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!

coconut chicken on a white plate with dipping sauce

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.

coconut chicken on a blue plate with dipping sauce

Here’s the deal. The chicken’s crust:

  • Has extra 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 breadcrumbs. 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.

2 images of coconut coating in a white bowl and chicken in bowl of coconut coating

About that “flash fry” step. It’s not crucial, but taste testers liked the pieces of chicken that were briefly pan-fried in coconut oil before the baking step. 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. 

coconut chicken in a pan

Now, about that sauce. 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!

orange sauce in a glass bowl

coconut chicken on a white plate with dipping sauce

This is truly such a simple dish that uses convenient pantry ingredients and boasts huge coconut flavor.

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coconut chicken on a white plate with dipping sauce

Crispy Coconut Chicken with Spicy Honey Orange Sauce

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Crispy, flavorful, and simple coconut chicken using convenient pantry ingredients to make one memorable meal everyone will love.


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts or tenders
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut*
  • 3/4 cup Panko*
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil*
  • optional for garnish: chopped cilantro or parsley

Spicy Honey Orange Sauce

  • 1/2 cup orange preserves (or marmalade)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 Tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Bake for 6-10 minutes or until chicken is completely baked through.
  8. Make the sauce: Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together except for the salt. Taste. Add salt as needed.
  9. 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.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. Coconut: 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.
  3. Panko: 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.
  4. Non-Frying Option: 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.
  5. Sauce adapted from All Recipes.

Keywords: crispy coconut chicken

We’re obsessed.

coconut chicken

79 Comments

  1. My husband and I are vegetarians, so I subbed out 2 16-oz cartons of pressed, extra firm tofu (cut into thick “tenders”) and it turned out REALLY well! I also added a tiny bit of cayenne pepper to the sauce for some extra heat and some garlic powder as well because I have a garlic obsession, haha. This was super good!

  2. I made this for dinner yesterday and I’m eating the leftovers right now. This chicken is SO good! I love the flavor and the crunch. It’s perfect!! We didn’t care for the sauce, so I won’t be making that again, but I will make the chicken many, many times!!

  3. edie gottschall says:

    Made this last night for dinner, and IT IS A KEEPER! I only changed one thing: only used one-half teaspoon of pepper flakes, and for us it was perfect. I could eat the sauce with a spoon (actually I did have at least one spoonful). Husband has requested we try the method with thin pork chops, too. Thank you for the way you write your recipes, especially the tips.

  4. I made this last night and it was awesome! The chicken was moist and tender, and the coconut flavor was perfect. I make coconut shrimp, but I like this even better. I raved about it so much that one of my friends is going to make it for company. I will be making this again!

  5. Made this tonight for dinner. The directions were easy to follow. Both my husband and I thought it was very tasty! We plan on serving it for company it was that good. Thank you for a terrific recipe.

  6. I made this chicken, it was DELICIOUS! Different from your traditional breaded chicken and healthier too (I think). You can really taste the coconut, but it is not too intense. It smells divine and it was great the next day.

  7. I was really hoping that this recipe was not going to be one of those that I come across, which sound fantastically delicious, only to be disappointed.

    It. Is. Not! This is one of the best recipes I’ve found on the web, and will most certainly be the go to recipe when hosting company. The sauce is to die for, and I used regular mustard!

  8. This was amazing! My boyfriend is a super picky eater and I’m not a huge fan of coconut but I decided to make this because he loves coconut. Anyway, this was so good and we had no leftovers which I’m sad about…. Will probably make this again tomorrow haha!

  9. Is it all right to use refined coconut oil? I didn’t know there was a difference and bought refined. I haven’t opened it yet, so I can return it.

    1. Yes! Refined works just fine.

  10. The sauce is great! We baked the chicken in the oven as we didn’t have coconut oil on hand, so the chicken didn’t have the nice golden color as in the pictures above. Still tasted good though!

  11. Tonite is the 2nd time I have made this fabulous  chicken!  My husband & I  love it!  The leftovers are great too the next few days .  The sauce is out of this world!  Thank you for this amazing recipe.

  12. Hi! This looks amazing!
    Definitely going to make this in the week..needing new dinner ideas and this ticks every box.
    Question.. Do you think it’s able to be barbecued/grilled?  I would say no, as it might take away the flavour, but my husband wants to try!
    Thanks

    1. I don’t suggest it because of the breading.

  13. Sally, your recipes never steer me wrong and this one is no exception. made this last night (with normal breadcrumbs as I didn’t have Panko on hand). The coconut was so prominent and delicious and moist chicken. The orange sauce was also fabulous. Quick, easy and beautiful recipe for a Saturday night. Love your blog! Thanks!
    Bianca (Melbourne, Australia)

  14. WOW! Fantastic !  We really liked the coconut chicken and sweet/hot sauce.  We used 2 chicken breasts, tenderized, and cut into 2″ x 3″-4″ strips.  Next time will use 1 1/2c. coconut & 3/4 c. flour.  
    This recipe is on our “again!” list.  Thanks again!

  15. I made the crispy coconut chicken for sunday dinner, yesterday.  Wow!   Easy recipe and delicious!  All four family members enjoyed.  I made an asian broccoli stir fry (like you would order from a chinese restaurant] and that recipe was great too!  {Found on food.com}.  Served w/jasmine rice.
    For the chicken, I bought boneless chicken breasts.  Cut in 1/2 lengthwise to end up w/2 thinner breasts, then cut again in 1/2, then into 2 strips each.  So with each breast ended up w/8 strip pieces.  I did not have, nor did I buy the coconut oil.  I did have ‘grapeseed’ oil, and this was great for the frying, then did the ‘baking’ part for about 15 fifteen minutes.  *When I do make it again, probably for a holiday buffet, I will try the coconut oil.   The ‘dipping’ sauce was also great.
    Go ahead and make it!  You’ll enjoy!

  16. I made this for dinner tonight and Idid not want to stop eating it.  The chicken smelled so good and tasted delicious, it was crunchy and I would get these bites of coconut goodness.  The sauce was fantastic, reminds me of sauce for orange chicken.  I am already thinking about my lunch tomorrow which will be left over coconut chicken on a salad with some of the sauce.  Thank you for all of your awesome recipes!

  17. Made this tonight had to fry up with peanut oil and I didn’t have the dijon mustard other than that I made it exactly the way it was prepared very tasty my husband said this is a keeper. I have to agree. Thanks for the recipe. 

  18. Hi Sally, I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! The chicken was tender and had such a great coconut flavor. The orange sauce complemented it so well. I will definitely be making this again! I found your website recently and have been enjoying reading and trying your recipes. Love all the details and tips you provide. You make everything so easy. I can’t thank you enough.

  19. I made this tonight for my parents as a thank you dinner. I have never seen panko crumbs in my area so made a concoction of bread crumbs and crushed cornflakes. Did the rest the same even the browning in coconut oil. The sauce written is delicious, and I put some to the side for my mom who doesn’t like spice, and kicked up the rest with more chili flakes and Sriracha sauce. The chicken was TO DIE FOR!!! My dad and I fought over the last piece! Delicious! Paired this with parmesan roasted sweet potatoes and heirloom carrots. Simply amazing meal! Next time will definitely get more chicken so there will be leftovers!!!

  20. This recipe is so yummy! I think I could eat it everyday!!! The sauce was also way better than I expected. Changes I made were to use whole wheat Panko to up the health factor and I only had apricot preserves instead of orange marmalade. Outstanding!!!

  21. Made these tonight and holy mmmmmm was it good! My only thing I changed was I used apricot preserves (oops, thought I had Orange marmalade, did not :() and it was still awesome!! My family is happily munching away!

  22. Made this for dinner tonight with the dipping sauce and we loved it! Very flavorful. Will for sure be making it again. Thanks for sharing this great recipe! 

  23. This was delicious.! All six kids ( age 7-23) loved it. I used bobs red mill gluten free flour( the one with the garbanzo beans), gluten free bread crumbs, and unsweetened finely shredded coconut. Will try battering, browning, and then freezing because I know it will be on the list regularly. Had a homemade sweet chili sauce on hand already that I used, but look forward to trying out the sauce in the recipe.

  24. I made this recipe the other day just by simply frying in the coconut oil. No need to bake since the chicken was thin enough just to cook a few minutes on each side.  The texture and taste were perfect!!! Now the sauce…..That stuff needs to be bottled and put on the market. I made the chicken with some steamed broccoli. I couldn’t waste not one drop of that sauce so I kept dipping the broccoli in as well. Great recipe. Will make sure I make this again soon….

  25. Can you substitute the chicken with tofu? (I want to make this for my very vegetarian mom) If you can, are there any things to change in the recipe if you use tofu?

    Yummy recipe, by the way 🙂

    1. I wouldn’t change anything, but I would make sure you squeeze as much of the moisture out of the tofu that you can– and use extra firm tofu 🙂

  26. This recipe looks very appealing, but I really don’t like the taste of mustard. Is there any other ingredient I can use to replace it?

    1. Hi Pat, you can leave the mustard out and have it be more of a plain honey orange dipping sauce.

  27. We just finished this dish, expecting great results, but were sadly disappointed. The chicken was not flavorful at all, and the sauce was way too sweet!
    This was the first time I had used coconut oil to fry and was not impressed with the taste. Next time, I will use my tried and true combo of olive oil and butter.
    Sounded great, though. The pictures and descriptions were really appetizing!

  28. Made this the other night and was really pleased with the results. Didn’t have any orange marmalade though so used lemon and lime instead which worked perfectly with the coconut 🙂

  29. Hi Sally, where can I get the sweetened shredded coconut? I’m from the Philippines.
    Thanks!

    1. You can use unsweetened coconut if that’s all you can find– maybe add a couple teaspoons of sugar when coating for a little sweetness, if desired.

  30. I’ve made this a few times now and we love it! We don’t keep Dijon, so I’ve always used honey mustard and it works great. Delicious!

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