How to Make Chicken Katsu—the Crispy Fried Chicken of Your Dreams
Chicken katsu is a juicy, crispy chicken cutlet that's simple and quick to make at home. It's like a Japanese version of chicken-fried steak!
It’s hard to resist the crispy texture of chicken katsu. While tonkatsu is the Japanese breaded cutlet traditionally made with pork, this version is an equally delicious dish substituting lean chicken breast in place of pork loin.
The chicken is flattened, coated with panko and pan-fried to create its signature crunch. Serve with steamed short grain white rice, thinly sliced cabbage and a drizzle of sweet and tangy tonkatsu sauce, and you have yourself the best Japanese chicken comfort meal.
Chicken Katsu Ingredients
Here are the key ingredients you need to make the perfect crispy dish.
- Panko: Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) are what gives chicken katsu its irresistible crunch. The flaky flecks of bread crumbs create the crispy texture on your breaded chicken breast. Definitely don’t substitute for Italian bread crumbs here, as panko is the key ingredient to this dish for maximum crispiness!
- Egg: Egg works as a rich and flavorful binder for the panko to stick to the chicken breast. You can try to make do without by using milk or a flour and cornstarch slurry, but if you can, stick to using egg!
- Chicken: Chicken is the classic lean meat cut to use when enjoying katsu. You can also use chicken thigh for a richer, juicier option or pork chop for a different flavor profile.
- Tonkatsu sauce: Beyond the fried chicken itself, a key Japanese ingredient you’ll want to keep in your pantry to enjoy with chicken katsu is tonkatsu sauce. Almost like a Japanese barbecue sauce, its distinct tangy sweet combo of Worcestershire sauce and ketchup help balance the richness.
Chicken Katsu Recipe
This recipe makes four servings.
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- Oil for frying (vegetable or peanut are best because they handle high heat)
- Tonkatsu sauce
Step 1: Flatten and season chicken
Place chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap. Pound chicken breasts with a meat mallet to 1/2-inch thickness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to season.
Editor’s Tip: If you don’t own a meat mallet, you can use a heavy cast iron pan covered in plastic wrap.
Step 2: Prepare binder and panko
In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk eggs till yolks are mostly smooth. Place flour and panko bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls.
Step 3: Batter chicken
Dip chicken in flour to coat both sides and shake off any excess. Then dip in the whisked eggs and let excess drip off. Lastly, dip in panko bread crumbs, patting evenly to help adhere the coating. Repeat for all four pieces of chicken.
Step 4: Cook chicken
In a deep skillet, heat 1/2-inch of oil over medium-high heat. In batches and being careful not to crowd the pan, fry chicken until golden brown and juices run clear, three to four minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels over a cookie sheet to prevent from getting soggy. Once cooled enough, slice katsu into long strips. Season with a drizzle of tonkatsu sauce.
Editor’s Tip: Check if your oil is hot enough by placing the tip of a wooden spoon in the oil. If bubbles form on the spoon, it’s hot enough! Otherwise, use a kitchen thermometer—it should be about 325°F.
Homemade Katsu Sauce
Katsu is typically served with tonkatsu sauce, also known as katsu sauce. There are lots of store-bought options you can find at the grocery store, but you can also make it easily at home!
Stir together the following ingredients in a bowl and drizzle on top of your finished chicken katsu pieces.
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons prepared hot mustard (optional, for spice)
How to Serve Chicken Katsu
Chicken katsu is usually served atop thinly shredded cabbage drizzled with tonkatsu sauce and a heaping bowl of steamed Japanese rice. You can also serve your crispy katsu in a bowl with Japanese curry and steamed rice. For something a bit healthier, top slices of katsu on a fresh Asian slaw or salad.
How to Store Chicken Katsu
Like most fried foods, they’re best enjoyed fresh. However, if you can’t bring yourself to finish everything, no need to waste. Place your chicken katsu in an airtight container with a paper towel. You can store it for three to five days in the fridge. When it’s time to reheat it, place in a convection oven or air fryer on medium heat until heated through.