Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, this Baked Tonkatsu recipe is a total game-changer. All you need is the right techniques and tips to achieve perfection. Serve with tonkatsu sauce, you can now enjoy this popular dish at home.
Tonkatsu (とんかつ) or Japanese pork cutlet is one of the well-loved dishes on a Japanese menu. Imagine taking a big bite of tender juicy pork chop encased in crispy panko that is deep-fried to perfection. That alone will make anyone mouth water.
Since tonkatsu requires deep frying, it’s understandable why this delicious pork cutlet is not a common dish to make at home. Most people prefer not to deep fry food at home because it can be dangerous and creates an oily smell in the kitchen. Besides, who likes to clean up messy splatter all over the stovetop after deep frying? So today I’m going to show you how you can make baked tonkatsu that’s juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside!
Important Tips for Oven-Baked Tonkatsu
1. Pre-cook panko for a crispy texture
One of the most important features of delicious tonkatsu is the crispy panko texture when you take the first bite. Just like how I prepared the Crispy Baked Chicken Katsu recipe and Crispy Salmon recipe, the key for panko to stay crispy and golden brown is to pre-cook panko before breading the pork. That way you won’t need to spray or pour a lot of oil on panko in order for it to turn golden brown in the oven. With the pre-cooked panko, you don’t have to worry about taking too much time to brown the crust and this helps to prevent the pork loin from overcooked.
2. The thickness of pork loin
Another important tip for oven-baked tonkatsu is that you can’t use thick pieces of pork loin. It will take too long for the pork to cook through so keep in mind that the thickness of pork should be no more than 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Remember to use good quality meat and pound it so that the pork loin will be nice and tender after it’s being cooked. When the food is as simple as this, the quality of the ingredient speaks for itself.
Lastly, I added black and white sesame seeds into tonkatsu sauce but it’s optional. If you can’t find tonkatsu sauce, here’s my homemade recipe which can be easily replicated at home. Japanese tonkatsu restaurants often have bowls of mortar and wooden pestles on the table for you to grind sesame seeds while you wait for the tonkatsu to arrive. You may wonder why you have to grind your own sesame seeds. Well, this is part of enjoyment eating tonkatsu. Sesame seeds emit a very nice aroma and flavor when you freshly grind them. The nutty flavor of sesame seeds goes very well with tonkatsu sauce.
When the tender and juicy pork loin is baked to perfection with a nice brown crust of crispy panko, you know you have a Baked Tonkatsu recipe that is a total game-changer. Enjoy with tonkatsu sauce and freshly ground sesame seeds.
If you prefer a regular deep-fried Tonkatsu recipe, click here. I actually don’t mind deep frying, but for a healthier alternative, this baked tonkatsu is AWESOME!
- ¾ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 boneless pork loin chops (½ inch thick) (½ lb, 227 g)
- 1 tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour (plain flour)
- 1 large egg (50 g w/o shell)
- tonkatsu sauce (for homemade tonkatsu sauce recipe, click here)
- 1 Tbsp toasted white and black sesame seed
- Gather all the ingredients. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). For a convection oven, reduce cooking temperature by 25ºF (15ºC). Put a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
To Pre-Toast Panko
- Combine the panko and oil in a frying pan and toast over medium heat until golden brown. Transfer panko into a shallow dish and allow to cool.
To Prepare the Pork
- Get rid of the extra fat and make a couple of slits on the connective tissue between the meat and fat. The reason why you do this is that red meat and fat have different elasticity, and when they are cooked they will shrink and expand at different rates. This will allow Tonkatsu to stay nice and flat and prevent Tonkatsu from curling up.
- Pound both sides of the meat with a meat pounder, or if you don’t have one then just use the back of the knife to pound. Mold the extended meat back into the original shape with your hands.
- Sprinkle salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Dredge each pork piece in the flour to coat completely and pat off the excess flour. Then dip into the beaten egg and finally coat with the toasted panko. Press on the panko flakes to make sure they adhere to the pork.
- Place the pork on the prepared baking sheet or even better if you have an oven-safe wire rack (as air goes through on the bottom so panko won't get crushed). Bake at 400ºF (200ºC) until the pork is no longer pink inside, about 20 minutes.
- Cut Tonkatsu into 1 inch pieces (so you can eat with chopsticks) by pressing the knife directly down instead of moving back and forth. This way the panko will not come off. Transfer to a plate and serve immediately.
- To make special sesame tonkatsu sauce, grind black and white sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle, add tonkatsu sauce, and mix all together.
- You can freeze the fried and cooled baked katsu in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to a month. To reheat, bake it at 375ºF (190ºC) on a wire rack until the inside is warm.