Elevate Your Panko-Coated Dishes With Parmesan

Eggplant, chicken tenders, shrimp, cod, or even green beans — coat them in panko and you'll have a winning meal. But if you want to know how to elevate your panko-coated dishes even further, toss some Parmesan into the mix for a simple way to boost flavor without the faff.

Parmesan is the perfect addition to panko because it contains glutamate, the amino acid that produces the meaty, umami flavor that's also present in soy, MSG, fish sauce, and dried mushrooms. Umami flavors boost satiety, so dishes that feature Parmesan often feel more satisfying, filling, and downright delicious. Combine that with crispy Japanese breadcrumbs and the result is an audibly crunchy bite with a super-savory taste.

Better yet, it couldn't be easier to incorporate a touch of Parm in your panko to make an uber-quick, versatile coating that tickles every tastebud. All you need is a little experimentation to get the ratio of Parm to panko on point. Once you've mastered your perfect crispy, cheesy mix, this scrumptious coating is amazing on anything from fried chicken and fish fillets to mozzarella sticks, zucchini fries, calamari, and burgers. Indeed, anything you'd normally coat with panko can be improved with a generous grating of Parmesan, lending it heaps of more satisfying, umami savoriness.

How to add Parmesan to your panko breadcrumbs

To make a savory Parmesan-panko mix, add your cheese to a tray of breadcrumbs and seasonings, like garlic powder or paprika, and give everything a mix until the Parmesan is evenly distributed in with the crispy flakes. Then continue with your recipe as normal by coating your chicken, vegetables, or meat in a beaten egg before breading the protein in your blend of seasonings. This delicious recipe for crispy baked veal Parmesan follows the same simple technique but also has the extra crispy addition of crushed cornflakes within the panko and cheese mixture. 

Or, you can skip the egg altogether and slather your protein in mayo, as featured in this recipe for Parmesan-crusted tilapia (just switch the lemon breadcrumbs for panko) before pressing on the crumbs with your fingers to set it all. For a cheesier coating and saltier kick, increase the ratio of Parmesan to panko. Finally, choose your heat source of choice: a quick fry in a hot skillet, a slow bake in a hot oven, or an oil-free spin in the air fryer.

If you're craving a little cheese with a lower-carb crunch, your Parmesan-panko blend can be used as a topping instead of a coating on a fillet of baked salmon or cauliflower steak. You can even use pre-grated or powdered cheese from your pantry instead of the fresh stuff to make sure you're never more than a few minutes away from some Parmesan-crusted chicken fingers, pork schnitzel, or crunchy tofu bites.