Coconut chicken is a mouthwatering dish to prepare when fresh, tropical flavors and sweet-savory notes sound like the perfect meal-time “get away”. Marinated in pineapple juice, honey, and spices, then lightly dredged in shredded coconut and shallow-fried until golden and crispy, this mouthwatering coconut chicken recipe has an accompaniment of fresh pineapple salsa for bright, sunny flavor!
Fried Chicken with a Delectably Tropical Twist
Sometimes in the cooler months, when the weather is a bit dreary, I begin to fantasize about fare with bright, tropical flavors, and fresh, colorful ingredients...
I begin to crave meals that will allow me to escape a little, to “travel” (at least in my imagination) to some warm, bright and sunny location where the food is light, fresh and full of notes of pineapple, coconut, perhaps a squeeze of lime juice.
This golden, crispy coconut chicken is the perfect dish to prepare when those notes sound inviting to me, because the flavors are irresistible yet the preparation very simple, with just a few sweet and savory ingredients.
My coconut chicken recipe is briefly marinated in curry, honey, pineapple juice, and then lightly dredged in a combination of flour, whisked eggs and unsweetened, shredded coconut.
Quickly shallow-fried, these mouthwatering coconut chicken fillets are crispy and golden on the outside with bit of a crunch, the perfect vessels for a generous spoonful of sweet and bright, fresh pineapple salsa.
Talk about a terrific little dinner time “get away” to the tropics!
My Coconut Chicken Recipe with Pineapple Salsa
What I appreciate about this coconut chicken recipe is how a relatively small list of ingredients can contribute so much delicious flavor and texture, and be ready to be enjoyed in under an hour.
Marinating for about 15-30 minutes in some olive oil, salt, pepper, granulated onion and garlic, curry powder, honey and pineapple juice really lends some sweet, spicy and savory notes, allowing the skinless, boneless chicken breasts to become very tender, juicy and flavorful.
For the coating on the chicken breasts I use the traditional dredging method of a dip in some flour and then a dip into whisked eggs.
But here's my own twist for this recipe...
Rather than finishing the dredge in breadcrumbs, I use that unsweetened, shredded coconut as the crispy, golden outer crust, which creates some of that tropical flavor.
Then, all that's left is to prepare the easy pineapple salsa, and spoon that over top for sweet, vibrant, juicy flair!
Here's a peek at my coconut chicken recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I marinate my skinless, boneless chicken breast cutlets in my marinade ingredients, and allow them to sit for roughly 15-30 minutes for good flavor. (Marination can even be done overnight for more flavor, and as a do-ahead.)
- While my chicken marinates, I prepare my fresh pineapple salsa, and set that aside to have ready to serve alongside.
- Once the chicken breasts are marinated, I dredge my cutlets in flour, whisked eggs and then the shredded coconut, then shallow-fry them until crispy, golden, and cooked through.
- To serve, I spoon over top of my coconut chicken some generous spoonfuls of my pineapple salsa, and enjoy.
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 372 calories per serving (with pineapple salsa)
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 16 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 1 minute
Coconut Chicken Ingredients:
- 2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut in half length-wise to create 4 thinner cutlets
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon curry powder
- ¼ cup pineapple juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, whisked
- 2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut
- Peanut or avocado oil, for shallow frying
Pineapple Salsa Ingredients:
- ½ pound (8 ounces) trimmed and cored fresh pineapple, finely diced
- ½ small, red bell pepper, finely diced
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ½ teaspoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro leaves
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of the coconut chicken ingredients according to the ingredients list above to have organized and ready for use.
- To marinate the chicken, add the chicken breast cutlets into a bowl, and add in all of the ingredients beginning with a couple of good pinches of salt, up to and including the honey. Toss to coat the chicken well, and allow the chicken to marinate for about 15-30 minutes (or even overnight).
- While the chicken marinates, gather and prep all of your pineapple salsa ingredients to have organized and ready for use.
- To prepare your pineapple salsa, place all salsa ingredients into a small bowl, and combine; cover and keep in fridge until ready to use.
- Once the chicken has marinated, allow any excess marinade to drip off; then, dredge each breast first in the flour, then in the whisked eggs, then firmly press into the shredded coconut. Repeat until all chicken is dredged.
- Heat enough oil in a large skillet to cover the bottom and come up about an inch or so, enough for shallow frying; once the oil is hot, add in the coconut-coated chicken breasts (work in batches if necessary), and fry them for about 4 minutes per side, or until golden and crispy, and cooked through.
- Once out of the oil, sprinkle the coconut chicken with a little extra salt and pepper while still hot, and drain on a wire rack; repeat until all are fried.
- To serve, top each coconut chicken breast generously with the fresh pineapple salsa, and enjoy.
Tips & Tidbit for my Coconut Chicken:
- Skinless, boneless chicken breasts: These are best for this recipe, because they cook up nice and juicy. And to make them a perfect size and thickness, I opt for two large breasts and cut them in half horizontally to create 4 thinner cutlets. This way, they're easy to fry, and cook through perfectly even!
- Unsweetened, shredded coconut: It's best to choose unsweetened shredded coconut for this recipe here, as it will help ensure that the coconut does not burn in the hot oil quite so quickly as it fries. You can use sweetened coconut if that is what you have on hand, just take care to have your oil at a more moderate temperature when frying, so that the cutlets do not become too dark from the extra sugars.
- Fresh pineapple, for bright, flavorful pineapple salsa: These days you can typically find fresh pineapple in the markets year round, so opt for that for this salsa, if possible. If you can't find fresh, or it doesn't look very juicy or sweet, feel free to use frozen and thawed pineapple, or organic canned pineapple drained of any syrup.
- High heat oil for shallow-frying: Cooking with healthy oils that can withstand high heat cooking is very important, so opt for peanut oil or avocado oil here, if possible. Another pretty good option is coconut oil, since the flavors won't compete with this recipe.
- Tasty sides for coconut chicken: This coconut chicken recipe can be enjoyed on its own, or with a tasty side of jasmine rice scented with lime or cilantro, or even couscous or quinoa.
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2015, and has been updated with even more love!