Crispy breaded pork cutlets are perfectly seasoned in this easy Pork Katsu recipe. This delicious pork dinner is a must for a flavorful yet quick weeknight meal!
Easy Japanese Tonkatsu Recipe
If you like Japanese food (or Hawaiian food! Katsu is popular there, too) – let me just say, you’ve got to try this recipe. It takes basic boneless pork cutlets to a whole new delicious level. With crunchy breading and flavor-packed katsu sauce, you’ll never pass over those thin little pork chops at the grocery store again! Plus, this dish is super quick and easy to make.
“But Katerina, isn’t frying pork chops kind of a pain?” I hear you, I hear you. But trust me on this: quickly frying the cutlets in the minimum amount of oil is pretty easy. If you have a kitchen thermometer or a deep fryer, it’s even easier! Yes, you will need to bread the cutlets, but if you set up your “breading station” first, that’s no problem, and I’ll show you exactly how to do it. And you will swoon when you bite into the crunchy, crispy Japanese-seven-spiced cutlet!
Still not convinced? If you like, you can totally skip the deep frying process and use your air fryer – check out the recipe tips section below!
What Is Katsu?
There are many kinds of katsu out there because katsu means meat that’s been thinly cut, breaded, and fried. Katsu is almost always served cut into slices so you can see both the crispy exterior and the juicy interior. It’s also served with katsu sauce, a Japanese version of barbecue. It’s tangy, sweet and has oyster sauce for a deep, umami flavor that’ll keep you coming back for more.
Are you hungry yet? I am! Just typing this all out has made my stomach growl for pork katsu. I guess I know what’s on the menu for tonight’s dinner!
- Pork Cutlets: These are thinly-sliced, boneless pieces of pork. If you don’t see pork cutlets at the store, try getting thick, boneless chops and cutting them in half, crosswise, to make thin cutlets.
- Panko: Plain panko works fine, or you can use the pork rind panko to lower the carbs. Gluten-free panko works if you are on a gluten-free diet.
- Shichimi Togarashi Chili Powder: Also known as Japanese seven spice, this incredibly flavorful spice mixture is made with dried citrus, sesame seeds, dried chili, furikake, and more.
- Eggs: Large, whole eggs, beaten.
- Red Miso: Beaten into the eggs for extra flavor.
- Flour and Cornstarch: Mixed together, these also help the egg and panko form a stable, satisfying breading.
- Vegetable Oil: Or another high-heat oil, for frying.
- Katsu Curry: Serve your pork katsu with Japanese curry sauce instead of katsu sauce; it’s great over rice.
- Katsu Sando: “Katsu sando” means cutlet sandwich. A warm, fresh pork katsu on your favorite sandwich bread? It’s a yes for me! Bonus points if you add katsu sauce, mayonnaise, or another tasty sauce.
- Chicken Katsu: You can also make this recipe for katsu with chicken cutlets instead of pork. Easy and tasty!
How to Make Pork Katsu
Although it might seem like there are a lot of steps here, the actual cooking process is very easy. Read through the recipe a couple of times to get familiar, and let’s make katsu!
- Place the pork cutlets on a cutting board. Then, place some plastic wrap over the cutlets, and use a meat mallet, rolling pin, or the bottom of a small saucepan to pound them thin. You want them to be half an inch thick.
- Next, beat the eggs and miso until the miso is dissolved. Place this in a shallow dish near your frying pan. Combine the panko and a couple of teaspoons of shichimi togarashi, and place that in a shallow dish near the egg mixture. Finally, mix the flour and cornstarch in a third shallow dish, and place that near the other two. Set a clean, dry baking sheet or larger platter nearby as well.
- Heat the Oil and Bread the Pork. Add vegetable oil to a pot over medium heat, and use a candy thermometer to make sure it heats up to 350°F (or you can test the oil’s heat in the next couple of steps). While the oil heats, dredge the pork cutlets in the flour mixture until they’re completely coated. Then dip them in the egg mixture, and finally, the panko, pressing the crumbs firmly to help them stick. Place the breaded cutlets on your clean baking sheet or platter as you go.
- Fry. If you’re not using a candy or kitchen thermometer, check the oil’s temperature by dipping a small corner of one of the cutlets into the oil. If it sizzles right away, you can lower the whole cutlet into the oil. If it doesn’t sizzle, turn up the heat, wait a few minutes, and try again. Once the oil is hot enough, fry each cutlet for a few minutes on each side or until cooked through.
- Enjoy! Cool the pork katsu on a wire rack or a clean dish lined with paper towels. After they cool for a minute or two, use a sharp knife to slice them into one-inch strips. Drizzle with katsu sauce, sprinkle with salt (to taste), and serve.
Tips for Success
The tricky parts of this recipe are probably the unusual ingredients and the deep frying method, so let’s talk about that! Here’s what you need to know, in order for this pork katsu recipe to be smooth sailing.
- Shichimi Togarashi Chili Powder: If you can’t find this spice mix at your local grocery store, try ordering online, or make a quick substitute: orange zest, crushed red pepper flakes, finely chopped nori, some ginger, and some sesame seeds. One taste, and you’ll want to shake this into every dish you make!
- Red Miso: Substitute any kind of miso paste here, or leave it out if you prefer.
- Air Fryer: To make these in the air fryer, follow the prep and breading steps, but don’t heat up oil on the stove. Instead, preheat your air fryer to 400°F. Arrange the breaded pork cutlets in the air fryer basket in a single layer, not touching (you may have to work in batches). Spritz with non-aerosol cooking oil, and air-fry for 5 minutes. Flip, spray again, and air-fry for 3 to 5 minutes more, or until the internal temperature of the pork registers at 145˚F.
What to Serve With Japanese Pork Cutlets
You can serve these cutlets in a lot of different ways. I already mentioned the curry version and the sandwich version. And as you can imagine, pork katsu is super yummy with a green salad or cut up into small pieces with decorative toothpicks for an appetizer! Need more katsu inspiration? Try these easy, tasty ideas:
- Classic Tonkatsu: Serve pork katsu with tonkatsu sauce (AKA katsu sauce) and a salad of cold shredded cabbage. This Cabbage Cucumber Salad is excellent if you want something other than plain cabbage.
- Hawaiian Katsu: Place the slices of katsu over a bed of rice, and drizzle with katsu sauce. Add a side salad (I like Very Berry Avocado Salad) and some pasta salad (like this killer Potluck Pasta Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette). Yum!
- Cauli Rice: Cut down on calories by serving cauli rice instead of plain rice. This Coconut Lime Cauliflower Rice would be amazing!
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
- You can store pork katsu in your refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Cool it down, pop it into a food storage bag or airtight container, and refrigerate.
- To reheat, use your oven (350°F) or arrange the katsu in a skillet over medium heat. You can also reheat it in the air fryer. Don’t use the microwave, or the pork katsu will be soggy.
Can I Freeze This?
- Yes, you can freeze the leftovers for up to three months or freeze the breaded, uncooked katsu and fry them later. Either way, stack them in an airtight container with wax or parchment paper between them to prevent sticking. Thaw the pork cutlets in the fridge before reheating or cooking.
- Flatten the cutlets: Place the cutlets on a chopping board. Place some parchment paper or plastic wrap over them. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound them down to 1/2" thickness.
- Make the egg mixture: In a small bowl, crack the eggs and whisk until well combined. Add the red miso paste and stir until it has completely dissolved. Set it aside.
- Make the spicy panko: In a large plate or bowl, whisk together the plain panko with 2 teaspoons of the shichimi togarashi chili powder.
- Mix the flour: In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Set it aside.
- Dredge the cutlets: Place the pork cutlets in the flour mixture. Dredge them with the flour until they're completely coated.
- Add vegetable oil to a large skillet and set it over medium heat. Let the oil heat up to 350˚F. You can use a kitchen thermometer to test the temperature. If you don't have one, you can check if it's hot enough in the next couple of steps.
- Coat them with miso-egg: Place the dredged cutlets into the miso-egg mixture. Coat them entirely and then dredge them in the spicy panko. Press the panko onto the cutlets so it sticks on all sides.
- Fry them: If you don't have a kitchen thermometer, test the oil's temperature by dipping a small corner of one of the cutlets into the oil. It's ready if it sizzles right away. If not, increase the flame. The size of the bubbles should be big when you add the pork. Once the oil is hot enough, gently lower one pork cutlet into the oil. Let it fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown; flip and continue to cook for 3 more minutes or until cooked through. Pork is cooked through when its internal temperature registers at 145˚F. Continue to cook the rest of the cutlets, one by one. Important: Using a fine mesh strainer, remove the leftover fried/burnt crumbs from the oil before adding the next cutlet to the cooking oil.
- Cool and slice: Remove the pork cutlets from the oil and set them on a wire rack to cool; let them cool for 3 to 4 minutes, and then slice the cutlets into 1"-wide strips.
- Drizzle with tonkatsu sauce and sprinkle more salt to taste if needed. Serve.
- Pork Loin Cutlets: The term cutlet refers to a boneless, thin cut of meat – chicken, veal, pork – that cooks quickly and is usually pan-fried. Most cutlets are made by pounding the meat to an even thinness and are often dusted with flour or coated in breadcrumbs before cooking.
- Panko: I used plain panko (Japanese) breadcrumbs for this katsu recipe, but you can also use gluten-free panko, regular breadcrumbs (though katsu is strictly made with panko crumbs), or low-carb pork rind crumbs.
- Shichimi Togarashi Chili Powder is also known as Japanese Seven Spice. Shichimi togarashi’s base is chili pepper, and cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes are suitable subs. You can also make your own quick substitute: mix together some orange zest, crushed red pepper flakes, finely chopped nori, some ginger, and some sesame seeds.
- Using a fine mesh strainer, remove the leftover fried crumbs from the cooking oil before adding the next cutlet to the pan.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.