Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers

You know what I secretly love? Β Those cheesy commercials for places like Red Lobster or Sizzler. You know the ones I’m talking about? Where they pour butter over lobster in slow motion and then you see the fried coconut shrimp bouncing onto the plate in crispy perfection? Well they make me hungry. I’ve always been intriged by the shrimp in particular thinking that fried coconut breading would be super good. The fact that it’s covering shrimp is the only thing that shatters my 5 second daydream because my kids won’t eat shrimp. Β So this little chicken number is my solution. It doesn’t come with steak and an all-you-can-eat salad bar for $6.95, but it’s dang good! And it’s super family friendly too. The coconut adds a subtle sweetness, and you can just tell the kids they’re giant chicken nuggets πŸ™‚

If you’re not familiar with Panko, it’s a Japanese style bread crumb. I started using it in place of regular bread crumbs a few years ago and I just can’t go back now. Panko makes everything SO light and crispy, you’ll be amazed. Up until now I’ve always bought Panko in the Asian section of the grocery store. But I just found out that Progresso now makes Panko! I was so happy to see that because now you can find it next to the Progresso bread crumbs in the pasta isle. I tried the Progresso brand out with this batch and they worked beautifully. They’re just as great as the Asian brand I had been using previously, and they even make an Italian seasoned one as well.

Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers
Recipe by Our Best Bites

12 chicken tenders (ya know, more or less…)
1-2 eggs (start with one and crack another if it runs out)
1/2 C flour
1 C sweetened coconut flakes
1 C panko bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp table salt
3/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (you can leave this out if you want to skip the spice for the kiddos)

preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Give coconut a rough chop so it’s about the same size as the panko pieces


Combine it with Panko and spices in a shallow dish. Mix well to distribute all of the spices.


Place the flour in another shallow dish, and the egg in another. Give the egg a quick beating.

Working with one chicken tender at a time, dredge in flour…


then dip in egg…


And then finally coat in the coconut Panko mixture. Press in with your fingers to make sure the entire thing is well coated.


Place chicken tenders on a foil-lined baking sheet (for easy clean up!) that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. I give mine a teeny drizzle of olive oil on top to help them crisp nicely, but it’s optional.


Bake in your 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until juices run clear. Try not to overcook them because chicken tenders go from perfect to overcooked really fast! If your tenders are on the small side, they could even be done in about 15 minutes so keep an eye on them. If they’re big they can take more like 25. The coconut will be nice and golden and the panko crisp, but light in color still.


My kiddos think these are giant chicken nuggets so they dip them in ranch dressing (of course! What don’t they dip in ranch?) or ketchup. My hubby and I like them in sweet and sour sauce. At some point I’ll add a dipping sauce to this recipe, but I haven’t perfected it yet!

Every time I make these I fantasize about putting them on this salad, in place of the Spicy Honey Chicken. I’m thinking that might be a great combo. Let me know if any of you try it. But they also make great appetizers or party food. Gotta love crunchy breaded chicken you can eat with your hands!

 

117 comments

  1. When I worked at Outback Steakhouse we would actually have the kitchen make these for us with the same batter and breading they made the coconut shrimp with. You might be able to get someone to do it elsewhere if you ask and they're in a good mood. πŸ™‚

  2. Do you define all seafood as anything that comes from the ocean? Or are you only opposed to shellfish?

    If you haven't already, you really ought to try some fresh halibut. It's not fishy tasting at all and it has a really nice flaky texture. It also tastes great when covered in panko.

    But I'm with you on the shrimp, it's all rubbery and chewy.

  3. I'm opposed to most everything from under the sea Jodi! I know, I'm a weirdo. People are always telling me to try ______ fish because it's not "fishy" lol. But actually, just last month in Seattle I tried some fried halibut (for like the millionth time) and drowned in tartar sauce it wasn't all that bad! lol

    Jeni, that's a great idea, I might have to flirt with a server next time I'm out eating at a steak house!

  4. I had something similar to this dish at a restaurant in Maui, and they served it with a pineapple salsa. Maybe you could try that instead of a dipping sauce?

  5. ooh, good idea Carrie- that sounds good! The dipping sauce I made had pineapple-apricot preserves in it and it was a great flavor combo.

  6. I bet these are tasty fingers! I love coconut shrimp made this way too!

    …and WOW!!!! talk about an awesome giveaway!!

  7. Is anyone else having problems printing? The printer friendly button takes me to the stew recipe???

  8. Sam has been begging me for coconut chicken tenders since we got married, so he's in luck this week!!

  9. YUM. These look awesome. I love coconut shrimp, too, though! And shrimp is only rubbery if it's overcooked!

  10. OK, I am speaking up! I don't do facebook, I don't like facebook, so I think the giveaway is kind of unfair.
    Recipe looks great tho.

  11. sorry Katklaw, but hey- you don't have to "do" facebook, or even like it really! You just have to log on and enter if you're interested. Everyone has a fair chance of winning!

  12. This was DELICIOUS! We just finished dinner. My DH kept making noises indicating it was yummy! I will say that I had to crack another egg since one was not enough and I didn't come close to using all the flour. I think my tenders had a thicker coating than yours in the photo. I checked mine after fiftenn minutes and some of the coconut was getting burned on top so I took it out. With a bit of carry-over cooking, they were done though. I did not put in the full measurement of cayenne since I am a wimp. They were terrific! Thanks!!!

  13. Wow, these look so good, I can't wait to make them. Could I use regular bread crumbs too? I don't really want to go to the store just for Panko but I want to have these as soon as possible, lol!

  14. These look so delicious! I'm going to make some instead of using the supermarket chicken fillets in my sancwiches =] Thanks!

  15. Ha ha, I feel the same way about seafood as does my hubby and boys : ) Thanks for making a seafood-free version!

  16. Love panko and how it stays crispy! I've been using it for several years.

    I'm assuming your breading recipe will work for shrimp, too?! All but one of us loves shrimp so this is perfect. Coconut breaded shrimp for us and the chicken version for her!

    Thank you for sharing!
    ~ingrid

  17. I hear you. I HATE seafood, but LOVE Red Lobster commercials. What a great option. πŸ™‚

  18. I just don't know if we can be friends anymore Sara. Hating seafood? Morgan you too? Sigh. You girls just aren't living.

  19. There was a restaurant in Vegas called Joey's Only that I loved to order their coconut chicken, as I too am not a lover of seafood, but everyone else in the family loves it-so I had to find something to eat there. But sadly, they have since gone out of business, so I am excited to make my own version of it. Thanks!

    1. I hate coconut as well but I fell in love with the coconut chicken when I tried it at a wedding recently!!

  20. Emily- ya you could try them with regular bread crumbs, but I think they will work better if you have something that's similar in size to the coconut. Crushed rice crispies or corn flakes would probably work great!

  21. I've made a similar chicken recipe before which called for an apricot mustard dipping sauce. It sounds strange but it's really good!

  22. Hubs and I had coconut breaded chicken on our honeymoon, and I have attempted to recreate it a few times since then. Yours look absolutely delicious. I will definitely give this a try… my hubby will be so happy!

  23. I made these last night and they were delish! The entire family liked them. Thank your for sharing. I {adore} your blog.

  24. Sorry Carly, it makes me gag. πŸ™‚

    BUT! We just finished eating these and WOW. They were so good.

    Believe it or not, Derek dipped them in country bob's and was quite happy with it. I think a pineapple salsa would be GREAT!

  25. We made these the other night and they were AWESOME!!! I made a dipping sauce with crushed pineapple, dijon mustard, apricot jam, and sweet and sour sauce and it was pretty darn tasty, too. I can't wait to make 'em again… πŸ™‚

  26. I'm planning on making this soon after I get to the store. I don't know if I can find panko (I live in Europe and would have to do some hunting).
    My plan has been to make a copycat version of the pineapple dipping sauce at Red Lobster that they put with their coconut shrimp…yogurt, pineapple, coconut, coconut milk & sugar. Yum!

  27. These are great! What type of sweet and sour sauce do you like? We have a great recipe which I originally got out of a book on regional Chinese cooking but later was given the same recipe by the cook at a Chinese restaurant (he was originally from China but came over to cook in a relatives restaurant…) If you would like to try it, drop me a line!!

    By the way, I just came across your blog yesterday after following a link for the individual freezer pies!! What a great idea!! WE will definitely keep those on hand after our move!!

    Peggy in the frozen north (aka interior of Alaska)

  28. OK I'm a serial commenter today! (I'm doing all my cooking today! I'm surprised I haven't crashed your server.)
    I used to work at Red Lobster and I loved their coconut shrimp. They cant and wont make anything else in the batter. it comes premade. Second of all, the sauce is my favorite part and I've duplicated it like the girl a few above me in her comment. Coconut milk is the key!

    I am so stoked about this recipe – number one it's not fried. THat helps me out with Weight Watcher points! ha!

  29. These look really good- I hadn't thought about using coconut. I bet dipping them in ketchup would make then even tastier with the salty/sweet combo.
    Awesome blog- I bought the ingredients to make the pumpkin alfredo today!

  30. Just tried this out and they were sooo good!! I didn't even want to dip them in anything, which is odd for me. I liked the sweetness when you first put them in your mouth and then the subtle spice left after you swallowed. We are already planning on servings these to guests.

  31. I made something similar to this this weekend. I left out the spices and added chopped pecans with the coconut and bread crumbs (no panko πŸ™ )and it was delicious!!! I served it with a pineapple sauce and, well, sadly there were no leftovers.

  32. I am thinking of making these for dinner tonight but I have unsweetened coconut. Is there an fix for the missing sweetness?

  33. Hmmm Rachel…I suppose you could try adding a little sugar to the breading mixture? It wouldn't take much to add just a hint of sweetness and the coconut would still give it a nice crunch. This is all in theory of course since I've never tried it that way before. Good luck!

  34. I tried these with the salad you mention at the very end and it was soo yummy. I don't actually like the honey chicken so this was a great alternative.

  35. I added just a couple pinches of white sugar and they tasted great. Thanks for the heads up.

  36. Delicious coconut chicken!! Yum Thanks for sharing!
    Here's one of our favorite homemade sweet and sour sauces. It is pretty easy and the best homemade sauce I have had. It's also nice because you can double or triple the sauce and it freezes nicely. I don't know where the recipe came from.

    Sweet and Sour sauce recipe:
    Part I
    β…“ cup vinegar, rice or white
    1 cup water
    ΒΎ cup sugar
    ΒΌ teaspoon salt
    β…› teaspoon white pepper
    β…› teaspoon tabasco sauce
    Part II
    2 tablespoons corn starch
    2 tablespoons water
    Β½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    Part III
    3 tablespoons ketchup
    Β½ teaspoon ginger, paste or minced
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    Over medium heat bring part 1 to a boil. Mix part 2 ingredients and add to boiling mixture. Cook until bubbly and thick. Remove from stove and add part 3 ingredients. This will keep in the refrigerator for weeks. Room temp ketchup mixes easier than cold. Serve warm.

  37. The dressing I use when I make coconut chicken salad is a spicy honey mustard:
    1/3 cup mayo
    1/3 cup honey mustard
    1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

    I can't wait to try your coconut chicken recipe. The one I currently use is good, but high in fat (it involves butter). πŸ™‚

  38. I made these last night and served them with a pineapple habanero salsa. They were really really good! Can't wait to have the leftovers today!

  39. Hi! I'm LOVING your blog!! I'm on a super-strict diet right now, and I cannot wait to try all of these recipes out!! I just wanted to offer a tip.. I noticed you use olive oil on these chicken strips, coconut oil might be fantastic with this… they have coconut oil with the flavor removed, or with the flavor… either would work. The great thing about coconut oil is when you cook with it, it retains it's nutrition (unlike olive oil) when cooked. It's actually healthy.
    LOVE your recipes!!

  40. I think that a lime sauce would be really good to dip these in. I don't know how to make one but I bet there's a way. Maybe even a honey-lime sauce. Thanks for the chicken recipe! I LOVE your blog!
    Kristin

  41. ok so these are sooo yummy! i love coconut shrimp and these are such a nice alternative! i used this citrus chili dipping sauce :
    * 3 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
    * 1/4 cup mirin
    * 6 tablespoons pineapple juice
    * 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
    * 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
    * 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
    * 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    * 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

    Combine the chili garlic sauce, mirin, 5 tablespoons of the pineapple juice, orange juice, lime juice, and orange zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Whisk together the remaining tablespoon of pineapple juice and the cornstarch in a small bowl. When sauce begins to boil, add the cornstarch mixture, whisking to combine. Allow sauce to boil for 1 minute, or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sesame oil.

    Cool sauce to room temperature and serve

    πŸ™‚ i cooked them up with this hawaiian rice :
    3/4 cup cooked chicken, diced
    2 cups cooked rice, cold
    2 green onions, diced
    1/4 cup carrot, finely diced
    1/4 cup pineapple, drained and diced
    1 egg
    2 tablespoons soy sauce
    1 teaspoon sesame oil
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    pepper

    1. Heat oil, and add the chicken, rice, onions, carrots, soy sauce and sesame oil.
    2. Stir-fry until hot (about 2 minutes).
    3. Add the egg and continue stirring while cooking adding pepper to taste.
    4. Add pineapple to warm rice and serve.
    5. Note: Always use cold cooked rice for stir fry, it's the secret.

    this is such a keeper we are so excited to eat it again!

  42. Sara-when you make just the sauce from the cashew sweet and sour pork for these, how do you do it? Thanks!

  43. I tried this recipe tonight. SO good! Thanks for sharing! I'm new to your blog . . . I'm really excited about trying more recipes!

  44. i am making this for my freezer group with trader Joes Pineapple Salsa what would you serve with it?

  45. I can't wait to try this, my kids love coconut and I love that it is not fried.
    Panko is not special bread its just the way it is made (rough texture). Regular bread crumbs are dried bread that is ground up, but panko, is fresh bread, crumbled, and THEN dried.
    I make my own "panko" using whole wheat bread. I use the ends (since no one likes them) of the whole wheat sandwich bread I buy. I (or my kids, they love to do this) crumble the bread into panko size pieces (just rub between your fingers until small sized) then I put it in my bread crumbs container lightly covered but not sealed. It dries by itself or you can spread it on a cookie sheet and let it sit in your oven overnight then store in airtight container. perfect panko texture, fiber, and no waste

  46. I am so going to make these for dinner tomorrow night! Thanks for having something without milk! I am so excited I am about to do the happy dance! I wish I knew how to make the coconut dipping sauce from Red Lobster! That would fer sure be divine with these!

  47. Made these last nite and they were awesome! Tried my hand at making honey mustard–equal parts honey, dijon, and mayo with a splash of lemon juice, S&P–and ended up using it as a salad dressing over lettuce/spinach combo with the chicken and some macadamia nuts. (Was completely out of other salad toppings/veggies but this was such a good meal!)

  48. So I made these last week and let my roommate have some, and she said, “It seems like everything you make from that website is really good!” The flavor was great, I thought they were a little bit dry though. Any suggestions?

    1. Alicia- chicken tenders over-cook really easily and depending on the size of your pieces it might need less baking time. I’d just keep an eye on them next time and maybe bake them a little less. Glad you liked them!

  49. I’ve had a similar dish to this before, but I’m excited to try them with the panko crumbs this time! For our dipping sauce, we do Kraft Food’s Apricot dipping sauce: you just take 1 cup apricot preserves mixed with 2 tbsp Grey Poupon and mix. Yum. It’s also good with orange marmalade instead of the apricot preserves.

  50. I make this recipe on salmon and one of my daughters refuses to eat seafood. (She’s our ocean life advocate in the family) Thanks for the idea to try this with chicken. Maybe I will make this tonight. I am sure she will love it! Thank you! Also- This is my first visit to your site from a friends recommendation. I LOVE it and am hooked. πŸ™‚

  51. Sara –
    Do you have a good plum sauce recipe? Ilove the coconut shrimp at the Thai restaurant with their plum sauce-

  52. Just made this for the first time. It was delicious, easy and my kids liked it a lot. My 4 year old(who doesn’t like much) at everything on her plate. Next time I’ll try making some kind of sauce to dip them in, although they tasted great on their own. Thanks for the recipe!

  53. We made these & loved them but I was curious. If I wanted to make some ahead of time & freeze them, how would I do that? Would I just prepare up to the baking step & then flash freeze?

  54. I made a gluten free version of this and it was delicious!!! I’m posting my GF version on my blog and linking to this. Thanks for the awesome recipe and blog! glutenfreeinutah.blogspot.com

  55. I’m lovin’ each and every recipe I try from your site! This one did not disappoint. Thank you for all your hard work!

  56. I make a honey mustard sauce with these, and it is delicious.

    Just equal parts honey, mustard, and miracle whip. : )

    1. Okay, NOT equal parts honey, mustard, miracle whip. That’s another sauce.. (Sorry.)

      But a combination of these is great with coconut chicken.

  57. I made these tonight and it worked perfectly! The taste was wonderful. My husband stuffed himself & thought it was great with the coconut rice. Big thumbs up from my aiga. πŸ™‚

  58. These sound delicious, I am making them tonight! Whenever I make coconut chicken (using a similar recipe), I dip them in a mixture of apricot preserves and honey dijon mustard (about 70/30 mixture) and it is DELICIOUS! Thanks for the recipe!

  59. Made these tonight…LOVED them. Just found your site actually and ordered your cookbook yesterday!! Also made your turtle pretzels. Thats two for two!! Can’t wait for your book to arrive!! Thanks for bieng here and keep on doing what you are doing.
    Debbie, Atikokan Ontario.

  60. I made this this afternoon and I only have one complaint. After about 15 minutes the coconut started to burn. I turned them over and continued to cook. They are delicious, just a little burnt. Anyone else have this problem?

  61. Had this for dinner the other night. Very tasty! Sweet, but spicy all in one. Next time I want to make a sauce to go with it. I think it would taste that much better and as my husband puts it, “that would just put these over the top!” …they were that good. Great recipe!

  62. I love fish…but I am SO with you on the shrimp-thing! They just look like little locusts and the rubbery texture and fishy taste finish it for me! (I can’t even eat the little ones I try to hide in the gumbo that I make…I KNOW that they’re in there and I WILL find them!) This, however, looks delicious – all the yummy-ness of coconut breading WITHOUT any shrimp!! I’m going to give this a go this week-end and try making a spicy raspberry dipping sauce for it as well.

  63. A good sauce is simple!
    Take a small can of crushed pineapple, add in 2-3 Tbsp of honey & heat until thickened. Then take 1 tsp of cornstarch in a small separate bowl & mix with a bit of cold water. ONce the pineapple/honey is boiling, add corn starch slurry & stir well. Super yummy & I even got my picky 2yr old to eat it!

  64. Love this chicken but was wondering if you have a sauce yet? It’s so good I don’t need sauce but my kiddos like to dip everything. Where can I find the sauce recipe? Thanks!

  65. The chicken even tastes good as left-overs! Me and my wife loved this recipe! However, we have extra sauce… what else can we use it for?

  66. I made these a few weeks ago and my one boy that doesn’t like coconut gobbled the most of these right up!! So yummy!

  67. Love these! Mad them tonight!! Offered 3 choices -Dipped ’em in peanut satay, teriyaki, and buffalo wing sauce…. Thanx!

  68. YUM. I can’t wait to try these!

    I also detest, gag, heave, hurl over seafood…. I have drooled over coconut shrimp as well, only to remember what nastiness is under the breading. πŸ˜€

  69. Man, are these good or what? Next time I think I’ll cut back on the curry – I love curry, but it seemed more curry-y than coconut-y. Served with Cilantro Lime Rice and garlic sauteed green beans – SO yummy! Made a dipping sauce with crushed pineapple, lime juice and zest, sriracha, garlic, soy sauce, and sugar, cooked until bubbling and added some corn starch – I think I could have eaten it with a spoon!

  70. These were oh so good – perfect. This will make it’s way into the regular rotation for sure. I added a bit more cayenne and curry because I like the extra kick and it was still pretty mild and still a great balance between sweet and spicy. Any chance you’ve calculated the nutritional content of these goodies?

  71. I made a dipping sauce simply with honey and marmalade (ornage or your choice). Bring to a slight boil an viola. πŸ™‚ Very Yummy!

    1. Panko is a Japanese style bread crumb, look for it in the Asian aisle, or Progresso makes a brand found near the normal breadcrumbs.

  72. I’m in love with Green Mills Coconut Chicken fingers, so I decided to try these and they were Better. But, Green Mill serves theirs with a Creole Sauce and I need to get the recipe for that. I was told Dijon Mustard, Mayo and something else — I was thinking maybe horseraddish sauce?!?!?! Anybody know what’s in it?

  73. Just made this for dinner tonight. I now have a new favorite chicken recipe. This came out so moist and tender with tons of flavor! Love it!

  74. Tiffany –
    I make a plum sauce whenever I make lumpia, (filipino eggrolls). I’m not sure of the exact measurements, (because I always just go by taste), but here’s a simple plum sauce recipe.

    -Plum jelly
    -Crushed pineapple
    -Apple cider vinegar

    Mix them together while heating on the stove. Very delicious!

  75. These look yummy! At a Mcgraff’s fishhouse here they have the coconut shrimp served with an orange marmalade sauce that is perfect!! going to have to try that with it!

  76. Hello. This recipe looks awesome, I worked at red lobster and let me tell you, they just thaw out some frozen shrimp and batter and fry it(as with most of their dishes if its not microwaved). Anyways, I was wondering if there would be a good way to throw this in a stir fry? That’s originally what I was googling and I don’t want to ruin the chicken if I just throw it in there. Any ideas?

  77. Pingback: Meal Plan
  78. You mentioned a dipping sauce for this recipe and I think this is worth a try. If you have left over sweet chili sauce from your thai cocunut something noodles, dip your chicken in that. I love using that sauce as a dip, and walmart sells it (at least in Nebraska it does)

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