Tonkatsu is a delicious Japanese dish made of juicy, tender pork coated in crispy panko breadcrumbs and fried until golden brown. It's served with a sweet and tangy tonkatsu sauce that's the perfect complement to this pork katsu. Read my tips on how to make this the best tonkatsu with the crispiest panko breadcrumb coating you'll find!
If you're looking for the best tonkatsu recipe, you're in the right place! What makes this the best is the thick, crispy coating of panko bread crumbs you won't find anywhere else.
It's always disappointing when you're served tonkatsu with a thin, barely-there breadcrumb coating. So I made sure this recipe is the opposite of that and delivers a thick, generous, crispy layer of panko breading where you can actually hear the crunch as you bite down.
After a few experiments in the kitchen, I'm confident this is the best tonkatsu recipe you'll find, and I hope you give it a try! Read on for my tips on how to get a crispy, crunchy panko crust with tender, juicy pork inside.
What is Tonkatsu (豚カツ)?
Tonkatsu is a delicious Japanese dish consisting of breaded and fried pork cutlets. Boneless pork loins or pork chops are dredged in flour and egg, then coated in Japanese bread crumbs called 'panko'. It's typically served with tonkatsu sauce, thinly shredded cabbage, and steamed rice.
In Korea, it's called donkatsu (돈까스), with many variations of this Korean pork cutlet including a cheese filling, hence the name cheese donkatsu (tonkatsu) or cheese katsu.
Ingredients for Tonkatsu
- Boneless pork loin or pork chop - I used two slices of boneless pork loin pounded to ¾ inch thick. I prefer the pork to be on the thicker side as it results in juicier tonkatsu.
- Panko bread crumbs - Panko bread crumbs are essential to getting a crispy, crunchy crust. They are Japanese bread crumbs with larger flakes than regular breadcrumbs and are made with crustless bread that gives fried foods a light, crispy, crunchy texture.
- Flour - Use all-purpose flour to coat the pork chops so the egg and panko coating stick to the pork.
- Egg - The egg helps bind the bread crumbs to the pork, creating a crispy crust.
Panko breadcrumbs are Japanese bread crumbs 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 tonkatsu.
- I recommend the Shirakiku brand and the JFC brand.
- Unseasoned and minimally processed.
There's no better sauce for dipping pork katsu than tonkatsu sauce! It's an easy, simple sauce that's similar to a Japanese barbecue sauce. The flavor is 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 tonkatsu 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 Tonkatsu
- Pound the pork loin or pork chop flat until it's about ¾ inch thick. Using scissors or a knife, cut slits into the outer white membrane of the pork. This prevents it from curling up as it cooks. Next, coat it with flour and shake off the excess.
- Add a tablespoon of flour to the egg and mix them together. This creates a thicker egg wash that allows for more breadcrumbs to stick to. Dip the pork into the beaten egg and let the excess drip off.
- Transfer the pork to the panko bread crumbs and press firmly to create a thick layer of bread crumbs that won't flake off in the fryer. Be sure to cover any bare spots with breading.
- Heat the oil to 340 degrees F over medium heat. Medium heat is essential to cook the pork thoroughly without burning the bread crumbs.
- Gently lower the pork cutlet into the fryer and deep fry it for about 5 minutes.
- Flip and fry the other side until the pork is fully cooked and the panko coating is golden brown, about 5 more minutes. Try to keep the temperature at 340 degrees F for even cooking. Repeat with any remaining cutlets.
With these tips, you'll have a thick, crunchy layer of panko breadcrumbs that protects the pork from overcooking, thereby creating tender, juicy pork inside.
For restaurant-style pork katsu, slice it into 1-inch thick slices and serve it with thinly shredded cabbage with dressing and steamed rice. Miso soup is a common accompaniment as well.
Drizzle your homemade tonkatsu sauce on top and serve extra on the side for dipping. Serve while it's hot and crispy. Enjoy!
More Japanese recipes:
Extra Crispy Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Katsu)
- 2 slices boneless pork loins or pork chops - pounded to ¾ inch thick; 5oz each
- 1 cup Japanese panko bread crumbs - See Note 1
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg - beaten
- salt & pepper
- vegetable oil for frying
Make the Tonkatsu Sauce
- Tonkatsu 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
Bread the Pork
- Prep the pork loins: Cut slits into the white connective tissue on the outer edge of each pork loin or pork chop. This prevents it from curling up as it cooks. Flatten each pork loin to about ¾ inch thickness.2 slices boneless pork loins or pork chops
- Dredge the pork loins: Add the egg, flour, and panko bread crumbs to separate bowls. For a crispier crust, mix a tablespoon of flour with the egg to create a thicker egg wash for more bread crumbs to adhere to.Salt and pepper the pork, then coat it in flour and shake off the excess. Next, dip it into the beaten egg and then firmly press it into the panko bread crumbs for a thick, generous layer of breading. See Note 2 for a crispier crust.1 cup Japanese panko bread crumbs, ½ cup all-purpose flour, 1 egg
Deep-fry the Pork Cutlets
- Heat oil: In a large heavy-duty pot or fryer, add enough oil to deep fry the cutlets. Heat the oil to 340°F over medium heat to ensure the pork fully cooks without burning the bread crumbs.If you don't have a thermometer, drop some bread crumbs into the oil. It's ready when it begins to sizzle.
- Fry the pork cutlets: Gently place a pork cutlet into the oil and deep-fry for 5 to 6 minutes per side or until the pork is fully cooked and the panko coating is golden brown and crispy.Use a skimmer to clean up loose breadcrumbs and try to keep the oil temperature at 340°F. Repeat with the remaining cutlets and work in batches to avoid lowering the oil temperature. See Note 3.
- Serve: Slice the tonkatsu and serve with tonkatsu sauce, shredded cabbage, and rice. Enjoy!
✎ Recipe Notes
- Japanese panko bread crumbs - I recommend this Japanese brand of panko for this recipe. It has a crispier texture with larger flakes, which is ideal for tonkatsu.
- For an extra crispy crust, press the pork 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 to ensure the pork is completely coated. This creates a thick, crispy layer of bread crumbs that not only creates more texture but also protects the pork 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. Avoid overcrowding the fryer as that can cause a drop in oil temperature.
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.