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With a savory and subtly sweet coating, these pan-fried crispy coconut chicken tenders will become everyone’s favorite dinner! And bonus, they’re gluten free and keto friendly with just 2 grams net carbs per serving.

top view of coconut chicken tenders on wax paper in blue rimmed white bowl

These aren’t your basic breaded or battered deep-fried chicken tenders. Crispy, savory, and a little sweet, these coconut chicken strips are pan-fried and full of flavor and crunch.

They’re sure to be your family’s favorite new way to eat chicken!

The chicken fingers (aka chicken tenders) of my youth were from the local pizzeria where I worked. They were floured and fried and served with honey mustard. Back then they were one of my favorite things, but now as an adult they’re not something I want to eat all the time.

I still love chicken tenders, but I wanted to come up with a gluten free version that doesn’t sacrifice flavor or texture. And it’s definitely a bonus that these are pan-fried instead of deep-fried!

homemade coconut chicken strips dipping in honey mustard

Why This Pan Fried Chicken Tenders Recipe Works

Not only is deep-frying not the healthiest cooking method, but it also wastes a lot of oil and makes the house smell like grease.

This pan fried chicken tenders recipe is easy to make on the stovetop with a little bit of healthy avocado oil.

The end result is crispy chicken strips that still pack a ton of crunch!

Coconut Chicken Tenders Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Coconut flakes – I use unsweetened coconut flakes, and pulse them a few times in a food processor so the pieces aren’t too big.
  • Salt, onion powder garlic powder, sweet paprika, and black pepper – This blend of spices seasons the chicken and creates a well-balanced savory flavor profile. Don’t skimp on the salt, it enhances the flavor of everything else.
  • Egg – In this recipe, egg acts as the glue that adheres the coconut coating to the outside of the chicken.
  • Chicken tenders – Also called chicken tenderloins, chicken tenders are strips of meat located on both sides of the breastbone under the breast meat. You can find this meat specifically. However, if you can’t find it, you can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch thick strips.
  • Avocado oil – We pan-fry the coated chicken strips in avocado oil. However, you can use any oil you like with a high smoke point.

Instructions

shredded coconut for coating chicken
Pulse the coconut flakes in a food processor until they look like this.
  1. To start, briefly pulse the coconut flakes in a food processor.
  2. Dredge the chicken in beaten egg and then in the coconut mixture.
  3. Cook the chicken in a small amount of oil in a large skillet on the stovetop until it’s no longer pink in the center.
  4. Transfer the cooked chicken to a paper towel-lined plate to drain off any excess oil.
crispy coconut chicken fingers on paper towel lined plate

Tips

  • If you don’t have chicken tenders, you can slice boneless skinless chicken breasts into 1-inch thick strips.
  • To make sure your coating sticks, pat the chicken dry before coating it.
  • This method for pan frying chicken breast also works with other toppings instead of coconut, such as breadcrumbs, crushed pretzels or potato chips, or finely chopped nuts.
  • If you’re out of eggs, allergic to eggs, or just don’t eat eggs, you have options other than eggs to make the coconut crumbs stick to the chicken. You can brush the outside of the chicken with heavy cream, mayo, melted butter, oil, or a mixture of 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed in 2 tablespoons cold water to form a slurry.
close up top view of crispy coconut chicken finger dipping in creamy dressing

Storage

You can store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Reheating

You can use either the oven or air fryer to reheat coconut chicken tenders if you want to make them crispy again.

  • Oven method – Let the chicken sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before reheating. Preheat the oven to 400F; put a wire rack on top of a baking tray. Place the chicken in a single layer on the wire rack so the pieces aren’t touching. Heat until warm and crispy, about 10 minutes.
  • Air fryer – Let the chicken sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before reheating. Preheat the air fryer to 350F. Place the chicken in a single layer in the air fryer basket so the pieces aren’t touching. Heat until warm and crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
front view of homemade crunchy chicken tenders in bowl

Special Diet Friendly

With minimal ingredients, this easy chicken recipe fits into a variety of special diets.

For starters, if you’re looking for a low carb replacement for fried chicken, this recipe is a great option. Tender and juicy chicken inside and a crunchy coating outside makes perfect fried chicken! This recipe is naturally low in carbohydrates and with just 2 grams net carbs per serving from sugar, it’s easy to fit into a low carb, diabetic friendly, or keto way of eating.

This recipe is also naturally gluten free, paleo, and Whole30 compliant.

Additionally, these crispy chicken fingers are kosher for Passover! During Passover I’m always looking for new meal ideas so I don’t get bored eating the same thing over and over. When I’m craving fried chicken (or just something crunchy), this is perfect! I make this recipe at least once each Passover.

What Sauce Goes Well with Coconut Chicken Strips?

  • My personal favorite sauce to serve for dipping here is homemade Low Carb Honey Mustard Dressing. If you’re a condiment person, it’s a great way to get your sauce fix while keeping the carbs down.
  • Ranch dressing! For me, homemade ranch is much better than store-bought and it only takes a couple minutes to whip up. And bonus, it’s also low carb, keto friendly, and gluten free.
  • Another great option is Thai sweet chili sauce.
chicken fingers in bowl with dipping sauce on the side

What Do You Serve with Coconut Chicken Tenders?

There are so many options when it comes to serving this crispy chicken dish! You can serve it up as an appetizer along with your favorite sauce for dipping, or make it a full meal with a couple side dishes. Here are a few ideas:

  • Make a rice bowl or salad bowl – Serve crispy coconut chicken tenders on a bed of rice or leafy greens (or a combination of both rice and leafy greens) along with sliced cucumbers, sliced avocado, and mango salsa.
  • Turn it into a sandwich or wrap – Add any vegetables you like; I think something crunchy would be great, such as lettuce or red bell pepper. And then top with sriracha mayo, hot honey, sweet Thai chili, or any sauce you fancy.
  • Pair it with a few easy sidesBaked sweet potato fries, creamy kale slaw, cucumber salad, or coconut rice!

More Easy Chicken Recipes

hand dipping crispy coconut chicken into creamy sauce

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Coconut Chicken Tenders Recipe

Prep Time12 minutes
Cook Time12 minutes
Servings: 5 servings
With a savory and subtly sweet coating, these pan-fried crispy coconut chicken tenders will become everyone's favorite dinner! And bonus, they're gluten free and keto friendly with just 2 grams net carbs per serving.

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Ingredients
 

Instructions
 

  • Add the coconut flakes to a food processor and pulse until desiccated, but not powdered (see photo for reference). Pour the coconut into a shallow bowl and stir in the salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper.
  • Crack the egg into another shallow bowl and lightly beat it.
  • Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Dredge each chicken tender in egg, and then in the coconut mixture.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. Once hot, add half the chicken tenders and cook until they’re no longer pink in the center, and are golden on the outside, about 3 to 4 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second side. Transfer the cooked chicken tenders to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil. Cook the remaining chicken tenders the same way.
  • Serve warm.

Video

Notes

  • Net Carbs: 2g per serving
  • Coconut Substitutes: If the coconut topping isn’t your thing, you can coat these with breadcrumbs, crushed pretzels or potato chips, or finely chopped nuts instead.
  • Storage and Reheating: You can store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 4 days, and reheat them in the oven or air fryer to re-crisp the coating.

Nutrition

Calories: 335kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 91mg | Sodium: 592mg | Potassium: 479mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 270IU | Vitamin C: 1.4mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1.3mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Coconut Chicken Fingers, Coconut Chicken Fingers Recipe, Coconut Chicken Strips, Coconut Chicken Strips Recipe, Coconut Chicken Tenders, Coconut Chicken Tenders Recipe, Crispy Coconut Chicken

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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