Baked Coconut Chicken Fingers are crispy and crunchy with just the right amount of coconut flavor. Plus they are a healthy 20-minute meal. Jump to Recipe keyboard_arrow_down
Coconut Chicken Fingers are a great alternative to traditional chicken tenders packed with coconut, turmeric, and just a hint of heat from red pepper flakes. Serve them with some Crispy Turnip Fries or this Mexican Chopped Salad.
A few weeks ago, after sitting in traffic for what felt like hours, we made an impromptu stop for lunch and had the most amazing baked coconut chicken fingers. They were coated in the perfect amount of coconut with just enough Panko to make sure they stayed nice and crispy.
Like any good food blogger, I grilled our server to find out how they were made and luckily, she was happy to do some investigating for me and talk to the chef. Turns out they spend some time marinating in a combination of yogurt, turmeric, ginger, and a hint of red pepper flakes before being coated and breaded. Then they are baked until they are nice and crunchy and served with a variety of dipping sauces. Delish.
To make these at home, it’s easiest to start with chicken tenderloins or you can cut larger chicken breasts into strips. From there, toss them with the yogurt mixture and if you have time, let them marinate for a few hours. The yogurt almost ensures a moist chicken tender and the longer they sit the more flavor they’ll get. Then it’s a simple breading of Panko and shredded coconut. You can use sweetened or unsweetened coconut depending if you like a sweeter breading. And if you are low carb or Paleo, you can use all coconut for the breading.
When it comes to the dipping sauce, the key to any good chicken tender, the possibilities are endless. Personally, I love to use a sweet Thai chili sauce since it adds a nice touch of spice. Honey mustard works surprisingly well as does a quick pineapple salsa or mango chutney.
Tips for Making Coconut Chicken Fingers
- To ensure the chicken tenders turn out crispy and crunchy on both sides, cook them on a wire rack over a baking sheet. You can use a traditional wire rack or use something like a cookie rack, anything to raise them up off the baking sheet.
- If you need a lower carb option, eliminate the Panko breadcrumbs and just bread the chicken in coconut or a combination of shredded coconut and almond flour. They won’t get quite as crisp but will still taste delicious.
- If you are trying to eliminate added sugars, opt for unsweetened shredded coconut instead of the products with added sugars.
What is the best coconut to use for chicken fingers?
When it comes to buying shredded coconut for these chicken fingers, there are some different options out there. The most popular are sweetened and unsweetened shredded coconut. To keep things light, I recommend using the unsweetened coconut since it doesn't have added sugar. Also, size does matter. I find that the smaller the shredded coconut, the better it sticks to the chicken. If possible, choose a more finely shredded coconut. You can also quickly pulse coconut in a food processor if needed.
How to make paleo coconut chicken fingers? Low carb?
If you are looking for a paleo, low carb, or gluten-free version of these chicken fingers, you can make a few quick substitutions to the ingredients and directions.
- Start by dipping the chicken fingers in coconut flour or almond flour until they are coated.
- Now dip the chicken in the eggs.
- Next up comes the shredded coconut. Mix it with the spices (leaving out the Panko) and dredge the chicken into the coconut. Press the coconut into the chicken as needed.
- Bake for 16-20 minutes on a wire rack, flipping after 12 minutes.
Looking for more chicken tender recipes?
- Baked Ranch Buffalo Chicken Tenders
- Sweet Chili Coconut Chicken Fingers
- Mustard Pretzel Chicken Fingers
- Naked Buffalo Chicken Tenders
Here are some products and tools I used when making this recipe:
- Wire rack: Using a wire rack to cook these Coconut Chicken Fingers is the best way to make sure they get nice and crispy. I have been using this one for years and it works great. You can also use a baking rack if that is all you have on hand. I like to cover the baking sheet underneath in foil to make clean up easier.
- Shredded Coconut: To reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe, I like to use unsweetened shredded coconut. If you prefer a sweeter coating, like what you would get in a restaurant, opt for the sweetened shredded coconut or add a touch of brown sugar.
- Thai Sweet Chili Sauce: Although not the healthiest sauce, we are obsessed with this sweet chili sauce for a dipping sauce or to use in stir-fries. The balance of sweet and spicy is perfect and it honestly tastes good on everything.
- Turmeric: Turmeric is all the rage right now and is definitely having a moment. Not only does it taste great and add a nice color to dishes, it has a ton of health benefits. Usually, I order mine online because I find it is a lot more affordable than in the grocery store.
Baked Coconut Chicken Fingers
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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Mix together the panko, coconut, turmeric, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes in a shallow dish. Gently whisk the egg whites and place in a shallow dish.
Dip the chicken tenders into the egg whites and then into the panko coconut mixture, coating on both sides. Place on a wire rack set on a baking dish. Spray gently with cooking spray.
Bake for 12 minutes and carefully flip over. Bake for another 6-8 minutes until cooked through. Broil for the last 1-2 minutes for a crispier coating.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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