Add about a cup of water and simmer down. Serve over white rice.

  • Liana
    Posted at 27 November 2017 Reply

    I meant a packet of “sazón”, the second time I wrote “sofrito”. Sorry.

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