Hot crunchy coconut chicken is such a satisfying thing, especially when paired with a cool orange marmalade sauce- yum! Luckily it's possible to have AIP coconut chicken that tastes about as good as the real thing.
This recipe combines crushed plantain chips and shredded coconut as the breading for the chicken. It then uses fresh oranges and dates in the simplest orange "marmalade" sauce you've ever seen. It's delicious too which doesn't hurt. It is Paleo and gluten-free.
If you're wanting more chicken recipe ideas, check out my AIP Chicken Recipes post which has over 130 recipes.
**Just a quick heads up- this post contains affiliate links which means if you click on them and buy something, I will earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you) to help continue maintaining this site.
How to Make Breaded Coconut Chicken
Making coconut chicken is actually pretty easy and doesn't take very long. It's basically a 4 step process:
- Coat the chicken in flour (with a tiny bit of salt)
- Dip it in a mixture of coconut milk, orange juice, and a little maple syrup.
- Cover it in a mixture of crushed plantain chips and shredded coconut.
- Bake it!
How Long To Bake Chicken
For Smaller Chicken Pieces:
For this recipe, the chicken is diced into cubes/nuggets and baked at 375 degrees so it takes about 30 minutes (make sure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit).
For Chicken Breasts:
If you'd prefer to go with breasts rather than bite-sized pieces, bake them at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes (again, make sure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit).
What If I Want to Fry the Chicken?
This recipe calls for baking the chicken in the oven, but you can fry it in a pan if you prefer. To do that, coat a large pan or skillet with enough coconut oil to coat the bottom. Heat it over medium-high heat and allow it to get hot before adding the chicken. Try to cook the whole batch at once to avoid burning the oil.
Fry the chicken nuggets for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until cooked through. For chicken breasts, start with medium heat and cook about 4-5 minutes per side (always check internal temp to be sure it's done- it should be at least 165 degrees F). Adjust the heat down as needed if it seems to be browning too fast.
If cooking in two batches, wipe out the skillet between batches and then add additional coconut oil to the skillet.
Making the Orange Marmalade Sauce
- This orange marmalade sauce came about pretty easily and it tastes so good! I was struggling with how the heck to make an orange marmalade type of sauce without spending hours actually making orange marmalade! So...I just tossed an orange, some dates, ginger, and a tiny bit of salt in the food processor and blended away. The end result was fabulous. It's a super fresh tasting sauce bursting with orange flavor.
- If you find the sauce is thicker than you would prefer, just add a little orange juice to thin it.
- It's easiest to make the sauce when your dates are nice and soft. If your dates are a little dried out, soak them in warm water for 10 or 15 minutes first.
- For sauces like this one that don't use a large volume of ingredients, it's really handy to use a small cup attachment for your blender like this one (or a small food processor), that way you're not trying to blend a tiny amount of food in a huge blender and having the food just being flung out to the sides of the blender where the blades can't reach it. I used a sauce cup that attaches to my Vitamix.
- If you don't want to use cassava flour, tigernut flour or coconut flour would probably work pretty well (substituting 1:1 for cassava), though I haven't tested these yet.
- If you can't use orange juice (or don't have any), lemon juice or apple cider vinegar would work (again, substituting 1:1).
- Honey can be used in place of maple syrup.
- You'll probably notice that the coconut milk clumps up a bit when the orange juice is added- this is perfectly normal and actually somewhat mimics the properties of buttermilk. Just be sure to stir it well and allow the extra liquid to drip off of the chicken.
- I added the orange juice and the maple syrup to the coconut milk because I was going for a hint of sweetness to enhance the coconut flavor. If you don't want this, just omit the maple syrup.
- Be sure to shake off the extra ingredients from the chicken when you are breading it- this will help ensure it doesn't fall off later.
Coconut Shreds- Be sure to choose unsweetened and flakes that are really tiny and thin so they stick to the chicken and get crispy.
Coconut Milk- Use full fat and make sure it doesn't contain guar gum. I like Thai Kitchen's 2 Simple Ingredient product. It is not as thick as the stuff in the can but I use it for everything and it works great.
Orange Juice: Fresh squeezed is preferred for AIP compliance
These should be stored in an airtight container, preferably in the fridge. They will stay fresh for 3-4 days. You can probably freeze these though I haven't tested this- BUT I would think they'd be less crispy when thawed and reheated.
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I hope you love this recipe. If you made it, leave me a comment below and let me know how you liked it!
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AIP Coconut Chicken Nuggets With Orange Marmalade Sauce (Paleo, Gluten-Free)
Orange Marmalade Sauce
- 1 orange (peeled, seeds removed)
- 4 soft dates pits removed
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger (optional)
- 1/4 tsp orange zest
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or grease it).
- In a food processor, blend the plantain chips into tiny crumbles, similar to bread crumbs. Set aside.
- Set up your breading station. Set out three bowls, and in the first bowl add cassava flour and salt. In the second, add coconut milk, orange juice, and maple syrup. In the third, plantain chip crumbs and coconut flakes.
- First, coat each piece of chicken with the flour mixture, shake off the excess, then dip it into the coconut milk (gently shaking off any extra), then dip it into the plantain/coconut mixture coating the entire piece and pressing the chicken down so the mixture sticks. Shake off the extra coconut mixture and then transfer the chicken to the baking sheet. *The reason for shaking off the excess ingredients is to make sure the breading doesn't fall off later.
- Once breaded, place each chicken piece on the baking sheet. Bake on the middle oven rack at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- While the chicken is baking, make the orange marmalade sauce. Make sure the dates are soft- soak them in warm water for 10 minutes first if needed. Blend the marmalade ingredients in a food processor until smooth and thick. Add a little orange juice for a thinner consistency if preferred.
- Serve the nuggets hot with the sauce on the side. Enjoy!
- If you don’t want to use cassava flour, tigernut flour or coconut flour would probably work pretty well (substituting 1:1 for cassava), though I haven’t tested these yet.
- If you can’t use orange juice (or don’t have any), lemon juice or apple cider vinegar would work (again, substituting 1:1).
- Honey can be used in place of maple syrup.