Panko crumbs are light and flaky, and when fried, are crispy and flavorful and absorb less oil than most other crumbing options.
Golden and crispy, it can be hard to think of another substitute to use in place of panko crumbs if you do not have them at home.
What are the best substitutes for panko crumbs? While you will never get the exact same results as panko crumbs could give, there are some substitutes that come close, such as crackers, cereals, noodles, and more. Understanding the different substitutes for panko means you can find one that suits your meal best.
To help you choose which panko substitute would be best for your meal and would give you the closest results to panko bread crumbs, we have listed the top 9 substitutes and how well they work!
What Is Panko?
To find the best substitute for an ingredient, you need to know exactly what that ingredient is. So, what is panko?
Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb, which is made by crushing down crustless bread into a flake-like texture.
This breadcrumb is then used to coat different foods, such as beef, chicken, pork, seafood, or vegetables, which are then deep-fried and cooked.
Many people prefer to use panko over normal breadcrumbs, as where normal breadcrumbs are crushed really fine, panko breadcrumbs are more roughly crushed, which gives an extra crunch to the dish once it has been fried.
Panko also absorbs less oil than other types of breadcrumbs, which means that the resultant fried food is less oily and more crunchy, golden, and juicy inside!
While panko originated in Japan, it is used all over the world thanks to its great crispiness and taste it gives different foods.
The Absolute Best Substitutes For Panko
Panko breadcrumbs are loved by so many for a reason, and it is difficult finding anything that comes close to the results that panko breadcrumbs give.
However, if you just cannot get your hands on any panko and need to cook something at home, there are some other substitutes you can use which still offer up good results.
Here are our top picks for the best substitutes for panko. Each offers a slightly different finish to food, so read through to find out which you think would be the best substitute for you to use!
Panko is made from white bread, but it’s the process of how it is made from white bread that makes it different from other types of breadcrumbs.
The closest you can get to panko breadcrumbs at home would be to make your own breadcrumbs from white bread, which is something that most of us have sitting at home, or which we have very easy access to!
Making panko-like breadcrumbs from white bread is fairly easy, but it does help if you have a food processor to use.
To make the breadcrumbs, start by tearing up slices of white bread using your hands. Place these torn-up bits of white bread into the food processor, and pulse it until it forms rough breadcrumbs.
You don’t want to pulse it too fine, but rather to a rough consistency similar to panko.
You can then coat your food using these breadcrumbs and get to frying. If you want the breadcrumbs to be more similar to dried panko, you can leave them to sit in the fridge overnight before using them the next day.
A good tip for when you do not have a food processor is to place the bread in the freezer, cutting it into a quarter loaf to be easier to handle after freezing.
Once the bread is frozen solid, you can then use a grater to grate the bread into small little crumb-like pieces.
You can either microwave the grated breadcrumbs for a little bit or roast them in a frying pan to dry them up and crisp them up more before coating them.
Using white bread to make your own breadcrumbs at home is probably the closest you are going to get to using actual panko crumbs, as both are made from the same thing!
The cornflake cereal you have sitting in your pantry surprisingly makes a great substitute for panko breadcrumbs, especially if you don’t want to use white bread, and you are looking for something that gives a very crunchy texture!
However, avoid using any cereals that are coated in sugar or which have a sweet or fruity flavor, as this just will not taste so great with the protein you choose!
To use cereals as a substitute for panko, you should place the cereals in a plastic sealable bag, push the air out and seal the bag.
Use your hand, a rolling pin, a meat tenderizer, or another kitchen instrument to slowly crush the cereals, making sure not to puncture the bag.
You do not need to crush the cereal too much, as it will break down quickly, and keeping them a little more coarse will give you a beautiful crunch on your food once you have fried it.
Popped rice cereal and cornflake cereals are the best options to use as substitutes for panko, but once again make sure they are not flavored or coated in sugar, as this could ruin the taste.
Crackers are dry and crunchy already, so it makes sense that using them as a panko substitute will give you a crispy and dry finish too.
When using crackers as a substitute for panko breadcrumbs, it is best to use flavor-free, plain crackers, instead of using ones with added flavors that might change the flavor of the food you are cooking (unless that is something you want)
You also do not want to use crackers that are too salty, as this could cause your food to be too salty as well, which is never great.
The best way to prepare crackers for coating is to place them into a sealable plastic bag, push out the air, seal the bag, and then crush the crackers with your hands or a rolling pin.
You could also place the crackers into a food processor and gently pulse the processor until the crackers are broken down enough to be used as a coating.
You can crush the crackers as rough or as fine as you would prefer, with the rougher crushed crackers giving a more crunchy finish to the food you are deep-frying.
Follow the same crumbing process with the crushed crackers as you would for panko breadcrumbs.
Nuts are a good substitute for panko if you are looking for a substitute that gives your fried food a nuttier flavor. Deep frying the nut coating in oil also brings out the flavor of the nuts and will add quite a depth to the food you are frying.
There is quite a variety of nuts you can choose to use as a coating for your food, but the most popular is probably plain peanuts or almonds.
You can prepare the nuts for crumbing by placing them into a plastic sealable bag, pushing the air out, and sealing it shut. You would then need to crush the nuts, making sure not to pierce the bags, using a kitchen utensil.
As the nuts are quite small, a rolling pin might be the best option to crush them, rolling them back and forth to gently crush the peanuts.
If you have a food processor at home, you could pulse the nuts in the processor until they are at the right consistency.
You do not have to crush them to a fine powder, but make sure that the nuts are crushed small enough that they will stick to the protein you are coating them with and not fall off during the frying process.
If you wanted to get creative, you could even use a mix of nuts together!
Potato Chips/Tortilla Chips
Potato chips and tortilla chips work well as a substitute for panko breadcrumbs, and both the potato and corn options give a great crunch and flavor to fried food.
The one problem that comes with using chips as a substitute for panko breadcrumbs is getting them to stick.
You can choose to either pulse the chips in a food processor, or crush them in a plastic bag first, and try to get them to a small texture, but not too small and powdery.
You must dip the protein into egg and flour, or similar first, before coating them into the crushed-up chips in order to get them to stick properly.
Just make sure that you don’t leave any big pieces of chips in the crumbing mixture as this could cause a painful bite later on!
If you are looking for a lighter coating, and aren’t too worried about a very crunchy finish, you could use sesame seeds in place of panko crumbs.
The great part about using sesame seeds is that you do not have to crush them first, and you can coat them straight onto the protein you are using with some egg and flour if necessary.
There are black or white sesame seeds to use, and most people choose to use the white sesame seeds to coat foods, but it really is up to you which one you would prefer to use!
So while parmesan cheese is from the opposite end of the world from panko crumbs, it is a delicious substitute to use and offers great flavor to food.
Parmesan is also a keto-friendly crumbing option, so is ideal if you are wanting a substitute for panko crumbs due to a dietary requirement. Parmesan is also sold ground or powdered, so you can save yourself from having to do the preparation.
If you have a block of parmesan at home, you could grate it using a fine grater to prepare it for crumbing.
You can either mix the parmesan in with butter to coat proteins or mix it with some flour or almond flour to add more of a texture.
Parmesan gives a rich cheesy flavor and crispy texture to any type of protein!
Rice flour might not give the same crunch as panko bread crumbs, but it is a gluten-free option that can be used on almost all types of food.
It can be used in place of panko crumbs or wheat flour, and it sticks to food very easily, which means the chances of it falling off during the frying process are quite minimal.
While you won’t get the same crunchiness from rice flour, you will still get a good textured coating and a nice golden color once the food has been fried. The coating will be thinner as well, but sometimes this is a good thing!
Coconut flakes used in place of panko crumbs give food a great flavor and texture, and are definitely a crumb that you should try using at least once!
You can use coconut flakes, or even coconut powder, on sweet and savory foods when deep-frying, and coconut is gluten-free, so it suits a range of diets.
The coconut flakes will crispy up beautifully when deep-fried and they will give a nutty and fresh flavor to the food you are frying.
Healthy Substitutes For Panko Bread Crumbs
There are a few healthy substitutes for panko crumbs that you could choose. These include rice flour, coconut flakes, nuts, and sesame seeds.
These are all a little bit healthier than bread and chips, but it all depends on what your diet calls for, and what you think tastes the best while still being quite healthy!
Gluten-Free Substitutes For Panko Bread Crumbs
You can choose from quite a few different gluten-free substitutes for panko breadcrumbs. Some of the best gluten-free options include rice flour, coconut, nuts, and parmesan cheese.
This is quite a nice range of textures and flavors to choose from, so you aren’t too limited as to what you can use!
What Is The Best Panko Bread Crumb Substitute?
The best substitute for panko breadcrumbs would probably be breadcrumbs you make on your own at home using white bread.
Panko is made from bread, so it makes sense that making your own breadcrumbs from white bread will give you the closest possible taste and texture to panko.
It is easy enough to make your own breadcrumbs at home using white bread, and you can even add in some spices and herbs to flavor up the breadcrumbs a bit too!
Now that we’ve gone over the best panko bread crump substitutes, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!
What is the difference between panko and regular breadcrumbs?
Panko breadcrumbs come from crustless bread which is processed down into flakes and then dried down. This gives the panko crumbs a drier and flakier consistency, and they absorb less oil than normal breadcrumbs.
Breadcrumbs are made from bread which often includes the crust and is broken down to a crumb-like texture.
Can you use cornmeal instead of panko?
It is not a good idea to use cornmeal in place of panko breadcrumbs as the cornmeal won’t give similar results to what panko breadcrumbs would.
Can I use panko crumbs for desserts?
There are many desserts that call for panko crumbs in the recipe. Panko crumbs can be used well in different dessert recipes, either as a binder, a coating, or a topping, and can create a delicious crunchy exterior to a sweet treat!