Home > Dinner > Coconut Chicken Coconut Chicken March 17, 2018 | 26 Comments SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Jump to Recipe This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy. Ultra-crispy baked Coconut Chicken tenders with a quick five-ingredient honey-mustard dipping sauce. Serve Coconut Chicken with a simple side dish like this Roasted Broccoli, Cucumber Salad, or Panzanella Salad. Coconut Chicken These tasty Coconut Chicken fingers are a favorite in my home. To keep them on the more nutritious side, they’re baked instead of fried, but don’t worry — they’re still ridiculously crispy and crunchy! They’re deeply coconut flavored — if you love coconut you are going to love these chicken fingers! And to round things out nicely, we’ve got a (super-quick) five-ingredient honey-BBQ mustard dipping sauce. It’s the perfect complement to Coconut Chicken! Let’s Talk Chicken Tenders Ok, first things first. We use chicken tenders for this recipe. You can use chicken breasts, but you’ll need to cut them into thin strips — so they’re the size of tenders. Depending on the breast size, you can get three or four tenders from one breast. To prepare the chicken tenders, you’ll need to remove the tendons. This may seem like a tedious task (I used to hate it), but wait till you see and try this easy hack! For more deeply embedded tendons, I like to cut them out with a sharp paring knife. Once you remove the tendons, cut out any other gristle or fat and then pat dry the tenders with a paper towel. There are two options at this point: Marinate the chicken tenders. Don’t worry — the “marinade” isn’t a whole cacophony of ingredients; in fact, there’s only one ingredient: coconut milk! The coconut milk further emphasizes the tropical coconut flavor in the chicken and also acts as a tenderizer to make the chicken ultra juicy and flavorful. Even as little as 20-30 minutes can make a difference! Use as-is. If you want to skip the marinating, no problem. You’ll still get crispy and tasty coconut chicken! Pat the chicken tenders well with a paper towel and proceed with the recipe. Coconut Chicken Breading Notes Once the chicken is prepped, it’s time to dredge it in the batter, then the breading, and then pop it in the oven. Here’s a quick rundown of the batter and breading steps: First, the batter: Egg and coconut milk. These two ingredients contribute flavor and are the main components of liquid in this batter. Dijon mustard. This ingredient adds complexity to the flavor. Flour. A little flour thickens the breading to ensure it stays on the chicken. Spices. I like to add the spices to the batter, rather than the breading, to ensure the chicken gets that spice blend all over it. We use pretty standard spices here — paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt & pepper. Then, the two-ingredient breading: Panko. Panko bread crumbs are similar to regular bread crumbs, but they create a much crunchier, lighter, and more delicate result. Using panko ensures a more crispy and crunchy end product than bread crumbs. And when you are baking chicken instead of frying, the panko makes a huge difference! Sweetened coconut flakes. We use sweetened coconut flakes to add a touch of sweetness to the chicken — it’s delicious. Instead of leaving the coconut in flakes, we quickly pulse it in a food processor or blender to break it down. This ensures a more even breading that doesn’t flake or fall off as easily. QUICK TIP Once all the tenderloins are battered and breaded, spray them generously with cooking spray (we use coconut oil cooking spray to keep with the coconut flavoring of this recipe). This promotes crisp, even browning in the oven. Making Coconut Chicken Crispy without Frying No, you’ll never get chicken tenders as crispy and crunchy by baking instead of deep frying, but we can still get some mighty crunchy chicken! Here are the secrets to crispy chicken without frying: Bake on a wire cooling rack. If you have a wire cooling rack, place it right on top of a sheet pan and bake the chicken on top. This allows more even circulation of heat in the oven, and that ensures crispier chicken all around. When chicken is flat on the pan, it ends up just being crispy on one side. If you don’t have a wire cooling rack, the chicken will still bake up nicely on a sheet pan, as long as you flip it halfway through. Generously spray with cooking spray. The cooking spray not only ensures the chicken doesn’t stick to the pan or wire cooling rack, but it also contributes to the crunchy texture. Bake the panko and coconut. By quickly baking the coconut and panko before breading the chicken in it, we accomplish two things: 1. Toasting the coconut and panko adds more flavor, and 2. We’re making both ingredients even crispier ahead of time. With a coating that is already crunchy before being added onto the chicken, the end result is that much more crunchy! Air Frying Coconut Chicken Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F. Add the tenders to the fryer basket in one even layer. You may need to do this in batches; don’t overlap chicken. Cook for 5-8 minutes, flip the tenders, spray with cooking spray on the other side, and cook for another 5-8 minutes or until golden brown and cooked to 160 degrees F. (Carryover heat will take them to 165 degrees F.) QUICK TIP There will be variation in cooking in the air fryer based on the particular model and on the actual size of chicken tenders. (Smaller/thinner tenders cook much quicker than thicker/larger tenders.) Keep an eye on them and test with a thermometer to avoid dry chicken. If using very small and thin tenders, cook time may be even shorter than the suggested amounts. Dipping Sauce Tips The sauce is a must-have for coconut chicken — it has so much flavor and makes the chicken truly unforgettable! I have a few tips to share: Use good mayo. I highly recommend real, full-fat mayonnaise for the best possible dipping sauce. Hellmann’s/Best Foods® is my favorite brand (not sponsored). For this sauce, we’re using yellow mustard, not Dijon–which won’t taste quite right here. Dijon is for the breading batter, and yellow mustard is for the dipping sauce. Sweeten to taste. I wouldn’t consider this sauce overly sweet, but it does have a touch of sweetness. If you prefer a less sweet sauce, add the honey slowly and to taste. Don’t forget to season. A little pinch of salt and pepper goes a long way in rounding out flavors and balancing ingredients. Add a flavorful honey BBQ sauce. We like Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey BBQ® sauce best in this recipe (not sponsored). More delicious chicken recipes: BBQ Chicken Salad with a creamy cilantro-lime dressing Shish Tawook with a quick Tzatziki sauce Grilled Chicken Marinade great all-purpose chicken marinade! Chicken Pot Pie Pasta made in one pot Rotisserie Chicken Tacos made in under 30 minutes! FOLLOW ALONG! Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates, recipes and content. Coconut Chicken 4.88 from 8 votes - Review this recipe Easy, ultra-crispy, baked Coconut Chicken tenders with a quick five-ingredient honey-mustard dipping sauce. SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe Coconut Chicken 4.88 from 8 votes - Review this recipe SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe Easy, ultra-crispy, baked Coconut Chicken tenders with a quick five-ingredient honey-mustard dipping sauce. Course Dinner, Main Course Cuisine American, Healthy Keyword Baked Coconut Chicken, coconut chicken Prep Time 30 minutes Cook Time 20 minutes Total Time 50 minutes Servings 4 servings Calories 501kcal Author Chelsea Cost $10.93 IngredientsChicken▢ 1 pound (16 oz.) chicken tenderloins (~7-9 tenders)▢ 1 cup full-fat coconut milk, optional -- See Note 1Breading Mixture▢ 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes▢ 1 cup panko breadcrumbs Note 2▢ Coconut oil or olive oil cooking sprayBatter Mixture▢ 2 tablespoons white, all-purpose flour▢ 1 large egg▢ 2 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk▢ 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard▢ 1-1/2 teaspoon EACH: garlic powder, paprika, fine sea salt▢ 1/2 teaspoon EACH: onion powder, pepperDipping Sauce▢ 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons mayonnaise▢ 1-1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard▢ 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice▢ 1-1/2 tablespoons honey▢ 1 tablespoon honey BBQ sauce (like Sweet Baby Rays)▢ Salt and pepperUS - Metric USMetric InstructionsOPTIONAL MARINADE: Pat chicken tenders dry with a per towel and trim any fat and then remove tendons (try this easy hack!). Add to a large bag or container and pour 1 cup coconut milk over. Toss with tongs to coat the chicken. Cover container or seal bag and refrigerate for at least 20-30 minutes, up to overnight. When done marinating, discard coconut milk; holding one tender at a time, run your fingers down the tender to remove excess coconut milk. Dab with a paper towel. (It's okay if some coconut milk remains.) PREP: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Set out a large sheet pan and wire cooling rack.BREADING: Add the coconut flakes to a blender or food processor and process to crumbs. Pour the crumbs on the sheet pan along with the panko. Spread in an even layer, spray with cooking spray, and then add to the preheated oven and bake for 2-4 minutes or until lightly golden brown (watch closely!). Dump the toasted panko and coconut into a shallow bowl and stir to combine. We'll use this sheet pan again to cook the chicken; add the wire cooling rack on top of it and spray it generously with cooking spray. BATTER: Add all of the batter mixture ingredients to a large, shallow bowl. Whisk to combine. Press the chicken tenders, one at a time, into the batter mixture and evenly coat all sides. Repeat to dredge all the tenders in the batter. Tenders should use up all the batter and be well coated with the mixture. BAKE: Next, dredge each tender in the breading. Again, coat them all generously; you should use most of the breading. Place coated chicken tenders on top of the wire cooling rack on the prepared sheet pan. Press any leftover breading on top and then generously spray the tenders with cooking spray on one side. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and carefully flip the tenders to the other side. Generously spray with cooking spray and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the chicken registers 160 degrees F on a food thermometer. (Smaller tenders should be done at 5, medium at 7 and large at 10 minutes.) Remove from the oven and taste test. Add a light sprinkle of salt on top of the tenders if needed to make the flavors come alive. SAUCE: Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce by whisking together all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. (I add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.) Whisk, taste, and adjust the ingredients to personal preference. SERVE: Serve chicken tenders right out of the oven with lots of sauce on the side for dipping! These don't stay crispy when stored, so I recommend cooking only enough for one meal. Video Recipe NotesNote 1: These tenders are still very tasty without being marinated in coconut milk. If you'd like to forgo the coconut milk marinade, you probably don't want to open an entire can for one recipe, so you can adapt and use 2 tablespoons mayo instead of coconut milk in the breading. Be sure to use full-fat coconut milk; we use Imperial Kitchen® in this recipe. Lite or low-fat coconut milk will be too watery. Note 2: Panko bread crumbs are similar to regular bread crumbs, but they create a much crunchier result. They can be found near breadcrumbs, flour, or cornmeal in the grocery store. Note 3: Calories do not include the dipping sauce as the amount you use will vary. Nutrition FactsServing: 1serving | Calories: 501kcal | Carbohydrates: 35.3g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 25.1g | Cholesterol: 129.2mg | Sodium: 432.8mg | Fiber: 3.4g | Sugar: 9.5g We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed. DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.