Baked Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce (Paleo, Whole30)

Serve these easy Baked Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders as a low carb, paleo and whole30 approved appetizer or party snack alongside my healthy Honey Mustard Dip. 

a plate with baked coconut crusted chicken tenders served with a honey mustard dipping sauce

These Baked Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders are a surefire crowd-pleaser!

Whether you’re entertaining little kids for a birthday party or big kids watching the Game – you just can’t go wrong with this healthy twist on a finger-food classic!

There’s something incredibly comforting about chicken fingers, though I couldn’t quite tell you what it is. Perhaps equal parts nostalgia and the feel of snacking on something naughty. Nowadays I try to keep the ‘naughty’ to a minimum, but I’m all for the nostalgia.

Also, I have yet to meet the child – young or old – that will say no to crispy chicken tenders. With them being so hassle-free to prepare and universally accepted, I can’t imagine an easier path to domestic peace when it comes to dinner time. The most important question then becomes: how do I make this beloved “fast-food” healthy and nutritious?

Don’t worry. I’ve got your answer. I give you Baked Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders served with the most delicious Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce.

a healthy baked coconut crusted chicken tender being dipped into honey mustard sauce

Gluten-free & Paleo Breading

As delicious as it can be, breading presents a few problems, mainly being: the frying, the gluten, and the carbs.

To get around the first, we are simply going to bake our chicken tenders. And while this is perfectly doable on a simple lined baking sheet, what’s really going to make the biggest difference here to your finished product is placing a wire rack on your baking sheet so that the juices escaping from your tenders during baking aren’t reabsorbed into the breading. This is going to give you a much more evenly baked, and much crispier result.

To avoid the gluten and the carbs, we’re going to sub out the traditional flour and breadcrumbs.

As you’ll see further down in the recipe, a good breading happens in three stages:

  • the primer,
  • the binder,
  • and the crust.

The primer is traditionally just regular old flour, and evenly coating your tenders with it ensures that the surface will latch on more strongly to the binder – the eggs. Finally, that well-adhered eggy layer allows the tenders to grab and hold onto as much breading – or crust – as possible.

a baked coconut trusted chicken tender being held over a small bowl with whole30 honey mustard dip

So instead of plain-jane flour, we are going to use arrowroot flour as our primer for this recipe. Other gluten-free, starchy flours such as tapioca or cornstarch work just as well here, but not the nut-derived flours as they contain too much oil to suit our purposes in this case.

Then, to replace the traditional breadcrumb crust, we are going to use unsweetened coconut flakes. Emphasis on unsweetened or your Chicken Tenders are going to go in a completely different direction. Depending on the brand, you may want to give them a quick blitz in a food processor to reduce the flakes in a size a bit in order to ensure more even coverage. The coconut flakes can be treated the same as any regular breading, even to the point of baking until they reach that beautiful golden brown color.

Can I use almond flour for the breading?

At this point, it’s worth mentioning that you can use almond flour instead of coconut flakes if you wish, just be aware that almond flour breading is very delicate and this makes the chicken fingers difficult to bake on a wire rack as you risk ruining the breading when it comes time to flip them. If using almond flour it’s best to bake directly on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

a plate with baked chicken tenders next to a small bowl with honey mustard dipping sauce

And can we talk about the sauce for a second? I offer two versions of an All-American pub classic – honey mustard dip! You can either go classic (mustard, mayo + honey) or choose my Whole30 version which uses dates for sweetness.

How to make Coconut Crusted Baked Chicken Tenders

Make the Dipping Sauce:

honey mustard sauce being mixed in a small bowl

Step 1 – If making the classic version, place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. It’s ready!

picture collage demonstrating how to make paleo honey mustard dip

Step 2 – If making the Whole30 version, place all the ingredients in a blender. Pulse until very smooth and dates skin isn’t visible anymore, scraping the edges of the blender as needed. Refrigerate while you make the chicken.

How to make Healthy Baked Chicken Tenders:

picture collage demonstrating how to make healthy baked chicken tenders in the oven

Prep: Preheat oven to 400F/200C degrees. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet, and spray lightly with oil.

Step 3 – Cut the chicken breasts into tenders (long strips), about 5 per breast.

Step 4 – Prepare three large bowls/stations: one with flour, one with beaten eggs, and one with coconut flakes, garlic powder and paprika mixed together. One by one, coat tenders evenly with the flour, then with the eggs, then press into the coconut mixture. Press down so it sticks and makes a thick layer. Wash your hands as needed so the mixture doesn’t clump. Place coated tender on a prepared wire rack and repeat with the remaining tenders.

Step 5 –  Bake for about 15 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through so that each side is golden. You can finish them under the broil for 1 minute per side to make them extra crispy. Serve immediately, with dipping sauce on the side.

Tips:

  • the tenders are best eaten straight out of the oven. Leftovers will lose their crunchiness (but still be delicious).
  • Using a wire rack instead of just a baking sheet makes a big difference in how crispy the tenders come out.
  • Depending on the brand, you may want to give them a quick blitz in a food processor to reduce the flakes in a size a bit in order to ensure more even coverage
5 from 5 votes
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Baked Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders

Serve these easy Baked Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders as a low carb, paleo and whole30 approved appetizer or party snack alongside my healthy Honey Mustard Dip.  Healthy Chicken Fingers are perfect for Game Day or a birthday party! 
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword baked chicken tenders, paleo chicken fingers
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 624 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 large chicken breasts boneless, skinless
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot flour or your favorite flour (see notes)
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp sweet paprika

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce (Classic Version)

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon sweet paprika

“Honey” Mustard Dipping Sauce (Whole30 Version)

  • 3 medjool dates soaked for a few minutes in hot water if they are not soft
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions

Dipping sauce. Pick your favorite version.

  1. If making the classic version, place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. It’s ready!
  2. If making the Whole30 version, place all the ingredients in a blender. Pulse until very smooth and dates skin isn’t visible anymore, scrapping the edges of the blender as needed. Refrigerate while you make the chicken.

Chicken Fingers

  1. Preheat oven to 400F/200C degrees. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet, and spray lightly with oil.
  2. Cut the chicken breasts into tenders (long strips), about 5 per breast.
  3. Prepare three large bowls/stations: one with flour, one with beaten eggs, and one with coconut flakes, garlic powder and paprika mixed together.
  4. One by one, coat tenders evenly with the flour, then with the eggs, then press into the coconut mixture. Press down so it sticks and makes a thick layer. Wash your hands as needed so the mixture doesn’t clump. Place coated tender on a prepared wire rack and repeat with the remaining tenders.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through so that each side is golden. You can finish them under the broil for 1 minute per side to make them extra crispy.
  6. Serve immediately, with dipping sauce on the side.

Recipe Notes

  • the tenders are best eaten straight out of the oven. Leftovers will lose their crunchiness (but still be delicious).
  • Using a wire rack instead of just a baking sheet makes a big difference in how crispy the tenders come out.

Tenders recipe adapted from  Wholesome Yum , classic dipping sauce from Pinch of Yum and whole30 version from 40Aprons 

Nutrition Facts
Baked Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders
Amount Per Serving
Calories 624 Calories from Fat 342
% Daily Value*
Fat 38g58%
Saturated Fat 16g100%
Cholesterol 160mg53%
Sodium 614mg27%
Potassium 743mg21%
Carbohydrates 45g15%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 32g36%
Protein 30g60%
Vitamin A 272IU5%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 56mg6%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

If you tried this healthy baked chicken tenders recipe don’t forget to rate the recipe below and let me know how it went in the comments – I love hearing from you! You can also follow me on InstagramPinterest and Facebook for more deliciousness and behind-the-scenes!

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posted in
Appetizers Chicken Clean Eating Dairy Free Gluten free Low carb Main Dishes Meat Paleo Paleo/Primal Quick & Easy Meals Recipes Refined Sugar Free Side dishes Snacks Spring Recipes Summer Recipes Winter Recipes
10 Comments
  1. I could eat this honey mustard sauce on an old shoe, but these coconut crusted chicken tenders are wayyy more delicious! Such crunch – the whole family loved them!

    1. Hahaha, LOVE that! Yeah, it is certainly a great dip for any old veggie platter as well. But especially great with chicken!

  2. These coconut crusted chicken tenders look delicious! I can’t wait to make these! I can already taste the delicious flavors of the tenders together with the honey mustard dip. A perfect combination!

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