The perfect schnitzel starts with a great crumb

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The perfect schnitzel starts with a great crumb

Crumbs have long been an easy way to give food an extra dimension, and they certainly do that to a good German schnitzel. Contributing food editor Hannah Lewry breaks down the bread with her easy crumb 101.


A Wiener schnitzel is one of Germany’s great gifts to the culinary world. It’s a ‘breaded’ veal cutlet fried in butter or oil and served drizzled with lemon juice and sprinkled with parsley. Anything else is called Wiener Art (done in the style of Wiener schnitzel). Perfect the art as follows:

Buy breadcrumbs from Woolworths but if you have day-old or stale bread in the tin, it’s well worth recycling it to make your own.

A regular white government loaf (crust removed) makes a fine crumb that is great for dainty foods like open chicken croquettes that’s served with coleslaw.

Schnitzels and fishcakes, on the other hand, call for a more rustic, coarse crust that you’ll get by wizzing up stale ciabbatta, country-style loaf of French baquette.

Their mild taste means they won’t detract from the flavours and texture of what you are actually coating.

Simply blitz the dry bread in either a food processor or mini processor. Sprinkle the crumbs onto a baking tray and allow to air dry to make sure they are really crunchy when you want to use them.

Tip: mix the breadcrumbs with grated Parmesan for a delicious, cheesy flavour.


Now that you have the crumbs, it’s time to make the glue that’s going to hold it all together. In separate dishes place some flour, a couple of beaten eggs and your breadcrumbs.

If you’re avoiding (or out of) eggs, and especially if you’re coating something sweet, use buttermilk.

Season the flour for savoury dishes, and be generous as a lot of it gets lost as you lift and shake the meat.

Tip: For sweeter treats, I like to add a sprinkle of fine sugar to the flour which caramelises when you cook the food. Try this when making deep-fried ice cream pancakes.


1) Place the flattened boneless chicken breasts in a plate of flour and toss around to ensure that all the nooks and crannies are covered. Gently shake off any excess.

2) Dip them into the beaten eggs or buttermilk, one at a time. Hold each piece above the bowl to allow the extra liquid to drip off.

3) Roll breasts softly around in the breadcrumbs, using your fingers to lightly press the crumbs onto the breast to get a nice even coating.

Some foods only need one coating but deep fried camembert, for example, needs a second or even third coating to get the desired crunch.

The same applies when you make delicious deep fried avocado with tomato and ginger coriander salsa – the perfect snack for summer entertaining.

Tip: Make fried, crumbed chicken the Jamie Oliver way, which means marinading chicken pieces in buttermilk for up to an hour, then rolling them in crumbs and frying. Add garlic, lemon and/or chilli to the buttermilk for extra flavour.


It’s important that your oil isn’t too hot – if it is you run the risk of burning your bread crumbs and not cooking what’s inside. You know your oil is the perfect temperature by dropping a raw potato chip in the oil.

If bubbles form and it floats to the top, the oil is ready. I like to use a combination of oil and butter for a crispier, more flavoursome crumb.

Cooking time will vary but the crumbs will give you a good idea of when things are ready. You want a rich, golden brown colour.

Crumbed chicken breasts take between 5 and 10 minutes while a flattened veal or beef schnitzel will be done in around 3, depending on the thickness.

Chicken, veal or beef schnitzels are all great served with hand-made chips, a crisp green salad and a squeeze of lemon.

Tip: for a more refined, healthier and crunchier crumb, use Panko crumbs which are available from Woolworths.


You can top your schnitzel with a mushroom cream or pepper cream sauce, a tomato-based sauce seasoned with paprika and red-peppers, smother it in melted cheese, top it with fried eggs, onions and capers, stuff it with ham and cheese (and call it Cordon Blue) or ditch the crumbs and call it a Parisian schnitzel.

Serve with potato salad, a green salad with a yoghurty dressing, and an ice cold beer!

Hannah Lewry Article by: Hannah Lewry

Woolworths TASTE’s Food Editor is passionate about conjuring up fresh ideas for fast and easy dishes that taste as great as they look. Turn to her expertise for everything from time-saving mid-week food to lazy weekend meals. You’ll have a lot of fun in the kitchen while you’re about it.

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