Growing up, my mom would use butter, Parmesan, and breadcrumbs to make chicken tenders. We would coat the chicken with melted butter, and roll it in a mixture of breadcrumbs and Parmesan before baking. As a lover of chicken nuggets, this dish was so yummy and equally fun to make! The recipe I’m sharing with you today is a tropical twist on this childhood favorite. It uses a coconut topping to make chicken nuggets that are crispy, sweet, and packed with flavor. This dish has become a staple in my home and has surprisingly replaced piña coladas as my number one coconut recipe!
Before you begin, preheat the oven to 425°F, and set aside a baking sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil for later. Start by chopping the shredded coconut into finer pieces using a knife or food processor. I’ve tried this recipe with and without chopping the coconut, and have found that the coconut sticks to the chicken better when it is in smaller pieces. Transfer the coconut into a large baking dish and stir in the two cups of panko breadcrumbs. I like to use a baking dish because it spreads out the mixture, making it easier to coat the chicken. In a separate bowl, stir the flour, salt, and pepper together. In another bowl, whisk the three large eggs. To prepare for the coating process, organize the bowls in the following order: flour, egg, and breadcrumb mixture.
Now that the coating is ready, it’s time to prepare the chicken breasts. You can use pre-cut chicken tenders, but I prefer to use whole chicken breasts, which are cheaper at my grocery store. Cut the chicken breasts into small, similarly sized portions in order for the chicken to cook evenly. You can cut your chicken into strips or nuggets (like I do), just make sure they are all the same size. Now for the fun part!
Step one: Take a piece of chicken and coat it in the flour, salt, and pepper mixture. Shake off any excess flour.
Step two: Dip the flour coated chicken into the eggs, making sure to cover all the sides.
Step three: Generously coat the chicken in the coconut and panko mixture.
Repeat this three-step process on the rest of the chicken.
In a large non-stick pan, heat ¼ cup of coconut oil on medium-high heat. Here’s where the magic happens – carefully place half of the chicken pieces in the coconut oil and fry until golden brown (approximately two 2 minutes per side). This step seals in the flavor and creates a delicious crispy coating! Place the chicken on a baking sheet and set aside. Heat the additional ¼ cup of coconut oil in the same pan and fry the rest of the chicken. Alternatively, you can skip this step and just bake the chicken, but you won’t get the crisp coating and added flavor from the coconut oil.
Bake the chicken for 4-6 minutes, or until the chicken reaches 165°F. I like to serve my chicken with honey mustard, but you can choose your favorite dipping sauce!
Crispy Coconut Chicken Tenders
- 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup of coconut oil
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil and set aside.
- Using a food processor or knife, finely chop the shredded coconut into smaller pieces. In a large baking dish, mix the coconut and Panko breadcrumbs. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. In a third bowl, whisk the eggs together.
- Cut the chicken breasts into small, similarly portioned pieces. Make sure each piece is the same thickness in order to cook evenly.
- Take a piece of chicken and coat in the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour. Next, dip the same piece into the egg. Finally, generously roll the chicken in the coconut and breadcrumb mixture until all sides are coated. Set aside. Repeat these steps for each piece of chicken.
- Heat 1/4 cup of coconut oil in a large pan on medium-high heat. Carefully place half of the chicken in the pan and fry until golden brown (approximately 2 minutes per side). Set aside on the lined baking sheet. Add additional 1/4 cup of coconut oil to the same pan and repeat these steps on the rest of the chicken.
- Bake in the oven for 4-6 minutes, or until the chicken reaches 165°F.
- Serve with a side of honey mustard or your favorite dipping sauce.