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Coconut Chicken Tenders

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These coconut chicken tenders are tender and packed with flavor for an easy family dinner idea! They can be fried, baked or even made in an air fryer, so they’re easy to customize exactly how your family likes them!

I partnered with Perdue Farms for this article. All opinions are 100% my own. 

white plate with 4 coconut chicken tenders and small bowl of chili dipping sauce

I think most people have heard of (and hopefully enjoyed) coconut shrimp, but I’m here today to shout the praises of coconut chicken tenders! 

They have the same great fried coconut breading that we all love, but chicken seems to be more widely loved and easier to access. Plus, it’s more affordable almost everywhere.

And those 2 key components- access and affordability- just got even easier with Perdue Farms new delivery boxes.

cardboard box with Perdue Farms logo on the side

I’m going to be completely honest here, I’m not one for home delivery in most cases. The meal kits and box packages I’ve gotten in the past seemed good at face value, but they always seemed to increase my grocery budget and leave me with items that I wouldn’t have chosen or don’t ever end up using.

When I opened my box from Perdue Farms, it was pretty much the exact opposite reaction. I had to pace myself because I wanted to make everything at once. Not only is it all standard flavors, but it’s products that I don’t have to go searching for recipes in order to use. Nothing that takes any extra thought or time. 

meat from Perdue Farms on a counter

And the affordability is on-point. I’m a bargain shopper who appreciates a good deal. The value and quality of products in these boxes has you paying about 17% less as a bundle then you would pay if you bought them individually. And don’t forget to factor in that you’re saving time as well by not running to the grocery store! Time is money is a cliche for a reason! 

And honestly, I need to go off on a little side story here for a bit because there’s a pretty cool sustainability factor at play here too. We’ve been hearing a lot about the climate and state of the Earth lately, and it’s important to give a shout-out to companies who are doing their part. Perdue Farms takes a very deliberate approach to reducing their carbon footprint by:

  • donating to the Arbor Day Foundation for every bundle shipped
  • using boxes that are made out of 100 percent recyclable cardboard and insulated with Green Cell Foam®. Green Cell Foam® is eco-friendly packaging and is biodegradable, compostable, and made from high-grade non-GMO cornstarch that is dissolvable in water.
  • sending a reusable and recyclable grocery bag with every purchase to help you eliminate plastic bags
  • send a pollinator seed packet with every purchase for you to plant for the bees and butterflies that help sustain our food chain.

Who wouldn’t want to support a company with these values and practices?!
This Perdue Farms pack includes everything you need to please the entire family! Buy it online today and have it shipped straight to your door.
coconut chicken tenders on a white plate

How to Make Coconut Chicken Tenders

Once I was armed with my box of Perdue Chicken Tenders, coming up with a recipe was no problem. I’ve been making this Coconut Chicken for years, but somehow I’ve never actually shared the recipe with you guys. Probably because we inhale it too fast to get any pictures.

It’s so simple, though, that I think it will fast become a favorite in your house too!

To start, you need 3 separate dishes to dip your chicken in. 

Dish #1: Add cornstarch, salt and pepper. Use a fork to mix together.

Dish #2: Add 3 egg whites and use a fork to whip them really well until they’re frothy.

Dish #3: Add shredded coconut and panko bread crumbs and mix to combine.

I usually line a plate or cookie sheet with wax paper and place the raw chicken tenders on it. Then I just go right down the bowls like an assembly line.

raw chicken tenders on a cookie sheet

Dip a chicken tender in the cornstarch and gently shake off excess. Then cover in the egg whites. Next place it in a bowl with coconut and make sure both sides are covered completely. Use your fingers to press coconut/panko mixture into chicken if needed. Place back on wax paper until all chicken is covered.

raw chicken tenders covered in shredded coconut and panko bread crumbs

How to Cook Coconut Chicken Tenders

You have 3 options: fry, bake or air fry. 

  • Frying is my favorite option in terms of taste, but the least healthy. 
  • Air frying these chicken tenders also gives you great tasting chicken. It’s a great healthy alternative, too.
  • Baking your chicken is the best option if you want to make it all at the same time, but I don’t think the coating gets quite as crispy and delicious.

For frying, I start with a large frying pan and add enough vegetable or canola oil to be about ½” to ¾” deep. You know how hot your stove burners run, but I personally turn my burner to just above medium heat and then get the oil nice and hot. You want it to sizzle if you fling a couple of water drops in it. But you don’t want to turn it too hot that your coating burns quickly and the chicken is still raw in the middle.

Cook for about 3-4 minutes and then flip over and cook the other side for another 3-4 minutes. The total cooking time will depend on the thickness of your chicken, but this is a good starting point. Adjust your temperature if it starts getting too hot before the chicken is cooked. 

Transfer to paper towels and continue to cook your chicken in batches until it’s all done.

an up close shot of a coconut chicken tender

If you choose to bake your chicken, spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and then line it with your chicken. Spritz the top of the chicken with cooking spray as well so it gets as golden and crispy as possible. Then bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes or until cooked the whole way through. 

For air frying, place in a single layer in your air fryer basket and cook at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

a coconut chicken tender with a bite taken out of it

Tips and Substitutes to Making Coconut Chicken Tenders

  • You can easily use smaller pieces of chicken in place of the tenders if you want them to be more “nugget size”. Perdue Farms also has cubed chicken breasts that would work perfectly for this recipe!
  • You can use either sweetened or unsweetened shredded coconut. It’s really a personal preference. 
  • Feel free to omit the panko bread crumbs if you don’t have any on-hand. They add a nice little crunch to the coating, but aren’t necessary so don’t go running to the store or skip this recipe if you don’t happen to have any.
  • You can also use all-purpose flour in place of the cornstarch if you prefer.
  • Try adding some extra flavors in addition to the salt and pepper. Ideas would be garlic powder or even some paprika. Or you can add a couple drops of Tabasco to the egg white bowl if you like a little kick with your meals.
  • Since my goal lately is “save time wherever I can”, I choose to use a sweet chili sauce that I find bottled at the grocery store. It’s a favorite of ours for a number of recipes, so I always have a bottle on-hand. You could easily make a mango dipping sauce or a pina colada dip like I’ve seen at restaurants. Or just eat this plain over some rice! 

a white plate with coconut chicken tenders and one being dipped into a bowl of sweet chili sauce

Yield: 10

Coconut Chicken Tenders

white plate with 4 coconut chicken tenders and small bowl of chili dipping sauce

Tender chicken is coated in coconut and panko bread crumbs and then fried to a golden brown for a dinner the whole family will love! Perfect with a sweet chili dipping sauce!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1.5 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • ½ cup panko
  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken tenders
  • vegetable oil (for frying)

Instructions

    Mix cornstarch, salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

    Beat egg whites in a medium size mixing bowl until frothy.

    Place coconut and panko bread crumbs in a shallow bowl and mix to combine.

    Dredge chicken tenders in cornstarch mixture; shake off excess.

    Dip chicken in egg whites, then press chicken into the coconut.

    Turn over and press into coconut again to coat both sides.

    Heat oil in a heavy skillet (oil should be about ½”-¾” deep – add more oil if needed).

    Add chicken to the hot oil in batches.

    Fry until cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

    Serve immediately.

Notes

You substitute all-purpose flour for the cornstarch.

Feel free to omit the panko bread crumbs if you wish. They add a nice crispy coating but aren't necessary.

You can add a dash of tabasco to the egg white for a little kick if you want.

I serve them with sweet chili sauce that is bottled in the ethnic section of my grocery store.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 817Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 1990mgCarbohydrates: 74gFiber: 6gSugar: 13gProtein: 38g

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