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I read recipes that ask for breadcrumbs called “Panko” and I’m not sure if they’re interchangeable with the ones I use (the regular supermarket crumbs). Any ideas?

Larry asked Lauren:

Dear Lauren,

I read recipes that ask for breadcrumbs called “Panko” and I’m not sure if they’re interchangeable with the ones I use (the regular supermarket crumbs). Wanted to try them with my chicken cutlets and didn’t know if they would come out better, worse or the same, if made with a different type of crumb. Thanks for your help.

Lauren says:

Panko crumbs are one of the “secrets” to getting an extra crispy coating on fried foods. The name “panko” reflects the combined origin of Portugal and Japan (the Portuguese root “pan” means bread and the Japanese “ko” means “made from”). Although panko crumbs are often associated with Japanese cooking, they are now readily available in most US supermarkets and are considered the new “trendy” breadcrumb to use when either shallow pan-frying or deep-frying.

The differences between regular bread crumbs and panko crumbs:

Although the beginning of the process for both types of crumbs starts with a loaf of bread, that’s where the similarity ends. American bread crumbs are baked, whereas panko is heated with microwaves or in a special oven that enables these flakey, coarser crumbs to dry but not brown. The types of bread used will vary in American crumbs, while panko “white bread” crumbs are always the same. Both types of crumbs are interchangeable, once you understand the different results they yield after cooking.

Regular dried breadcrumbs: These are usually fine-textured, with a darker color (more toasted) appearance, more pronounced flavor (due to toasting). After frying, the coating is flatter and sits closer to the food.

Panko: These crumbs are larger, lighter in color and have a flakier texture when raw and yield a crunchier/airier texture once fried.

Personally, although I like panko crumbs because of the extra “crispy” finish they give fried foods, they still are not as flavorful as the sesame-scented crumbs that I make at home. I usually either opt to use my own Homemade Bread Crumbs or I combine them with some panko for a wonderful result.

Here’s my favorite recipe for Crispy Chicken Cutlets that I trust will make you and yours happy.

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