You know what I secretly love?  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.  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 :)

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!


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