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Panko: The Better Breadcrumb

September 30, 2010

The other day I shared a recipe for panko “fried” chicken — a healthier take on deep fried or pan-fried chicken. The concept of baking breaded chicken (or any other protein) instead of frying it isn’t a new one, but many people use Italian breadcrumbs or crushed cornflakes as the breading. I choose to use whole wheat panko breadcrumbs instead.whole wheat panko breadcrumbs

  • Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb made from bread without crusts. It has a crisper, airier texture than most types of breadcrumbs.
  • Panko stays crisp after cooking, unlike other types of breading, which can get soggy.
  • Panko is lower in calories, sodium, and fat and higher in fiber than regular breadcrumbs:
    • 1/4 cup whole wheat panko (Ian’s brand): 70 calories, 0.5 g fat, 14 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein, 23 mg sodium
    • 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs (average brand): 110 calories, 1.5 g fat, 20 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 4 g protein, 220 mg sodium
    • It’s important to p0int out that both Italian panko and Italian regular breadcrumbs are higher in sodium than plain or whole wheat varieties. You’re better off adding your own herbs and spices to reduce sodium levels.
  • Most regular breadcrumbs have a long list of ingredients (remember, the longer the list, the more “stuff” is in there), not to mention partially hydrogenated oils (trans-fats), as opposed to panko, which generally has a shorter, more natural list of ingredients:
    • Ian’s whole wheat panko ingredient list: Unbleached whole wheat flour, malt extract, yeast, sea salt.
    • The average regular breadcrumb ingredient list is too long to post, but to give you an idea, it has  a whopping 32 ingredients!!!

I like to use panko instead of regular breadcrumbs when I make meatballs or burgers that require breadcrumbs for binding (like my edamame burgers) or to top casseroles (like my Chania moussaka).

Have you ever cooked with panko? What’s your favorite way to use it?
Note: I was not compensated to write about any of the products in the above post, and, as always, all opinions expressed are my own.

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  1. Can you explain how removing crusts changes the sodium from 220 mg to 23 mg? It seems there is more going on here than just “removing crusts.”

    1. Hi Kathy, this is a good question. It actually has little to do with the lack of crust. The major reason for the reduced sodium amount in panko compared to regular breadcrumbs has to do with the ingredients list. If you look at the ingredients in most packaged breadcrumbs, especially flavored ones, they have a long list of ingredients, many of which contain sodium. on the other hand most panko that I have seen on the market have shorter ingredient lists and little, if any, added salt.

  2. I mix Panko with Parmesan / Romano cheese & paprika in a gallon ziplock. Then I put EVOO on a plate and some of my Panko blend on another. I dip my fish (we like Swai) or pork cutlets or chicken tenderloins on both sides in the EVOO and allow excess to drip off. Then both sides in Panko blend & bake at 350* on a baking sheet (I use parchment paper) . Time depends on thickness but fish is about 20, pork / chicken 25-30. Store Panko blend in a ziplock. Don’t save any that has been in contact with raw meats/fish.