Pan Fried Brie with Peppered Honey and Olives.
Switching up Monday night with my (oven-fried) Coconut Popcorn Chicken. This coconut “popcorn” chicken is breaded in sweet coconut, oven-baked, then dipped in a spicy, tangy Thai chili lime sauce. Add a creamy honey mustard sauce for an extra dip…you’ll be so glad you did! This is what I call at-home takeout. And yes, these popcorn chicken bites are even healthier than takeout because they’re baked, not fried…plus so much tastier. Serve with steamed rice or oven-baked french fries and veggies for an easy Thai inspired dinner that’s different, sweet, spicy, and full of flavor.
I’m always getting asked where I get inspiration from, and the truth is that my inspiration comes from various places. It can come from my family, the seasons, a simple photo, or even a flower. I can find inspiration for new recipes in almost anything, even the most random items.
This fun coconutty popcorn chicken however? Well, the inspiration for this one came from an overflowing stock of sweet Thai chili sauce. We accidentally ordered ten bottles of this sweet and spicy sauce. And while it’s a sauce I love, I don’t use it that often to warrant 10 whole bottles.
This got me thinking, what can I do with all that sauce? Which is when the idea came to me to make coconut chicken. Sure, I’ve heard of coconut shrimp, but coconut chicken wasn’t something I’ve personally seen (although I’m sure it’s out there). The thought of coconut-crusted chicken dipped in a sweet and tangy Thai chili sauce was way too enticing. I had to at least test out. With my oldest brother quarantined here with us in Colorado, I figured now is as good a time as any.
Creighton loves any kind of breaded chicken, especially popcorn chicken. Or chicken nuggets as he prefers to call them. And while I wasn’t sure how he’d feel about the coconut breading, Creighton said these were some of the best “chicken nuggets” he’s ever had.
He also said, it’s all about the sauces…you gotta have both the chili and the honey mustard.
To start, mix up the creamy mustard and toss it with the trimmed chicken tenders. The creamy mustard is our “glue”, it helps adhere the shredded coconut onto the chicken.
Next, combine unsweetened coconut with Panko breadcrumbs. The shredded coconut is the KEY flavor here. As the chicken bakes in the oven, the coconut “fries” and becomes sweet, nutty, and extra crisp.
Tip? Pulse the coconut in the food processor to really break the shreds down into a fine crumb. If you don’t have a food processor, try to find this brand of shredded coconut, which comes very finely shredded. This step is not a must, but I did find the chicken to cook up nicer with a finely shredded coconut versus the small shreds of coconut that are much more common in the store-bought brands.
Next, bake the chicken in the oven until it crisps all over. My secret is to gently dab/brush the chicken with olive oil before it bakes. This helps the coating to really crisp up nicely in the oven. You can’t skip this step, it’s crucial.
No popcorn chicken is complete without a dipping sauce…or two. As I said, I paired this coconut popcorn chicken with a sweet Thai chili sauce using this sauce as my base. I then added a couple tablespoons of ketchup, garlic, and plenty of fresh lime zest and juice. It takes seconds to put together and is truly what I call, an addicting sauce. Think sweet, tangy, and just a touch spicy.
And then, because I felt like we also needed a creamy sauce, I did a simple honey mustard. It’s sweet and creamy, which balances out the heat from the chili sauce. You can skip this sauce if you don’t care for it, but I’d highly recommend using both sauces together. You then get a little sticky sweet and spicy sauce mixed in with a little creamy honey mustard.
It is SO GOOD!
Bake the chicken, then serve it up along with the Thai and mustard sauces. Add steamed rice and broccoli to complete the meal. Dinner equals done.
To sum things up, the chicken is crispy, coconutty, and very addicting. The sauce is spicy, yet sweet and tangy. Put everything together and you’ll have tangy, salty, sweet, coconutty, and spicy popcorn chicken. The most delicious flavors.
Added bonus? Many of these ingredients can easily be found in your pantry and your freezer. With such a large family, I always try to keep chicken tenders in the freezer at all times. They thaw much quicker than chicken breasts, and they make for a great last-minute popcorn chicken. The rest of the ingredients are all taken from the pantry shelves…unsweetened coconut, Panko breadcrumbs, seasonings, and spices.
Just add fresh limes and cilantro.
And with that, who’s ready for a fun, different, and delicious Monday night dinner?
Lastly, if you make this coconut popcorn chicken with sweet Thai chili lime sauce, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
The printable recipe or notes dont say to put the coconut in food processor so I ended up with very burnt coconut all over my chicken. 🥴 still ate it and still love your recipes. Maybe just make an update for others.
So sorry, I am not sure what you mean, no where in this recipe do I use a food processor. Please let me know how I can help! xT
This was a great recipe. I love the Thai chili lime sauce. The recipe worked well on fish as well. Next time I will spray the Protane with a little more spray and bake on the top shelf to get it brown.
Happy Friday!! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was a hit, thanks so much for making it:)
Made these last night and it was fabulous with the bang bang sauce!!!!
Thanks for another great recipe
Happy Friday!! I appreciate you making this recipe and your feedback, I am thrilled that it turned out well for you! ☀️🍉
I made this tonight with both sauces. The sauces are the absolute bomb! Loved so much!
Happy Wednesday! ⛅️🌈 I’m so glad to hear that this recipe worked well for you and I appreciate you giving it a try! xx
Another hit with the family! Thank you! Can you please clarify that for the mustard sauce, the quantity is 1/4 CUP of mustard? That’s what we assumed and what we used, but just checking. thanks!
Wonderful!! I love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you and thanks so much for trying it out! Yes, 1/4 cup, sorry about that! xx
Love that this was super easy and delicious. The chicken was perfect and juicy. I was not going to make the honey mustard but I am glad I did. Huge hit.
Wonderful!! I love to hear that this recipe was a winner, thanks so much for making it and sharing your review! xT
I always feel good when I cook dinner, and extra good when it turns out delicious- this was simple and the perfect level of coconut-y. The sauces made it even more *chefs kiss* good. Definitely will add into the weeknight dinner rotation!
Awesome!! Thanks so much for your review:) Love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks for giving it a try! xx
Enjoyed this recipe. Didn’t use the dips (used a Thai Chili sauce I enjoy) drizzled with coconut oil, baked in air fryer pan, served with coconut basmati rice.
Love to hear that this recipe was a hit, thanks for making it and sharing your feedback! ??xTieghan
Very nice recipe chef ???. I had them for launch today, delicious ? yes the honey mustart is a +. Thank you for your effort ???
Awesome!! Thanks a bunch for making this recipe:) I am so glad it was enjoyed! Hope you’re off to a great Monday! xxT
Delicious and popular with the family. An easy weeknight meal that comes together quickly. The dipping sauces really make the dish. Unfortunately the breading didn’t adhere to the chicken as much as I would like, but not a deal breaker.
Wonderful!! Thank you so much for making the recipe, I am so glad to hear that it was enjoyed!! Sorry to hear about your breading. Have the best week:) xxT
I can now get excited about Chicken Nugget Night! These were super easy and delicious. I put the recipe in my ‘keeper’ file. Thanks for another yummy recipe.
Happy Friday!! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a bunch for giving it a go! xxT
I made this tonight for the first time. Absolutely delicious! Loved both sauces, but perhaps the honey mustard one a little more. My Sweet Thai Chili Lime sauce was a little too “limey” for my taste. I’ll cut back on the lime next time.
What a keeper of a recipe! Thank you, Tieghan!
Fantastic!! Thanks so much for trying this recipe, I am thrilled to hear that it was enjoyed! xxT
If I used shrimp for this instead of chicken, is the oven temp the same and how long would I cook them?
Just follow this recipe:
Please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan
Any recommendations/modifications for making this is an air fryer?
Sorry, I’ve not tested this recipe in the air fryer, but I bet it would work well for you!! Let me know how the recipe turns out, I hope you love it! xT
Absolutely delicious. I don’t blitz my coconut down and it still comes out soooo delicious and crispy! The sweet chili and lime sauce is a perfect pairing for it!
Wonderful!! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it! Have the best weekend!☀️ xx
what do you mean by ‘blitz’ the coconut down? do you skip something to make it easier or lower fat?
Tieghan recommended up above to put the shredded coconut in the food processor to make smaller bits. That’s what they were meaning by “blitz”.
Loved this recipe! Especially the easy Thai sauce.
Happy Wednesday!!🌈 🐇 I am so glad to hear that this recipe turned out well for you! Thanks for sharing your feedback and trying it out! xT