Panko Bread Crumbs

September 28, 2009 48 Comments

What Is Panko?

panko bread crumbsPanko-crusted mahi.  Mmm.  It sounds very swanky, but what exactly is “panko?”  Panko is the Japanese word for bread crumbs.

Suddenly, panko sounds much less swanky, but there are many characteristics of panko that often make them superior to American-style bread crumbs in many culinary applications.

There are two general types of panko sold in stores – white panko is made without crusts, and tan panko is made from the whole loaf, crusts and all.  What sets panko apart from regular bread crumbs is the processing.

The bread is processed in such a way that the resulting panko looks like flakes rather than crumbs. The flakiness means a much broader surface area than regular breadcrumbs.  What this means for your cooking is crispier coatings, crunchier toppings and lighter end-products, depending on how you use the panko.

If you dredge food in panko before frying, you will end up with a crisp, light fried coating.  Oil does not soak into panko as readily as it does into regular breadcrumbs, so you are left with a lighter, less-greasy coating.  Try this with seafood or chicken.

Panko makes a wonderful crisp topping for casseroles.  Toss panko together with some grated parmesan, salt, pepper and maybe some herbs.  Then, drizzle in some melted butter.  Spread this topping liberally on a casserole, and upon baking, you will be rewarded with a light, crunchy and flavorful topping a nice contrast to your creamy casserole.  Try this trick on top of scalloped potatoes, lasagna, tuna noodle casserole or macaroni and cheese.

Use panko in any recipe that calls for bread crumbs as an ingredient.  Panko does not compact like breadcrumbs, and since grease doesn’t soak into them, your results will be lighter in texture than your original bread crumb-based recipes.  Use panko as an ingredient in crab cakes, meatballs or meatloaf.

By itself, panko has almost no flavor.  This makes it the perfect blank canvas.  Panko readily soaks up other flavors”” and from the seasonings in the food and also from whatever seasonings you toss with it.  A simple topping of panko, a little salt and pepper, and some melted butter will result in a richly flavored, crunchy topping after baking.

If you do not have panko on hand, you can certainly substitute bread crumbs, but your toppings won’t be as crisp and any recipe you use them in will have a somewhat heavier texture.  A better substitute for panko is cracker meal.  You can crush up saltine crackers or matzo or purchase ready-made matzo meal.

Where To Find Panko

Look for panko in Asian markets, where it is readily available.  Panko is becoming more and more common on the shelves at your local grocery store, as well, as more people discover its light and crispy texture.  Find panko in the Asian section of your store or in the same aisle as standard bread crumbs.

Last modified on Mon 11 April 2016 4:52 pm

Comments (48)

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  1. Beth says:

    I have been in Asian markets about twice in my life only because I don’t really know what things are. I have seen Panko and tried a couple bags and its very good. I crush it up and use on pork w/garlic and its delish.

  2. RG says:

    Hi Beth, you can now find Panko bread crumbs in many of the larger chain supermarkets. I guess the celebrity chefs are using it in their recipes more often now.

  3. usha ali says:

    I have tried panko to fry chicken and I must say it was the best. Very crunchy and less oil absorbing!

  4. Judi Tinik says:

    Tried Panko and now I make sure it is always in my pantry. I just love it.

    Hi Judi, glad you found it. It’s a great substitute for bread crumbs. – RG

  5. Roger Vassey says:

    I was under the impression that panko bread crumbs were made from rice. Please confirm origin. Thanks

    Hi Roger, no, as the article details, they are made from bread. – RG

    • Holli Marek says:

      I use crushed up rice krispies and add seasonings. I have the same results. So I feel if it’s not broke then why change it. Give it a try before you knock it. I don’t do much frying but works great in my baking

  6. Leila says:

    I’ve bought them @ Trader Joe’s.

  7. Alyssa says:

    Panko can be found at just about any grocery store and it’s made from Japanese wheat bread.

    • The Reluctant Gourmet says:

      Hi Alyssa, yes panko can be found at more and more grocery stores these days but I never read that it is made from wheat bread. Also, it is made in many countries now, not just Japan.

  8. Betty says:

    Thank you very much – I want to purchase this item. I have heard it is very good. I was told it was good baked in the oven on boneless chicken. Makes it taste fried and not as fattening.

  9. tina says:

    Panko crumbs are the best. I use them for my fish fry They are great in crab cakes, fried oysters, shrimp, calamari.I could go on… Im sure you get my point. NO COMPLAINTS HERE… EXCEPT WHEN I RUN OUT!!!!!!! THANK YOU

  10. Patricia says:

    I love the texture of meatloaf with panko in lieu of the cubed bread in my recipe. Also used it as a topping for a baked corn recipe ~ gave is a nice crispy finished look. Panko will be a staple in my kitchen cupboard.

    Hi Patricia, great idea of using Panko in meatloaf. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing. – RG

  11. frank Cee says:

    love these crumbs..try them

  12. Kathi says:

    Great information! I was looking for something to top a cheesy casserole and usually use corn flakes. I did not have any corn flakes but did have a box of Panko in the cupboard. I followed your suggestion above and mixed them with Parmesan cheese etc… It turned out tasty and golden brown. Yum!

    Hi Kathi, thanks for letting me know. – RG

  13. maria says:

    great information thank you for all the details

  14. Kim Cox says:

    I’m hooked!

  15. monte says:

    Hi moved to Puerto Rico; and cannot find plain Panko bread crumbs in any stores that I have visited. Can you tell me where I can purchase them in PR? Why you ask; well there seasoned Panko contains 18% sodium plus 2gm sugar.

  16. anniem says:

    I recently found Panko at Costco Wholesale in Arizona! Yummy!!!

  17. Patty says:

    Used the panko bread crumbs last night. I used a can of white meat chicken and mixed an egg and panko together with the chicken. Then fried in a little oil. Delicious! I can control the calories and ingredients and together with the chicken, made (6) crunchychicken burgers. Husband loved them and had leftovers for today. Can’t beat that for price and enjoyment.

  18. Katie says:

    RG-You responded to Roger’s inquiry as to whether or not panko bread crumbs are made with rice with “…as the article details, they are made from bread”. Many gluten-free breads are made with rice flour. Your article never mentions specific ingredients. In your response to Alyssa, you say that you “…never read that it is made from wheat bread.” (Any labels I have read list wheat flour as the main ingredient.) My question is, what grain do you suspect that they use?

    • The Reluctant Gourmet says:

      Hi Katie, I am not a Gluten Free cook nor is this a GF web site so when I talk about bread, it’s made from wheat flour. Saying that, I did some searching around on the internet and could only find references to panko bread being made from yeast-risen wheat bread. If you have some other alternatives for GF folks, by all means please post them. I have several friends who are gluten free and I have been thinking about giving it a try myself so I thank you for pointing out this topic. With so many gluten sensitive folks and people with celiac’s disease, it is important to expressly state ingredients when possible. – RG

  19. Tiffany says:

    I found it at Kmart and a discount grocery called value fresh. If Guy fiedi uses it, then I’m a trying!

  20. Wendy says:

    In regard to GF Panko crumbs – there is an incredible GF bakery in Edmonton, Alberta called Kinnikinnick. I understand they have a web store and ship overnight all over North America. We are so incredibly lucky to be so close to awesome fresh baked GF items and also their wide variety of baking mixes.

  21. Maria says:

    Is Panko crumbs good for glutin free people ?

    As far as I know, Panko crumbs are not gluten free but I have purchased regular bread crumbs that are gluten free at Trader Joe’s. -RG

  22. ineke zonnenberg says:

    Is Panko gluten free?

    Hi Ineke, most commercial Panko is not gluten free because it is made with wheat bread but there may be some brands on the market if you do a search or you could make your own. – RG

  23. Lee says:

    Thank you-never used Panko before but keep seeing it in recipes lately-now I know! Not sure if it is available in South Africa

  24. Mitch says:

    Is there a way to soften the texture of panko without losing flavor ? I love everything about panko except the texture. It tends to be so rough that it becomes difficult to swallow.

  25. bill johnson says:

    I like whitefish fried. Baked fish is ok if it’s a heavier fish. I found a recipe for baked talapia made with Panko bread crumbs its great! If you can switch a country boy raised on fried catfish and crappie, you’ve done something! Panko is the answer to fried vs baked its also good for making those crispy fried chicken strips my grandson loves!

  26. Anna says:

    I live in Melbourne, Australia and just saw this product on an American tv show. Can I get it here in Melbourne?

  27. Edna Norman says:

    I just chatted with a friend from Sydney,AU, who told me she uses Panko to coat chicken and she really loves it; so it must be readily available in your country!


  28. becki A says:

    I have been using panko crumbs for a long time. I always buy a can of panko At least once a month. This past month I found 4C brand had a spicy (Habinaro??) Flavour. Needleas to say they are FREEKIN AWESOME SAUCE!!! I made some kickass porkchops with them, and im gonna whip up some spicy fried eggplant tonight too!!!

  29. selma says:

    I make my own breadcrumbs. How do you make Panko at home?

  30. Karen says:

    Hi, I also make my own breadcrumbs. To resemblle Panko, do I simply make them bigger creumbs and dry them out?

    • Kal says:

      They’re easy to make! Run the bread (I like to remove the crusts but it’s not necessary) through your food processor with your shredder blade. Spread them on a baking sheet and bake in a 300 degree oven for about six minutes. Give ’em a shake a couple times during the baking. Don’t let them brown! You’re just drying them out. You can freeze them afterwards!

  31. Bill. says:

    What is this about purchasing panko .Make your own it’s really easy and you know what goes inti it.if you want gluten free use gluten free bread.there are dozens of websites that tell you how to make panko so get stuck in and forget about finding it on the supermarket shelves.

  32. Haydee says:

    Panko made me deathly ill. What are the ingredients in panko?

  33. Liz says:

    Ok, now I know what panko is….but what is “cracker meal”? or saltine crackers or matzo? I understand that in America “crackers” mean “biscuits”, so what sort or biscuits – savoury? Someone mentioned cornflakes – these I know, otherwise I’ll just have to use breadcrumbs as a substitute. Thanks

    • The Reluctant Gourmet says:

      Hi Liz, “a saltine or soda cracker is a thin, usually square cracker made from white flour, shortening, yeast, and baking soda, with most varieties lightly sprinkled with coarse salt. It has perforations over its surface.” “Matzo is an unleavened bread traditionally eaten by Jews during the week-long Passover holiday”

      Hope this helps.

  34. Andrea says:

    Why can’t I get the panko I’m using to brown when baking in the oven? I coated chicken last night with it, per the request of my husband. It’s appearance is so unappetizing to me, as it looks uncooked! I love the way cornflake crumbls look, because they have color. Maybe I’m just used to that. I actually put the pale chicken under the broiler for a few moments to give it a bit of color!! Any suggesteions?

  35. melinds says:

    I’d like to know the nutritional read on it, anyone know?

  36. We use a lot of Panko here. The modern youth is more demanding in terms of healthy eating. Our Hand Rolls topped with Panko are a complete and healthy meal.

    Cheers to all
    Bernie Robinson

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