What Is a Breaded Pork Cutlet?

Mark Wollacott

A breaded pork cutlet is a cut of pork that has been breaded and fried. It is often eaten as a main meal or put into sandwiches for lunch. Variants of the breaded pork cutlet exist across the world including the schnitzel of Austria, kotlety schabowy of Poland and the Japanese tonkatsu. The schnitzel was first recorded in Vienna in the 1400s, but may have existed around the world before then. Breaded pork cutlets are relatively easy to make and are accompanied by a wide variety of side dishes.

Breadcrumbs are typically used to make breaded pork cutlets.
Breadcrumbs are typically used to make breaded pork cutlets.

Pork cutlets can be made from a number of cuts of pork. Pork chops can be used, but loin cuts are more common. The meat needs to be fresh and tender, making tenderloins one of the best cuts. Center portions tend to provide the tenderest meat, whereas shoulder blade cuts are fattier and sirloin cuts are bonier.

Wiener schnitzel is a classic popular pork cutlet dish in Austria.
Wiener schnitzel is a classic popular pork cutlet dish in Austria.

Traditionally, a breaded pork cutlet is first hammered with a meat hammer. This makes the cut thinner and, therefore, easier to cook. A thin cut will cook faster than a fatter one, meaning the breadcrumbs are less likely to burn.

Pork loin is most commonly used to make pork cutlets.
Pork loin is most commonly used to make pork cutlets.

Once the cut has been thinned, it is dredged through three bowls. The first bowl contains flour, the second bowl contains beaten eggs and the final bow breadcrumbs. An alternative to breadcrumbs are Japanese panko crumbs. The breaded pork cutlet is then deep fat-fried or pan-fried in oil until the breadcrumbs turn golden and crispy. The frying process only takes a few minutes, making breaded pork cutlets a quick meal to prepare.

A bowl of sour cream, which is often served with breaded pork cutlets.
A bowl of sour cream, which is often served with breaded pork cutlets.

Schnitzel is an Austrian dish from Vienna with variants all around the world. Traditional schnitzel is made from veal, but many variants, including those found in Austria, use pork cutlets instead. A breaded pork cutlet schnitzel is usually served with a garnish and potato salad, but it can also be served with mushrooms, bacon and onions.

Applesauce, which is often served with breaded pork cutlets.
Applesauce, which is often served with breaded pork cutlets.

Rantott hus is a Hungarian version of the schnitzel that usually uses pork. It is eaten with chips, rice or mashed potato and a cucumber salad. Hungarians tend to eat the meat with a sour cream called tejfol or with ketchup and mayonnaise. Rantott hus is usually eaten as a Sunday meal or for festivals and special occasions.

Kotlety schabowy is another variation that comes from Poland, although it may predate the schnitzel. Before the pork cutlet is dredged through the flour, egg and breadcrumbs, it is soaked in milk for a few minutes while the oil heats up. It is often served with applesauce or sour cream and with pierogi or a side salad.

In Japan, the breaded pork cutlet is cut into strips and served with boiled rice, Worcestershire sauce and miso soup to form tonkatsu. As an alternative to Worcestershire sauce, the tonkatsu can be served with a miso sauce to make miso katsu from Nagoya. Katsudon is a variant of tonkatsu that places the sliced pork cutlet on top of the rice along with spring onions, grated daikon and partially cooked omelet.

Different cuts of pork can be used for pork cutlets, although loin cuts are most common.
Different cuts of pork can be used for pork cutlets, although loin cuts are most common.

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