Panko breadcrumbs are a staple ingredient in many dishes, from casseroles to breaded chicken cutlets. Their light, crisp texture makes them perfect for creating a crunchy crust on foods. However, panko crumbs can be difficult to find in some grocery stores. In a pinch, many home cooks wonder if regular breadcrumbs can be substituted in place of panko.
The Difference Between Panko and Regular Breadcrumbs
Panko breadcrumbs are Japanese-style breadcrumbs made from crustless white bread. The bread is baked and then pulverized into very fine crumbs. Panko crumbs have a light, airy texture thanks to the way the bread is manufactured. Tiny pores and tunnels run throughout panko crumbs, which allows them to absorb less oil than typical breadcrumbs.
Regular breadcrumbs are made from regular loaves of bread that contain a crust. The crust and interior bread are mashed up into coarse crumbs. Regular breadcrumbs are denser and absorb more oil during cooking compared to lighter panko crumbs.
Here is a quick overview of the differences:
– Made from crustless white bread
– Light, flaky texture
– Absorb less oil during cooking
– Provide a super crispy coating
– Made from bread with a crust
– Dense, coarse texture
– Absorb more oil during cooking
– Result in a soft coating
So in summary, panko and regular breadcrumbs differ in how they are produced, texture, oil absorption, and the crispiness they provide. Panko has a desirable light crunch, while regular breadcrumbs make a softer coating.
Can Regular Breadcrumbs be Substituted for Panko?
You can absolutely use regular breadcrumbs in place of panko in a recipe, but the texture and taste of the final dish will be different. Here’s what to expect if substituting regular breadcrumbs for panko:
Breading and Frying
If breading proteins like chicken or seafood for frying, the coating will not be as light and crispy with regular breadcrumbs. The coating will absorb more oil and have a softer crunch. The flavor will also be more bready, instead of light and flaky.
Dishes baked with regular breadcrumbs may end up retaining more moisture and not develop the desired top crust. For example, using regular breadcrumbs for something like a casserole topping may result in a soft, mushy layer instead of a crispy, crunchy topping.
Overall, regular breadcrumbs have a coarser, denser texture than feathery light panko. So any dish calling for panko will end up with a different mouthfeel if made with regular breadcrumbs.
Tips for Using Regular Breadcrumbs
If you need to use regular breadcrumbs in a pinch, here are some tips to modify the recipe:
Use Seasoned Breadcrumbs
Seasoned breadcrumbs have dried herbs, garlic powder, or other flavorings added. The extra seasonings can help add back some of the flavor that is lost when swapping out panko. Look for Italian or Mediterranean style seasoned breadcrumbs.
Grind Breadcrumbs Finer
Place regular breadcrumbs in a food processor and pulse to break them down into finer crumbs that more closely resemble panko. Be careful not to over process them into a paste. Finely ground breadcrumbs will have a lighter texture.
Use a Combo of Breadcrumbs
You can use half panko and half regular breadcrumbs to still achieve some of the light crunchiness associated with panko. The regular breadcrumbs will absorb more oil, while the panko will still provide crisping.
When breading foods for frying like chicken, add extra breading to help compensate for the lack of crisping from regular breadcrumbs. Let the item sit 5-10 minutes after breading to help the coating adhere better.
Bake at High Heat
For baked dishes, increase the temperature 25 degrees higher than the recipe states. The higher heat will help the regular breadcrumbs brown and crisp up on the outside. Monitor carefully to avoid burning.
For casseroles or baked pasta, broil it for 1-2 minutes after baking to help the topping made with regular breadcrumbs get crispy and golden brown. Keep a close eye to prevent burning.
Best Uses for Regular Breadcrumbs
While panko may be best for frying and breading, there are some instances where regular breadcrumbs actually work better. Here are some best uses for regular breadcrumbs:
Meatloaf and Meatballs
The dense texture of regular breadcrumbs is ideal to help bind moisture in meatloaf, meatballs, or stuffed peppers.
If you prefer a softer, more absorbent topping on casseroles, regular breadcrumbs are a good choice. They will absorb moisture from the filling instead of getting crunchy.
For chicken, veal, or pork cutlets that will be pan fried instead of deep fried, regular breadcrumbs offer a nice coating and absorb any pan juices.
Mix with Fresh Breadcrumbs
Combine fresh breadcrumbs made from bread ripped into tiny pieces with regular dried breadcrumbs to make a coating with texture and absorbency.
The absorbent quality of regular breadcrumbs makes them ideal as a filler in meatballs, stuffing, and meatloaf. They soak up moisture and fat.
There is not a major difference in the nutritional profiles of regular breadcrumbs versus panko breadcrumbs. However, panko tends to be slightly lower in calories, fat, and carbs. Here is a comparison of a 1/4 cup serving of each:
|Nutrition Facts||Panko Breadcrumbs||Regular Breadcrumbs|
As you can see, the differences are minor. Panko may have slightly less fat absorption, but neither option is very high in fat or calories. Both provide mostly carbs from the breads used to make them. The extra fiber in regular breadcrumbs is beneficial as well.
One of the biggest differences between regular and panko breadcrumbs is cost. Panko tends to be more expensive than regular breadcrumbs. Here are some average prices:
– Panko breadcrumbs – $3 to $4 per 8 oz container
– Regular breadcrumbs – $1.50 to $2.50 per 15 oz container
So you get nearly twice as much regular breadcrumbs for a lower cost. If you are looking to save money, regular breadcrumbs are the economical choice. For special recipes where the crunch factor is important, panko may be worth the splurge.
Should You Make Your Own Panko Substitute?
It is possible to make DIY panko style breadcrumbs at home with just a loaf of bread. Here is a quick method:
– 1 loaf thinly sliced white bread
– 1 tsp olive oil or butter (optional)
– Seasonings like garlic powder, Italian seasoning, etc (optional)
1. Remove crusts from each slice of bread
2. Cut bread slices into cubes
3. Place cubes on a baking sheet in a 350 degree F oven until lightly toasted, about 8 minutes
4. Remove from oven and let cool
5. Place toasted bread cubes in a food processor and pulse until finely ground into crumbs
6. For flavor, pulse in olive oil or butter and any desired seasonings
Making your own panko substitute can save money and allows you to control the flavor. However, it does take a bit more time and effort. For quick recipes, store-bought options are still very convenient.
In addition to substituting regular breadcrumbs in place of panko, there are a few other ingredient swaps you can try to achieve a lighter, crispier texture:
Use crushed cornflakes in place of up to half the breadcrumbs called for in a recipe. The cornflake crumbs will fry up deliciously crispy.
Saltine, Ritz, or other crisp crackers can be pulsed into fine crumbs as a substitute for up to half the panko.
Finely grind nuts like almonds, pecans, or walnuts to use in place of some breadcrumbs. The healthy fats will promote browning.
Crush up low-carb pork rinds to cut down on carbs while still getting a crunchy coating. Use in moderation, as they can overpower more delicate flavors.
Grated parmesan can be combined with breadcrumbs to enhance flavor and also help achieve a crispier texture.
Storing Leftover Breadcrumbs
Both panko and regular breadcrumbs have a decent shelf life of 6-12 months when stored properly in an airtight container. To maximize freshness:
– Store breadcrumbs in a sealed container or zip top bag
– Keep in a cool, dry pantry away from light and moisture
– Give the container a shake before each use to redistribute moisture
– If they absorb moisture, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees F for 5 minutes to crisped before using
– To freshen stale breadcrumbs, stir in a tablespoon of olive oil or butter before use
– For longer storage, freezer breadcrumbs for up to 3 months
– Use frozen breadcrumbs straight from freezer to bread foods before frying or baking
With proper storage techniques, you can keep an inventory of breadcrumbs on hand to use when needed.
While panko and regular breadcrumbs are not exactly interchangeable, regular breadcrumbs can be used in recipes calling for panko in a pinch. The texture will be denser and coating less crispy, but the dish will still work. To get best results when substituting, try grinding regular breadcrumbs finer, mixing with panko or other crunchy items, or using higher heat. For most uses, panko still provides ideal light crunch. But don’t count out regular breadcrumbs – their absorbent quality makes them the right choice for meatloaf, casseroles, and more. With a little creativity, you can use both types of breadcrumbs to make delicious dishes.