Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, the Crispiest Airfryer Tonkatsu comes together in under 20 minutes! This is the best guilt-free homemade Tonkatsu recipe that everyone will love.
Tonkatsu or breaded pork cutlets are traditionally deep-fried, but I opted for a healthier alternative using the air fryer. If you are anything like me, you are someone who LOVES deep-fried foods. Honestly, I was skeptical of the air fryer at first because what? minimal oil? HOW? But once I bought one my life changed forever. This Tonkatsu recipe was one of the first recipes we made using the air fryer and it turned out so perfectly crispy and juicy!
What is Tonkatsu?
Tonkatsu is a Japanese dish composed of breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet. Pork loin is typically used for this dish.
Tonkatsu originated in 1895 in Ginza, in a Japanese restaurant called Rengatei that is still serving customers today! Rengatei was one of the first Japanese fusion restaurants. It took the French dish côtelette de veau, a veal cutlet coated in breadcrumbs and pan-fried with butter and transformed it into Tonkatsu using pork loin and panko crumbs deep-fried in oil.
Today, tonkatsu is served with a savory tonkatsu sauce which can be found in pre-made bottles in Japanese or Asian grocery stores. It is also plated with shredded cabbage and rice for a complete meal.
Why is an Airfryer so great?
Honestly, the air fryer is the best modern kitchen invention ever. It allows you to eat all of your favorite crunchy and crispy fried foods without any of the guilt later! GENIUS.
First, air fryers do not actually fry the food. The air fryer cooks the food in a perforated basket and blows hot air using a convection oven effect. As long as the temperature is above 320 F the breaded foods will turn crispy and brown.
Honestly, I chose to buy an air fryer because as I got older, I could no longer digest deep-fried foods. (Aka lots of stomach issues.) This made me incredibly sad because I don't ever want to give up eating fried foods. The solution: airfryer. Now I can eat all my favorites, including this recipe, whenever I want without any of the guilt or pain.
Ingredients For This Recipe
- Pork loin: I like to use boneless slices that are around ½ inch thick.
- Salt and pepper: used to season the pork
- Egg: used as a binding agent for the flour and the panko crumbs.
- All-Purpose Flour: seals in the pork and prevents it from being tough. Using all-purpose flour is the best choice because it can withstand high heat.
- Panko bread crumbs: Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb made from purely white bread. The panko flakes are larger than bread crumbs that provide a light and airy texture giving the Tonkatsu that beautiful crispy finish.
- Tonkatsu Sauce: Tonkatsu sauce consists of vegetables and fruits like tomatoes, prunes, dates, apples, lemon juice, carrots, onions and celery, and 10 different spices. It has a sweet and tangy flavor that pairs perfectly with the Tonkatsu. You can find Tonkatsu sauce here or at your local Japanese or Asian grocery store.
- Shredded Cabbage
How to Make This Recipe
- Tenderize the pork. Tenderize the pork by pounding the pork with a tenderizer. If there is a connective tissue in between the meat and fat (fat that is not along the edge of the pork), slice a few slits along the fat line to prevent curling.
- Season the pork with salt and pepper. Marinate for 20 min.
- Brown the panko crumbs. Next, add the panko crumbs into a frying pan on medium-low heat and gently toss until medium brown. Then transfer to a bowl or tray
- Prepare the egg wash and the flour bowl.
- Slice the cabbage. Slice the cabbage into thin pieces and soak in cold water and drain.
- Dredge in flour and dip in egg. After 20 min, dredge the meat in flour and remove excess flour. Then dip in the whisked egg. Let excess drip off.
- Dredge in flour and dip in egg again. For a second time, dredge the meat in flour and remove excess flour. Next, dip in the whisked egg. Let excess drip off.
- Lastly, coat with panko crumbs. Coat generously with the panko crumbs.
- Preheat the air fryer to 325ºF and cook for 7 minutes.
- Next, increase the heat to 375ºF and flip and cook for 4 minutes. The time might vary depending on how large your cuts are.
- Serve with tonkatsu sauce, rice, and sliced cabbage.
Tips For This Recipe
- Don't trim the fat. The fat along the edge of the pork loin will compensate for the dryness of the meat when cooked. However, if there is a connective tissue in between the meat and fat (fat that is not along the edge), make a couple of slits on the fat line to prevent it from curling.
- Pound the meat. Pounding the meat improves the pork's texture making it extra tender. If you don’t own a meat pounder, just use the back of your knife to pound.
- Be generous with the salt and pepper. The salt and pepper add to the flavor, but it also acts as an agent that tenderizes the pork as well.
- Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the pork. Slicing the pork in half will allow you to check if you need more cooking time.
You can store the crispiest air fryer tonkatsu in an airtight container for up to a week in the refrigerator or up to three months in the freezer. To reheat simply use the air fryer again for that crispy goodness.
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- Japanese Egg Salad Sandwich
- Hokkaido Milk Bread (you can also turn this dish into a sandwich using milk bread!)