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. Diane Gibbons says:

    I’ve made this twice now …. first time with the sauce and last night without (I didn’t remind hubby that there was supposed to be sauce!). Absolutely delicious!  We both love it and I will make it again and again!  I just serve with salad!  Thank you!

  2. Sally. I just made the coconut chicken with marmalade for dinner tonight. My daughter loves coconut so she got it!
    Absolutely delicious. I didn’t have orange marmalade and used apricot with honey , dijon mustard , red pepper flakes and added some lemon and lime juice .
    I bought chicken tenders – my favorite part of chicken – and 6 min in the oven after frying in coconut oil was PERFECT.
    Thank you for sharing the recipe.
    All the best to you , your beautiful little daughter and your hubby. And to the dogs too!

  3. Just made this-it was amazing!
    I used apricot preserves instead of orange marmalade.
    Thank you so much for this. Am trying the chicken soup next!

  4. Made this last night and loved it! I used chicken thighs (that’s what I had in my fridge after all) and boy did it come out crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

    QUESTION: For freezing I noticed you left out the pan-frying (step 6). Do you think you could just pan fry it then freeze it? It gave the chicken such a crunch, which was really nice.

    1. You can definitely pan fry then freeze the cooked chicken, yes!

  5. Hi Sally! I have a question- would the sauce pair well with shrimp? I am hosting a Wine Tasting this weekend (Have you ever heard of Traveling Vineyard? You get to sample 5 wines and pair them with food. It is AMAZING!) One of the dishes she wants is shrimp with a fresh citrus sauce and I had this one bookmarked to try. I’m sure it would be just as fabulous but wanted your input if you think the Orange works or if I should try another citrus flavor. I am also making your Pear Tart and your Chocolate Zucchini Cake ( OMG best cake I’ve ever had) as pairings!! 🙂 So you’ll be there in spirit.

    1. Will the shrimp be fried at all? I feel it would be best with breaded shrimp!

  6. I rarely comment on recipes, but this one needs some to be shown some love. It is AMAZING! I have been making it for awhile now and it never gets old. That sauce is to die for! Grateful to have this recipe in our dinner rotation!

  7. Just made this tonight. For me, all I taste is mustard. No orange. Next time I’ll use less mustard and marmalade.

  8. Another winning by Sally. The joke in our house is “what is Sally cooking for dinner tonight”. I made this according to your directions and it was a Great hit!

    Thank you!

  9. Kara Kirkpatrick says:

    Fixed this tonight and omg this was amazing everyone loved it!

  10. Can I use almond flour rather than whole wheat or all purpose flour to coat the chicken?

    1. That should be fine, yes!

  11. I was hesitant to try this because I never have much like frying chicken, but I followed the directions exactly, and my chicken was perfect! The sauce is amazing, you could eat with a spoon. And I did a little.
    Sally never disappoints!

  12. Shagufta Qureshi says:

    Absolutely love this recipe. I make this for our family during our large party gatherings. I triple the recipe and let it sit in the fridge once coated with everything. I fry and bake them the next day and it has always been a huge hit! I have tried both chicken breast and tenderloins and they both work well.

  13. Made this recipe tonight but used coconut flour and dried unsweetened coconut flakes instead to really boost the coconut flavor (we LOVE coconut in our house). I also substituted egg whites with 1 whole egg to lighten it up, too. For a nice final touch I added pineapple tidbits to the sauce…very “Taste of the Islands” greatness in one bite!

  14. I LOVE ALL OF YOUR RECIPES! Every time I look up a recipe I always click on your site first. I would just like to say thank you for adding the “Jump to Recipe” feature. Most websites do not have that. It saves me a lot of time and frustration. Thank you for being so thoughtful. <3

  15. Oh Sally… I usually don’t leave comments on recipes just because I never think to after I make the recipe. But this dish was absolutely amazing. Even my husband (who hates coconut) said he really liked it! Usually he only speaks in grunts like a caveman. He even saved the leftover sauce to use on other things! This dish was so easy to make and so so so yummy, thank you!

  16. Loved it! I’m wondering if for a dinner party, I could prepare everything up to just after frying in oil & prior to oven. Put in fridge after I fry pieces so I could just pop in oven while my guests are here, or would that ruin crispy coating?

    1. Hi Linda! That would definitely work– the oven would crisp the coating back up nicely.

  17. Jessica Flory says:

    Oh my goodness this was so sooooo good!!! Wow!! All the flavors!! I served it alongside coconut rice and green beans. Amazing! For the sauce I swapped the marmalade for the zest and juice of a clementine. It was perfect. I also used unsweetened coconut. Thanks, Sally, for another winner!

  18. Can’t wait to try this recipe but the baking time of 6 – 10 minutes does not seem long enough.

    1. Hi Susan, cut into small enough strips and with the frying step first, that baking time is accurate. As always, it’s best to check for doneness first.

  19. Marcia Giampoli says:

    My hubbie of 40 years came home early today, Valentine’s Day, to make this for us! Yummy!!

  20. This was wonderful. My husband who hates mustard loved the dipping sauce.

  21. Do you think the sauce would work with apricot jam? Or do you think it would end up too sweet?

    Can’t wait to try this. I’ve had it saved in Pinterest for a loooong time.

    1. Hi Elise, you can substitute apricot jam for the orange in the sauce. I hope you enjoy it!

      1. Thanks so much. It turned out great! Loved it. It’ll definitely make it into dinner rotation.

  22. I made this recipe tonight for the first time, so delicious! The only challenge had was trying to figure out how many ounces of chicken I had as my package was in grams…obviously I weighed in ounces ;), loved this recipe the flavours and textures really are perfect! Thank you Sally for a great recipe and for coming back over to update your older recipes…look forward to some grams in this recipe once you get time if possible.

  23. Worked well. Delicious.

  24. This was a smash hit! First time cooking with coconut oil. (I used liquid cooking oil from Fresh Thyme) Crisped them in the skillet at 2 minutes per side, put into our air fryer at 400 degrees for 4-5 minutes. They were perfect! Didn’t have honey for the sauce, but it was still just delicious. I did 3 lbs. of chicken so we will have plenty to go on top of our salad tomorrow night. Thanks for the recipe! We will be surely be making these again.

  25. Holy smithereens this freaking ROCKS!! I used the white flour since that’s what I had on hand. I also flash-fried the chicken first. (Great idea) As well as chopping the coconut to match the size of the panko was spot on! The sauce was tasty. I considered adding more red pepper flakes and will do so next time. The flavor and texture was amazing as was the flavor. Not crazy coconut but enough to know what you were eating. Freaking perfection. Thanks and I will be making this for a long time to come as well as looking at more of your recipes since this was our first from you.

  26. Sally, this was sooooo good! Since I’m trying to watch my sugar intake, I used sugar-free peach preserves instead of orange marmalade (I haven’t been able to find SF orange marmalade anywhere in my area), and I was out of red pepper flakes, so I substituted cayenne. I do think I would season the chicken a bit more next time, but that’s just a personal preference. I ate them on top of a bed of butter lettuce, and it was incredible. Would definitely make again.

  27. I tried using my left-over chinese fast food mustard and duck sauce with the orange marmalade – worked great!

  28. I LOVE coconut shrimp but had never tried coconut chicken before. This recipe is the bomb! I would like to try it with shrimp as well. The sauce is suuuuper tasty but be aware it is very sweet. I didn’t think I would like it but it is very good with a little hot sauce or pepper flakes. I would like to taste it with more dijon and less honey. A great recipe and fairly simple!!!

  29. does anyone know how many calories this recipe has?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nichole, We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

  30. I followed the recipe exactly and it was a hit with the entire family! So juicy and full of flavour. And that sauce is to die for! I served it with rice and salad. 10/10 recommend!!

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