This crispy coconut chicken is a big favorite of ours in the summer (although it’s actually not the ideal summer recipe, since it does involve turning on the oven). Even so, I often decide to just make it anyway and sweat it out, because it’s totally worth it. The coconut flakes and bright orange taste pair brilliantly for a tropical twist on fried chicken. And it is theoretically a little healthier, since it’s baked and not deep fried (although it’s pan-fried in coconut oil for a couple minutes before going into the oven, so, I don’t necessarily file this in the health food category personally).
This recipe does take a bit of prep with multiple steps: breading, pan-frying, and then the final bake in the oven. If you can get pre-cut chicken tenders, it speeds things up a little bit. The marmalade-honey-mustard sauce is quick to whip up while the chicken is in the oven.
This probably isn’t a modification most people would want to make anyway, but if you’re considering swapping out the sweetened coconut flakes for unsweetened, I recommend against it. We often experiment with cutting sugar out of recipes around here, because my fiancé quit eating processed sugar a year ago. Sally’s blog has been a great source of lightly-sweet baked goods (muffins, breakfast cookies, etc.), but in this case unsweetened coconut is a bridge too far. The sweeter coconut is needed to carry the tropical flavor; without it, it just turns out a little blah. It also doesn’t brown or crisp up as well, as Sally mentions. This batch was the first time I’ve tried the unsweetened coconut, and I can definitely see a difference in both color and texture.
As advertised, it’s a unique & tasty recipe that takes advantage of a lot of ingredients you might have on hand in your pantry. Definitely worth a try.
Deliciousness score: 7/10
Easiness score: 6/10