What Are Panko Breadcrumbs?

Panko breadcrumbs are a common ingredient in many recipes frequently used in the United States. Most people purchase pre-made Panko at the store and do not think twice about it.

But what exactly are Panko breadcrumbs and how are they different from regular breadcrumbs?

Panko is actually a Japanese word. In Japanese, “pan” means bread, and “ko” means flour. You will find Panko often used in Japanese cuisine. 

Whereas regular breadcrumbs are made with any type of bread, the Japanese make Panko using only white bread.

What are Panko breadcrumbs made from? 

It is made without a crust, and then baked in an oven that runs an electrical current through the bread. When the bread is done, they grind it down into small flakes, and then dry it. It is a popular coating used in Japanese fried foods and Katsu sandwiches.

Panko has a very light texture and is crispier than regular breadcrumbs. It also has less of a bread taste and holds less oil than regular breadcrumbs. Panko, in fact, does not have much of a taste. It is fairly “neutral,” whereas regular breadcrumbs can taste greasy. 

This allows the flavor of the meat to come through, while providing a satisfying crunch. Because of the size of the flakes, they all produce that crunch. With regular breadcrumbs, those pieces that you did not break down all the way may end up soggy.

Specialist oven used to make the breadcrumbs

Because of the way Panko is made, it can be difficult to make at home. The bread needs to be made using only flour, sugar, shortening, salt, and yeast. Then you need a special oven that cooks the bread with the electrical current. Take a look at the video below to see the type of oven used.

Where to buy panko breadcrumbs

Fortunately, you can buy Panko at most grocery stores, usually in the baking section with other breadcrumbs and flours.

If your store has an international section, or if you have access to a Japanese grocery store, you may be able to find a more traditional Panko (which is not necessarily mass-produced and is usually more expensive). 

Traditionally made Panko is of a higher quality. The Panko breading will actually make your food look bigger, while at the same time not simply bulking it up with extra bread. Traditional Panko will also stay crispier longer.

Panko is not necessarily a “healthy” food but can be considered healthier than regular breadcrumbs. It actually has less calories, salt, and fat than other breadcrumbs.

Cooking options

Your cooking options with Panko can be varied and go far beyond just Japanese food. Anything fried can be breaded with Panko, giving it a lighter texture. It is a nice change to give the family if you want to mix things up. It is also great on top of casseroles. 

Try it out the next time you bring that green bean casserole to Thanksgiving dinner. If you need to thicken up a sauce, or a soup, mix a little Panko in. It will help absorb the liquid and add a different texture.

The next time you are frying food, or need to coat something with a breading, try out the traditional Japanese Panko.

If it is not in your store, and there is no Japanese market near you, look online. You will find some great options for buying the higher quality Panko.