This crisp, golden, and juicy schnitzel is the classic European-style meal, deliciously comforting and cozy!
Schnitzel, My Favorite European Comfort Food
Growing up in an eastern European household, I had the pleasure of enjoying a lot of schnitzel in my earlier years, and I'm happy to share this delicious tradition has carried over into present time.
Schnitzel is that classic comfort food, a European favorite that is so simple and easy to make, yet is somehow filled with the most complex and delicious flavors of love, home, and care. And this for me represents all that is so very beautiful and nourishing about home cooking.
I have very vivid memories of my mom preparing her schnitzel recipe, often with chicken earlier on, and later with pork.
First, she would gently tenderize the meat, then season it to give it delicious flavor. Next, she would set up her little dredging station consisting of a large bowl filled with flour, a second large bowl containing a couple of whisked eggs, and a third large bowl filled with breadcrumbs.
She would dip each cutlet of meat into the flour, then the eggs, then the breadcrumbs, and place it onto a plate to hold until all the cutlets were gloriously coated in the crumbs.
And when she was ready to begin frying, she would heat her oil in a large pan, and place batches of the breaded schnitzel cutlets into the hot oil to gently fry for a few minutes on each side to crispy perfection.
I remember the way the house would smell whenever she would prepare schnitzel, the aromas so savory, comforting, and enticing. I can still recall the the sounds the schnitzel would make as it fried in the pan, gently hissing and occasionally popping in the hot oil, becoming evermore golden-brown and enticing with each minute!
It was such as savory and simple meal, one that she would almost always, without deviation, serve with the traditional sides of fluffy mashed potatoes and a crisp, tangy salad made with a simple dressing of little lemon, olive oil, and salt.
What fond memories food can bring up... what comfort, joy, and pleasure!
What Is Schnitzel Anyway?
Simply put, “schnitzel” is a term used for the preparation of lightly pounded, breaded and fried cutlets of meat.
Traditional Wiener schnitzel (Viennese schnitzel) is made only with veal; but other versions of schnitzel can include the use of chicken, pork, mutton, reindeer, or beef—whatever meat is available and preferred.
How to Make Schnitzel, a Quick Overview
The process is quite simple...
- The meat requires only a very basic seasoning such as salt and pepper, and perhaps even a sprinkle of paprika, which my mom would often use in her recipe.
- Then, each cutlet is dipped in a bit of flour, next in whisked eggs, and finally in the breadcrumbs which are just traditional breadcrumbs found in all markets today. (But on a personal note, I like to use either all panko, or at least a combination of panko and traditional crumbs for a little extra crunch.)
- And finally, the breaded cutlets are fried in hot oil or fat, and served most traditionally garnished with lemon, and with potatoes with parsley as an accompaniment.
Tips & Tidbits for Schnitzel:
- Choose the meat: For more traditional schnitzel, I use either pork loin or pork tenderloin, both delicious options. I have also often made schnitzel with chicken breasts cut into thin cutlets, which is a great little change-up as well. (For the chicken, I marinate it in a little garlic and lemon!)
- Get out some stress & give the cutlets a pounding! To tenderize the cutlets of meat and prep them for their dip in the flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs, give them a little pounding with a mallet once you slice them. And if you don't have a mallet, just slice the meat nice and thin, and you should do well with that.
- Choose your breadcrumbs: The more fine, standard breadcrumbs are used for traditional schnitzel preparation; but for a little more crunch and texture, I personally like to modernize things a little bit by using a combo of half panko and half traditional bread crumbs.
- Hot oil for crispy schnitzel: When frying the schnitzel, use a large pan (doesn't have to be too deep, either) and a neutral oil such as canola, vegetable, or avocado. Make sure that the oil is nice and hot before adding in your breaded cutlets; and you can do this by dropping in a little piece of breading to see if it sizzles, or by placing the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil—if little bubbles begin forming around it, you're good to go.
- Traditional sides: For an authentic way to serve schnitzel, you can accompany it with boiled or mashed potatoes, and something a little acidic, like a salad.
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serve 4
Prep Time: 40 minutes (including 20 minute marination)
Cook time: 10 minutes
• 1 -1 ¼ pound pork loin, cut into 4 cutlets
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• ½ teaspoon paprika
• Black pepper
• ¾ cup flour
• 2 eggs, whisked
• 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
• ½ cup traditional breadcrumbs
• Oil for frying
• Lemon slices, to serve on the side (optional)
• Parsley, to sprinkle (optional)
--Begin by pounding out the pork loin cutlets using a small mallet, to tenderize; place the cutlets into a medium sized bowl and add the garlic, paprika, a couple of generous pinches of salt and pepper, and rub the seasoning into the cutlets; marinate for about 20 minutes, or even overnight if prepping ahead.
-When you are ready to bread the cutlets, prepare your breading station by having the flour in a large bowl or plate; having the whisked eggs in a large bowl; and having both the panko and the traditional breadcrumbs to another large bowl or plate; then, prepare another large plate to lay the breaded cutlets onto to hold for frying.
-Dip each cutlet into the flour, shaking off the excess, then into the egg wash, then the breadcrumbs, coating thoroughly; repeat the process until all cutlets are breaded.
-To a large frying pan add enough oil to fill the pan about ⅓ of the way up; heat the oil on medium-high heat for a few minutes, and check the readiness by dropping in a small piece of the breading to see if it fries and floats; once hot, add the breaded cutlets to the hot oil (work in batches if necessary), and fry for about 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown; remove and place onto a wire rack to drain; repeat with any remaining pork cutlets.
-Serve hot, garnished with lemon and parsley, if desired, and with your choice of sides.
Cook's Note: This post has been updated with even more love! And new photos!