Katsu curry is the ultimate comfort food. There aren't many situations in life that cannot be improved with a tender breaded chicken or pork cutlet coated in perfectly crisp fried panko crumbs with a creamy umami Japanese curry sauce. Plus, this one is super easy to make with just 30 minutes of cooking and prep time.
I fell in love with Katsu Curry on my first trip to Japan and have been cooking it at home ever since. I also like to whip up Japanese Curry using S&B Curry Mix, when I'm in a hurry or want a lighter option.
Katsu curry has become super popular in Western countries, especially here in the UK where you'll often find it at Asian restaurants like Wagamama.
The post contains additional information and helpful tips to ensure the recipe turns out great the first time. Please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end if you are in a hurry!
4 reasons why you'll love this recipe
- The tastiest flavours and textures in every mouthful with crispy breaded chicken and pork cutlets coated in a creamy umami curry sauce.
- Warming and comforting
- On the table in just 30 minutes
- Make-ahead and freezer friendly
🛒 Key ingredients
Breaded chicken or pork:
- Pork loin steaks or chicken breast. Traditionally, katsu curry is made with breaded pork cutlets, but chicken breast is a great alternative.
- Seasoned Flour. This adds flavour to the meat before you cook it. I like to add a variety of seasonings including smoked paprika, mustard powder, onion powder, garlic powder, white pepper and (most importantly) salt. If you don't have all these don't worry, you could omit a couple and it will still taste good.
- Egg. Acts as the glue that holds the katsu crumbs in place.
- Panko breadcrumbs. These should be available in your local supermarket. If not, an Asian grocery store will stock them.
- Curry cubes - Consist of a concentrated mixture of spices, flour, and fat that are used to make Japanese curry sauce. They are the most convenient way to make curry sauce and are dissolved in hot liquid to create a thick and flavourful curry sauce. Golden Curry cubes are the most commonly found. Some mainstream supermarkets like Sainsbury's and Ocado now stock them, otherwise you should be able to find curry roux in your local supermarket or Asian grocery store. To make katsu curry sauce without curry cubes check out my 25 minute katsu sauce reicpe.
- Other sauce ingredients - Onion, carrot and honey add texture and sweetness.
Note that the recipe has not been tested with all the substitutions and variations below, so the results cannot be guaranteed.
- Chicken breast or pork loin: Chicken breast has a firmer texture than thighs, which results in a more tender crisper cutlet, but you can use thighs instead. Loin is the pork cut of choice because its leanness enables it to cook evenly and quickly, but pork tenderloin and sirloin will also work well.
- Flour: Switch for gluten-free for a gluten-free option.
- Panko breadcrumbs: You can also use normal breadcrumbs. The pork katsu won't be as crispy but it will still taste really good.
Katsu curry is a very versatile dish. Although chicken and pork are the most commonly found, there are lots of other alternatives to try if you want to change things up:
- Vegetable Katsu Curry: Made with breaded and fried vegetables such as aubergine/eggplant, courgette/zucchini, or sweet potato. It's a great option for vegetarians and vegans or those looking for a lighter alternative.
- Tofu Katsu Curry: Made with fried breaded tofu instead of meat.
- Seafood Katsu Curry: Incorporates breaded and fried seafood, such as shrimp or scallops, in place of meat.
- Spicy Katsu Curry: Add chilli powder, hot sauce, or diced chilli peppers to the sauce for a hot kick.
- Mushroom Katsu Curry: Made with breaded and fried mushrooms, such as portobello or shiitake.
- Sautéed non-breaded meat or vegetables for a lighter alternative.
- Egg: Served with a boiled, fried or poached egg instead of or in addition to the other proteins in the dish.
🧑🍳 Recipe steps
Step 1: Make the sauce: Place a saucepan on a medium to high heat, add oil and sauté the onions for a few minutes until they are translucent. Add the carrot slices and cook for a few more minutes. Pour in the water and bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add the curry cubes and honey and stir until the sauce thickens. Then reduce the pan to its lowest heat while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Step 2: Prep the meat: Cut the fat off the chicken or pork loin steaks and tenderise them by gently banging them with a meat tenderiser or rolling pin.
Step 3: Breading the cutlets: You will now need 3 bowls. Add flour to one, beat the egg in another and add the panko breadcrumbs to the remaining bowl. Season the flour with paprika, mustard powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and white pepper, and mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
First, coat each piece of meat in flour, then dunk into the beaten egg and finish by placing them into the panko breadcrumbs until covered.
Step 4: Fry: Place a frying pan on a very high heat and fill with 0.5cm or ¼ inch oil. Then use tongs to safely turn the pork over and cook for two minutes on the other side. Remove the cutlets from the pan with tongs when they are done and place them on a wooden board. Let them rest for a few minutes while you plate up the rice. Then cut the pork into slices, place it on top of the rice, and pour the katsu sauce on top.
- Rice: Serve with steamed Japanese short-grain rice or another rice of your choice to soak up the flavourful curry sauce.
- Udon noodles: Thick and chewy udon noodles have a neutral flavour that pairs nicely with the curry sauce.
- Pickles: Include a side of Japanese pickles like takuan (pickled daikon radish) or cucumber pickles. Their tangy and crunchy nature provides a refreshing contrast to the rich and crispy fried cutlets.
- Salad: Add some freshness to your meal by serving a side salad like this Mooli, Carrot and Cucumber Salad.
- Garnishes: Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds or chopped green onions on top of the chicken katsu curry to enhance the presentation and add a hint of nuttiness or freshness.
- Miso Soup: Start your meal with a bowl of comforting miso soup. It complements the flavours of the curry and provides a satisfying beginning to the meal.
- Season the flour. Most katsu curry recipes won't suggest that you season the flour, but adding smoked paprika, salt, white pepper, mustard powder, garlic powder and onion powder to the flour really adds to the flavour of the crispy fried pork. Don't worry if you are missing a couple of these, but be sure to season the flour with the ingredients you have. I promise that you will not regret it.
- Get the oil hot before you add the meat - you need the oil to be red hot to get panko-coated chicken or pork deliciously crispy. It's best to drop one panko crumb into the pan to test the oil. If the oil is hot enough the crumb will sizzle up. If the crumb sinks then you need to wait a little longer before you cook the pork.
- Use tongs. They enable you to handle the meat cutlets safely while you fry them.
🙋 Recipe FAQs
The crispy panko-breaded pork tastes best when eaten fresh, but you can store the cooked dish in the fridge for up to 3 days. It's best to store the pork and curry sauce separately so the breaded pork does not go soggy.
You can freeze the breaded cutlets and sauce for up to 3 months, but they should be frozen separately to prevent the breading from going soggy. Defrost the sauce in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stove or in the microwave. You can cook the breaded pork from frozen in the oven or air fryer.
Traditional Japanese katsu curry is typically not very spicy and tends to have a milder flavor profile. The curry sauce itself is often more on the savory side, with a balance of sweet and savory notes. However, some variations or homemade recipes may include spicy elements like chili powder or hot sauce to add heat. Ultimately, the level of spiciness can be adjusted to suit individual tastes by adding or reducing spices and peppers in the curry sauce.
You can cook breaded chicken or pork cutlets in an air fryer. While traditionally katsu curry is made by deep-frying the breaded cutlets, using an air fryer can provide a healthier alternative, although they may not be as crispy.
Simply place the breaded cutlets in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Cook them at a temperature of around 400°F (200°C) for approximately 12-15 minutes, flipping them halfway, until they are golden brown and crispy. Note that the time it takes to cook them will vary depending on your air fryer model and thickness of the meat, so be sure to keep an eye on them and look out for signs of doneness.
More Japanese-inspired recipes
Chicken Katsu Curry
- 150 ml (⅔ cup) Vegetable oil. To fill a frying pan with 0.5cm or ¼ inch.
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot sliced
- 300 ml (1.25 cups) water (approx. check the packet instructions) (Note 1)
- 2 (11 oz) chicken breasts or pork loin steaks approx 150g or 5 oz each (Note 2)
- 30 g (¼ cup) plain or all-purpose flour (Note 3)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika (Note 4)
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp mustard powder
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp sea or kosher salt
- 1 egg
- 100 g (1 cup) panko breadcrumbs (Note 5)
- 2 portions of katsu curry roux cubes (Note 6)
- ½ tbsp honey (Note 7)
- Place a frying pan on a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil and fry the onions for a few minutes until they are translucent. Then add the carrot slices and fry for a few more minutes.
- Add the water, bring it to boil, then simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the chicken or pork cutlets. Cut off the fat and tenderise them by pounding them with a meat tenderiser. (Note 8)
- Mix the flour, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, mustard powder, white pepper and salt in a bowl.
- Crack the egg into another bowl and beat.
- Place the panko breadcrumbs in a third bowl.
- Place each piece of chicken or pork into the flour until coated, then dunk them in the beaten egg and finally place them in the panko breadcrumbs until they are covered.
- By now the sauce should have simmered for 10 minutes. Add the curry roux cubes and stir until it thickens and add the honey. Leave the sauce on a low heat until it is ready to serve.
- Place a frying pan on a high heat and fill with 0.5cm or ¼ inch of vegetable oil.
- When the oil is hot, place the prepped meat cutlets into the pan and fry for 2 minutes on each side. (Note 9)
- Place them onto a wire rack or board when done. (Note 10)
- Slice cooked chicken or pork and place on top of the rice and spoon the katsu sauce on top.
- Water: The amount of water required may vary depending on the brand of curry cubes you use. Make sure you read the packet instructions.
- Chicken or pork: Traditionally, katsu curry is made with breaded pork cutlets, but chicken breast is a great alternative. Chicken breast has a firmer texture than thighs, which results in a more tender crisper cutlet, but you can use thighs instead. Loin is the pork cut of choice because its leanness enables it to cook evenly and quickly, but pork tenderloin and sirloin will also work well.
- Plain or all-purpose flour: Switch for gluten-free flour for a gluten-free option.
- Seasoning the flour: Adds flavour to the meat before you cook it. I like to add a variety of seasonings including smoked paprika, mustard powder, onion powder, garlic powder, white pepper ,and salt. If you don't have all these, you could omit a couple and it will still taste good.
- Panko Breadcrumbs: These should be available in your local supermarket. If not, an Asian grocery store will stock them. You can also use normal breadcrumbs. The pork katsu won't be as crispy but it will still taste really good.
- Curry Roux: Consist of a concentrated mixture of spices, flour, and fat that are used to make Japanese curry sauce. They are the most convenient way to make curry sauce and are dissolved in hot liquid to create a thick and flavourful curry sauce. Golden Curry cubes are the most commonly found. Some mainstream supermarkets like Sainsbury's and Ocado now stock them, otherwise, you should be able to find curry roux in your local supermarket or Asian grocery store. To make katsu curry sauce without curry cubes check out my 25 minute katsu sauce recipe.
- Honey: Substitute with sugar.
- Tenderising the meat: If you do not have a meat tenderiser you can use a rolling pin instead. Put the meat into a plastic bag first for hygiene reasons.
- Check the oil is hot: Drop a breadcrumb into the pan. If it floats and sizzles you can start frying, but if it sinks you will need to wait a while longer. You can also use a frying thermometer to check the oil has reached 180°C or 350°F.
- Meat doneness: Check by cuting into one of the cooked chicken or pork cutlets with a sharp knife to check the meat is white. If it is red it is not done and will need to go back into the pan. You can also use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. Cooked pork should be 158°F or 70°C and cooked chicken 165°F or 75°C.