Coconut shrimp is one of my favorite things in the entire world, EVA. It is so delicious…there’s just something about that slightly sweet, coconut-y breading that makes my tummy and taste buds so very, very happy. So I was thinking the other day – why not try to make coconut chicken instead of coconut shrimp? You still get that yummy, crunchy, coconut-y breading, but it’s easier and cheaper to make.
Those little shrimpy-shrimps can be expensive! Not to mention, it’s way easier to bread twelve big chicken tenders than it is to bread thirty tiny shrimpies.
This chicken turned out to be absolutely amazing! Just as delicious as coconut shrimp, in my opinion. Not only is it easier and quicker to make, but these can bake longer in the oven before overcooking, so the breading has a chance to crisp up a little more. The breading also sticks better onto the chicken tenders than it does the shrimp. I don’t know why, but I know it’s true! I don’t ask questions, I just eat them until dat pan be real empty 😉.
This chicken is:
- Crispy and crunchy
- Slightly sweet and salty
- Perfectly coconut-y
- Easy to make
And all those qualities are winners in my book! This will be a repeat recipe in our kitchen for sure. If your kids are picky eaters, I think this would be a great way to get some healthy protein in their bellies! It has the crunch of traditional fried chicken tenders, so they won’t even realize that you are “cheating” and feeding them something healthier. Parenting win! Though I guess I’m not totally qualified to say that because I don’t have kids. I have a fur baby…does that count? He ate a chunk of this coconut chicken that I slipped him from the kitchen counter…so he approved 👍.
Yesterday was the most fail blog day of my liiiifffeeee. It was one of those days where everything went wrong as I was cooking, and nothing was turning out. I was on a mission to make “Turkey Tacos with Oven Baked Shells,” meaning I would bake the shells myself at home to make a healthy version of the store-bought crispy taco deliciousness.
First of all, the taco shells were a fiasco. Apparently I am just incapable of making them myself. People all over the internet have done it a billion times, but me? Nope. Not happenin’. First what happened is that I placed the tortillas over one rung of the oven rack instead of two, because pre-baked, they seemed to look more like taco shells that way. But, it turns out that while they are baking in the oven, they become far more floppy and they kind of settle down into their positions.
So my taco shells “settled down” into basically what looked like a folded tortilla chip. Cool. So the first batch was a throw away.
The next batch sat too long in between their microwave-steam-room-spa-day and their oven grate placement, so one of two things kept happening: they would stay flat as a board as I placed them around the oven rungs, or I would try to push them down and fold them into a more taco-like shape, and they would crack and break. They really need that steam room time to keep them nice and pliable.
I may or may not have had a moment standing over the oven, door open, grate pulled out partially, aggressively pulling the tortillas off the grate with tongs and throwing them onto the kitchen floor. I’m saying it may or may not have happened…I’m not admitting to anything.
Okay. It happened. And I think I scared Boone. And my husband.
Well, after some research and a second trip to the grocery store, we tried some new methods, and one kind of worked. They looked pretty good! So I set them out to crisp up on the counter while I made the meat.
Browned it, partially burned it, seasoned it, tasted it. I thought it needed more salt, so I added more and it ended up being WAY too much. It tasted like you were licking a hamster’s salt wheel as you took a bite of the taco meat. So that went in the garbage. I made a second batch. Luckily I had some extra ground turkey that was supposed to be for another recipe that week…but whatevs…sacrifices must be made.
The second batch of meat turned out fine, so I assembled the tacos. I tried them, and the shells just weren’t as crunchy and crisp as the store-bought hard taco shells, even after sitting out and crisping up for a while. You take a bite and then have to kind of pull and tug a little bit to get the bite to release from the rest of the taco. So I decided to just ditch the recipe as a blog post, but we would still eat it. It wasn’t good enough for the blog, but it wasn’t bad enough to not eat for dinner.
I brought the shells, meat, and add-ons over to my sister’s house that night. I put the taco shells in the oven to heat them up and crisp them a little bit…ended up leaving them in for too long and burning them to little black, charcoal, taco-shell-shapes. YUM. They went into the trash.
Oh…and the taco meat was dry as a cardboard box.
SUPER FUN DAY!!!!
Thank goodness the Coconut Chicken turned out well, or I think I would have lost my sanity.
For my 21 Day Fix people, here are your container amounts (per serving)!
- 1 red (chicken and eggs)
- 2/3 blue (coconut)
- 1 teaspoon (coconut oil spray)
These container amounts were a little more complicated, because you use whole wheat flour and panko, but not much of it ends up on the chicken. The amount you would count would be so tiny that I didn’t even add it in here, but if you want to be super exact, I would probably count it as 1/4 yellow.
*These container amounts do not count for the sauce, because the sauce is not 21 Day Fix approved. It’s mainly there for non 21 Day Fixers or those who want to cheat a little 😉*
- 12 chicken tenders (about 2 pounds)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup whole wheat panko
- 2 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
- 4 eggs
- Salt and pepper
- Coconut oil cooking spray
- For the sauce: (NOT 21 Day Fix approved)
- Equal parts sweet chili sauce and apricot preserves, microwaved for about ten seconds and stirred together.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
- Season both sides of the chicken tenders with salt and pepper
- Set out three bowls, one with the 4 eggs (beaten), one with the whole wheat flour, and one with the panko and coconut (stirred together)
- Season each bowl with salt and pepper and stir to combine
- Set out a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper
- One (or a few) at a time, place your chicken tenders in the whole wheat flour, toss to coat, and shake off any excess
- From there, add the chicken tenders to the egg mixture, make sure the chicken is well coated in the egg, and hold it above to bowl to let any excess drip off
- Lastly, place your chicken tenders in the panko/coconut bowl and press the coating onto all sides of the chicken. Continue to turn the chicken tenders over and press more coating onto the surface until a nice coating of the coconut is on the chicken
- Place the chicken tenders on the baking sheet as you finish each one
- Spray the chicken tenders with coconut oil cooking spray. Turn them over and spray the other side as well
- Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes (check one chicken tender at 20 minutes to see if it's cooked through, and then check periodically after that if it's not quite finished yet)
- Turn the chicken tenders over half way through their baking process
- Serve with the sauce (optional - it is not 21 Day Fix approved!)
Nutrition information is for 2 chicken tenders.
If you make this or any of my other recipes, be sure to Instagram it and hashtag #thegarlicdiaries!
In the mood for more yummy baked chicken recipes? Check these out!