A few steps ensure these easy baked coconut chicken tenders are crisp for a satisfying, healthier dinner recipe the whole family will love.
I’ve developed the habit of forgetting my list at home on the kitchen table whenever I go grocery shopping. I’ll usually realize right when I’ve pulled into a parking spot, when it’s far too late to turn back around.
So I cross my fingers that I’ll remember the important things, and I have to say, with all this practice winging it, I’ve gotten pretty good at remembering nearly everything. Everything except panko breadcrumbs. I’ve gone three trips in a row (literally, list-on-kitchen-table each time) and I never once brought panko home.
There are obviously worse things to happen while grocery shopping, but it’s a bummer when you come home to make dinner and realize you’re missing an ingredient. Especially so if the dinner in question includes these baked coconut chicken tenders!
These tenders are double dipped in panko and then unsweetened coconut to form a thick coating that crisps up wonderfully as they bake. They’re a favorite of kids and adults alike.
This recipe uses just over one pound of chicken, which depending on the size will usually yield between six and eight tenders. If you can’t find a package of chicken tenders at the grocery store, you can make your own from chicken breasts! Just slice them length-wise approximately a half-inch thick.
All the rest of the ingredients are for the coating (and getting the coating to stick). For this quantity of chicken you’ll need:
- two eggs
- one-third cup milk (any variety will do)
- half-cup flour (any should be fine, I usually use all-purpose or white whole wheat)
- one cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
- one cup of panko breadcrumbs
Unsweetened coconut is my pick for savory coconut recipes (like coconut macadamia crusted salmon) as it brings all that coconut flavor without added sweetness, but you could use sweetened if you prefer, instead.
You can serve these baked coconut chicken tenders however you like, but I’m partial to keeping things simple and serving them alongside a salad and honey mustard for dipping. Leftover tenders also make a great protein to reheat and throw over a main meal salad.
Tips for crisp baked chicken
There are two tricks to help make these baked coconut chicken tenders crisp in the oven, with no frying required. The first is double dipping!
Once the chicken tenders are dredged in flour, they’ll take a dip in the egg/milk mixture and are pressed in panko breadcrumbs. Then they’ll go back in the egg/milk to lightly coat the panko layer and are then pressed in the unsweetened flaked coconut. That way you’ll get two layers of crunch that will crisp up as they cook.
The second tip I love to use when it comes to baking food you’d like to be crisp is to cook it on an oven-safe rack set over a baking sheet. Because the food is lifted off the cooking surface, the bottom side won’t get soggy. Plus there’s no need to flip these chicken tenders over midway through cooking. That’s a win!
Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 6-8 boneless skinless chicken breast tenderloins (just over 1 lb)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Set an oven-safe wire rack over a large baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Add eggs and milk to a bowl and beat with a whisk until light.
- Add flour to a separate, shallow bowl and whisk in salt and pepper.
- Place coconut in a food processor and pulse a few times until the flakes are just broken up into small pieces. Add coconut to a separate bowl.
- Add panko to a separate bowl. Arrange your four bowls in this order: flour, egg/milk, panko, and coconut.
- Press a chicken tender in the flour (tapping off any excess), then the egg/milk mixture, allowing any excess egg to drip off back into the bowl before continuing.
- Next press the chicken tender in the panko, and then back in the egg/milk.
- Finish by pressing the chicken tender in the coconut flakes and place tender on the prepared rack. Repeat for the remaining tenders.
- Bake for 25 minutes, or tenders are golden brown, the center of the chicken is no longer pink, and an internal temperature reaches 165°F.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.