These coconut chicken tenders are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and take under 30 minutes from start to finish! Pair it with a pina colada dipping sauce for the best chicken tenders you’ll ever try.
Family Friendly 30 Minute Meal
I’m a big fan of the coconut shrimp at Red Lobster but my son doesn’t like shrimp. This coconut chicken recipe reminds me of the sweet flaky outside on the coconut shrimp from Red Lobster just on chicken instead of shrimp.
The outside is made up of flavorful spices plus sweetened coconut, making it great for the entire family! It’s quickly pan fried to get the coating on the outside crispy then finished in the oven to keep the inside tender and juicy!
Pair it with the easiest pina colada dipping sauce ever and this Instant Pot rice for a meal everyone in my family will eat, in under 30 minutes!
Or make these for a Hawaiian party (hello luau!) because unlike some chicken tenders, these are good both hot and at room temperature, making them the perfect party finger food!
- Perdue Harvestland Organic Boneless Skinless Chicken – We prefer using chicken tenders but if you have boneless skinless chicken breasts, you can just cut them up into 1 inch strips as well. If you can’t find the Perdue Harvestland in stores, you can order them directly to your house from the Perdue Farms website. Use this link and you’ll get 15% off your entire order! You can find out more about why we love Perdue Farms brand meats with my teriyaki chicken bowls.
- Panko bread crumbs – bread crumbs will also work in a pinch if you don’t have panko, but you won’t get the same thick coating and crunch
- Coconut oil – I put 1/4-1/2 cup of coconut oil in the recipe; you’ll need enough to cover the bottom of a medium sized pan with about 1/4 inch of coconut oil
- Pineapple – fresh pineapple will be best but if you don’t have fresh pineapple on hand, you can use frozen (preferred) or canned – just make sure to strain the canned before adding
If you’ve ever breaded chicken before, this recipe will be very similar. It’s easy to make but make sure to read through all the steps and my expert ingredients below to get the crispiest coating and the juiciest inside!
1 – Make the Sauce
The sauce is better if you let it cool and thicken slightly in the fridge before you eat it.
Make the pina colada dipping sauce by simply combining the sweetened condensed coconut milk and fresh pineapple in the blender for 3-4 minutes or until smooth.
That’s it! I told you it was the easiest pina colada dipping sauce ever!
2 – Prep the Coating
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. You’ll be taking the chicken directly from the pan on the stove to the oven, so it’s important that it’s hot before you get started pan frying.
Combine the coconut flakes, bread crumbs, garlic, salt, smoked paprika, and cayenne powder in a food processor.
Pulse five times then check the texture of the breading. You want it to be pretty thick and flaky still to give you a nice crunch on the outside of the coconut chicken.
If it’s not a good texture, pulse another time or two until you get the texture you’re looking for.
Place the coconut mixture in a shallow dish, the eggs in another shallow dish, and the flour in another shallow dish.
Line all three bowls up in a line with your plate of chicken at the front of the line and a parchment lined baking sheet at the end. This will help you avoid chicken juices getting strewn all over the kitchen.
3 – Coat the Chicken
Season each side of the chicken generously with kosher salt.
Dip one tender into the flour and roll around until completely coated then move into the egg and do the same.
Finally, move the tender into the coconut mixture and roll it around until totally covered. Place the coated chicken on the baking sheet.
Repeat with the rest of your tenders, leaving just a bit of room between the tenders on the baking sheet.
4 – Cook the Chicken
Heat a medium sized pan over medium heat. Add enough coconut oil to get about 1/4 inch of coconut oil at the bottom of the pan.
Once the oil is hot, fry the coconut chicken in the oil for 2 minutes per side then return to the parchment lined baking sheet.
Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to do 2-3 batches.
Once all of the coconut chicken has been fried, place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and cook for another 6-10 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken.
Serve immediately with the pina colada dipping sauce you prepped earlier!
Pulse the coconut mixture just a couple of times before checking it to keep the coconut flakes a bit longer for added crunch and flavor. If it’s too thick, pulse one or two more times but don’t just let the food processor run or you’ll end up with a breading with no texture.
Put the end of a wooden spoon in the oil before frying to see if it’s hot enough. If there are white bubbles when the spoon touches the oil, the oil is ready to go. If there aren’t bubbles, wait another minutes or so and test again.
Make sure to really coat the chicken thoroughly in the coconut mixture. To get the best coating, press it down lightly into the mixture then press it on lightly with your hand.
You can thicken the dipping sauce by putting it into the fridge to chill for a bit. If it’s too thin, try letting it sit in the fridge for a bit before adding anything else.
Use one hand to dip, move, and coat the coconut chicken tenders so you have a hand that’s not covered in chicken juices to do things like salt the chicken, move the baking sheet, turn on the water for washing your hands, etc.
If you’re cutting chicken breasts, try to cut them all to the same size and thickness so they cook at the same speed. Thin pieces will cook in the oven for about six minutes while thicker pieces can take longer.
Store any leftover tenders in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to five days. Store the sauce Store the pina colada dipping sauce in an airtight container (we prefer these ones) for up to five days.
Reheat the chicken in the oven at 350 degrees for the best chance at getting the crispy crust.
No need to heat the sauce – simply remove from the refrigeartor 15-30 minutes before you’re ready to enjoy again so it can come to room temperature.
I personally wouldn’t freeze this simply because thawing and reheating it will cause you to lose the crispy crust on the outside. And it’s so easy to make, just make up a new batch instead.
I’d also avoid freezing the sauce as the juices from the pineapple will change the texture as it thaws.
Yes, you can make it without panko but the coating will not be as crunchy. If you make it without the panko, you need to double the amount of coconut flakes.
More Easy Chicken Recipes
- Southwestern chicken salad
- Instant pot chicken tacos
- Balsamic chicken
- Easy orange chicken
- Almond chicken
- 1 lb Perdue Harvestland boneless skinless chicken tenderloins
- ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 ½ cup sweetened coconut flakes
- 1 tsp garlic granules or garlic powder
- ½ tsp kosher salt + salt for chicken
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- ⅛ tsp cayenne powder
- ½ cup flour
- 2 eggs beaten
- ¼ to ½ cup coconut oil
Pina Colada Dipping Sauce
- 1 cup sweetened condensed coconut milk
- 1 cup fresh pineapple diced
- Add the condensed coconut milk and fresh pineapple to a blender and blend until smooth, about 3-4 minutes.
- Put the sauce in a dipping bowl and store in the fridge until ready to eat the chicken. This will help the sauce thicken up if the pineapple was especially juicy.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Combine the coconut flakes, bread crumbs, garlic, salt, smoked paprika, and cayenne powder in a food processor and pulse 5 times to combine.
- Place the breading mixture in a shallow dish or bowl. Add the eggs into another shallow dish. Add the flour into another shallow dish. Line up the three dishes in a row.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place at the end of the row of dishes.
- Season each side of the chicken tenders with kosher salt.
- Working with one tender at a time, first dip it into the flour until fully coated, second dip it in the egg until completely covered in egg, third roll it into the breading mixture until completely covered, and finally place the breaded chicken on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all tenders are coated.
- Heat a medium sized pan over medium heat. Add coconut oil and allow to get hot. Once oil is hot, fry the breaded chicken in the oil for 2 minutes per side and then return to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Work in 2-3 batches if necessary.
- Once you have fried each side of the chicken, finish cooking them in the preheated oven for 6-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken.
- Serve immediately with pina colada dipping sauce.