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Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders

Transform weeknight dinners with these easy Coconut-Crusted Chicken Tenders. A tropical escape on a plate made quick and delicious!

dipping coconut chicken tenders into canes sauce


Indulge in a tropical twist on a beloved classic with this quick and easy Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders recipe. If you’re a busy weeknight warrior like me, you’ll love the simplicity of this dish. With just a handful of pantry staples and some coconut magic, you can create these super crispy homemade chicken tenders in no time. 
I’ll show you how to fry them to perfection, but you could always bake them instead to capture the satisfying crunch guilt-free. Or, follow the steps for my Air-Fryer Chicken Tenders to savor the baked flavor without turning on the oven.

Picture juicy chicken strips enveloped in a sweet and toasty coconut embrace. You already know I’ll be whipping up some Raising Canes Sauce. Prepare for a mouthwatering dinner that’ll transport your taste buds to a tropical paradise in your kitchen.

coconut chicken tender ingredients

Why You’ll Love Coconut Chicken Tenders

  • Quick for a family dinner. Busy evenings demand quick and satisfying meals, and these tenders fit the bill perfectly. In a short time, you can serve a restaurant-worthy dish that will impress your loved ones, making you the culinary hero of the night.
  • The crispy coconut crust. Imagine biting into a crispy, golden chicken tender with a sweet and toasty coconut crust. It’s a taste of paradise in every mouthful. This recipe captures that irresistible combination. It delivers an explosion of flavors and textures that will have you craving more.
  • Healthy without sacrificing flavor. You don’t have to compromise on health to indulge in delicious chicken tenders. By making them at home, you can ensure you’re only feeding your family quality ingredients. This recipe is fried, but you could always bake them to enjoy all the crispy goodness without the excess oil. Either way, it’s a win-win for your taste buds and well-being.
  • Kid-Friendly. Got picky eaters at home? These coconut chicken tenders are a surefire way to win them over. The kid-friendly combination of crispy coating and juicy chicken appeals to everyone, making dinner time a breeze.
  • Customize the sauces. The fun doesn’t stop with the tenders themselves. You can customize the flavor adventure with various dipping sauces to suit your preferences. Try sweet and sour, tangy barbecue, or zesty honey mustard.
coconut chicken tenders in skillet frying

What You’ll Need

Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the post for the FULL PRINTABLE recipe card.

  • Chicken Tenders – You can find chicken tenderloins in your grocery store near the raw chicken breasts and thighs. You could also buy some boneless, skinless chicken breast and cut it into roughly the same size strips. 
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Salt
  • Cayenne Pepper – Cayenne pepper will add a spicy kick to the tenders. If you want a more mild option, try using smoked paprika!
  • Buttermilk – If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, no worries. Homemade Buttermilk is super easy.
  • Egg
  • Unsweetened Shredded Coconut – We are trying to keep these chicken tenders savory and not sweet. So make sure your shredded coconut bag says “unsweetened.”
  • Frying Oil – Use your preferred neutral-flavored frying oil. Vegetable oil or canola oil are excellent options.
coconut chicken tenders on a white plate

How To Make Coconut Chicken Tenders

  • Prepare Breading Station: To begin, set up a breading station with three shallow bowls. Combine flour, salt, and a touch of cayenne pepper in one bowl for a flavorful kick. Whisk together buttermilk and egg in another bowl and place the shredded coconut in the third bowl.
  • Coat the Chicken: Take each chicken tender and follow the breading process. First, dip it into the flour mixture, ensuring you shake off any excess. Next, submerge it into the creamy buttermilk and egg blend. Finally, coat it generously with the shredded coconut, pressing it on for an even, crispy coating. Place the coated chicken tenders on a baking sheet.
  • Heat the Skillet: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to the pan and swirl it around to ensure even coating.
  • Cook the Chicken: Add the coated chicken tenders to the hot skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side. Keep a close eye on them, cooking until they achieve a beautiful golden brown hue and cooked through.
  • Serve with Dipping Sauce: Once the chicken tenders are perfectly crispy and cooked, serve them hot with your favorite dipping sauce.
coconut chicken tenders on a white plate

Recipe Tips & Variations

  • Tropical Twist: Enhance the coconut flavor by using coconut oil for sautéing. This adds an extra layer of tropical goodness to your chicken tenders.
  • Uniform Chicken Size: To ensure even cooking, consider buying chicken tenderloin from the store. If you’re cutting your own, try to maintain uniform thickness for all pieces.
  • Double Dipping for Extra Crunch: Double dip the chicken tenders in the egg mixture and coconut for an extra crispy coating. After the first coating, dip them in the egg mixture and coconut again.
  • Gluten-Free Option: Make this recipe gluten-free using a gluten-free flour blend. Make sure your shredded coconut is cross-contamination-free.
  • Oven-Baking Alternative: While this recipe is typically pan-fried, you could bake the chicken tenders. Add them to a preheated 375°F oven for about 20-25 minutes, turning them halfway through for an equally delicious, healthier option.
a white plate stacked with coconut crusted chicken tenders
Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts?

While this recipe is specifically designed for chicken tenders, you can adapt it to other cuts. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly to ensure thorough cooking.

Can I make these chicken tenders ahead of time?

Yes, you can make these chicken tenders up to a few hours in advance. Simply refrigerate them after coating but before cooking. When ready to eat, bake them in a preheated oven at 375°F (190°C) for 15-20 minutes or until heated.

Can I make these gluten free?

Absolutely! You can easily make this recipe gluten-free by using a gluten-free flour blend. Ensure your shredded coconut is cross-contamination-free.

Can I make in the Air Fryer?

Absolutely! You will want to cook at 400º for 5 minutes, flip and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

close up chicken tenders with coconut breading for pinterest

Serving Suggestions

Chicken Tenders just aren’t the same without a delicious dipping sauce. Check out these quick and easy dips you can whip up in no time:

More Easy Chicken Dinner Recipes

Yield: 4

Coconut Chicken Tenders

cropped close up of coconut chicken tenders

Transform weeknight dinners with these easy Coconut-Crusted Chicken Tenders. A tropical escape on a plate made quick and delicious!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 1 1/4 pound chicken tenders
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 whole large egg
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • 3 Tablespoons oil for frying


  1. Set up a breading station with 3 shallow bowls. Place flour, salt, and cayenne pepper in 1 bowl. In another bowl beat together buttermilk and egg. In a third bowl, place the shredded coconut.
  2. Dip chicken into flour, shaking off any excess. Dip into egg mixture, and then into the coconut; pressing to evenly coat. Place on a baking sheet.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to the pan, swirl to coat. Add chicken, and cook about 4-5 minutes per side, until fully cooked through.
  4. Serve with a favorite dipping sauce


Frying oil - use whatever neutral oil you like. Vegetable Oil, Canola Oil or Avocado all work well. Or bring out the coconut flavor and use coconut oil.

Bake - Add them to a preheated 375°F oven for about 20-25 minutes, turning them halfway through for an equally delicious, healthier option.

Air Fryer - Add them to your Air Fryer cook at 400º for about 10 minutes, flipping half way through.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 593Saturated Fat 22gCholesterol 138mgSodium 913mgCarbohydrates 43gFiber 2gSugar 17gProtein 37g

Did you make this recipe?

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Tuesday 2nd of January 2024

These coconut crusted chicken tenders are a game-changer! The crunchy coconut coating adds such a delicious twist to the classic tenders!


Sunday 31st of December 2023

Everyone at my house really loved it! I will definitely make it again soon! Thanks!


Friday 29th of December 2023

I loved using coconut in the coating for this chicken. It was absolutely delicious, especially with the mango sauce that I made to go with it.

Lily Lau

Friday 6th of March 2015

I had no idea you could mix coconut and chicken! Now you made me too curious about this recipe :)

Karen @ The Food Charlatan

Thursday 5th of March 2015

These sound amazing! I can't believe you are going to NZ for 6 weeks. Dream come true! Wouldn't it be nice if food bloggers got paid time off instead of having to work double time months in advance. :) Have so much fun! Can't wait to see pictures!

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