Breading is a classic cooking technique where a protein (and sometimes vegetables) are coated in a crispy exterior crust. This simple process of adding this layer elevates the dish by adding both extra flavor and textural contrast. It may sound silly but I think a good breading is the ultimate upgrade to everyday foods. It’s funny, really, that something so simple can make a dish just about irresistible but it really does (and the BestRecipes food team agrees!) While the process of breading is very straightforward, it can be a little intimidating for many people. But fear not! The perfect breading technique is only three easy steps and a little bit of hot oil (but not too hot) away. Follow along and you’ll be on the path to breading just about anything like a pro.
The first step is dipping the protein in flour, this is called dredging. The pros know to season every layer, which means a little seasoning in this flour layer will make a world of difference in the end result.
The flour layer acts as a binder for this next step, the egg. The egg now has something to cling to making this an essential part of the process.
Lastly, the coating! The egg acts almost like a glue for this final stage. Whether you’re dipping in flour, breadcrumbs, ground nuts, cornmeal, or whatever else! You now have yourself an easily breaded and ready for frying (or air frying) dish.
Make It Your Own
That’s it, the makings of the perfect breading! But you don’t have to stop there. This is the perfect foundation to build off from. Below are a few ideas for what you can do if you’re feeling a little adventurous!
Dial-Up the Flavor
For the coating, reduce the breadcrumbs and add grated parmesan or pecorino cheese. The bold flavors of these cheeses act as a seasoning, add additional texture, and brighten the flavor.
Switch Up the Profile
Adding cheese isn’t the only way to add flavor. You can take it even further by adding seasonings right into the coating. Adding things like dried basil, oregano, Italian seasoning, or herbs de Provence. You can add regional inspiration with these simple additions.
Upgrade the Texture
Sure, using breadcrumbs for that final coating is great but there’s a whole world to explore. You can mix in or substitute for ground nuts like almonds or dried quinoa for a superior crunch.
Picking a Protein
Fish, veal, chicken, pork, or even sliced vegetables like eggplant are great for breading. Whichever you prefer, just make sure it’s cut to the same thickness so it cooks evenly all the way through.
Why it Works
Dredging in flour first gives a dry surface for the egg to stick to and the egg gives the breadcrumbs something to adhere to. The end result is a crunchy and flavorful crust!
Tips for Success
1. A heavy skillet, like cast iron or a Dutch oven, works best for even heat distribution.
2. Having the right amount of oil is important. Make sure there’s enough to go halfway up the sides of the food but not so much that your food is fully submerged in it.
3. Between batches, skim any loose crumbs from the oil before adding in the next batch to fry.