01 of 08
Breading: A Three-Step Process
The standard method for breading foods is a three-step procedure, creating a crispy coating before frying them. It's a basic process that's used all the time in the culinary arts, for making everything from fried chicken to onion rings.
Breading helps to seal in moisture when deep-frying or pan-frying. It also provides a crunchy and delicious exterior, and the golden-brown color makes the food more attractive. While this method is typically used for foods that will be fried, breaded items can be baked as well.
The standard breading technique includes three steps: dredging in flour, moistening in egg wash (beaten egg plus a tablespoon or two of water or milk), then coating in crispy breadcrumbs like Panko. The flour helps the egg wash adhere, and the egg helps the breadcrumbs adhere, ensuring the breading actually sticks to the food instead of falling off in the hot oil.Continue to 2 of 8 below.
02 of 08
Set Up the Stations
Because this is a three-step process, setting out the ingredients in an organized way will simplify preparation and create less mess. Fill three bowls or dishes large enough to hold the food you are breading with each ingredient—flour in the first, the egg wash in the second, and the breadcrumbs in the third. Figure out which direction you're most comfortable working in, whether right-to-left or left-to-right, and then arrange the three dishes in that order. Place them close together, even touching, so you don't leave a mess on your counter when moving from one step to the next.
You will also want a place to put the coated food once you've breaded them. A foil-lined baking sheet is always helpful, or simply a cutting board will do.Continue to 3 of 8 below.
03 of 08
Pat the Food Dry and Season Each Step
To begin with, make sure the food you're going to bread is dry. You don't want any extra moisture trapped under the coating which will cause the food to be soggy and not fry properly. Then you need to season each of the three coating ingredients with a little salt and pepper. This will assure that the food won't come out bland and every layer will be flavorful. Also lightly season the food you will be frying before you begin the coating process.
If you want to add more flavor to the dish, you can season the breadcrumbs with herbs and spices that will complement what you're making. Including some grated Parmesan cheese in the breadcrumbs also adds a nice flavor if you are preparing chicken cutlets, for example.Continue to 4 of 8 below.
04 of 08
Dredge the Food in Flour
Step one is to coat in the flour. Assuming you're working left-to-right, using your left hand, dredge the item in flour and shake off any excess. You want to be sure the food is coated evenly with the flour and there aren't any bare spots or areas where the flour is thick.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Transfer to the Egg Wash
Your left hand is going to be your "dry hand," while your right hand is going to be your "wet hand." So when you transfer the food to the egg wash dish, use your right hand and try not to get your left hand wet. Otherwise, when you go to dredge the next piece in the flour, you'll make a big mess.Continue to 6 of 8 below.
06 of 08
Toss in Seasoned Breadcrumbs
Use your wet hand (your right hand) to take the item out of the egg wash, let any excess egg drip off, and then transfer it to the dish with the breadcrumbs. Toss it in the breadcrumbs until it is thoroughly coated; it is okay if you need to press them on a little to assure they adhere. Now repeat the steps for all the pieces to be breaded.
When you're done, make sure you discard any leftover breading ingredients, especially the breadcrumbs that have had raw egg in them.Continue to 7 of 8 below.
07 of 08
Chill for 15 Minutes
Once you have all of the food coated, you will want to place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Chilling the breaded food helps the breading really take hold, making the flour stick to the food and the egg wash stick to the flour, and, finally, the breadcrumbs stick to the egg wash. This will offer a better chance of the breading staying on during frying versus falling off when moving the pieces in the hot oil.Continue to 8 of 8 below.
08 of 08
Fry Until Golden Brown
After the breaded food has had time to chill, you are ready to fry (or bake). If frying, fill a heavy-bottomed sauté pan with enough oil so the food you're frying is half-covered. Heat the oil until a few breadcrumbs sizzle when tossed in. Fry for a minute or two, until golden brown on the bottom, and then flip. (If your pan is small, fry in batches rather than overcrowd the pan.) Drain on paper towels or place on a cooling rack over a baking sheet and keep warm until ready to serve.
If baking, put breaded food on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet, drizzle with a little oil, and place in the oven. Bake until golden brown and cooked through.