Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers

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!


woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. 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!

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

  2. 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!

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

  4. I hear you. I HATE seafood, but LOVE Red Lobster commercials. What a great option. 🙂

  5. 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!

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

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

  8. 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!

  9. 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!!!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

  16. 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.

    1. where do i find the pineapple apricot preserves recipe. My cookbooks are still in boxes from a recent move and i am craving these as well as my kids.

      1. Just at the regular grocery store. If you can’t find the blend, either one of those flavors will do.

  17. 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?

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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. 🙂

  21. Sara: I'm a panko fiend myself. I'm going to try the coconut chicken tonight! Thanks, kitty