Pork schnitzel recipe for two. A comprehensive guide on how to fry golden brown delicious food, plus an explanation on why proper frying technique means the food doesn’t soak up oil! This recipe is FULL of tips for frying, and you’ll become well-equipped to go out and fry anything you want!

Sliced pork schnitzel on plate with lemon.

Pork Schnitzel Recipe

I’m considering changing the name of this blog. Something along the lines of Desserts for two…PLUS FRIED THINGS! I love to fry. I was born to fry! I believe I can fry! I believe you can fry, too! If it scares you, can we chat?

I understand frying for a crowd can be intimidating. I consider myself an expert fry mama (as opposed to fry daddy…), but even I wouldn’t take on chicken fingers for a crowd. I would opt to bake them instead, like I do for my baked breaded chicken strips. Those are even freezer-friendly, friends!

Anyway, a few months ago, I had a dinner party where I fried pork chops for 8. That is precisely how I learned the lesson that large batch frying isn’t fun for anyone, least of all the fry mama.  So, save frying for small batch stuff and date nights, ok?

Another common fear of frying is calories. As a lover of food, this is something I just don’t understand on a deep personal level. But, I will indulge you anyway. I’m nit-picky about measuring oil when I fry. I know that my 1-quart enamel-coated cast iron pot needs exactly 2 cups of oil to fry something small. After I fry, I strain the oil back into the cup for re-use. Hardly any oil is missing. If you’re frying properly, your food is not soaking up the oil. We can cover this more in a bit.

When to reuse fry oil:

I wanted to mention that I re-use my oil for frying about 4-5 times, because with each fry session, the crust gets a little browner. If I know it’s the last use of the oil, I will fry fish for a deeply golden crust. Anytime you fry fish, the oil is pretty much a one-time use. Don’t fry cod followed by funnel cakes. I’m speaking from experience here.

Personally, I fry in peanut oil and canola oil. In my opinion, the reason restaurant fried food is such a stark contrast of disgustingness is the type of oil they use (usually of dubious origin) and how frequently the oil is replaced with fresh oil (approximately never, according to a restaurant friend).

Why properly fried food doesn’t soak up oil:

So why is my food absorbing such little oil, yet it has this beautiful, brown crust that shatters at the touch of a fork? I’m so glad you asked!

It has to do with temperature. Any recipe worth its weight will call for a certain temperature of oil. Um, please don’t ignore it. It’s not a suggestion. But also, my lovely future fry mamas and papas:  test the oil once it is at the recommended temperature. Drop a small piece of batter in the oil–it should float and sizzle immediately. If not, it’s not hot enough.

When food swims in not-hot-enough oil, it absorbs the oil like a spa wrap treatment. Sometimes in the winter, my skin is so dry that I envy improperly fried food with that greasy coating. But honestly, after making my sweet potato fries recipe, 2 tablespoons of oil was missing. Divide that between two servings (let’s pretend I shared those sweet potato fries and didn’t lie to my husband about burning the first batch), it’s an extra 100-150 calories from the oil.

I learned these great lessons of fried foods from America’s Test Kitchen, and most specifically with their famous easy French Fries recipe. I didn’t believe them that the fries wouldn’t absorb oil during cooking. I measured, fried, and re-measured. Sure enough, they were right. (ATK is always right. Just learn that lesson right now).

I consider it dangerous knowledge that homemade fried food isn’t really all that oily and chock full ‘o calories. You are going to want to fry all the things! And that’s okay.

So, let’s recap, fried friends: Fry in small batches, measure your oil, ensure its temperature before adding the food, and don’t re-use your oil too many times.

Perfect pork schnitzel on a plate with green beans and lemon slices.

Ingredients for pork schnitzel:

Now, can we make some schnitzel? Oh, how I love Schnitzel. My husband and I both have Czech backgrounds, so we cannot resist a plate of schnitzel with German potato salad and sauerkraut. This is a fantastic Sunday supper for us, and surprisingly easy to make for two.

  • Pork Tenderloin. I buy a small pork tenderloin (less than 1 pound), cut it in half on an angle, and then pound away. If you place the pointed end down on the cutting board during pounding, you will get a pretty cutlet shape that fits nicely on half of a dinner plate. If you cut the pork tenderloin in half straight down the middle, you’ll have a thick end and a skinny end–do not do this! Cut at a 45-degree angle, please. See photos below for a guide.
  • Panko Bread Crumbs. Also called Japanese Panko bread crumbs, these are the caviar of bread crumbs, in my opinion. They’re made from toasted white bread, and they are large flakes of goodness. If you can’t find them, use 3-4 slices of white bread, crusts removed and sliced into sticks. Grind them in a food processor briefly and then toast them in a low oven until crisp and dry.
  • Eggs. Two large eggs. Be aware that we’re going to be adding oil to the eggs to help with the bread crumbs sticking.
  • Frying Oil. We have discussed this plenty, but I will reiterate: I fry in peanut or canola oil. You do you, and don’t judge others who fry differently than you.

Directions:

  1. Gather ingredients for this incredible pork schnitzel recipe: a small pork tenderloin, Panko, eggs, oil, salt and pepper.
    Ingredients for pork schnitzel.
  2. Now, place the pork tenderloin on a cutting board, and cut it in half on a 45-degree angle. This is very important! Do not skip this step! Place plastic on top of the pieces, and use a meat mallet or a rolling pin (the pointed end) to pound each piece flat. Pound until they’re 1/4-inch thick. As you pound, they will take on half-moon shapes and be perfectly even because we cut them at 45-degree angles!
    Pork tenderloin cut in half on cutting board covered in plastic.
  3. Remove the plastic wrap, and salt each side of the cutlets with salt and pepper generously. Then, get ready to dip. Add the Panko to a shallow dish. To another shallow dish, add the eggs plus one tablespoon of the oil and whisk together. Dip the cutlets in the egg mixture, followed by the Panko. Use your fingers to press the crumbs into the meat to help it adhere.
    Cutlets dipped in egg and bread crumbs resting on plate.
  4. Pour the oil into a small dutch oven, and allow it to heat over medium heat until it reaches 375-degrees Fahrenheit on a clip-on thermometer.
  5. When the oil is up to temperature, drop a few pieces of Panko in the oil to ensure they float and immediately start sizzling. Add the cutlets, and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side.

Two servings of fried pork on a plate with green beans.

Which cut of pork is best for pork schnitzel?

When cooking pork schnitzel, it’s best to use a small PORK TENDERLOIN. I love the marbling of a tenderloin, and you will not be disappointed with the flavor. Just make sure to cut it on a 45-degree angle before pounding. You can buy a larger pork tenderloin and cut as many pieces as you want to scale this recipe up for a crowd. I don’t like pork chops for schnitzel because I find them too lean, and the fat is disproportionately around the edges. 

What to serve alongside:

Yield: 2 servings

Pork Schnitzel

Close up of pork schnitzel with green beans on side.

Pork cutlet coated in breadcrumbs and fried for a delicious meal.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 minutes
Total Time 24 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 small pork tenderloin, less than 1 pound
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup white panko bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • lemon wedges, for serving

Instructions

  1. First, gather the ingredients, and begin to heat the oil in a small Dutch oven. Clip on a thermometer and heat it until 375-degrees F. Ingredients for pork schnitzel on white table.
  2. Place the pork tenderloin on a clean surface. Cut it in half on a 45-degree angle. Place each piece of pork between plastic wrap, and pound with a meat pounder (or rolling pin) until roughly 1/4" thick. It should take on a rough half-moon shape if you place the pointed end down while pounding. Sprinkle each pounded cutlet with salt and pepper, and set aside. Two pork cutlets being pounded on cutting board.
  3. Meanwhile, add the bread crumbs to a shallow dish. Add the eggs plus 1 tablespoon of the oil in another shallow dish. Dip the cutlets in the egg mixture, followed by the breadcrumbs. Use your hands to firmly press the crumbs into the meat. Let the cutlets sit and dry a bit while the oil finishes heating. Cutlets dipped in egg and bread crumbs resting on plate.
  4. Once the oil is up to temperature, carefully arrange both cutlets in the pan. There should be ample room if you're using a standard Dutch oven pot. Fry the cutlets for about 1-2 minutes on each side, until they are golden brown. Remove from the pan and let cool on a paper towel for a few minutes before serving.

Notes

Pork Tenderloin: A small pork tenderloin that weighs less than 1 pound. Cut it in half on a 45-degrees angle, and then pound it until it's 1/4-inch thick.
Panko Bread Crumbs: Sometimes called Japanese Panko bread crumbs. If you can't find them, use 3-4 slices of white bread ground them in a food processor, and then toasted in a low oven until crisp and dry.
Frying Oil: I recommend peanut or canola oil for frying.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 419Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 217mgSodium: 782mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 25g

Did you make this recipe?

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