Sweet ‘n crispy coconut chicken tenders. What’s not to love in a chicken tender that’s sprinkled in chili powder then covered in sweet coconut flakes and panko before being fried (or baked!)? So juicy, so tender, so mouthwateringly delicious!
Is it just me or are there about 1 million new chicken tender restaurants popping up all over the place? I understand their appeal; I mean, what’s not to love about chicken tenders? However, I have found that most of the restaurants’ tenders all tend to taste just about the same as the next one. That’s why I prefer to make my own and mix up the coatings and seasonings a bit like I did for these coconut chicken tenders.
Why this Recipe Works
Not only delicious, but so easy to make too!
Chicken tenders — Did you know you can actually just go ahead and purchase chicken tenderloins at the grocery, already cut up and ready to dredge and fry? That’s right! And if you want to cut them yourself, you can just slice some boneless, skinless chicken breasts into strips.
Pantry ingredients — From panko to coconut flakes, just about all of the ingredients for these chicken tenders can be found and/or stored easily in your pantry or fridge, which means you can make these over and over again without having to go to the store all the time.
Leftovers — These coconut chicken tenders refrigerate really well and make excellent leftovers, whether eaten cold right out of the fridge or warmed up.
Budget-friendly — Chicken tenders are easy on the budget, especially if you purchase the tenderloins already cut up and packaged, I always see such great deals on those!
Here’s How you Make it
- Get out four wide, shallow bowls.
- In the first bowl, whisk together the flour, chili powder, salt, and pepper.
- In the second bowl, add the eggs and water (or milk) and whisk.
- In the third bowl, add the coconut flakes.
- In the fourth bowl, fill up with the panko bread crumbs.
- Take each tender and do the following, in order: thoroughly coat each tender in the flour mixture, followed right by the egg wash, then to the coconut flakes, and finally to the panko.
- Fry the coconut chicken tenders in a large skillet filled with 1 inch of oil that has been brought up to a simmer over medium heat. (Want to bake these instead? See “Expert Tips” below.)
- Using tongs, transfer the coated chicken tenders to the oil one at a time. Be careful not to overcrowd the skillet, fry in batches instead.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes, then turn the chicken over and cook for another 3-4 minutes on the other side. Chicken should be golden brown all the way around and cooked through.
- Repeat with all the chicken tenders, and allow them all to cool slightly on a wire cooling rack placed over paper towels.
- Garnish the coconut chicken with sea salt flakes and serve warm with sweet chili dipping sauce.
What’s the Difference Between Chicken Tenders and Chicken Breast?
Chicken breasts are cut from the meat that’s attached to the chicken’s ribs. It is often found boneless in the meat section of your grocery store, but also comes bone-in. The tender (or tenderloin) is the little strip of meat on the chicken breast that can be easily removed and eaten as well.
Are Chicken Tenders Healthy?
In and of themselves, chicken tenders are lean and high in protein, and low in calories and fat.
However, frying them isn’t always the healthiest way to prepare a chicken tenderloin. If frying is a no-go for the way you eat, then you can just as easily bake these chicken tenders. See more on that in the “Tips” section below!
- I recommend dipping these chicken tenders into sweet chili sauce. You can find this in the Asian or international section of your grocery store. If you are not a fan of the heat, try substituting sweet and sour sauce. Or, try a homemade peanut satay sauce if you like!
- If you prefer baking over frying, put the fully dipped and crusted tenders on a prepared or parchment-lined baking sheet into a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes.
- It’s important to let the fried chicken tenders drip a bit of that excess oil off after frying. I do this by putting them on top of a wire rack that’s positioned over paper towels for catching the grease. Put all of this into a baking sheet if you don’t want the greasy paper towels right on top of your counter.
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- Instant Pot Baked Potatoes
- Tossed Green Salad
Did you make this dish? Please rate the recipe below!
Crispy Coconut Chicken Tenders
- 1 pound chicken tenderloins - or chicken breasts, cut into strips
- ½ cup flour
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons water - or milk
- ⅔ cup shredded sweetened coconut flakes
- ⅔ cup panko bread crumbs
- oil for frying - see notes for alternate baking method
- sea salt flakes - for garnish, optional
- sweet chili sauce - for serving
- First, get out four wide, shallow bowls. In the first bowl, whisk together the flour, chili powder, salt, and pepper.
- In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs and water (or milk).
- Fill a third bowl with coconut flakes, and a fourth bowl with panko bread crumbs.
- Toss chicken tenders first in the flour, then in the egg wash, followed by the coconut flakes, and ending with the bread crumbs. Be sure to coat each chicken tender thoroughly with each step.
- For frying (see notes for baking method) fill a large skillet with 1 inch of oil. Bring to temperature over medium heat.
- Use tongs to transfer chicken tenders into the oil (do not crowd the pan, fry in batches if you need to). Cook for 2-3 minutes, then turn chicken tenders over and cook another 3-4 minutes until golden brown and chicken is cooked through.
- Repeat with remaining chicken tenders as needed. Allow to cool slightly on a wire cooling rack over paper towels.
- Garnish with sea salt flakes if desired and serve warm with sweet chili dipping sauce.