Crispy, flavorful, and simple coconut chicken using convenient pantry ingredients to make one memorable meal everyone will love!
Here’s a simple dinner recipe that turned out to be even tastier than I planned. Sure, I had high hopes for this mid-week meal but I never expected it to be THIS GOOD. I think the chicken’s crispiness is what makes it.
And that spicy sweet orange sauce is like icing on the chicken cake. That sounds so weird but you know what I mean. I hope?
Here’s the deal. The chicken’s crust:
√ Has allllllll the coconut.
√ Is all sorts of tropical tasting. Hello perfect warm weather recipe.
√ Has Panko for added crunch and texture. Done and done.
√ Is flash-fried in a little coconut oil on the stove before going into the oven.
√ Is crispy and crusty and sweet and savory and flavorful.
The chicken is coated in the coconut crust in three steps. First, a coating of whole wheat (or regular) flour. The flour helps the egg to stick. Next, a dip into beaten eggs. Coating the chicken in beaten egg helps the coconut to stick. And finally? A generous dunk into coconut/Panko creadcrumbs. Here’s why Panko is preferred: Panko is made from crustless bread and is coarsely ground into airy, large flakes. Panko tends to stay crispier longer than regular breadcrumbs because they don’t absorb as much grease and liquid.
It’s important to chop up/pulse the shredded coconut before using it as a coating. Smaller pieces of coconut adhere to the chicken much easier.
About that “flash fry” step. It’s not crucial, but both Kevin and I liked the pieces of chicken that were briefly pan fried in coconut oil before being baked through. As an alternative, you can simply bake the chicken instead of adding the pan frying step. But that little pan fry in coconut oil adds another wonderful layer of flavor and gives the chicken the golden brown crispy crust we all love.
For the best taste and texture, I don’t recommend skipping this step.
Now, about that sauce. Talk about F-L-A-V-O-R! I remember having a spicy orange sauce with coconut shrimp at a restaurant before and I knew it would be equally as tasty on crispy coconut chicken. All you need is honey, orange marmalade/jam/preserves, dijon mustard, and red pepper flakes. If spicy isn’t your style, leave out the red pepper flakes. There is still so much lovely flavor in this sauce!
Double dipping is encouraged. Scratch that. It’s required.
This chicken is finger-lickin’ good. I don’t like that term though. Maybe it’s the word “lick”? Or just the licking your fingers part? I don’t know, but it certainly describes this coconut chicken. Sticky and sweet, can’t be beat.
This is truly such a simple dish that uses convenient pantry ingredients and boasts huge coconut flavor. All in such little prep time, too. Everyone will go COCO-nuts for this chicken! I’m a nerd.
Crispy Coconut Chicken with Spicy Honey Orange Sauce
Crispy, flavorful, and simple coconut chicken using convenient pantry ingredients to make one memorable meal everyone will love.
- 1 and 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts or tenders
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut1
- 3/4 cup Panko2
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup coconut oil3
- optional or garnish: chopped cilantro or parsley
Spicy Honey Orange Sauce
- 1/2 cup orange preserves/marmalade
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 Tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- salt, to taste
- If using chicken breasts, pound down and cut into strips. If using boneless, skinless chicken tenders (chicken tenders are the lean strips of meat found attached to the underside of chicken breasts - they can also be purchased separately.) - cut in half lengthwise.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
- Pulse the shredded coconut in a food processor or blender to break it down into smaller pieces. Alternatively, you can chop it up. Mix it with the Panko in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a second medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and pepper together. In a third bowl, whisk the eggs together.
- Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Coat each chicken strip in flour, shaking off any excess. Then, dip in egg and let any excess drip off. Then generously roll in the coconut mixture, shaking off any excess. Add more Panko to the dish if you are running low.
- Fry 4-6 chicken strips at a time in the coconut oil-- only about 2 minutes per side until the crust is golden brown. Once each is done, place strips onto prepared baking pan.
- Bake for 6-10 minutes or until chicken is completely baked through.
- Make the sauce: Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together except for the salt. Taste. Add salt as needed.
- Serve chicken warm with the dipping sauce. Add an optional garnish like a little chopped cilantro or parsley. Store any leftover chicken in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in a 350°F (177°C) oven for 10 minutes or until warmed through.
Freezing instructions: After the chicken is coated in the coconut in step 5, place chicken on a parchment paper or silicone baking mat lined baking sheet and place in freezer for 2-3 hours or until frozen solid. Then transfer them to a large freezer-friendly bag. Freeze for up to 3-4 months. When ready to eat, place frozen chicken on a parchment paper or silicone baking mat lined baking sheet and bake at 350°F (177°C) for 30 minutes or until cooked through. You can also freeze the cooked chicken strips for up to 3-4 months. Thaw on the counter or in the refrigerator then reheat to your liking.
- I prefer sweetened coconut for a slightly sweet crust. You can use unsweetened coconut if you'd prefer it, though we didn't like the unsweetened crust as much compared to sweetened coconut. I also find that the sweetened coconut browns easier and was a little crispier.
- Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb traditionally used as a coating for fried or baked foods. It's available in major grocery stores near the stuffing. Panko is heavily preferred opposed to regular bread crumbs because they tend to stay crispier longer. You may buy seasoned or unseasoned and then add more/less seasonings to your breading if preferred. I use unseasoned.
- Instead of flash frying in coconut oil in steps 4 and 6, you can simply bake the coconut chicken for around 20 minutes (flipping halfway through) and skip those two steps. However, we much preferred the taste of the chicken after being pan fried in coconut oil for that brief amount of time. It adds another layer of coconut flavor as well as ensures a crispy golden brown crust.
Sauce adapted from All Recipes
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Try my Easy Coconut Shrimp next!