The Real Difference Between Panko And Regular Bread Crumbs

Panko bread crumbs are known for being light and crisp — much more so than regular bread crumbs. Also known as "Japanese bread crumbs," the coating hails from Japan where it is used to coat or top many different dishes both baked and fried (via The Spruce Eats). You might be familiar with or already use panko bread crumbs at home to bread foods that you want to be extra crispy or to even taste like it's been fried according to MasterClass

But if you tend to use regular bread crumbs and haven't been pleased with the resulting texture, panko can add a satisfying crunch that your recipes might need. While both bread crumbs and panko can lend certain qualities to foods, each will provide different characteristics to dishes that the other can't. You might, however, be surprised to learn just how different the two types of breadcrumbs really are.

This is what sets panko bread crumbs apart

If you've ever made bread crumbs at home out of stale bread, chances are you crumbled slices of bread after drying it out using a low temperature in the oven (via AllRecipes). But the process of making panko bread crumbs is actually quite different. Traditionally, white bread without crusts is cooked using an electrical current in an oven specifically designed for panko according to Taste of Home. The very dry, baked loaf of white bread is then shredded rather than pulsed in a food processor to yield larger flakes than regular bread crumbs. But the type of bread and the process of making each type of bread crumbs are not the only things that set each apart. 

According to MasterClass, the crispy texture of panko and the amount of oil it can absorb is different from ordinary bread crumbs. Though regular bread crumbs can be prepared using methods that create a crisp shell or coating, the crunch is not quite the same as panko. Panko goes beyond crisp and almost crackles like puffed rice. That's likely because of its ability to absorb less oil than regular bread crumbs. With less oil in the crevices where water once was, panko bread crumbs can retain more of their dry crunch.

Nutritional differences between panko and bread crumbs

Given that panko bread crumbs and regular bread crumbs are both forms of dried bread, each type of coating, surprisingly, has some significant nutritional differences. 

According to Kikkoman Sales USA, Inc., per one-half cup of panko bread crumbs, there are 110 calories, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein. But one key nutritional difference between the two is that panko contains no fat or fiber.

Per one-half cup of regular bread crumbs, there are 168 calories, 30 grams of carbohydrates, nearly 3 grams of sugar, and roughly 6 grams of protein according to the Nutritionix food database. Though regular bread crumbs have more calories, carbs, sugar, and protein, they also contain 2 grams of fat and 2 grams of fiber. 

However, despite the different qualities and nutritional values, both types of bread crumbs can be used in similar dishes. 

How to substitute bread crumbs for panko

Though panko is traditionally used to add texture to Japanese dishes like chicken katsu and regular bread crumbs are known as binding agents in dishes like homemade meatballs, both types of bread crumbs can be used as substitutes for one another. While the differences between panko and regular bread crumbs will somewhat alter the dish, both can serve the general purpose you likely need, such as texture. 

Substituting one type of bread crumbs for the other is simple as you can typically use equal amounts of one for the other (via Taste of Home). However, many dishes that require bread crumbs call for as much as you like or need to cover a certain surface area. For example, in dishes where you are coating (like chicken fingers) or topping (such as casseroles), you can easily sprinkle as many panko or regular bread crumbs as you need.

So, don't hesitate to use one kind of bread crumbs over the other rather than foregoing them altogether from a recipe.