Baked Coconut Panko Chicken Tenders

These Baked Coconut Panko Chicken Tenders are a great option for weeknight dinners. Kids love dipping baked chicken strips into the honey mustard sauce. You’ll love how the coconut and panko breading stays crisp on these oven-baked chicken tenders.

Start to finish, they’re ready in 30 minutes. But that’s just the icing on the proverbial chicken tender! Read on for key tips and fun facts about panko, or just grab your bowls, hit that Jump to Recipe button, and let’s make some family-favorite baked chicken tenders.

bowl of crispy brown panko chicken tenders in brown paper.
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Ingredients

Chicken tenders

The chicken tender is a specific part of chicken anatomy that is the thin bit of meat attached to the chicken breast. Chicken tenders often come sold in packs, or you can thinly slice boneless chicken breast into chicken strips as a substitute for chicken tenders.

 

What is panko

Panko are Japanese-style breadcrumbs that are coarser than standard breadcrumbs and remain crispier when baked or fried. Unless I’m using fresh breadcrumbs when I make my Italian meatballs, I recommend panko for all my meatballs and meatloaf recipes like my BBQ chicken meatballs, Greek chicken meatballs, or apple chicken meatballs!

The coating for these oven baked chicken tenders uses a combination of panko and shredded, unsweetened coconut. The flavor reminds me of coconut shrimp.

Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations and substitutions

  • Boneless chicken breast, cut into thin slices lengthwise, can be substituted for the chicken tenders. Or leave them whole to make panko crusted chicken breasts.
  • Sub in other dried breadcrumbs for panko or blitz stale bread in a food processor and toast your own breadcrumbs as an alternative.
  • Gluten-free panko works equally well as regular.
  • Shallow fry your panko coconut chicken tenders to get them even crispier.

Recipe tips and tricks

The key step to getting crispier oven baked chicken tenders is toasting your panko with a little oil before coating your chicken tenders with the coconut panko mixture.

Step 1: Toss a half cup of panko with a tablespoon of olive oil and stir together until the panko is completely coated.

baking pan with panko  mixed with oil.

Step 2: Toast in your oven for about 5 minutes until the panko has lightly browned.

lightly toasted panko in a square baking pan.

Step 3: Let cool slightly, then mix in the shredded coconut.

toasted panko and coconut in a square baking pan.

Step 4: Set up a line of three bowls containing flour, egg, and the coconut panko breading mixture.The amount specified in the recipe for each of these will be more than you will need, but better to have too much than too little.

Step 5: Dip the tenders in each bowl, one or two at a time, and lay them on a parchment lined baking sheet. The parchment prevents the coconut panko coating from sticking to the sheet.

Tip from the wise quacker: rinse your fingers with water between dipping each set of the chicken tenders to minimize sticking.

unbaked coconut panko-breaded chicken tenders on parchment on a baking sheet.

Step 6: Bake the panko coconut chicken tenders for 15 to 20 minutes, turning them over with kitchen tongs about 10 minutes into baking. It is done when it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F.

Step 7: While the chicken tenders are baking, make the honey mustard dipping sauce. Feel free to serve with a combination of other dipping sauces like a selection of homemade BBQ sauce, creamy pesto, sumac and yogurt, or lemon herb tahini sauces.

What to serve with baked panko chicken tenders

Recipe FAQs

What’s the difference between chicken tenders, chicken fingers, and chicken strips?

“Tenders” is a specific term that refers to the thin bit of meat attached to the chicken breast. Chicken fingers and chicken strips are non-specific terms. If you can’t find or don’t want to buy chicken tenders, you can cut chicken breasts into thin strips to use in this recipe.

Can I use flaked coconut instead of shredded?

Yes, coconut flakes will work, but you will need to crush them into tiny pieces so they will stick to your oven-baked breaded chicken tenders. Don’t substitute sweetened coconut here.

How should I store shredded coconut?

Unopened bags of coconut are shelf stable. Unless you use coconut regularly in your cooking and baking, I recommend storing open bags of shredded coconut and coconut flakes in the freezer. That way you have coconut ready to go for a chocolate chip banana bread or as a toasted topping for a smoothie bowl or a garnish for a curry.

Can I freeze breaded chicken tenders?

Yes, you can freeze these either before or after cooking, although they will keep better if frozen raw. The USDA says that raw chicken parts can be frozen for 9 months, though that seems long to me. Baked chicken tenders can be frozen for 1 to 3 months.

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.

Recipe

Baked Coconut Panko Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard Sauce

5 from 1 vote
Category: Main Course
Cuisine: Unspecified
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 405kcal
These oven baked coconut panko chicken tenders are a great option for a weeknight dinners. Kids love dipping the baked chicken strips into the honey mustard sauce. You'll love how the coconut and panko topping keeps this baked breaded chicken recipe moist and tender.
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Ingredients

Coconut panko chicken tenders

  • ½ cup panko
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup unsweetened, shredded dried coconut

Honey mustard dipping sauce

  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 dash Tabasco or other hot sauce

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Mix the panko and olive oil in a small baking pan and toast for about 5 minutes until the panko is light brown.
    ½ cup panko, 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Let the toasted panko cool slightly, then mix with the shredded coconut.
    ½ cup unsweetened, shredded dried coconut
  • Set out three bowls for dipping the chicken tenders. In the first bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and pepper. Add the eggs to the second bowl. Add the panko and coconut to the third.
    1 pound chicken tenders, 1 cup flour, 2 teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Dip or two of the chicken tenders into the flour bowl and shake off extra. Dip the same tenders into the eggs and let the excess drip off. Dip the tenders into the final bowl, turning it over a few times to ensure that it is fully coated. Place the tenders on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a small amount of room between each one.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, turning the panko coconut chicken tenders over once about 10 minutes into baking. Chicken should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F.

Honey mustard dipping sauce

  • While the chicken tenders are baking, combine all of the ingredients for the dipping sauce into a small bowl.
    3 tablespoons honey, 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1 dash Tabasco or other hot sauce

Notes

Nutritional values shown are for the baked panko chicken tenders and do not include the honey mustard. Try other dipping sauces like a homemade BBQ sauce, creamy pesto, sumac and yogurt, or lemon herb tahini.
Boneless chicken breast, cut into thin slices lengthwise, can be substituted for the chicken tenders.
Get crispier baked coconut panko chicken tenders by toasting your panko with a little oil before using them.

Nutrition

Calories: 405kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 154mg | Sodium: 804mg | Potassium: 558mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 154IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 3mg
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