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Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Tenders

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My Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Tenders are breaded with flaked coconut and panko breadcrumbs for a really crispy crumb coating. Not only do they taste great but they are easy to prepare and quick to bake too.

Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Tenders with sauce.

AIR FRYER COCONUT CHICKEN TENDERS 

When I make chicken tenders in my house they are gone in no time!  

I often like to mix up our chicken dinners with today’s Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Tenders, Air Fryer Chicken Tenders or these Pretzel Chicken Tenders and my kids love them.

If you don’t have an air fryer check out my Coconut Chicken Tenders that can be baked in the oven.

These coconut chicken tenders use coconut mixed with panko breadcrumbs.

This coating gives the chicken strips a nice crunchy texture.

Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Tenders on a white piece of parchment paper.

These chicken tenders are full of flavor and are a hit with children and adults alike.

Everyone in my family loves the simple dipping sauce I serve alongside.

The dipping sauce for coconut chicken tenders has the perfect flavor balance: sourness from the Greek yogurt; sweetness from the honey; and a nice hit of chili spice from the Sriracha sauce.

My coconut chicken tenders are healthy too as making your own crumbs coating and dipping sauce ensures that you know what’s gone into them.

Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Tenders ingredients.

WHAT INGREDIENTS ARE IN MY AIR FRYER COCONUT CHICKEN TENDERS?

CHICKEN TENDERS: Chicken tenders are the small strips of meat that are attached to the underside of each chicken breast.

They are beautifully moist and tender when cooked.

You can buy packs of chicken tenders in most stores. However, if you can’t find any you could substitute with chicken breast, cut into similar sized strips. Or even use some skinless and boneless chicken thighs.

BUTTERMILK: When marinating chicken buttermilk is a great ingredient to use.

It not only flavors the chicken but it also tenderizes the chicken, helping to keep the meat moist when cooked. If you don’t have buttermilk try one of these substitutes

Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Tenders buttermilk in a pot.

SRIRACHA SAUCE: Sriracha sauce is a chili sauce that is flavored with garlic and chili. It is a great tasting sauce that balances out the sweet, sour and spicy flavors.

It works great in the marinade to flavor the chicken and also in the yogurt dipping sauce. 

ALL PURPOSE FLOUR: I use all purpose flour to coat the chicken tenders. However, you could replace with gluten free flour if following a gluten free diet.

EGGS: I use free range eggs to help get the crumb to stick to the chicken. If you have an egg allergy you can substitute egg for milk instead.

GARLIC POWDER & PAPRIKA: Garlic powder and paprika add great flavor to the crumb coating, but you can substitute with other spices or herbs that your family enjoy.

PANKO BREADCRUMBS: Panko breadcrumbs have a great texture and crunch. However, you can use regular dried breadcrumbs if that’s what you have in your store.

Following a gluten free diet, no problem use gluten free breadcrumbs instead.

FLAKED COCONUT: I like to use sweetened flaked coconut for flavor.

Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Tenders on a baking rack.

HOW TO BAKE COCONUT CHICKEN STRIPS:

MARINATE THE CHICKEN TENDERS.

Place the buttermilk and Sriracha into a large bowl and whisk to combine.

Now add the chicken tenders and ensure they are fully submerged in the buttermilk mixture. Set aside in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours.

HEAT THE OVEN READY TO START.

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Line a baking sheet with foil and top with a wire cooling rack.

PREPARE THE CRUMB COATING.

Prepare 3 shallow bowls ready for coating the chicken.

In the first bowl combine all-purpose flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper.

Next whisk together eggs.  In the final bowl combine the panko bread crumbs and coconut. 

Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Tenders in a buttermilk mixture.

COAT THE CHICKEN.

Remove the chicken tenders from the buttermilk, one at a time, and shake off any excess liquid.

Dip each tender first into flour mixture, coating both sides. Shake off excess.

Then dip into the beaten egg. Shake off excess. Finally dip in panko and coconut mixture ensuring both sides are fully coated.

Place on prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining tenders. 

BAKE THE CHICKEN.

Place the baking sheet into the hot oven.

Bake for 8 minutes, carefully flip each tender, then bake 8-10 minutes more until golden brown and cooked through. Serve immediately. 

Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Tenders with sauce.

HOW TO MAKE AIR FRYER COCONUT CHICKEN TENDERS

This recipe is easily adapted to cook the coconut chicken strips in the air fryer.

To air fry, follow steps 1-5 in the recipe card below. Then place the tenders in an even layer in your air fryer.

To avoid overcrowding, you may need to cook in multiple batches.

Air fry at 400*F for 8 minutes, flip the tenders over, then cook 8 minutes more until crispy. 

HOW TO PAN FRY COCONUT CHICKEN STRIPS:

If you prefer to pan fry these coconut chicken strips, simply warm a little olive oil in a skillet over a medium heat.

Add the tenders to the skillet, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for 5 minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through.

Remove from the pan and drain on some paper towels before serving.

Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Tenders with a fork.

TIPS FOR MAKING COCONUT CHICKEN STRIPS:

  • MARINATING THE CHICKEN: I like to marinate the chicken tenders for at least 4 hours. However, if you can make it a day ahead and leave the chicken to marinate overnight you will really intensify the flavors and tenderize the chicken.
  • COATING THE CHICKEN: When coating the chicken in the crumb mixture it is much easier to work with one dry hand and one wet hand. I use one hand to remove the chicken from the marinade and dipping the tenders into the egg. I keep the second hand dry for dipping the chicken into the flour and coconut/panko mixture. 
  • SHAKE OFF THE EXCESS COATING: Shaking off excess coating, particularly the wet buttermilk and eggs, stops the flour and also the coconut/panko mixture from clumping together. You want a light coating so that it will crisp up in the oven and not become soggy.
  • DON’T OVERCROWD THE BAKING SHEET: Don’t cram the chicken tenders on the baking sheet. Leave plenty of space between each piece of chicken so that it will bake to golden.
  • FEEDING A CROWD: This recipe is easily multiplied to feed a crowd. Just ensure that you use separate baking sheets so you don’t overcrowd the chicken on one sheet.
  • ADDING CHILI HEAT: If you love a real hit of chili, you can always add more Sriracha sauce to the dipping sauce. Or I often make a milder sauce and a spicier sauce, so that diners can choose which to dip their chicken strips in.

Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Tenders with honey sauce.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:

I serve my crispy coconut chicken strips with the Greek yogurt, honey and sriracha dipping sauce in the recipe below. Feel free to increase or decrease the chili hit to suit your own families palette.

Sweet potato fries or wedges are a great side to add to the meal, as is a dressed green salad.

You could also cut up some of your favorite veggie sticks, perfect for dipping into the yogurt sauce.

These coconut chicken strips with panko breadcrumbs also work great in a taco.

Add the chicken strips to a tortilla and top with some fresh tasting salsas like my Homemade Salsa or Avocado Tomatillo Salsa. Then finish with a drizzle of the spicy yogurt sauce.

Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Tenders with logo.

OTHER AIR FRYER RECIPES YOU MIGHT LIKE: 

Air Fryer Cod

Air Fryer Twice Baked Potatoes

Air Fryer Salmon 

Air Fryer Meatballs

Air Fryer Tilapia

Air Fryer Chicken Wings

Air Fryer Tandoori Chicken Legs

Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Tenders with sauce.

Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Tenders

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Marinade Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 35 minutes

My Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Tenders are breaded with flaked coconut and panko breadcrumbs for a really crispy crumb coating. Not only do they taste great but they are easy to prepare and quick to bake too.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha
  • 2 pounds chicken tenders
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE

  • 3/4 Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha sauce

Instructions

    1. In a large bowl combine buttermilk and Sriracha. Add chicken tenders. Make sure tenders are fully submerged in buttermilk mixture. Allow to marinade in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
    2. Preheat oven to 425° F. Line a baking sheet with foil and top with a cooling rack.
    3. In a medium shallow dish combine all-purpose flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. In a second shallow dish whisk together eggs. In a third shallow dish combine panko bread crumbs and coconut.
    4. One at a time remove chicken tenders from buttermilk marinade. Shake or scrape off excess liquid. Dip each tender first into flour mixture, coating both sides. Shake off excess.
    5. Then dip in eggs. Shake off excess. Finally dip in panko mixture ensuring both sides are fully coated. Place on prepared baking sheet.
    6. Repeat with remaining tenders.
    7. Preheat the air fryer for 5 minutes at 400. Once preheated air fry for 8 minutes, then flipping the chicken, then air frying for 8 more minutes or until the chicken reachers an internal tempearture of 165 degrees F.
      To make the dipping sauce:
      Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Store in the fridge until ready to use

Notes

To bake the chicken tenders: Bake for 8 minutes, carefully flip each tender, then bake 8-10 minutes more until golden brown and cooked through. Serve immediately.

If you don't have buttermilk try a substitute here.

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