Probably sometime between 800,000 and 1.6 million years ago.
The earliest evidence of fire being used comes from about 1.6 million years ago, when our ancestor homo erectus roamed the earth looking for stuff to eat and have sex with.
Exactly when fire began being used for cooking is disputed, but there is evidence of “numerous hearths” – including traces of food – from almost 800,000 years ago.
“Our ancestors most probably dropped food in fire accidentally,” Harvard Professor Richard Wrangham says. “They would have found it was delicious and that set us off on a whole new direction.”
Cooking was a major step forward for humans, as the process made food easier to digest – giving us more energy and allowing our exceptional brains to develop.
Without cooking – the BBC says – we would “still look like chimps” and, like them, we would be “compelled to spend most of the day chewing”.
As for when the first chicken was cooked, no one knows (we asked KFC but they haven’t replied).
Modern domestic chickens are thought to have descended from jungle fowl species that lived in South East Asia about 50 million years ago – so we’ve had plenty of time to accidentally kick one into a camp fire.