How many calories are in a serving of canned chicken?

Canned chicken can be a nutritious and convenient source of protein. However, depending on the preparation method, canned chicken can also be high in sodium, fat, and calories. Understanding the calorie content in canned chicken can help you make informed choices to meet your dietary goals.

Quick Answer

The number of calories in canned chicken depends on the specific product, brand, serving size, and preparation method. On average, a 3 ounce serving of canned chicken packed in water contains about 90-120 calories. Canned chicken packed in broth tends to be slightly higher in calories at around 130-160 calories per 3 ounce serving. Dark meat chicken packed in broth is the highest at around 170-190 calories per 3 ounce serving.

Factors That Affect Calorie Content

There are several factors that affect the calorie content in different types of canned chicken:

  • Packing liquid – Chicken packed in water has fewer calories than chicken packed in broth or oil.
  • Meat type – White chicken meat has fewer calories than dark chicken meat.
  • Serving size – Larger serving sizes contain more calories.
  • Added ingredients – Canned chicken with added flavors, vegetables, or sauce is higher in calories.
  • Draining and rinsing – Draining the liquid and rinsing the chicken reduces sodium and calories.

Calories In Chicken Packed In Water

Chicken breast or white meat chicken that is canned and packed in water without any added flavors or ingredients provides the fewest calories:

  • 3 ounces drained = 90-100 calories
  • 1/2 cup drained = 110-130 calories

Rinsing the chicken under running water for 30 seconds can further reduce the sodium content.

Calories In Chicken Packed In Broth

Chicken packed in broth, whether white or dark meat, contains more calories than chicken packed in water:

  • 3 ounces drained = 130-160 calories
  • 1/2 cup drained = 160-190 calories

Draining and rinsing the chicken can remove about 25% of the sodium and calories from the broth.

Calories In Chicken Packed In Oil

Chicken packed in oil, such as olive oil or canola oil, provides the most calories:

  • 3 ounces drained = 180-210 calories
  • 1/2 cup drained = 220-260 calories

It’s best to drain the oil thoroughly and rinse to remove excess oil and reduce the calorie content.

Calories Per Serving Size

Here are the typical calories for larger serving sizes of canned chicken, drained:

Serving Size Calories
1/2 cup 110-260
3/4 cup 165-390
1 cup 220-520

Ways To Reduce Calories in Canned Chicken

Here are some tips for reducing calories when eating canned chicken:

  • Choose chicken packed in water and rinse before use.
  • Drain and rinse chicken packed in broth or oil.
  • Limit added sauces, flavors and other ingredients.
  • Enjoy it as part of a salad or wrap vs. on its own.
  • Pair with non-starchy vegetables to increase volume.
  • Measure portions to avoid overeating.

How To Count Calories From Canned Chicken

Follow these steps for counting calories in canned chicken:

  1. Check the Nutrition Facts label for calorie content per serving.
  2. Pay attention to the serving size (e.g. 3 oz).
  3. Note the packing liquid as this affects calories.
  4. Weigh or measure the drained chicken to match the label serving size.
  5. Adjust up or down for any added ingredients.
  6. Record the calories in your food journal.

Using a food scale helps ensure accuracy in your calorie counts.

Sample Meal Plans

Here are two sample meal plans using canned chicken to meet different calorie goals:

1,200 Calorie Meal Plan

  • Breakfast: 1 cup egg white scramble with 1/2 cup canned chicken, 1 slice toast (340 calories)
  • Lunch: Chicken and vegetable soup made with 1/2 cup canned chicken (190 calories)
  • Dinner: 1 cup mixed greens, 1/2 cup canned chicken, 2 tbsp light dressing, 5 strawberries (335 calories)
  • Snacks: 1 medium apple, 12 almonds (185 calories)

Total Calories: 1,050

1,600 Calorie Meal Plan

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal made with 1/2 cup canned chicken, 1/4 cup blueberries, 1 tsp honey (367 calories)
  • Lunch: Spinach salad with 3/4 cup canned chicken, 1 oz low-fat feta, light dressing (483 calories)
  • Dinner: 1 cup whole wheat pasta with 3/4 cup canned chicken in tomato sauce, 1 cup steamed broccoli (555 calories)
  • Snacks: 1 oz mixed nuts, 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (295 calories)

Total Calories: 1,700

Tips For Purchasing Canned Chicken

Follow these tips when purchasing canned chicken:

  • Choose low or reduced sodium options when possible.
  • Compare brands and select ones with fewer calories and carbs.
  • Look for BPA-free cans to reduce chemical exposure.
  • Select pull-tab lids for easier opening.
  • Pick larger cans or pouches to save money on cost per serving.
  • Buy flavored chicken only if calories fit your diet.

Common Questions

Is canned chicken healthy?

Canned chicken can be a healthy option as it provides lean protein. To make the healthiest choice, look for chicken packed in water, rinse before use, compare brands for sodium content, and incorporate it into an overall balanced diet.

Is canned chicken fully cooked?

Yes, commercially canned chicken is fully cooked during the canning process. It can be eaten straight from the can without further cooking. However, it may be desirable to heat it up before serving.

How long does canned chicken last?

Unopened canned chicken stays fresh 2-5 years past the printed “best by” date. Once opened, it will last 3-4 days refrigerated. For optimal freshness and flavor, consume opened chicken within a few days.

Can dogs eat canned chicken?

Yes, canned chicken can be fed as an occasional treat for dogs. Choose products without added salt or seasoning. Rinse before feeding to reduce sodium. Introduce new foods slowly and monitor for any digestive issues.

The Bottom Line

Canned chicken can be a nutritious addition to your diet as it provides lean protein, is low-carb, and has a long shelf life. Pay attention to labels, choose lower sodium options packed in water, drain or rinse when possible, and incorporate into balanced meals to control calories and benefit your health.

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