(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)

Regular breadcrumbs and panko are standard go-tos for crisp breaded meat and fish, but what happens when you need a gluten-free option?

The answer is probably closer than you think. Sure, there are plenty of premade gluten-free breading options on the grocery store shelf, but you probably already have one of the best solutions for gluten-free breading in your pantry right now.

On its own, breading is a pretty simple mix, but it has the potential to have a big impact on your meal. Whether you're baking or frying, the breading mix creates an outer crust that delivers an extra layer of flavor with the added bonus of a wonderful crunch.

So when purchased breadcrumbs aren't an option, head to the pantry and grab a few rice cakes to make your own gluten-free breading mix. You might not have considered using these crisp and airy snack cakes this way before, but they work quite well. And any kind of rice cakes will get the job done. Use whatever you have available, but maybe it's best to stay away from the sweeter varieties.

But First, Some Quick Prep

Before you get to breading, use a food processor, blender, or even a rolling pin to process the cakes into a coarse powder. Consider what you're breading as you decide how coarse or fine to go. Fish and seafood do well with a finer crumb, but pounded pork chops or chicken can handle a coarser crumb.

Add any desired seasoning to the breadcrumb to flavor them to taste, and then use the crumbs as you would any breading mix. As the breaded meat or fish cooks, the rice cake breading browns and takes on a light and even crispier texture.