This is the best chicken katsu recipe you'll find! Chicken thighs or breasts are coated in a generous layer of flakey panko bread crumbs and fried until tender and juicy on the inside! Read on for tips on how to get the crispiest chicken katsu!
What makes this the best chicken katsu is the generous coating of panko breadcrumbs that delivers tons of texture and crunch to this Japanese panko chicken!
Not only that, but the crunchy layer of bread crumbs protects the chicken from overcooking and drying out, thereby keeping it juicy and tender. Read on for my secret to how I get the crispiest chicken katsu!
What is Chicken Katsu (チキンカツ)?
Chicken katsu (チキンカツ) or tori katsu, is a delicious Japanese fried chicken cutlet dish made of flattened chicken that's been coated with panko breadcrumbs and fried until golden brown. It's typically served with katsu sauce alongside rice and shredded cabbage. It's often found in bento boxes or made into sandwiches (katsu sando), rice bowls called katsu don, or curry called chicken katsu curry.
Oftentimes, I find chicken katsu to have too thin of a layer of breadcrumbs which takes away from the best part of chicken katsu - the crunchy, fried breadcrumb coating.
My secret tip to getting a thick, crunchy layer of panko breadcrumbs is to add a tablespoon of flour to the beaten eggs. This creates a thicker egg layer which picks up more panko, and more panko means a crispier crust!
Ingredients for Chicken Katsu
- Chicken thighs or breasts - I recommend using chicken thighs because they stay juicy and tender. If using chicken breasts, halve them and pound them flat until they're an even ½ inch thick. Note: I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
- Panko bread crumbs - Panko bread crumbs are Japanese bread crumbs with larger flakes than regular breadcrumbs. They're made with crustless bread and give fried foods a light, crispy, crunchy texture.
- Flour - Flour is used as part of the dredge to help the breadcrumb coating stick. Use all-purpose flour.
- Egg - The egg helps bind the bread crumbs to the chicken, creating a crispy crust.
Panko breadcrumbs are Japanese breadcrumbs that are lighter, flakier, and crunchier than regular breadcrumbs. They are also made without the crust.
There are several brands of panko breadcrumbs sold online and at stores. For best results look for the following:
- Large flakes consisting of thin slivers.
- Japanese-made as these are most optimal for chicken katsu.
- I recommend the Shirakiku brand and the JFC brand.
- Unseasoned and minimally processed.
Chicken Katsu Sauce
Japanese chicken katsu is not complete without a delicious tonkatsu sauce! It's similar to a Japanese barbecue sauce that's sweet, savory, and full of umami. Our recipe is similar to Bull-dog sauce because it's not overly sweet.
- Ketchup - Ketchup adds sweetness, thickness, and a tomato flavor.
- Worchestershire sauce - This adds a salty, savory, umami flavor that's quintessential to chicken katsu sauce.
- Soy sauce - For added salinity and umami flavors.
- (Optional) Sugar and Spices - If you'd like a sweeter sauce, start with a bit of sugar and add more. Garlic and onion powder are great for adding more flavor.
How to Make Chicken Katsu
- Pound the chicken thigh or breast flat until it's about ½ inch thick. Coat it with flour and shake off the excess.
- Mix a tablespoon of flour into the egg to create a thicker egg mixture which allows for a thicker, crispier breadcrumb coating. Dip the chicken in the beaten egg and let the excess drip off.
- Cover the chicken with the panko bread crumbs, pressing firmly to create a thick layer of bread crumbs that won't flake off in the fryer.
- Heat the oil to 340 degrees F over medium heat. Medium heat is essential to cook the chicken thoroughly without burning the bread crumbs.
- Gently lower the chicken cutlet into the fryer and deep fry it for about 4 minutes.
- Flip and fry the other side until the chicken is fully cooked and the panko coating is golden brown, about 4 more minutes. Try to keep the temperature at 340 degree F for even cooking. Repeat with any remaining cutlets.
With these tips, you'll have a thick, crunchy layer of panko breadcrumbs with tender, juicy chicken inside, which makes this the best chicken katsu recipe!
For restaurant-style chicken katsu, slice the chicken into thick pieces and serve with a generous mound of shredded cabbage with dressing and steamed rice.
To top it all off, drizzle the homemade katsu sauce on top and serve more on the side for dipping. Serve immediately while it's still hot and crispy. Enjoy!
More Japanese recipes:
Crispy Chicken Katsu
- 2 chicken thighs or breasts - See Note 1
- 1 cup Japanese panko bread crumbs
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg - beaten
- vegetable oil for frying
Make Chicken Katsu Sauce
- Katsu sauce: Combine the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and garlic & onion powder in a small bowl. Taste and add sugar if desired (start with less if you want a Bull-dog sauce copycat). Set it aside.4 tablespoons ketchup, 2 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, ⅛ teaspoon garlic and onion powder, 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
Dredge the Chicken
- Bread the chicken: Prepare the egg, flour, and panko bread crumbs on separate plates. Mix a tablespoon of flour with the beaten egg to create a thicker egg wash for more bread crumbs to adhere to.Salt and pepper the chicken, coat it in flour, and shake off the excess. Next, dip it into the beaten egg and then cover it with a generous layer of panko bread crumbs. Firmly press the panko into the chicken so it adheres well and doesn't flake off in the fryer. See Note 2 for a crispier crust.2 chicken thighs or breasts, 1 cup Japanese panko bread crumbs, ½ cup all-purpose flour, 1 egg
Deep-Fry the Chicken
- Heat oil: Add enough vegetable oil to deep fry the cutlets and heat to 340°F over medium heat. This is to ensure the bread crumbs don't burn before the chicken cooks. If you don't have a thermometer, drop some bread crumbs into the oil. It's ready when it begins to sizzle.
- Fry the cutlets: Gently place a chicken cutlet into the oil and fry one side for about 4 minutes. Flip and fry the other side for 4 more minutes or until the coating is golden brown and the chicken is fully cooked. Repeat with remaining cutlets and work in batches to avoid lowering the oil temperature. Use a skimmer to remove loose bread crumbs and try to keep the oil temperature at 340°F. See Note 3.
- Serve: Slice the chicken katsu into 1-inch thick pieces and serve with katsu sauce, shredded cabbage, and rice. Enjoy!
✎ Recipe Notes
- Chicken thighs or breasts - I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs but you can use skin-on thighs as well. If using chicken breast, halve if necessary and pound to ½ inch thickness.
- For an extra crispy crust, press the chicken cutlets into the panko bread crumbs one more time right before frying. Some of the bread crumbs will absorb the egg wash and become soggy so cover any bare spots and ensure the chicken is completely coated. This creates a thick, crunchy layer of bread crumbs that not only creates more texture but also protects the chicken from overcooking thereby making it tender and juicy.
- Oil temperature - Adjust the heat depending on how light or dark the bread crumbs get while frying. If you see the bread crumbs get too dark before the pork fully cooks, lower the heat. Avoid overcrowding the fryer as that can cause a drop in oil temperature.
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.