Coconut Chicken Tenders are lean boneless, skinless chicken, enrobed in crisp coconut breading, then baked to a pleasingly sweet crunch. Dipping in a spicy grapefruit marmalade sauce adds just enough heat to temper each sweet and tender bite.
As much as I love to cook, I could easily eat out a good 4 to 5 nights a week. There’s just something about sitting in cushy booth under ambient lighting, feasting on delicious food that I didn’t have to cook, and was brought right to my seat by some kind soul that wants nothing more that to see me pleased with the meal. Sigh. I could get used to that kind of treatment.
In other words, dining out is the exact opposite of my usual dinner experience in which I’m the one cooking the meal, serving it to a crowd of varied palates, and just waiting for one of the Sons to (dare) attempt to send the entire plate back to the cook in favor of a different entree.
Psh! As if that trick ever works!
In reality, frequent eating out isn’t very practical. In fact, restaurant dining becomes a a somewhat coveted experience when raising four kids. For one thing, buying restaurant meals for six people is a bit pricey. My waistline sure doesn’t appreciate a ton of restaurant food being thrust in my mouth because it’s usually heavier and more abundant than what I’d eat at home. In addition to that, our active lifestyle isn’t really conducive to dining out. Not to mention that I really crave restaurant food when I’m already worn out and way past hungry.
Usually that means that more than one of us is clothed in active wear, wearing soccer cleats, and probably has mud caked in places that we’ve yet to discover. While we certainly don’t take the kids to eat at overly fancy places, I’m pretty sure that most of the establishments have a policy against muddy patrons leaving clumps of grass in their wake.
None of that logic takes the edge off of a fierce restaurant craving, though.
Coconut Chicken Tenders came about from such a restaurant craving.
The Sons love Outback Steakhouse, and were begging to eat there one night on the way home from soccer. Yeah. That wasn’t going to happen. (See previous paragraph about caked mud and grass clippings.)
The request did get me thinking of when I worked at Outback in college, and daydreaming about their fried coconut shrimp with marmalade dipping sauce. Way back when I used to only be mildly allergic to shrimp, I’d tough out a little discomfort on occasion and feast on coconut shrimp after a long shift. Pregnancy with Son #4 pushed my mild food allergies into severe territory, so I haven’t indulged in shrimp for-seemingly-ever. But boy, do I miss it!
It’s a good thing he’s so cute or I might hold a grudge.
So rather than shrimp, lean boneless chicken is in the trifecta of breading: seasoned flour, beaten eggs, and a mixture of Panko and coconut. Dinner was in the oven in about 20 minutes, which gave me time to change out of my soccer gear and grab a quick shower.
Showers are also a coveted event when raising four kids. By the time I entered our cozily lit dining room, the boys had set the table, and Bacon Slayer was waiting to pull out my chair. Once seated, I was greeted by sweet aroma of tender coconut chicken baked to a pleasingly sweet crunch.
We feasted on Coconut Chicken dipped in a Spicy Grapefruit Marmalade Sauce.
We talked about our days.
No one complained about the meal.
I felt served and pampered.
It was glorious!
Son #2 declared dinner to be “even better than eating at a restaurant!” I couldn’t have agreed with him more.
Crisp coconut breading enrobing lean, boneless chicken is baked to a pleasingly sweet crunch. Dipping in a spicy grapefruit marmalade sauce adds just enough heat to temper the sweet and tender bite.
20 minPrep Time
25 minCook Time
45 minTotal Time
- 1 ½ lbs. (2 medium) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 C. all purpose flour
- ¾ tsp. seasoned salt (such as Lawry’s)
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ C. whole wheat Panko style breadcrumbs
- ¼ tsp. garlic powder
- 2/3 C. finely shredded, sweetened coconut
- 2 to 3 tsp. canola oil
- 1 C. grapefruit marmalade
- 2 Tbs. water
- 1/8 tsp. dried red pepper flakes, or more to taste
- 1/8 tsp. chipotle chili powder, or more to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed half sheet pan with aluminum foil, and set a wire cooling rack on the pan over the foil.
- Slice the chicken breasts into ½-inch thick tenders on a bias (cross-wise angle); set aside while preparing the dredging station.
- To arrange the dredging station, place three shallow pie plates next to each other on the counter. Whisk the flour, seasoned salt, and pepper together in the first pie plate. Thoroughly beat two eggs together in the second pie plate. Combine the Panko bread crumbs, garlic powder, and coconut in the third pie plate.
- Roll one chicken tender in the flour mixture to coat. Dredge the coated chicken tender through the beaten egg to moisten all sides. Place the dredged tender into the breadcrumb mixture, pressing the coating onto all sides to adhere. Place the breaded chicken tender onto the rack of the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process until all of the chicken is coated, placing them ½-inch apart on the rack. Spritz or drizzle canola oil evenly over both sides of the coated chicken tenders.
- Bake the chicken at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken over and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and breading is a crisp, golden brown.
- While the chicken is baking, prepare the sauce by combining the grapefruit marmalade, water, red pepper flakes, and chipotle chili powder in a small sauce pan. Simmer the sauce over low heat until melted and warmed through.
- Serve Coconut Chicken Tenders with a ramekin of warm Spicy Grapefruit Marmalade Sauce.
White Panko breadcrumbs can be used in place of the whole wheat variety. Panko gives the tenders a deep crunch reminiscent of a fried breading, which cannot be achieved with breadcrumbs of a finer texture. Leftover tenders should be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in the refrigerator. Tenders are best reheated wrapped in foil and placed directly on the middle oven rack, at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.
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