Baked 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.
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 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.
Here’s some things to keep in mind when preparing these Baked 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’ 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.
Looking for more chicken tender recipes?
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 an 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.