Chicken that's crispy on the outside but juicy on the inside!
If your first response to hearing the word katsu is “gesundheit” (“bless you“ in German), then you have been missing out on a serious treat! Katsu is a beloved Japanese comfort food. It can be found in shopping mall food courts and streetside stands across the country. Traditionally, it’s made using a tender, juicy cutlet, breaded and deep-fried to a crispy golden brown. Our baked chicken katsu recipe cleans things up a bit and skips the deep frying, for a healthier (yet just as delicious) option!
Delicious Ingredients Create a Yummy Meal
Katsu is most often made using pork, but chicken and other meats are commonly used as well. A boneless pork cutlet is pounded thin. Next, it’s dipped in flour and a light egg wash (a mix of beaten egg and water). After that, it’s finally dredged in a coating of Panko breadcrumbs. Now, it’s the Panko that MAKES the miracle coating. Unlike traditional breadcrumbs you may be familiar with, Panko is flaked instead of ground. Due to it’s unique texture, Panko quickly fries up light and crispy, sealing in the meat’s juices.
Served with a side of rice, zippy dipping sauce (see below), and a tangle of cabbage, katsu hits all the notes in one easy-to-make meal.
Our version here will deliver all the traditional katsu yumminess but in a healthier way. For this recipe we:
- Substitute lean boneless, skinless chicken breasts for the pork.
- Oven-bake the chicken cutlets instead of deep-frying them, while using healthy avocado oil as our crisping agent.
- Serve it with either the traditional sides, or lighten the meal further by using cauliflower rice or shredded cabbage.
Preparing Our Baked Chicken Katsu
The key to a good katsu is a “cutlet” that is thin. The average chicken breast varies in thickness, so you’ll want to slice it lengthwise, then pound any thick parts so you have a consistent piece. If you don’t like the possible splatter factor of direct pounding, you can sandwich the chicken breasts between plastic wrap to pound them thin.
Bonus life hack: save the bags from cereal packages; they are stronger than ordinary plastic wrap and work like a champ when you have to flatten meat pieces!
Once your chicken has reached the desired thinness, it’s time to season the cutlets with a simple salt and peppering. Next, dredge the pieces in flour, and give them a dunk in the egg wash. Finally, coat them in the Panko, flipping them in the flakes to ensure you have a full coating on all sides. You may need to press them into the chicken a bit to make sure they stick to the cutlet.
Grab an oven safe rack and place it in a sheet pan or parchment-lined pan. Place the chicken on the rack carefully so the Panko doesn’t fall off. A quick spritz of avocado oil and you’re ready to put the cutlets into your preheated 400° oven. Bake the chicken for about 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 165 on a thermometer. Your chicken should be a golden crispy brown, ready to serve along with your desired sides.
Oh, another happy bonus for those of you that are sticking to a gluten free meal plan: there is a gluten free version of Panko so you can enjoy your crispy comfort food knowing it works with your body’s needs! Enjoy!
Katsu Sauce, Anyone?
The Katsu sauce uses ketchup as one of it’s main ingredients. Most of you certainly know that standard ketchup comes loaded with sugar, which ups the carb count and the calories! However, I’m happy to share that there are several great brands of ketchup out there now that have no added sugar. Feel free to use those in your sauce; the 1 tablespoon of sugar called for in the recipe will be more than enough to sweeten your sauce, but you can always add more, to taste.
Crispy Oven Baked Chicken Katsu
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
- 1 egg large
- 1 tablespoon water
- avocado oil spray
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (low sodium is fine)
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place an oven-safe baking rack inside a sheet pan (or line the sheet pan with parchment paper) and set aside.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise to create two thin chicken breasts out of each. If needed, pound the thick side of the chicken breast so it’s even with the thin side.
- Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
- Place the flour and panko in two separate, shallow dishes. In a large bowl, whisk the egg with the water until it’s well combined
- Dip each chicken piece into the flour, coating it evenly before dipping it into the egg mixture. Then, press the chicken into the panko until the breadcrumbs firmly adhere to each side.
- Place the breaded chicken pieces on the prepared baking sheet and spray each side lightly with the avocado oil spray.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
For the Sauce
- Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Serve with chicken, either on top or on the side for dipping.
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More Tasty Chicken Dishes
Did you love this baked chicken katsu recipe? If so, you might also like to try these tasty chicken recipes:
- The Easiest Air Fryer Chicken Breasts Recipe
- Juicy Faux Fried Chicken
- Simple and Delicious Fajita Chicken Bake
- Quinoa Chicken Nuggets
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