Dinner time is about to get deliciously crispy with coconut chicken tenders, a family favorite recipe that promises both amazing flavor and texture in every bite. Each piece of chicken is coated in a heavenly mix of panko breadcrumbs and sweetened coconut flakes, creating a golden, crunchy exterior that’s simply irresistible. Not a fan of deep frying? We’ve got you covered with oven, stovetop, and air fryer instructions as well!

This sweet chili sauce is absolutely fantastic. Not a fan of the spice? Dip your crispy coconut chicken tenders in ranch, bang bang sauce, or the addictingly good comeback sauce!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • The perfect balance of a crunchy exterior with a tender, juicy interior.
  • Dip in the most delicious homemade sweet chili sauce for a tangy kick.
  • Can be made in the oven, stovetop, or air fryer.
  • Simple instructions, great for any skill level.
A hand dipping a coconut chicken tender into sweet chili sauce.

Coconut Chicken Tenders Recipe Ingredients & Substitutes

An overhead view of the raw ingredients needed to make crispy coconut chicken.
  • Chicken Tenders: Use chicken tenders or slice chicken breasts sliced into 2″x 4″ strips.
  • All-Purpose Flour: Helps the coating adhere to the chicken. For a gluten-free option, substitute with cornstarch.
  • Eggs: Acts as a binder for the flour and panko-coconut mix. Substitute with heavy cream or melted butter if needed.
  • Panko Breadcrumbs: Adds crunchiness to the coating. Gluten-free breadcrumbs can be used as an alternative.
  • Sweetened Coconut Flakes: Provides sweetness and extra crunch. Unsweetened flakes are a suitable substitute for a less sweet option.
  • Vegetable Oil: Used for frying; ensures a crispy exterior. Can also use canola, corn, or peanut oil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I freeze the uncooked coated chicken for later use?

Yes, arrange the coated chicken on a baking sheet and freeze until solid, then transfer to a freezer-safe container. They can be stored for up to 3 months.

Can I make these in the oven?

Certainly! Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, place the coated chicken on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake for 20-25 minutes until fully cooked.

Can I air fry chicken tenders?

Yes, you can air fry them. Preheat the air fryer to 400°F and cook the chicken for 5-6 minutes on each side. Make sure not to overcrowd the air fryer basket.

Is there a way to make the coating spicier?

Yes, for a spicier kick, you can increase the amount of cayenne pepper in the coating or add a bit of hot paprika.

Should I use sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes?

We tested both types of coconut flakes for this recipe, and you really can’t go wrong with either! We prefer the added sweetness and crunch that sweetened coconut flakes bring, but you can always use unsweetened if preferred. 

How do I know when the oil is ready for frying?

The oil should reach about 350°F. You can use a cooking thermometer to check this, or test it by adding a small piece of bread; if it sizzles and browns in about a minute, the oil is ready.

What’s the best way to keep the chicken tenders crispy after frying?

After frying, place the chicken tenders on a wire rack over a baking sheet. This allows air to circulate around the chicken, keeping it crisp.

A collage of four images showing mixing together the coconut, eggs, flour, breadcrumbs and spices, and then dipping chicken in the mixture.
A collage of two images showing a thermometer in hot oil reading 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and tongs dropping a breaded piece of chicken into the oil.

Serving Suggestions

Crispy Coconut Chicken Tenders are a versatile choice for any gathering, from a cozy family dinner to lively parties and potlucks. Pair them with light sides like a fresh salad or steamed veggies, and add a carb like jasmine rice or mashed potatoes for a complete meal. They also work great as a finger food for casual get-togethers, complemented by a variety of dips to suit all tastes.


  • Coating Doesn’t Stick?: If the breading falls off, ensure each chicken strip is thoroughly coated with flour, then egg, then the panko-coconut mixture. Press the breading gently onto the chicken to help it adhere.
  • Burning Coconut Flakes? If the coconut flakes are burning but the chicken isn’t fully cooked, your oil may be too hot. Lower the heat slightly and try frying at a more moderate temperature.
  • Undercooked Chicken? If the chicken isn’t cooked through, ensure your oil isn’t too hot, causing the outside to cook faster than the inside. Also, use a meat thermometer to check for an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Oil Temperature Fluctuations? If you’re having trouble maintaining a consistent oil temperature, try using a deep-fry thermometer. Add chicken in batches to prevent a significant drop in temperature.

Frying Tip

Make sure to scoop out any Panko/coconut crumbs from the oil in between batches. Forgetting this important step means those crumb will continue to cook in that oil and burn, leaving you with a rather stinky kitchen. 

Close up view of crispy coconut chicken tenders on a serving plate.

Coconut Chicken Tenders Readiness Indicators

  • Color: The chicken tenders should have a golden brown color. This indicates that the outer coating has reached the perfect level of crispiness without being overcooked or burnt.
  • Texture: The exterior should be crispy to the touch, with the coconut flakes and panko breadcrumbs providing a noticeable crunch.
  • Firmness: The chicken inside should feel firm but not tough. If it’s still soft or spongy, it may need more cooking time.
  • Internal Temperature: The most reliable indicator is the internal temperature. Using a meat thermometer, check that the chicken has reached 165°F (74°C) at its thickest part. This temperature ensures that the chicken is fully cooked and safe to eat.

Storage & Reheating Instructions 

  • Refrigerate: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze: Freeze cooked and cooled tenders on a baking sheet, then transfer to a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Reheat from frozen for best results.
  • Reheating: Reheat in an oven at 375°F until hot and crispy, about 10-15 minut

More Fried Chicken Goodness

Watch the video below where Caytlin will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.