Bread crumbs are an excellent way to add a crispy crunch to foods like casseroles, fried dishes, baked foods, and pasta, as well as thicken soups. If you’ve ever used bread crumbs in your own cooking, you’re probably familiar with the way that the crispy topping adds to a dish.
Ever thought about using panko bread crumbs instead of traditional bread crumbs?
In this post, I’ll explore what panko bread crumbs are, great panko substitutes to help you complete any dish, and some recipes that use panko. Let’s get started!
What are Panko Bread Crumbs?
If you don’t know what panko bread crumbs are, here’s a quick explanation:
The word “panko” comes from the Portuguese word for bread, “pan,” and the Japanese word for ‘made from’, “ko.” Panko bread crumbs are made out of a certain kind of white bread that doesn’t have crusts.
This type of bread crumb is never made with whole wheat bread; white bread is always used. Panko bread crumbs are used very often in Japanese cuisine to create light breading in foods.
The ingredients for panko bread crumbs are wheat flour, yeast, oil, and salt.
What can you make with panko bread crumbs? Here are a few examples of popular foods made with panko.
- A topping for casseroles – Panko adds a lovely texture to any sort of casseroles, such as main dish casseroles, pasta casseroles, bean casseroles, and more. You can sub French fried onions with Panko bread crumbs on a green bean casserole, for example. On a savory casserole, spread crumbs and Parmesan cheese before placing into the oven.
- To thicken soups – Panko thickens soups and sauces by absorbing extra moisture. It also adds an interesting texture to a soup or sauce.
- As a binder – Panko bread crumbs can also be used as a binder for vegans or those with allergies to eggs.
- As breading – By coating meat such as chicken with panko bread crumbs, you’re creating a delicious chicken breading that’s a bit better for you than using stale bread or coarse crumbs.
Difference Between Panko Breadcrumbs and Traditional Bread Crumbs
Panko bread crumbs are fairly similar to regular bread crumbs, except for a few key differences.
Panko is flakier, crispier, and lighter than traditional bread crumbs. Since it’s lighter, panko doesn’t absorb as much grease and oil, meaning that breading with panko makes fried foods less heavy.
Panko and regular bread crumbs both create a crispy texture or bind foods together. However, another difference can be found in their texture.
Substitutes for Panko Bread Crumbs
Below are some of the best substitutes for panko bread crumbs.
To make panko gluten-free, you’ll need to use gluten-free bread (such as that made with almond flour or rice flour) or rice Chex as a substitute for panko breadcrumbs.
You can also use ordinary bread crumbs instead of panko if necessary. Most recipes will still work correctly with regular breadcrumbs instead of panko; the only difference will be in the texture of the food.
Crackers, Chips, and Corn Flakes
It’s also possible to use crushed cracker crumbs, crushed chips like crushed tortilla chips or corn chips, or crushed cornflakes (from an unsweetened flake cereal) as a substitute for panko bread crumbs. Using corn flakes can add sweetness to your foods, so exercise caution.
Potato and Pretzel
You can also use crushed potato chips or crushed pretzels as a tasty substitute for breadcrumbs. However, this will add extra salt to your favorite recipes, so be sure that you can even out the levels.
Yet another substitute for panko breadcrumbs or regular breadcrumbs for a gluten free panko solution are crushed or chopped nuts, such as blitz almonds.
Though it’s no replacement for fresh bread, you can still use nuts for your fried cuisine or casserole topping, and the taste and texture will be similar. Nuts are also a great sub for those on certain diets like the paleo diet or keto diet.
Stuffing and others
Crushed dry stuffing mix is another substitute for panko bread crumbs. Similar in texture to crushing white bread, stuffing is a pretty viable option for a panko sub.
You can also use matzo meal, almond meal, wild rice, sesame seeds, or golden flaxseed to sub for homemade panko made with dried bread.
A food processor is handy when making panko bread crumbs yourself, but is not necessary.
So long as you have white bread or any of the substitutes listed, you can make panko bread crumbs or a mixture resembling them without a food processor.
How To Make Panko Bread Crumbs
If you’d rather make your own panko instead of buying some at the store, you’ll be happy to know that making homemade panko is an easy and quick process with a simple recipe. You’ll be enjoying just the right amount of flaky texture on your food in no time.
All you need to do is take a crustless white bread and crush it into crumbs with a food processor, your hands, or a rolling pin. Make sure not to squish the bread too much.
After that, spread the crumbs onto a baking sheet and place them in an oven to dry the crumbs out. 300 degrees Fahrenheit is generally a good temperature to use.
Once your crumbs have cooled, you can even freeze them in a freezer bag for later use or just store them in a dry, cool place like your pantry for up to three months.
Classic homemade panko is made with no herbs, but some recipes call for things like Italian seasonings or other herbs.
It’s really up to you whether you’d like to season your crumbs or not, depending on what your recipe calls for.
Panko Breadcrumbs Recipes
Panko breadcrumbs are highly versatile and you can use them on a number of dishes. If you have a food processor and a desire to make breaded fried foods or fried and baked foods, panko breadcrumbs are your friend.
As an alternative to regular bread crumbs, panko allows for less oil and saturated fat in your foods. Even if you have to use a panko breadcrumbs substitute, you’ll still end up with a delicious dish.
For this delicious chicken recipe, you’ll need:
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 cups vegetable oil for frying, or as needed
First, you’ll want to grind garlic and salt together until the garlic is totally crushed.
Add parsley and pound butter into the mixture until fully incorporated. Wrap the mixture in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least fifteen minutes until cold.
Next, season your chicken breasts with pepper and salt.
Place a fourth of the butter mixture into the center of the wider end of the chicken breasts. Fold the narrow end of the chicken breasts over the butter to form a pocket. Then gather the sides of the chicken breasts to the center to make a ball.
The top of your chicken should be smooth while the bottom is gathered.
Wrap each chicken breast ball in plastic wrap, put them on a plate, and chill in the freezer until the bottoms can hold together and are a little firm. This will take about 30 minutes.
After that, whisk the flour and 2 teaspoons of salt together in a bowl. Whisk the eggs together in a separate bowl, and pour panko bread crumbs into another bowl.
Remove the chicken breast balls from the freezer and take off the plastic wrap. Press each chicken breast ball into the flour mixture, shaking off any extra flour afterward.
Dip them into the beaten egg wash, then press into the panko bread crumbs. Place the breaded chicken breasts on a plate, cover them with plastic wrap, and chill in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
Then, heat oil in a large saucepan to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cooking sheet with foil.
Cook chicken in batches with the gathered-side down in hot oil until they are lightly golden on both sides. This should take about a minute per side. Then, transfer the chicken to the cooking sheet. Sprinkle salt and cayenne pepper on top.
Bake the chicken breast balls in the oven for about 15 to 17 minutes, or until you can hear the butter sizzling on the cooking sheet. A thermometer inserted into the center of the chicken should show at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Let cool for five minutes before serving.
Related: Curry Leaves Substitutes
Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
If you’re vegetarian or more of a pasta person, there’s a panko mac and cheese that’s perfect for you. This recipe uses lobster on the website, but we took it out for vegetarian purposes.
The ingredients for this recipe are as follows:
- 1 (12 ounce) package uncooked shell pasta
- 2 tablespoons margarine
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
- 1 (8 ounce) package shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1 (8 ounce) container mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 1 pinch garlic powder, or to taste
- 1 pinch paprika, or to taste
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg, or to taste
- 2 dashes hot sauce, or to taste
- 1 (12 ounce) package green peas, thawed if frozen
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons margarine, melted
First, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in the boiling water until tender but slightly firm. This will take about 10 minutes. Once you’re done, drain and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 365 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9×13 inch casserole dish.
Melt 2 tablespoons of margarine or butter in a skillet on medium heat. Cook, stirring in shallot into the margarine until light brown for around 5 minutes.
Whisk flour into margarine and shallots, forming a smooth paste. Then whisk evaporated milk into the mixture, forming a smooth sauce. Simmer until thick for about 2 to 4 minutes.
Whisk shredded Cheddar cheese and mascarpone cheese until melted for about 5 minutes. Then stir pumpkin puree, spices, and hot sauce into the sauce until combined.
Stir in green peas and pasta shells and cook for about 5 minutes. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish; top with panko and Parmesan.
Bake for 40 minutes and serve.
Final Thoughts on the Best Panko Substitutes
No matter what dish you’re preparing, there’s sure to be a panko substitute you can use to complete the cuisine. Whether you go with traditional bread crumbs or you opt for crushed crackers, panko substitutes can be found anywhere in your kitchen.
Looking for more substitutes? Give these a try: arugula substitutes, miso substitutes, beef broth substitutes.