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Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken + Spicy Pineapple Sauce

Vertical shot of Crispy coconut chicken on parchment paper with pineapple sauce drizzled on top.

Sweet, savory, and spicy! Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken is topped with a fingerlickin’ spicy pineapple sauce to up your dinner game.

Chicken is a weeknight go-to in most households—and it can get boring pretty fast! This crispy baked coconut chicken topped with spicy pineapple sauce amps things up with bright and tropical flavors. It’s a quick and simple meal that will have you lusting after the warmer days.

The one important step to achieve baked and crispy!

Lightly toasted shredded coconut and panko breadcrumbs in a pan with a spatula.

Chicken tenders coated in toasted coconut and crumbs.

Side shot of crispy baked coconut chicken on a sheet pan with glass jar of spicy pineapple sauce.

Admittedly, I’m a fan of the golden crisp you get from a quick sear in an oily pan or a dip in the fryer. But we’re all trying to eat better these days, and it’s best to make healthy adjustments where and when we can. So, I keep my deep-fried indulgences for restaurants. (Plus, baking saves our living space from smelling like a greasy diner.) In my experience, there’s been one important step to achieving a nice golden baked crisp from the oven, and that’s pre-toasting breadcrumbs; in this case, coconut too. Meat isn’t in the oven long enough to achieve that crispy crust on its own. Toasting in advance gets things started and promises a satisfying crunch in the end. Here’s what you do:

  • Heat a DRY pan over high heat.
  • Dump your breadcrumbs and shredded coconut into the dry pan.
  • Bring the heat down a tad, between medium and high.
  • Give the breadcrumbs and coconut about 30 second to begin toasting, and shake the pan. Once you start to see things toasting (turning that nice golden color), you’ll want to shake the pan or give the breadcrumbs and coconut a stir every 20 seconds or so, to prevent burning.
  • When 1/2 to 3/4 of the breadcrumbs are looking golden in color, remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
  • Transfer your toasty crumbs and coconut into a large shallow dish for the coating process.

This is super simple, and you’re going to want to use this method every time you bread your food from now on. I mean, we do! However. If frying is your preference, this recipe will still totally work. You do you.

How to make a fingerlickin’ Spicy Pineapple Sauce.

Close up on a glass jar filled with spicy pineapple sauce.

I tried a few different methods in order to get this sauce just right. In the end, making somewhat of a compote is what worked best. And it’s SO EASY.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Pineapple juice or water
  • Natural honey
  • A lime, to be juiced
  • Fresh pineapple chunks (using fresh pineapple is super important; canned pineapple is usually flavorless and won’t cut it.)
  • Spicy chili garlic sauce, like sambal oelek (more if you like it really spicy)
  • Cornstarch, for thickening

Once you cook up your sweet syrup with the juice or water, honey, and lime juice, all you have to do is add the pineapple and simmer until the pineapple is somewhat broken down and the mixture thickens. Spice it up the way you like it and use cornstarch to bring it to your preferred consistency.

Photo collage: Left photo of chicken tenders on a sheet pan with pineapple sauce drizzled on top; right photo has same chicken tenders stacked on a plate.

Winner winner, baked chicken dinner!

Are you as into baked chicken as we are? Here are a couple more chicken dinners you need to try:

Hope you love it!

If you plan on making this recipe, be sure to snap a pic and tag us on Insta! @killing__thyme

Crispy coconut chicken on parchment paper with pineapple sauce drizzled on top.
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5 from 3 votes

Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken + Spicy Pineapple Sauce

Sweet, savory, and spicy! Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken is topped with a fingerlickin' pineapple sauce to up your dinner game.
Course Main Course
Keyword Chicken, coconut, panko, pineapple
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Author Dana Sandonato

Ingredients

Coconut Chicken.

  • 1.5 lbs chicken tenders, or tenderized chicken breasts cut into strips
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour or all purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, for garnish

Spicy Pineapple Sauce.

  • 1 cup pineapple juice or water
  • 1.5 TBSP natural honey
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 cup finely diced fresh pineapple chunks Don't use canned pineapple, the flavor will definitely be lacking.
  • 1 tsp spicy garlic chili sauce, like sambal oelek More if you'd like more heat.
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch

Instructions

Spicy Pineapple Sauce.

  • In a small to medium saucepan, whisk together the pineapple juice or water, honey, and lime juice. Heat the mixture over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking often so the honey dissolves into the liquid and doesn't burn.
  • Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the pineapple chunks, and simmer for for about 20 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced and thickened.
  • If you'd like a thicker sauce, mix 2 TBSP or cornstarch into 1/4 cup of cold water. Whisk until the cornstarch has completely dissolved. Slowly and gradually pour this mixture bit by bit into the pineapple sauce while stirring. The sauce will thicken up quickly. Add the cornstarch mixture until you get the consistency you want.
  • When done, set aside to cool. Start the chicken.

Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken.

  • Preheat the oven to 400º F; line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Heat a dry pan over high heat to get it hot, then add the shredded coconut and panko bread crumbs. Stir to mix, and reduce the heat to medium. Let the coconut and panko toast, shaking the pan often to prevent burning. Once about 1/2 to 3/4 of the coconut and panko are golden brown, remove the pan from the heat and transfer the toasted mixture to a shallow dish.
  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then dredge each piece into the flour, egg, and finally the coconut panko mixture, placing the breaded strips onto the parchment-covered baking sheet.
  • Once all of the chicken is coated, place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165º F.
  • Sprinkle freshly chopped parsley or cilantro over the chicken strips; serve with spicy pineapple sauce.

3 Comments

  • Tracy
    March 9, 2020 at 12:07 am

    5 stars
    Thank you for letting me know I needed fresh pineapple! I’m sure it’s what made it finger lickin good! My kids loved this so much they asked about when they could have it next. It’s so different than our normal (boring) chicken dishes- thank you!

    Reply
  • Gloria
    March 7, 2020 at 8:10 am

    5 stars
    Who needs takeout when THIS is so much better. Love crispy chicken. The coconut and pineapple take it over the top. This my family will love.

    Reply
  • Lisa
    March 6, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    5 stars
    My taste buds are tingling at the thought of this tasty coconut chicken, especially with the spicy pineapple sauce — it’s a tropical feast! I just need to pick up a fresh pineapple (I only have the canned chunks in the pantry — and you said “NO”). What would you recommend to serve as a side dish with this tasty dinner?

    Reply

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