Poultry Unit: Cutting up a Whole Chicken & Frying it

High school students can be know-it-alls especially those who cook at home. However, this lab seems to keep everyone interested as it is rare to find a student, or a cook for that matter, that actually knows how to butcher a chicken. Of course some students are resistant to having to touch a raw chicken however with the right student pairing I’ve had luck keeping everyone engaged.

Time Frame: 1 block (this lesson runs long)

  • This lesson runs long so it is better if everything is laid out for the students so they can get started right away. I also tell students that they need to be to class early the class before so they can not dillydally.


  • 8.2.7 Demonstrate safe food handling and preparation techniques
  • 8.5.1 Demonstrate professional skills in safe handling of knives, tools, and equipment.
  • 8.5.5 Prepare various meats, seafood, and poultry using safe handling and professional preparation techniques.


  • Some semesters I do a demo on how to cut up a whole chicken and other semesters I show a YouTube video.




  • Cutting board
  • Wet Rag
  • Sharp Knife
  • Trash Can

Background for Teachers

  • We only had two home style deep fryers and having every group fry up their entire chicken took too long. One way to make this go faster is to have students just make chicken tenders, have groups share an egg wash and cut the breading recipe in half.
  • Fried chicken you might be thinking is not really healthy for students. I agree however, teaching in the North where students have no idea how this is made gives me an excuse to show them how to use a deep fryer. Depending on the semester this is one of only three times they use the deep fryer. So blame me for teaching unhealthy cooking if you like. I see it as learning the whole gamete of cooking techniques.


  • Before class starts it is best if all chickens are placed on a secured cutting board (wet rag under it) with a trash can next to them for leaking juices. Partner students up and walk students verbally through cutting up a whole chicken. Some students don’t like cutting up a chicken so try to make sure each pair has at least one “brave soul” to actually do the cutting.
  • Also, make sure your deep fryers are preheating.
  • I put the chicken cut-up instructions with pictures in a sheet protector and tape them to the cabinets so students don’t have to touch them with chicken fingers. This helps the visual learners and the students who proceed at a different pace.
  • After they are done cutting up their chicken take the bones and make stock for the freezer or for other labs like Chicken Pot Pie. Freeze and save for later.
  • While one partner is cleaning up have the other one prepare the fried chicken breading mixture in a  brown paper bag. I generally give an idea what should be included but let students choose whatever they want from the spice rack. Under seasoning is usually more of a problem than over seasoning.


  • Cut up a whole chicken
  • Make Fried Chicken out of the cut up pieces. Cut up chicken breast into tenders. Practice taking meat temperatures and identify when chicken is thoroughly cooked.


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