How To Make Crispy Chicken Katsu at Home

published Sep 2, 2020
How to Make Crispy Chicken Katsu at Home

The Japanese favorite of crispy, crunchy chicken cutlets with a sweet-savory sauce.

Serves4

Prep20 minutes

Cook30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Two plates of chicken katsu are served over white rice.
Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Ordering chicken katsu at a Japanese restaurant guarantees you a few things: juicy chicken enveloped with shatteringly crisp breading, served with a sweet-tangy sauce that keeps you coming back for more. This from-scratch recipe promises the same, thanks to a few smart techniques anyone can master. Here’s how to make this Japanese favorite at home, best enjoyed with a pile of steamed rice and some refreshing cabbage slaw on the side.

What Is Katsu?

The Japanese word katsu is a shortened form of the word katsuretsu, which means cutlet. Katsu is cutlets of meat that are coated in panko breadcrumbs and fried until crispy. Tonkatsu is made with thinly cut pork, but chicken katsu is just as popular today. It’s served with tonkatsu sauce, a Japanese puréed brown sauce made of fruits and vegetables.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Brett Regot

What You’ll Need for Chicken Katsu

Chicken katsu is made with easy-to-find ingredients you may already have on hand, making it a great go-to dish that doesn’t require a trip to the store. Here are the key ingredients you’ll need.

  • Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts work well here, as they’re easy to thinly slice into even pieces.
  • Panko breadcrumbs: Japanese panko breadcrumbs are made from crustless bread that’s processed into flakes that fry up extra crunchy. Don’t use regular fine breadcrumbs here.
  • Flour and eggs: To get the breadcrumbs to adhere to the chicken, you’ll also need the standard ingredients for dredging: flour and beaten eggs.
Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Slice, Don’t Pound the Chicken

Dishes using cutlets usually involve pounding out the meat first to get thin, even slices. But when researching chicken katsu, I discovered there’s an easier way to get thin pieces of meat instead: slicing at an angle. I saw this technique in Japanese cookbooks as well as in Andrea Nguyen’s recipe for katsu sandwiches in her book The Banh Mi Handbook.

To do this, start by checking the chicken breasts to see if the tenders are still attached. Chicken tenders are the little strip of meat that’s on the underside. If you find them, pull them off first and set them aside. They won’t go to waste and will be fried up for the katsu. Then cut the chicken crosswise on a slight diagonal, holding the knife almost parallel to the cutting board. Aim for slices about 1/3-inch thick, and don’t worry that the pieces aren’t uniform in shape since the chicken breasts are usually a bit thinner at each end.

Cutting the chicken this way is a lot easier than pounding out chicken and yields quite a number of pieces from just one pound. While you don’t get big pieces to serve each person, this method provides lots of surface area for the coating to adhere to and turn crispy.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Frying Chicken Katsu

Once the chicken is cut, dip the slices in flour, then beaten eggs, and finally the panko breadcrumbs. Now it’s time to fry. Heat a few cups of oil in a skillet to shallow fry, which yields crispy chicken but doesn’t require the amount of oil and come with the scariness of deep frying. Don’t be tempted to sear them in a little oil or bake instead — you won’t get the same delicious results.

Fry in a few batches until golden-brown, then serve with tonkatsu sauce, which is an easy mixture of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and a little sugar and cider vinegar to balance it all out. You can also buy tonkatsu sauce at Asian grocery stores, or skip it all together, but I like dipping each bite in a little sauce.

How to Serve Chicken Katsu

Chicken katsu is traditionally served with rice and a salad usually made of shredded lettuce or cabbage, but it’s also good in sandwiches or covered with curry sauce. Leftovers warm up quite nicely in the oven and can even be thrown onto salads.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Brett Regot
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Here's how to make crispy chicken katsu at home.

How to Make Crispy Chicken Katsu at Home

The Japanese favorite of crispy, crunchy chicken cutlets with a sweet-savory sauce.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the chicken:

  • 2 cups

    panko breadcrumbs

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 3

    large eggs

  • 1/2 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 2

    boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 10 ounces each)

  • 3 cups

    vegetable or canola oil, for frying

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup

    ketchup

  • 1/4 cup

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    soy sauce

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    apple cider vinegar

Equipment

  • Large frying pan or cast iron skillet

  • Fork

  • Pie plate

  • Shallow bowl

  • Plate

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Chef’s knife and cutting board

  • Tongs

  • 2

    baking sheets

  • Wire rack

  • Small serving bowl

Instructions

  1. Prepare the breading. Place 2 cups panko in a pie plate, add 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and stir with a fork to combine. Beat 3 large eggs in a second shallow bowl with the fork until evenly combined. Place 1/2 cup all-purpose flour on a plate.

  2. Slice the chicken. Cut the tenders from 2 chicken breasts if still attached. Positioning a knife almost parallel to the cutting board, slice each breast crosswise at an angle into pieces about 1/3-inch thick. The pieces will not all be the same size, and that’s okay.

  3. Season the chicken. Place the chicken, including the tenders, on a baking sheet. Season on both sides with the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

  4. Dredge the chicken. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dredge completely in the flour, then dip into the eggs, and finally thoroughly coat with the panko. Place back on the baking sheet in a single layer. Refrigerate while you heat the oil.

  5. Heat the oil. Heat 3 cups vegetable oil in a large frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until 350ºF, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fit a wire rack over a baking sheet. Make the sauce while the oil is heating.

  6. Make the sauce. Place 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar in a small serving bowl and whisk to combine to make the sauce; set aside.

  7. Fry the chicken. Fry the chicken in batches of about 5 pieces to prevent crowding: Add the chicken and fry, flipping once with tongs, until cooked through and golden-brown, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to the wire rack and repeat with the remaining chicken.

  8. Slice the katsu and serve. If desired, slice the katsu crosswise into 1/2-inch wide pieces. Serve drizzled with the katsu sauce or serve the sauce on the side for dipping.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days.

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