Healthy Recipe: Baked Gluten-Free Chicken Katsu

Recipe by Leandra Rouse Photography by Sam Emmons

There’s a lot to love about chicken katsu: the crispy exterior, the tangy sauce and the versatility, much? Yet if a commitment to cutting down on fried foods has removed this Japanese staple from your healthy home cooking repertoire, you’re in luck. This baked version replaces gluten-free panko and almond flour as a protein-rich alternative to the traditional preparation. A quarter cup of almond flour contains seven grams of protein.

Crispiness is king in this recipe. There are several ways to maintain that satisfying crunch with a baked version. The ultimate recipe breakthrough comes from pre-toasting the panko and baking it on a wire rack. To retain maximum crunch, serve this dish immediately.

In this recipe, chicken is used as the main ingredient. But other protein sources can easily be swapped in, such as tofu, fish or pork. This katsu was served with brown rice and a ribbon carrot and cucumber salad to make a balanced healthy meal. Tonkatsu is a must-pair with sauce and can easily be made from scratch using one tablespoon of ketchup, 2 1/2 teaspoons of oyster sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, and one teaspoon of honey. Aim for a teaspoon or less of katsu sauce per serving size.


1 cup gluten-free panko Japanese bread crumbs

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon fresh black pepper

¼ cup almond flour

1 large egg

1 tablespoon of water

to serve

1 tsp of your favorite tonkatsu sauce


Preheat oven to 400ºF. Prepare your baking sheet by adding a wire baking tray. Remove the chicken from the fridge and wash each piece thoroughly and pat dry. Season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside to bring to room temperature.

Panko bread crumbs to pre-toast. Heat the olive oil in a cold pan and add the panko. Stir constantly until all the panko is golden brown. Set the panko aside and let the pan cool.

Prepare your breading station by arranging two shallow dishes near the baking sheet – one with almond flour and the other with a beaten egg and a tablespoon of water.

When you’re ready to begin, dip an individual piece of chicken in the almond flour, then the egg mixture, and finally the golden panko. Place chicken pieces on baking sheet on wire rack. Once all the chicken is breaded, add them to the oven and bake at 400ºF or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165ºF. It takes about 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve immediately with lemon and your favorite tonkatsu sauce.

Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (per serving) without sauce

200 calories

18 grams of protein

7 grams of total fat

1.5 grams of saturated fat

Cholesterol 100 mg

14 grams of carbohydrates

1 gram of fiber

1 gram of total carbohydrates

0 grams of added sugars

Sodium 230 mg

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