Panko is an increasingly popular ingredient in the West, as this versatile type of breadcrumb adds a satisfying crispiness to numerous dishes.
Originally from Japan, panko gives a lighter, crispier texture to foods than the heavier, crunchier traditional Western breadcrumb.
In Japanese cuisine, panko has long been used as a crispy coating for dishes like chicken katsu and tempura.
This article explains everything you need to know about panko breadcrumbs.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of panko bread crumbs provides approximately (
- Calories: 100
- Carbs: 21 grams
- Fiber: 4% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Sugar: 1 gram
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Sodium: 4% of the DV
As you can see, panko is low in most nutrients, though it provides a small amount of carbs and protein.
Its poor nutrient profile is largely due to its ingredients. It’s typically made from refined wheat flour and a handful of other ingredients like yeast, salt, and cane sugar, which don’t offer many nutrients.
Although whole grains are rich in nutrients, refined wheat flour has undergone processing that removes the bran and germ. Thus, the end product is much lower in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals (
Panko provides small amounts of carbs and protein. Otherwise, it offers little nutritional value since its main ingredient is refined wheat flour.
If you’re wondering which type of breadcrumb to choose, you may wonder what differentiates panko originating from Japan from other types of breadcrumbs.
For starters, regular breadcrumbs can be made with any type of bread, whereas panko is made only from crustless white bread. As such, panko absorbs less oil than regular breadcrumbs, so it’s generally crispier and more delicate to the bite (
In addition, panko has little to no flavor, whereas regular breadcrumbs often come mixed with seasoning. For example, Italian breadcrumbs include basil, oregano, and other herbs popular in Italian cuisine.
For culinary uses, panko is common in Japanese dishes like katsu and tempura, as it adds a light, crisp texture. You can also try using it as a light batter or adding it as a coating for fish filets or lightly fried meats.
Regular breadcrumbs are often used in stuffing, breading for fried meats and casseroles, or binder for meatballs and bread loaves.
The nutritional value of breadcrumbs is similar no matter the type. However, whole grain breadcrumbs contain slightly more fiber and minerals than panko or regular breadcrumbs.
As you can see, whole grain breadcrumbs are a good source of iron and even a decent source of calcium.
Whereas panko is made from crustless white bread and is crispy and light, regular breadcrumbs are made from any bread and crunchier in texture. The nutritional values are quite similar, but whole grain breadcrumbs boast more fiber and minerals.
Panko has low nutrient density since it has very few nutrients but still contributes to your calorie intake. Keep in mind that high calorie diets with low nutritional value are linked to an increased risk of chronic disease (
Plus, since panko is often used as a coating for fried foods, you run the risk of eating more fried foods if you commonly eat dishes made with panko.
The frying process significantly increases a dish’s overall calorie and fat content without adding nutrients. In fact, a high intake of fried foods is linked to heart disease and other health risks (
However, panko can still be part of a healthy diet when eaten in small amounts.
As a starting point, enjoy about 1/4 cup (roughly 30 grams or 1 ounce) of panko in your dishes and adjust slightly based on preference. This is the typical amount used in traditional dishes, and is considered a low calorie and low nutrient serving.
Using small amounts as an embellishment to lightly fried dishes — rather than large amounts in deep-fried dishes — can also help you use panko in moderation.
Tips for adding panko to your diet
Here are some tips and common uses for using panko in a healthy manner:
- Be mindful of how much you use. Start with 1/4 cup (about 30 grams or 1 ounce) per serving.
- Add panko to nutritious meals high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. For example, consider adding it to grilled fish served with a side of roasted vegetables and olive oil.
- If frying with panko, use healthier cooking oils like avocado, coconut, or olive oil.
- Try cooking with alternative methods, such as air frying, roasting, or baking, instead of deep frying.
Panko can be part of a healthy diet, but you should use it in moderation since it’s low in nutrients and commonly used in fried foods. Furthermore, consider using it with healthy cooking oil and pairing it with nutrient-dense foods.
Panko makes an excellent ingredient for those seeking a lighter, crispier alternative to breadcrumbs.
Still, since this Japanese-style breadcrumb has low nutrient density and is commonly used in fried foods, be mindful of portion sizes.
Enjoy it as an addition to a balanced meal, and if frying, choose a healthier oil like avocado, coconut, or olive oil. Otherwise, you can opt for baked — or even air-fried — versions of panko-crusted meals.