A simple cutlet with a crispy, crunchy coating makes Pork Schnitzel an irresistibly easy meal.
Let me just start this post by saying—schnitzel is so crazy-easy to make, so good, and so versatile, it really should be part of everyone’s cooking repertoire. Really.
Not convinced yet? Okay—let’s talk about easy. About the easiest way you could cook something is 1) salt, 2) pepper, 3) pan-fry or grill. Schnitzel is barely more complicated than that, starting with a pounded piece of meat, aka a cutlet, and adding a crispy coating. So it’s 1) pound, 2) dip in coatings, 3) pan-fry. Really basic and simple.
Now let’s talk about good. That crispy coat makes all the difference. It takes the flavor from simple to simple-yet-sublime. Perhaps more importantly, it adds crispy, crunchy texture. Yum!
What Is Schnitzel?
Technically, “schnitzel” is German for cutlet, or a relatively thin piece of meat. But the name typically means the cutlet has been breaded and fried. “Weiner schnitzel” is typically made with a veal cutlet and is one of the national dishes of Austria, while pork schnitzel is more typical of Germany. But you could make schnitzel from any type of cutlet, including beef, chicken, and lamb. (My recipe for Breaded Chicken Cutlets is basically a variation on chicken schnitzel.)
But one of the reasons I like pork because it’s delicious, inexpensive, and easily available in boneless chops that I can cut or pound into cutlets. It’s also often available as cutlets already—even easier!
Tips for Great Schnitzel
A few tricks for making your schnitzel heads above the rest:
One, pound it to an even thickness. This will ensure that it’s evenly cooked, with no parts over- or underdone.
Two, definitely use a three-part coating—flour, egg wash, and panko. It’s really all about the panko, but you need the egg to help the panko stick, and you need the flour to help the egg stick. If you must, you could substitute breadcrumbs for panko, but it’s not the same. Panko is best for really crispy, crunchy shards of coating.
Third, make sure your cooking oil is heated to the right temperature, which is 325 to 350°F. Too cool and the panko will just absorb oil, making the coating heavy and greasy. Too hot and the panko will overcook before the cutlet is cooked through, resulting in a burnt coating and perfect meat or a perfect coating and undercooked meat.
How to tell if the oil is just right? Once you’ve heated it up, test it by poking the end of a wooden spoon or chopstick in there. If the oil bubbles steadily around the wood, it’s hot enough for frying. If no bubbles pop up, or just a few lazy ones, it’s too cool. If the oil bubbles crazily, it’s too hot.
Fourth and finally, sprinkle your schnitzel with a little extra salt before serving. Because the only thing better than a crispy, crunchy coating is one that’s also a bit salty.
Ways To Serve Schnitzel
As for versatile, you can do so much with schnitzel! You can serve it relatively plain, with just parsley and lemon, letting its simple flavors and textures shine. But you can also add a sauce—anything from a relatively traditional cream or dill sauce, to a sautéed mushroom sauce, to a not-traditional-but-oh-so-good ranch dressing.
You can also use schnitzel as a sandwich filler (on a roll with pickles and slaw—yes, please!). You can serve it with a fried egg on top. Or you can make it into “fingers” for dipping.
All in all, it’s an easy, tasty, versatile dish that’s perfect for quick weeknight meals.
A simple cutlet with a crispy, crunchy coating makes an irresistibly easy meal.
Serve with lemon wedges and chopped fresh parsley.
- 4 (7-8 oz.) boneless pork chops or 1 3/4-2 lb. boneless pork cutlets
- 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 2 Tbsp. milk
- 1 1/4 cup panko
- About 6 Tbsp. vegetable oil, or more as needed
- Cut or pound the pork into 1/4-inch-thick cutlets (see this post for how to do it by pounding).
- In a medium shallow bowl or pie plate, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. In another shallow bowl, lightly beat the eggs and milk. Put the panko in a third shallow bowl.
- Dredge a cutlet in the flour, coating it lightly on all sides. Then put it into the eggs, coating it fully. Place it into the panko. Use your fingers to mound the panko on top of the cutlet, then press it to adhere. Flip and make sure all of the meat is covered in panko. Place the cutlet on a large plate or platter and repeat with the remaining cutlets.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add enough oil to be about 1/8-inch deep. Heat over medium until the oil is 325 to 350°F. (An easy way to check is to stick the end of a wooden spoon or chopstick in the oil—if it bubbles, the oil is ready. See the post for more info about this trick.)
- Add 2 or 3 cutlets and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to plates or a platter, sprinkle with a little more salt, and loosely cover to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining cutlets, wiping out the skillet and adding more oil as needed.
- Garnish with lemon and parsley and serve.