Chicken Tender “Chopped” Challenge

What is it about cooking challenges that gets students so excited?  In my Career & Consumer Sciences class, my students always want to know if we are going to cook!  In order to prepare them for adulthood and living on their own, I do incorporate some survival cooking!  I try to teach them basic skills, preparing foods or meals that have a lot of versatility or options!  My students love chicken tenders and so this challenge was well received and gave them some different ways of preparing chicken tenders using the same four ingredients. Of course, you don’t have to limit this challenge to one specific class or age group as it would work well with junior high level students too because of it’s simplicity!

Set

  • Play the Chicken Dance song as students are arriving to class.  As an intro activity to get them excited and out of their seats, ask them to actually participate in the motions as the song is playing!
  • Introduce the Chicken Tender Chopped Challenge that will be taking place!  (This was based on a Chopped @ Home Cooking Challenge-Contest that ran a couple of years ago.) Explain to students the objective of the challenge, the four ingredients they can use, as well as the criteria and judging.  Ask students to create a team name that fits into the chicken theme and share with the class!  Note: You can add additional criteria to the challenge if so desired.  Some examples might be to pre-select or limit the cooking method(s), limit the number of additional ingredients allowed or even include a nutrition facts label and see which comes in the healthiest.  This year I have air-fryers  and may limit their cooking method/ appliance to the air fryer instead of allowing them the use of ovens, skillets or panini presses.
  • Note:  Be sure to have your judges lined up ahead of time for this event!  I never tell my students who the judges are ahead of time even though they beg me to know.  It just keeps them a little more on their toes!

Materials

  • iPads or Laptops
  • Projector & Screen
  • Ingredients for Challenge
  • Judges
  • Prizes or Certificates for Winners

Activities

  • Assign a day or two for students to create their recipe and work plan. My students have to give me a grocery list by an assigned deadline so I have time to get all of the supplies.
  • Students must type up and share their recipes with me and after the event is over, I make all of them available to the students so they have go to “tried and true” recipes for future use.
  • The cooking challenge can be done in a 43 minute period, but students really need to work quickly!  I suggest, breaking it up into two days if you are restrained by time (this is where selecting their cooking method can work for you).  If you are on a block schedule, not a problem!
  • On the day of the taste test, invite your judges in and give them a score sheet; one per group.
  • Each group introduces their team, their chicken tender creation, plates and serves their chicken tender to the judges.  Repeat until all groups have presented.
  • After the judges have received their samples, students may visit and sample the other kitchen groups’ creations!
  • Score sheets are then tallied and the winners are announced.  I like to give fun little, inexpensive trophies as prizes!  The kids love it and brag to fellow students throughout the school of what’s been going on in class…it’s great PR for the class while teaching them a valuable, usable skill!

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