Chicken Katsu チキンカツ (Japanese Breaded Chicken)


Japanese cuisine can be divided roughly into washoku 和食, traditional Japanese food, and yoshoku 洋食, which defines dishes inspired by Western cuisines. Unsurprisingly, the former is healthy and light, while the latter contains many deep-fried, rich dishes. I quickly realised my heart goes very often (maybe too often) to the westernised cuisine and such deep-fried delicacies as korokke コロッケ(potato croquettes), ebi fry (breaded shrimp) or tonkatsu 豚カツ (breaded pork loin) are among my favourite Japanese dishes. The fact that these dishes were the only ones I could read on menus in Japan (they are in majority written in one of the two Japanese syllabaries, much easier to decipher than Chinese characters) makes me love them even more.

Breaded chicken cutlets, or chicken katsu, (“katsu” is a Japanised version of the word “cutlet” or “côtelette”), are at least as excellent as tonkatsu, their close cousins, but in my opinion they are easier, quicker and more crowd-pleasing. Some of my friends call them Japanese chicken nuggets. The main difference in the preparation is that, unlike pork loin, chicken breast is often cut into smaller pieces and briefly marinated before being fried. (Although I have seen also bigger chicken katsu versions too).

I know I’m repeating myself, but I have to emphasize that Japanese breaded dishes are not mere copies of their Western counterparts. First of all, Japanese flaky panko creates a lighter, crunchier result than simple dried bread crumbs. Moreover, thanks to deep-frying, the dishes cook quicker, absorb less oil and are juicier. (Of course, if you prefer shallow-frying, you can easily shallow fry chicken katsu).

As a big fan of Nami’s blog (Just One Cookbook), an infinite source of well-explained and beautifully photographed Japanese recipes, I naturally chose her Chicken Katsu recipe and wasn’t disappointed. The result was perfect, as every time I follow Nami’s instructions and advice. Thank you so much, Nami, for one more infallible recipe!

If you prefer pork, you might like my Thin version of Tonkatsu, or Breaded Pork Cutlets (as you see this is one of my favourite bowls…):



Traditionally both tonkatsu and chicken katsu are served with a dark, thick sauce called “Tonkatsu sauce”. It is available in Japanese grocery shops, but is too sweet and too heavy to my taste. Thanks to Hiroyuki’s kind advice (Hiroyuki’s Blog on Japanese Cooking), I make my own version mixing ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce. I also serve chicken katsu with mayonnaise and hot chili oil sediments you see above or with hot chili paste, such as Korean gochujang.

Deep-frying scares many people, but becomes easy and quick with time. Everyone has different preferences of course, but the basic rule to observe is to make sure the food is completely dry before it’s fried (or breaded) to minimise the risk of oil splashes. Personally I prefer deep-frying in a small cooking pan (I have one which is only for deep-frying) using a small amount of oil. I also place the pan as far as possible from myself, just in case the oil splashes. If you are really not comfortable with deep-frying or don’t have enough oil, you can of course shallow fry this dish.

Deep-fried food should “swim” easily, so do not overcrowd the pan (otherwise the temperature becomes lower, the food fries slowly and absorbs more oil).

You will probable have to fry in several batches (unless you have a big deep-frying dish or make a small batch). In order to make sure all the chicken pieces are hot when served, I place a baking dish in the oven at 100°C/212°F, line it with paper napkins and put there deep-fried bits, one by one, until the whole frying process is finished. This way they keep warm and if you serve them in the same hot baking dish, they will stay warm on the table too.

Frying oil can be used as long as it doesn’t darken and is always filtered after each use (I usually throw it away after three times, but it depends on what you fry… Fish for example can make the oil smell strong, so keep it only for fish or seafood frying).

Preparation: about 30 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

2 medium chicken breasts

about 10 heaped tablespoons of panko

5 tablespoons wheat flour

1 egg, slightly beaten

salt, pepper

tablespoon sake

oil for deep-frying

tonkatsu sauce to serve (or a mixture of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce) or mayonnaise + thick chili paste or taberu rayu sediment

Slice chicken breasts diagonally into 1 cm (about 1/2 inch) thick slices.

(If you keep the chicken tenderloins; i.e the thin strips attached to the breast, but usually sold with the breast, separate them from the main piece of breast and simply cut them in horizontally in two).

Season the chicken slices with sake, salt and pepper.

Put aside.

In the meantime preheat the oil for deep-frying.

(I don’t have the special thermometer and put some panko in the oil to check the temperature. If it starts making bubbles, doesn’t fall down and is fried immediately, it means the oil is hot enough. )

Dust the chicken slices with flour, dip them in the beaten egg and coat in panko, pressing so that the whole slice is covered.

Deep-fry them until golden, in batches, trying not to overcrowd the pan (unless you have a very big frying dish), on both sides (it usually takes 2- 3 minutes per side).

Remove excess fat, placing the meat slices on paper towels.

Keep them in a warm oven (see the TIPS above) until you finish frying all the batches.

Serve with rice, on shredded cabbage or a light salad with the special Japanese tonkatsu sauce or, like I do, with mayonnaise and chili paste (or chili oil sediment).

Chicken tonkatsu is also excellent as a snack (you can cut it in bite-sized pieces too).

43 Replies to “Chicken Katsu チキンカツ (Japanese Breaded Chicken)”

  1. What a happy surprise Sissi! I’m in my car waiting for my son to get out of school and ding! It was ping back from your site! So happy to hear you like it! Chicken Katsu is probably the easiest Katsu for everyone in the world to make yet often tonkatsu seems like mainstream. My mom made more chicken Katsu when I was young. Your Katsu looks so delicious! I’m definitely making it this weekend because we always have all ingredients at home that I can just decide on the same day we eat… I really wish to take you to food tour in Japan one day! 😉

    1. Nami, you are so kind and sweet! I hardly had time to send the “newsletter” and you have already commented! Thank you so much for the compliments and of course once more many thanks for this excellent recipe. I think I will be having chicken katsu once more this weekend too… I have spent too much time thinking about it today 😉 I also wish I could visit a bit of Japan with you! Let’s cross our fingers!

          1. Nami’s recipe was also the one that I saved in my bookmarks out of the others I’ve seen! I’ve just not had the chance to put it to the test yet, but you’ve shown me that it’s really do-able! looks so yummy! my preference is for the traditional light kind of japanese cuisine (if you think of it in terms of cultural upbringing then I guess it might be because I grew up in an asian household ith lots of steamed dishes and plain rice), but some parts yoshoku I adore! like this. yum.

  2. Your “hitokuchi” (one-bite) chicken katsu look delicious and exceptional (donburi style with mitsuba on the side).

    I had fond memories of chicken katsu. There used to be a kissaten (Japanese cafe) run by two young pretty sisters. Their chicken katsu teishoku (set meal) was the best I have ever tasted: One big chicken thigh katsu with very light and thin demi-glass sauce, thredded cabbage, a lemon wedge, and a few slices of tsukemono (pickle) on a large plate; premium Koshihikari rice produced here; and miso soup with wakame and tofu. And, it was much cheaper (840 yen or so) than their tonkatsu or “mix katsu” teishoku!

    1. Thank you so much, Hiroyuki. I am really proud you like the way they look. The one-bite side was rather accidental because the breasts were small and the slices cut diagonally ended up in small pieces, but I prefer small pieces. They look cuter.
      It was sadly one of the last mitsuba leaves I had in my interior plant box. No mitsuba sold here alas…
      The katsu teishoku you mention sounds exceptional and reminds me how good and at the same time cheap food can be in Japan. I suppose the fact that the sisters were pretty added a bit more of popularity to their kissaten too 😉 It’s incredible that in such small not expensive places excellent quality rice and other products can be eaten. All depeneds on the owner’s ambition and love for food I suppose…

  3. I’ll have to make both the chicken and pork loin versions one day soon. I have the meat in the freezer already.

    I had a batch of chicken katsu strips ready some time ago but my nephew came over and ate most of them as part of a chicken wrap and then the rest on top of a chicken caesar. No chicken cutlets left for me to add to a bowl of rice.

    I have to get some taberu rayu as well. 🙂

    1. You have to make sure your nephew doesn’t visit you or make a bigger batch and make you both happy 🙂
      Taberu rayu is incredible. I have been making it on my own because it’s quite expensive here and we are addicted.

      1. My nephew volunteered to stay with me for 2 weeks after my last hip replacement, in order to take care of me, otherwise I wouldn’t have been released from the hospital, and I had to feed him SOMETHING. I was on crutches and couldn’t cook for the first week (and he was fussy about what else I had available as he was on the Atkins diet) so I dug the chicken strips out of my freezer. He liked them … a LOT. 🙂

        I remember your post about the taberu rayu.

        1. Luckily you had them in your freezer! I never freeze cooked meals (on the other hand nowadays my freezer is too small), but I remember you had planned it before the operation.

  4. Sissi you’ve outdone yourself! I absolutely love your food photography! I’ve tried Nami’s tunkatsu and it was absolutely delicious, the chicken katsu looks mouth watering. I gotta tell you I am loving your food styling!

    Have a good weekend!

    1. Dear Jeno, thank you for such huge compliments. I am extremely flattered. You know, I struggle a lot with my simple camera and am not really good at food styling… I suppose chicken katsu itself looks always attractive 😉 You know, the way some people are photogenic… Have a lovely weekend too.

  5. I am not a deep fried food lover, as you know, but Japanese deep fried foods are my favourite particularly tempura! My husband adores your recipe with a pork cutlet, but it’s a meal reserved for when we dine out or order in. I’ve been craving broths soups lately due to a persistent respiratory infection, so yesterday I enjoyed a tempura udon, so wonderful and warming.

    1. You don’t like deep-fried dishes or, like me, cannot “afford” to have them regularly? I wish deep-fried dishes were low calorie, low-fat and very healthy 😉 Then I would have them every other day at least!
      I’m sorry to hear about your infection. I thought it was finished a long time ago… A good soup is always soothing when one is ill. I hope you will feel better soon.

    1. I am not surprised. Panko is crunchier and absorbs less oil. I no longer coat anything in European dried crumbs. I use only panko.

  6. Very interesting to read about washoku and yoshoku, I had no ideas. And interesting and not surprising that yoshoku is more deep fried, rich etc. I think the trade seems fair. Japan introduced its healthy cuisine (sushi) to Westerners and in return Westerners introduced their culinary delights to Japan, with lots of oil and butter:)
    Your picture is pretty real – just looking at it is producing crunchy sounds in my head…
    Have a nice weekend.

    1. Thank you so much, Mr. Three-Cookies. It’s funny because no matter which European cuisine you take, it would be the other way round: the modern cookery, inspired by Asia is lighter and healthier 😉

  7. Your chicken katsu looks delicious! I can see why that blue bowl is your favorite. It’s beautiful and photographs so well! Have a great weekend Sissi!

    1. Thanks a lot, Tessa. I appreciate your compliments a lot. I think I was lucky with the subject: chicken katsu always looks appetising 😉

  8. I’ve been wanting to try this ever since I first saw over at Nami’s. Now I see it here and you definitely did it justice. I just want to grab a piece from your picture and start eating! I can tell it would have the crunch I love with fried foods! And – like you – I do love my fried food. Another southern U.S. thing I guess. 🙂 I’ve never fried with Panko, but now that I read how it differs from using a western “breaded” batter, I can’t wait to give it a go. Thanks!!!! Have a great weekend my friend!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. Do try it! It’s so delicious and easy! Panko is crunchier and absorbs less fat (it’s more like flakes than crumbs), so I think it means only advantages.

  9. Hi Sissi – I should *really* get some panko (then I can make some decent croquettes!). I’m always resorting to just smashing up some old bread which… while it does work it doesn’t yield the same results at all! Your chicken katsu looks perfectly done – golden and crisp, delicious all over. I never eat chicken nuggets of any kind when I’m out – I ordered takeaway the other day and found they’d messed up the order and given us chicken nuggets instead of cheese sticks and jalapeno cheese things. The nuggets were just terrible – uniform shapes, spongey, grey chicken inside with a mousse-like texture (so basically about 30% chicken and the rest is filler)… I was so disappointed, but breaded chicken, or a really well made chicken nugget is always a big weakness of mine, even when I was having my “anti-chicken” phase last year!!

    1. Panko is great. They really made my chicken korokke crispy and crunchy compared to the chicken strips that I made with regular bread crumbs. Of course deep frying over shallow pan frying is also important.

    2. Thank you so much, Charles. I don’t know if it’s perfectly done, but even when I fry tonkatsu/chicken katsu/korokke too much, it always tastes great. Contrary to tempura which has to be eaten straight away, panko coated food can wait a bit in a warm oven before you finish all the batches, so it’s not so frustrating for the cook.
      I think I tasted chicken nuggets once at McDonald’s maybe ten years ago… It tasted like fatty paper, but then I had it here in a small restaurant once. They made it very well and I loved them. I hope you can buy panko soon!

  10. Oh…your Chicken Katsu looks so delicious! Yes, I love Nami’s recipes and tips too. So easy to follow and clear. 🙂 Now, I can’t wait to make this tomorrow.

  11. Very nice Sissi! Nami’s blog is a true source of inspiration isn’t it and you’ve done a beautiful job with this recipe. I went through a serious tempura phase ;o) about a decade ago when I was working in concrete tower territory (it was my lunch of choice over and over again) so I’m quite certain I would dig this variation. I also always have panko on hand so that makes it easy. Yay!

    1. Thank you very much, Kelly. I love tempura too, but it’s much more difficult and fussy to prepare than breaded food… This one is great even the following day in a sandwich, while tempura is already soggy after a couple of minutes. Nonetheless, you have made me crave tempura!

  12. Dear Sissi!
    This is intriguing as the Japanese seldom eat or serve this version of deep-fried chicken, at least in the mild-weathered Prefecture in Shizuoka although they might do it in colder areas.
    It just shows that we are more and more being accustomed to fusion gastronomy and and that we are keeping researching for new adaptations!
    All that thanks to the Internet!
    Best regards,

    1. Thank you, Robert-Gilles. I have seen however chicken katsu in Tokyo and Hiroyuki has some nice memories of a restaurant serving it in his city too… Maybe it depends on the region, as you say? Anyway, everything is good coated in panko 😉

  13. Sissi, Chicken Katsu happens to be a huge favorite Japanese style chicken of mine…have not made it in such a long time; time to buy some Sake and make this yummy, crunchy chicken again! Thanks for sharing:)

Comments are closed.