Not your run of the mill baked chicken tenders… this chicken is crusted in a delicious coconut and cashew breading and baked to golden brown perfection!
Who doesn’t love a great crusted chicken tender? Why not switch flavors up and try these coconut and cashew crusted chicken tenders with a smoky chipotle pineapple BBQ dipping sauce!
I love chicken tenders. Um, a lot! And I really love baking them… I think you can get them super crispy, without the added calories, not to mention hassle, of frying them! The secret to a super crispy crust is the panko breadcrumbs… they’re like SUPER breadcrumbs!
Lately, I’m all about the tropical flavors… and incidentally, these chicken tenders pair perfectly with this tropical coconut pineapple rice 🙂
I like to sprinkle mine with some chopped fresh cilantro 🙂
Now for me, I have to have some dipping sauce for my chicken tenders… it’s not an option lol. I love making my own sauces, so this time, I decided to go for a sweet/smoky/hot combo. Chipotle pineapple barbecue sauce!
It’s not much to look at while it’s cooking, but oh man, is it GOOD! And relatively easy to make… just saute some garlic and onions in a little vegetable or coconut oil. Once they’re soft, add in the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes or so, stirring every once in a while. You can leave it chunky if you’d like, or give it a zip in your food processor/blender until it’s at the consistency you’d like 🙂
It has just the right amount of sweetness from the pineapple, smokiness from the molasses, and spiciness from the chipotles. I’ve also had some on a burger, topped with a grilled pineapple, and it was heaven! Gotta love a versatile sauce!
Okay let’s get to the star of the show here today, the chicken.
The breading starts by lightly toasting some coconut flakes and cashews, then pulsing them in a food processor until they’re about the same size as the panko pieces. Combine the coconut mixture with the panko and spices. Now just bread your chicken as usual (instructions in the recipe below), and place them on a baking sheet that’s been lined with foil with a cooling rack on top that’s been sprayed with cooking spray. Spray the tops of the chicken lightly with cooking spray and bake for 25 minutes.
I like mine extra crispy, so I turned on my broiler for a minute or so at the end of cooking to get a deeper golden color.
These also make awesome chicken nuggets!
Now just grab some of that dipping sauce and dig in!
I’ve also wanted to serve these chicken tenders over a nice salad… I think the crunch would be awesome.
I got this amazing chicken recipe from Carlsbad Cravings, adapted it slightly, then just made my own dipping sauce 🙂 To see her version or to see her delicious mango dipping sauce, go HERE!
Coconut and Cashew Crusted Chicken Tenders
- 2 lbs chicken tenders or chicken breasts cut into strips
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tbsp lime juice
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 cup cashews
- cup ½ sweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp ½ garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried minced onion
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- tsp ½ pepper
- tsp ¼ cayenne pepper or more to taste
- 1/4 tsp ancho chipotle chile powder
- SWEET AND SMOKY CHIPOTLE PINEAPPLE BBQ SAUCE:
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil or vegetable
- 2 cloves garlic grated or finely minced
- 1/2 yellow onion minced
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1/2 cup crushed pineapple with juice
- 2 1/2 Tbsp molasses
- 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 in chipotle peppers adobo sauce (more or less depending on how spicy you want it)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread out cashews and coconut flakes in a single layer. Toast in the oven for about 4-5 minutes, until very lightly golden brown.
Add cashews and coconut flakes to food processor (or blender), and process until cashews and coconut flakes are roughly the size of the panko crumbs.
Wipe off the aluminum foil on the same baking sheet and place a cooling rack on top of the foil. Spray the cooling rack with cooking spray and set aside.
To a shallow dish, add cashew and coconut mixture, panko crumbs, brown sugar, garlic powder, dried minced onion, ground cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and ancho chipotle chile powder, and stir with a fork until evenly combined.
Place the flour in another shallow dish. Whisk together the egg and lime juice in another shallow dish.
Place your dishes in a line leading up to the prepared baking sheet.
Carefully dredge one chicken tender in flour and then coat in the egg, and then finally toss in the panko mixture, coating it thoroughly by pressing it into the mixture.
Place on prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining chicken tenders.
Lightly spray chicken with cooking spray and bake for about 25 minutes, or until cooked through.
Turn on your broiler and broil for an additional minute.
TO MAKE THE SAUCE:
Heat the oil in a saucepan over MED heat, and saute onion and garlic for 5 minutes, or until soft and tender. Add remaining ingredients, stir to combine thoroughly, and simmer (uncovered) for 15 minutes.
Either leave as a chunky sauce, or add to a blender/food processor and process until desired consistency.
Recipe Notes** For an almost mess-free breading process, designate one hand to be your "dry" hand, and one hand to be your "wet" hand. Use your dry hand to dredge chicken in the flour and place into the egg mixture. Use your wet hand to coat the chicken in the egg and place it into the breadcrumb mixture. Use your dry hand again to coat the chicken with the breadcrumbs and place onto baking sheet. This helps to prevent breading your fingers 🙂
** Recipe adapted from CARLSBAD CRAVINGS
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