Coconut Chicken Tenders – These baked coconut chicken tenders have a crispy coating and a delicious flavor. Try one of our 3 dipping sauces to go with them! (Gluten-Free + Paleo)
Despite all the craziness the past few months have brought to the world, one positive thing for our family has been slowed down family dinners. Without extracurriculars for the kids, the daily commute for Michael, or evening homework to tackle, we’ve been able to slow down a bit at mealtime.
I’ve kept my focus on easy, tasty recipes, which has taken some of the pressure off of me (this has been A LOT of nights in a row to make dinner!). That way, we can spend our time focused on each other instead of the prep or clean-up.
These crispy coconut chicken tenders are a yummy family-friendly meal we’re LOVING lately. A simply seasoned coconut coating + a few tricks for baking give these chicken tenders a satisfying crunch without any frying. They’re done in about 30 minutes start-to-finish and taste great every time.
Plus, with THREE yummy dipping options, there are plenty of ways to enjoy them! Here’s all you need to get started…
HERE’S WHAT I PUT IN MY COCONUT CHICKEN TENDERS:
CHICKEN TENDERS. To start my coconut chicken tenders, I use…chicken tenders. (Surprise!) If you can’t find chicken tenders, you can slice chicken breast into 2″ wide strips.
COCONUT FLOUR. Then, for the first step of the breading process, I use a little coconut flour to help the breading stick. (See the FAQ for other options if you like!)
EGG + COCONUT MILK. For the second step, I whisk together coconut milk with an egg. It’ll help the shredded coconut mixture stick.
A SEASONED SHREDDED COCONUT TOPPING. The last step for these coconut chicken tenders, I mix up unsweetened shredded coconut, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and a little garlic powder. It bakes up with a satisfying crunch that’s delightful!
A YUMMY SAUCE. Once the coconut chicken tenders are baked and crisped, I love to finish things off with a yummy dipping sauce (it feels like everything is more fun with a yummy dip!) You can totally choose your own, but here are 3 of our favorites…
ADD MORE FLAVOR! TRY ONE OF OUR 3 FAVORITE DIPPING SAUCES
COCONUT CURRY. This coconut curry dipping sauce is such a tasty pairing with coconut chicken tenders! I use mayo or plain yogurt, coconut milk, curry powder, and a little salt to pull it together. (The exact recipe is in the recipe card below!)
THAI SWEET CHILI. Our family doesn’t eat exclusively paleo, so when we go this route, I usually buy store-bought Thai sweet chili sauce. Trader Joe’s and Thai Kitchen brands are two of our favorites. If you *are* paleo or want a naturally sweetened option, you can use this recipe to make your own! (It’s pretty easy!)
HONEY MUSTARD. My other favorite is a simple honey mustard dip. (This is my daughter’s favorite, too.) I use 3 Tbsp. dijon mustard (this one’s nice and doesn’t have the sharp horseradish flavor), 3 Tbsp. honey, and 3 Tbsp. mayo, plus a pinch of salt & pepper.
FAQ + TIPS & TRICKS FOR THE BEST COCONUT CHICKEN TENDERS:
CAN I USE SWEETENED COCONUT INSTEAD? You absolutely can, so long as you’re not paleo. It’s actually really lovely. Sweetened coconut tends to brown better in the oven and really plays up the coconut flavor.
CAN I USE ANOTHER KIND OF FLOUR? Absolutely. I used coconut flour to play up the coconut element, but you can use gluten-free flour, cornstarch, arrowroot, etc. Whatever you have!
CHANGE IT UP! If you like, you can play with the flavor a bit here. Try one of these options to change it up next time:
- Rub a little lime zest into the shredded coconut mixture. (Rubbing it in with your fingers will help transfer the oils of the lime to the coconut.)
- Add 1/4 tsp. curry powder to the shredded coconut mixture
- Play up the smoky element by increasing the smoked paprika to 1/2 tsp.
TRY PAN-FRYING. If you want a more golden texture, you can try pan-frying the coconut chicken tenders in a pan with a few tablespoons of avocado or coconut oil. I just love the simplicity of baking!
TRY TOASTING THE COCONUT FIRST. If you want, you can lightly toast the shredded coconut before using it on the chicken. It only takes a few minutes in a dry pan or in the oven on a baking sheet. Keep an eye on it since it has a tendency to burn! If you plan to toast the coconut first, I recommend pulling it off the heat when it’s just golden (rather than deep brown), since it will continue cooking in the oven on the chicken.
CRAVING MORE? YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
- Creamy Coconut Chia Pudding
- Crispy Gluten-Free Chicken Tenders
- Thai Cucumber Salad (So lovely next to these tenders!)
- Instant Pot Brown Rice (Try the coconut ginger rice variation!)
- Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders
- Grilled Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
HELPFUL FOR COCONUT CHICKEN TENDERS: