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Coconut Curry Mustard for Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders – Gluten Free in a basket with butcher paper

Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders – Gluten Free

Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders – Gluten Free is finger licking good! Add in some of our sweet coconut curry mustard or orange marmalade chili sauce and you’ll be chanting, “Winner Winner…”

Cast iron with butcher paper for Coconut Curry Mustard for Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders – Gluten Free

And so it began… with this easy chicken recipe

This Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders – Gluten Free recipe has been lingering in the back of my mind for weeks! But who can blame me? Deep down, we all have a craving for some deliciously crispy, juicy, flavorful chicken tenders! But really, I’m a semi-responsible adult, I can’t just eat my kid’s Gluten Free Yummy Dino Buddies. Yes, I get these gluten free nuggets for me, not them… So, for the sake of adulting, I dropped the dino shape and added coconut!

With that, we now have these amazing Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders! All the while, I’ve been putting off the empanada and fried green tomato recipes, but I promise you the chicken is worth putting those off. The best part, my boys enjoy them! Yes, they’d prefer eating the head of a plastic T-Rex, but these chicken tenders are a nice change in the routine.

The Brainchild of Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders – Gluten Free

I’m obviously not the first person in the world to create Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders. When I Google it (the “regular” kind, not gf) I get a plethora of recipes including these Coconut Chicken Fingers from Half Baked Harvest. They look delicious, however, the Kelloggs Corn Flakes used in the their recipe are not gluten free because of the malt flavoring.

Where did I get this idea? Growing up in Crystal Lake, Illinois I was constantly hauled to my sisters’ volleyball practices and tournaments. Quite often it was rather monotonous, but occasionally we’d grab a bite to eat at the sports center sports bar called Spikes. It was there that they served the most amazing Coconut Chicken Tenders. I believe the restaurant has since closed, but over twenty years later, I still crave them.

Coconut Curry Mustard for Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders – Gluten Free on black plate with scallions

It’s Much About the Brine

If you’re making these, or any fried chicken recipe, you should brine the chicken! Yes, it’s a pain, but just a couple hours is enough for chicken tenders – brine the morning of, or during lunchtime if you WFH. I’ve recommend brining for 2-4 hours and it looks like Allrecipes.com confirms this. A full chicken would take longer, but for tenders, wings, thighs, or breasts 2-4 hours is plenty.

What Is A Brine?

If you’ve never brined or heard of brining poultry, such as chicken or turkey, here’s the short of it. A brine is a salty liquid with herbs, spices, fruits, and aromatics (garlic, onion) used for soaking poultry. Often the mixture is boiled to help dissolve the salt and infuse the flavors of the other ingredients, but I only do that for Thanksgiving Turkeys. If your brine is boiled, you then have to wait hours until its cold to avoid cooking the bird or unintentionally propagating bacteria. I’m in it for the quick-ish and easy, so we skip the boiling!

Why Brine?

Simply put, brining poultry creates a more delicious and flavorful outcome. When poultry is soaked in a this salty solution the salt essentially unbinds the proteins in the meat allowing water to fill in any excess cavities. This process then allows the meat to retain that moisture and additional flavors through the cooking process. Essentially, it is osmosis in action. If you have any questions on this, a science teacher can explain it a lot better than me! 😆

Battered vs Breaded

What’s the difference? Battered is more of an encasement, if that makes sense. As you can see from my Crispy No Beer Batter Fish Fry – Gluten Free recipe, the liquid batter more encases the product being fried. I also find that battered recipes usually hold their “crispness” better.

Breading requires an egg bath to allow the flour and/or other ingredients to adhere to the protein or “fry-tem.” While it’s bit more time consuming than battering, breading allows the crust to become more or less one with the exterior of the protein. Generally, breading also gives more texture.

In this Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders – Gluten Free recipe, we bread and bake! I’m sure you can fry it as well in a high heat oil, but why make a mess? I only bring this up because in my first test of this recipe I used a coconut batter. It was good, but it wasn’t great… In second attempt (which you see here) I changed to breading and it came out absolutely perfect!

Coconut chicken tenders freshly baked on parchment paper

How To Serve Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders – Gluten Free

So now that you’ve got these chicken tenders… how should you serve it? Trick question… There’s no wrong way to serve these! But let me give you some great ideas:

With a salad- I am actually eating leftovers of the chicken as I write this with a salad! It’s quite a nice pairing! I’m eating it with Taylor Farm’s Sweet Kale Chopped Salad, found nearly everywhere. Though if you really want to impress some guests, it’d pair very well with Cafe Sucre Farine’s Asian Chicken and Coconut Curry Noodle Salad, replace the chicken in the recipe with the Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders and you’re set!

Another fantastic option is with sesame rice and sautéed broccoli! I recently served this to guests with a near standing ovation using medium grain sushi rice cooked with 1 tsp of Sesame Oil and sprinkled with black sesame seeds.

And, of course, serve it with some good ol’ french fries!!! It’s quick, easy, and the magic coconut curry mustard pairs amazingly well with fries!

Coconut Chicken in cast iron with coconut curry mustard

Tips and Tricks of Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders – Gluten Free

Bake In Advance: These tenders hold their crispness very well. In part this is due to the rice flour in both the flour coating and in the Rice Panko. To reheat, place the chicken back in the oven on 400°F for approximately 4-5 minutes per side. If you’re using an air fryer, make it about 3 minutes per side.

White Rice Flour: If you don’t have white rice flour, you can substitute brown rice flour, sticky rice flour, or King Arthur’s Gluten Free Measure For Measure Mix.

The chicken tenders will also stay good in the fridge for up to 4 days. They’re so delicious that I’ve had them 5 days later, but I wouldn’t use that as a rule of thumb.

Make sure the coconut is unsweetened. Sweetened coconut in my experience will brown and caramelized too quickly. Also, make sure its shredded and not flakes!

If baking these in the air fryer, air fry at 400°F and flip after approximately 10-12 minutes (or once the crust is golden brown). The second side will be shorter, closer to 8-10 minutes.

Do not over brine – letting it brine over 2-4 hours can turn poultry to mush in this recipe! You’d rather not brine than let the chicken chill in the brine overnight.

The Dipping Sauce

I understand, you want to get to making these Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders, this will be brief! The sauce, is not just any sauce… It’s pure deliciousness, Coconut Curry Mustard! It’s incredibly easy to make and so versatile! I use both Colman’s Mustard Powder and Maille Whole Grain Mustard, both easily found in the grocery store. The extra 1 minute it’ll take you to make it is SO WORTH IT!

Coconut Curry Mustard for Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders – Gluten Free

If You Like These Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders – Gluten Free, Check Out:

Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders – Gluten Free

5.0 from 3 votes
Course: Dinner, AppetizersCuisine: Fusion, American, Asian


Prep Time (with Brining)




Cooking time



Easy baked crispy coconut chicken tenders all gluten free with a delicious coconut curry mustard to pair with your chicken!

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  • Coconut Chicken Brine
  • 1 Cup Coconut Milk

  • 1 Cup Water

  • 2 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt

  • 2 Tbsp Granulated White Sugar

  • 2 tsp Ground Coriander

  • Crispy Coconut Chicken
  • 2 Lbs Chicken Tenders- Sliced in half lengthwise (Plus or minus a couple oz)

  • 3/4 Cup White Rice Flour

  • 1/2 Cup Cornstarch

  • 2 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt

  • 2 tsp Garlic Powder

  • 2 tsp Ground Coriander

  • 1 tsp Hungarian Paprika (Not Smoked)

  • 3 Large Eggs

  • 1/4 Cup Water

  • 1 tsp Hot Sauce (Optional)

  • 1 Cup Gluten Free Rice Panko

  • 1 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

  • Avocado Oil Spray (or Canola Oil Spray)

  • Magic Coconut Curry Mustard
  • 1 Cup Coconut Milk

  • 3 Tbsp Whole Ground Mustard (I use Maille)

  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

  • 3 tsp Colman’s Mustard Powder

  • 3 tsp Yellow Curry Powder

  • 1 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt


  • Crispy Coconut Chicken
  • In a medium sized bowl with a lid, combine the ingredients for the chicken brine. Mix together and add the chicken.
  • Cover the bowl and refrigerate.
  • Let the chicken soak in the brine for 2-4 hours (for these size pieces don’t brine overnight, the chicken will get mushy)
  • While waiting, mix together the White Rice Flour, Cornstarch, Salt, Garlic Powder, Coriander, Paprika.
  • In a second bowl, closer to when you’re ready to pull the chicken from the brine, combine and mix the egg dredge: Eggs, Water, and Hot Sauce
  • In a third bowl, combine the breading mixture: Gluten Free Rice Panko and Unsweetened Shredded Coconut.
  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spray lightly with Avocado Oil Spray (or Canola Oil Spray).
  • Lightly shake off most of the brine from the chicken and place it in a gallon ziplock bag.
  • Pour the White Rice Flour/Cornstarch mixture into the ziplock bag and SHAKE! Shake it until the chicken is nicely coated in the flour mixture.
  • Individually pull the chicken out, dredge in the egg mixture, then roll in the panko/coconut breading.
  • Once the chicken is fully breaded, place the chicken on the parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Repeat until all the chicken is breaded and on the baking sheet. You can space the chicken with minimal distance between each piece.
  • Spray liberally with your Avocado or Canola Oil and place the baking sheet in the oven.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown, then flip and cook for another 12-15 minutes (or until golden brown.
  • Place the chicken on a plate with some paper towel or butcher paper to absorb any excess oil and serve with the magic coconut curry mustard!
  • Enjoy!!!!!
  • Magic Coconut Curry Mustard
  • Combine all the ingredients, mix thoroughly and serve with everything!

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