Is Panko Vegan? Find Out Here

Panko is a type of Japanese-style flaky breadcrumb that is used to form a crispy coating for fried food products. Although Panko is traditionally made from crustless white bread, you can incorporate the whole loaf of white bread as well. 

Since Panko is so widely used in numerous vegan dishes, there is a valid question concerning its constituents and if they are vegan. So, is panko vegan or not? Read on to get your answer. 

Is Panko Vegan? 

Original Panko is derived from relatively clean ingredients like wheat flour, yeast, oil, and salt. If you’ve been a vegan for a long time, you can gauge that these ingredients are vegan-friendly. 

However, there are instances where other non-vegan ingredients are used to improve the taste or texture. Some Panko brands may even use artificial flavorings or dairy products, thereby making it a non-vegan food. 

How is Panko Different From Bread Crumbs? 

Panko is the Japanese version of the regular bread crumbs and is usually crispier in texture. As Panko is traditionally made from crustless white bread grounded into airy, large flakes, it absorbs less oil. In comparison, standard breadcrumbs tend to have a bread-like consistency when fried. Let’s look at the table below for an in-depth comparison of the two foods. 

Feature Panko Regular Breadcrumbs 
Shape Authentic panko has a large, flaky shape, making the coated product look bigger. Breadcrumbs are dense and round 
TextureLight, airy texture with a crispy crumbHard dense texture
Oil LeftoversHot oil drain out due to tiny, little air pockets Doesn’t release oil easily, so it makes food greasy. 
Taste Crispy and crunchy without the “bready” flavorToo bread-like flavor overpowering the natural taste
Yield 50% better yield than regular breadcrumbs. Less yield than panko. 

Therefore, Panko is a better option. Even health experts advocate the benefits of Panko over western bread crumbs. Dishes such as Tonkatsu and tofu-crusted panko are relatively popular in the vegan community due to their healthy ingredients and appetizing portions. 

Culinary Uses for Panko

One of the best culinary uses for panko is in delicious fried foods. Since it is lighter and flakier than normal breadcrumbs, it absorbs less oil and presents a crispy coating. There are other uses of Panko in baked goods and soups and in every food that uses bread crumbs in its mixture. 

Panko even replaces bread crumbs as a topping for baked pasta recipes, casseroles, and mac and cheese. It can also be incorporated in vegan burgers as a binder, in soups and sauces as a thickener, and as a garnish for salads. 

Over the years, there has been an influx of panko brands providing for all kinds of diets. It is imperative to check the ingredients beforehand as some panko brands contain egg and milk in their formulations. 

Panko Vegan Recipes 

Panko is an incredibly versatile ingredient that satisfies your taste buds with its crispy consistency. As Panko does not overpower foods with its ‘breadlike’ aftertaste like normal breadcrumbs, it is the preferred choice for most vegan foods. As a beginner, you can try any of the recipes below. 

Tofu Tenders 

Transitioning to a plant-based diet does not always entail healthy choices. You can indulge in crispy tenders and copious fried foods as long there are vegan substitutes. These vegan tenders are crispy on the exterior and thick and creamy on the inside so brace yourself for a mouth-watering delicacy. 

  1. Start by draining the tofu to get rid of excess water and wrap it in a dishtowel. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 425F, retrieve the tofu and cut it into equal proportions. 
  3. Now arrange three dipping sections in different bowls–comprising flour for the first, plant-based milk and arrowroot powder for the second bowl, and panko, nutritional yeast, garlic, onion powder, paprika, oregano, and chill powder for the last bowl. 
  4. Start by dunking the tofu in flour and then milk, making sure that it covers the tofu completely. Now dip the covered tofu in the last bowl of panko and its spices, and then bake it for 20 minutes. 

Panko-crusted tofu tenders taste like a crispy delight in rainy or cold weather. Pair it with your dip of choice and enjoy the crispy overload. 

Mac ‘N’ Cheese 

A highly acclaimed dairy-free vegan delicacy among plant-based eaters, Mac ‘n’ Cheese is a classic food. This recipe is enriched with the goodness of vegetables but tastes almost exactly like the original recipe. The only difference is that the cheesy bechamel sauce in the original version is replaced by a sauce made from vegetables. 

The first step involves making a vegetable broth by combining chopped carrots and onions, along with a pinch of salt, garlic cloves, and bay leaf. Cook for 15 minutes. 

Now, gather the following ingredients for a blend:

  • Mustard 
  • Nutritional yeast 
  • Nutmeg 
  • Paprika 
  • Lemon Juice 
  • Olive Oil 
  • Black Pepper 
  • Salt 
  • Brown sugar 
  • Cashews 
  • Cooked vegetables with stock 

Assemble these ingredients in a blender and blend till it gets a creamy, sauce-like consistency. Mix it with macaroni and lay it out on a baking tray. Now, sprinkle the star ingredient of the recipe, panko on top of the vegan mac. This layer is a crumb topping that enhances your recipe and gives it a crispy texture. 


Here are a few other common questions people ask.

Is Panko Gluten-Free? 

Since panko contains wheat–a major source of gluten–it is not gluten-free. It is traditionally made from white bread and isn’t recommended for anyone following a gluten-free diet. 

Is Panko Healthier Than Bread Crumbs? 

Not only is it a vegan food, but it is also enriched with nutrients. Generally, Panko is lower in calories, fat, and sodium, so it serves as a perfect ingredient that needs bread. Moreover, it is a healthier alternative to bread crumbs as it helps control weight and maintains blood pressure. 


Veganism is a lifestyle comprised of a number of choices, and panko is one of the best additions to your plant-based diet. It is the perfect guilty-pleasure food for vegans who want to enjoy the bliss of crispy foods as well! 

Remember to check the ingredients of brands before purchasing panko online or from a store. Now, dig into the crispy texture! 

Brett White
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