Is August really over already? I feel like Labor Day is the unofficial end to summer which has been making me quite sad…that is of course until I bought a sweater last Saturday. Then I promptly remembered how much I love sweaters, and scarves, and boots (can’t forget boots!) and even hats! One thing I do NOT love is pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin baked goods are another story but hopefully that’s enough to set me apart from every other “basic” 28 year old girl in America 🙂
End of summer means back to work. Back to work means a lot less time in the kitchen. Less time in the kitchen means batch cooking is once again my new best friend! Heyo! I am big on trying new recipes and we rarely have repeats, but I do rely on a few staples when we are short on time. Enter, Coconut Crusted Chicken Bites!
I love fried chicken in all its forms (except wings…too messy and bony, bleh), but I NEVER fry foods at home. A. I’m scared I’d burn myself and B. Crusty baked chicken tastes equally as delicious and is so much better for you! Before I discovered the secret to crispy “baked” chicken, I made many a bird that came out soggy and did nothing to mimic the fried texture I was aiming for. Then one day I read a recipe that called for a rack and that made ALL the difference. When the chicken sits up and the heat is able to circulate all around it, everything cooks evenly and gets nice and crispy. I use my cookie cooling rack since it is oven safe, and it works wonderfully. If you have had similar experiences and thus snub your nose at baked fried chicken recipes, try this method, I guarantee you’ll change your tune!
With the addition of the rack, the panko and whole wheat breadcrumbs get so toasty and crisped that you’ll never miss the batter. Promise! Toasted coconut adds a little something something that really takes these to the next level. I’ve caught Robert popping them straight out off the pan and into his mouth many a time. If that sounds like someone in your household, a double batch is always a good idea.
This recipe is great for two because it makes enough for Robert and I to enjoy for dinner paired with veggies or on top of a salad, and then there are still half leftover to send in lunches throughout the week! They are very easy, but require a little time to dice your chicken. You could make them into chicken fingers and just cook them longer, which would cut down on the prep time. You could also cut out toasting the coconut, but it doesn’t take long and really adds a lot of flavor and texture. If you aren’t a coconut fan, you can leave it out altogether and increase your breadcrumb/panko mixture. They are very adaptable!
Hope you enjoy this recipe! It’s been a while, I owed you one 😉
Baked Coconut Chicken Bites
1 1/4 Pounds Skinless Chicken Breast Tenders, diced to be bite sized
1/3 Cup Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs
1/3 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1/3 Cup Shredded Coconut
1/3 Cup Egg Whites, beaten (You can also use a whole egg or anything you choose to bind the chicken to the breading)
- Pre-heat oven to 350. Spread coconut in a thin layer on an un-sprayed pan. Place in oven until coconut is toasted and begins to brown, about 5-8 minutes. Watch it carefully because it can burn easily!
- Combine toasted coconut, bread crumbs and panko in a small bowl and stir gently.
- Grease a baking rack with non-stick spray and place it on top of your pan. Increase oven temperature to 425.
- Dip Chicken Pieces into egg whites, then press gently into breadcrumb mixture on both sides. Place onto prepared baking rack. Repeat until all chicken is coated.
- Spray prepared chicken lightly with olive oil spray (this helps them crisp!). Bake chicken for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Enjoy!