Pork katsu is a classic Japanese favorite that is so quick and easy. 7 ingredients and just 25 minutes to make? What are you waiting for? Give this recipe for pork katsu a try next time you’re craving takeout.
Easy Homemade Pork Katsu
Pork Katsu, or Tonkatsu, is a popular Japanese entree often served over rice with a signature sauce (katsu sauce). It is a savory treat of thinly pounded pork breaded and shallow fried to a perfect golden brown. It is a go-to for many when ordering Japanese take-out. Believe it or not, you can easily make it yourself in about 25 minutes. It’s the perfect weeknight meal for those of you juggling a busy schedule but still craving some tasty Japanese soul food.
What Does Katsu Mean?
The “katsu” in pork katsu refers to the cooking method used in this recipe. A katsu dish consists of some sort of meat (usually pork or chicken) that has been coated in Panko and fried to crispy perfection. Pork katsu also goes by the name tonkatsu, with “ton” translating to “pork” in Japanese.
- Pork – I recommend using boneless pork loin. Other cuts can be too fatty.
- All-purpose flour
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper – Go for freshly-ground black pepper here.
- Panko breadcrumbs – I highly recommend using Panko if you can tolerate gluten, but see my notes below for appropriate substitutions
- Vegetable oil – Make sure to select a cooking oil with a high smoke point.
Do I Have To Use Panko Breadcrumbs?
In order to maintain the integrity of the dish, I do recommend using Panko. That being said, you can substitute regular bread crumbs in a pinch. Keep in mind that generic breadcrumbs absorb more oil than Panko, so you will have a soggyer, greasier pork katsu if you choose to use them. If you are gluten intolerant or following a low carb diet, it is possible to use almond flower in the place of Panko. The result will be quite different, but your dietary needs will be taken care of.
How to Make Pork Katsu
It only takes 25 minutes and it’s pretty fun, too! Make sure to scroll to the bottom of this page to view the full recipe, but here’s a quick breakdown on how to do it:
Tenderize the pork. Put the pork in a plastic bag and, using the flat end of a meat mallet, pound the pork until it is significantly thinner.
Season the flour. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl and mix.
Beat the eggs. Crack the eggs into a shallow bowl and beat them until they are well mixed. Kind as if you were making scrambled eggs.
Line up your ingredients. Pour the Panko into a shallow dish. Place your panko dish in a line with your other ingredients. You should have the flour, the eggs, and the Panko in that order.
Heat the oil. Use just enough oil to cover the bottom of a heavy skillet. Heat the oil to medium high.
Prepare the pork one piece at a time. Take a piece of pork, dip it in the flour mixture, coating both sides, followed by the eggs and then the Panko. Shake off any excess Panko.
Fry the pork. Add the pork to the prepped pan, cooking it for about 3-4 minutes on either side until it is golden brown. Remove the pork piece and any Panko that stayed in the pan before repeating the frying process with the remaining pork.
Tips for Success
This is a relatively simple recipe but, as with anything, there are some tips and tricks that will set you up for the best pork katsu possible.
- Choose the right pork. It is important to choose a tender, boneless cut of pork with very little fat.
- Use the two hand technique. The process of breading meat can be a bit messy. The eggs, flour, and Panko have a habit of clumping together on your hands. To avoid this, I suggest using one hand to dredge the pork in flour and then using the other hand to coat it in eggs and then Panko before switching back to the first hand to transfer the now breaded pork to the pan.
- Aim for even thickness. In order to ensure the pork pieces cook at the same speed, it is important to pound them with the goal of uniform thickness in mind. Keep the pieces thin. This will allow for a shorter cook time and a consequentially juicier bite.
- Get the oil temperature right. Oil temperature is very important here. Oil that is too hot will burn the breadcrumbs and oil that is not hot enough will leave you with soggy, greasy katsu. At the start, and between every round of frying, check your oil by sprinkling a bit of water in the pan. If it sizzles, you are good to go, if it doesn’t, you need to heat the oil for a bit longer. If you see smoke at any point, turn the heat down and add a tad more oil.
Here are some of the more common questions I get when it comes to making pork katsu:
Why work in batches?
If you add all of your pork at once, the oil in the pan will cool down, making it so that the pork will not fry properly and will, instead, become soggy and oily. Working with one or two pieces at a time (depending on the size of your pan) will allow allow you the opportunity to bring the oil back up to temperature between batches.
Why pound the meat?
Pounding the pork thins it out. Thinner cuts of meat cook more quickly. You want the pork to spend as little time in the pan as possible as it tends to get tougher the longer it cooks. Thinner meat will allow for shorter cook time which produces juicier, more tender pork.
Can you substitute other meats?
Absolutely! Most commonly, the Japanese use chicken and pork in katsu recipes. I really enjoy chicken katsu made from chicken breasts. Check out my recipe here.
What To Serve with Tonkatsu
Tonkatsu is traditionally served over steamed white rice and topped with katsu sauce, a sweet and savory concoction typically made from Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and soy sauce. There are plenty of other side dishes that compliment katsu nicely, however. Some of my favorites are miso soup, steamed broccoli, shredded cabbage, and Japanese pickled vegetables (tsukemono).
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
Tonkatsu is best eaten fresh out of the pan due to the fact that the pork let’s off moisture within its breading after being cooked. This means that, the longer katsu sits, the soggier it gets.
If you must store this delicious entree, allow it to cool to room temperature before sealing it in an airtight container, such as a zip lock bag or Tupperware. You can keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
When reheating, lay the pieces on a baking sheet and bake for 6-7 minutes at 375 F. You can also use the microwave, but this will take away the crunch.
Can I Freeze Pork Tonkatsu?
You can! Allow the finished product to cool to room temperature, seal it in an airtight container, and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow the pork katsu to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
More Easy Pork Recipes
Speaking of pork, there are some terrific ways to prepare this versatile meat. Check out some of my favorites.
- 1 pound boneless pork loin, cut into 4 portions
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- A couple pinches of kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- 2 eggs
- ⅔ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Vegetable oil
The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.
- In a plastic bag, pound your pork to a thin filet, one at a time, with the flat end of a meat tenderizer. If you're using thin sliced, you may not have to do this step as it's already thin enough. Make sure to have padding underneath your plastic bag so you don't break your countertops!
- In a shallow dish, add in flour, salt, and pepper. Mix around.
- In another shallow dish, beat 2 eggs.
- In yet another shallow dish, put your panko in.
- Assemble the shallow dishes in the following order: flour, eggs, panko.
- In a skillet, turn the heat on medium high and add a thin layer of vegetable oil to the pan, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Take one of your pork pieces, dredge it in flour on both sides, then egg, then cover it in panko and shake off any excess.
- Test the oil to see if it's hot by flicking some water in it. If it sizzles, you're good.
- With tongs, put your breaded pork in and cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes or until it's brown (don't burn it).
- It shouldn't take long for the pork to cook all the way through since they've been pounded out so thin.
- Before you start on another filet, I would clear out the skillet of straggling panko crumbs. Just take a spatula and scrape them out. They'll burn if you keep them in there for your other filets and your house will smell like disaster :)
- Repeat until all your pork pieces are cooked, slice into length-long pieces and serve with white rice. Don't forget to top with katsu sauce!
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.