What should you do if it's dinnertime, your recipe calls for bread crumbs, and you're all out? Well, you've got options! Today we're sharing some easy hacks and an even easier recipe, so you'll know just what to do the next time you need a substitute for panko bread crumbs!

homemade panko breadcrumbs, Shelf Cooking

Panko bread crumbs make any recipe better! Whether you're breading chicken, topping mac and cheese, or filling up a casserole, it's hard to beat the flavor and texture of those tiny, yummy crumbs. But even though we consider panko bread crumbs a pantry staple around here, they always seem to be the thing we're running low on!

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Luckily, we've learned a hack or two over the years, and we're about to share them with you. If you need a trusty substitute for panko bread crumbs, keep reading. We've got some genius ideas to share, plus a simple recipe. Let's do this!


panko breadcrumbs on top of casserole, from Shelf Cooking

Okay, before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let's pause for a quick primer on panko! Have you ever wondered what, exactly, panko bread crumbs are and what makes them so special? It's a great question. Let's talk about it.

Panko bread crumbs are made from white bread without the crust. They're a little different from traditional bread crumbs because of their airy texture. Losing the crust means they absorb less moisture and grease, making the dishes they top nice and crispy. These Japanese-style bread crumbs are pretty much heaven on earth!

Here are some of the most common ways to use panko bread crumbs:

  • Casserole Topping
  • Chicken Breading
  • Pork Chop Breading
  • Crab Cake Filling
  • Mozzarella Stick Coating
  • Potatoes Au Gratin
  • Veggie Burger Filling
  • Meatball Binding Agent
  • Stuffed Shells
  • Baked Mac ‘n Cheese Topping

And the list could go and on! The next time you're taking an inventory of pantry staples, make sure you have some panko bread crumbs on hand! We'll even show you how to make a big batch, so you don't have to run to the store. But first, let's talk about some substitutes that work in a pinch.


crushed cracker crumbs on chicken, from Shelf Cooking

You may not always have panko bread crumbs in the pantry, but we bet you have at least one of these! The next time you're running low on panko, try one of these ingredient substitutes:

  • Crushed Cornflakes – If you've got cereal hanging around, crush it up in a blender, food processor, or with your hands to make crumbs. Cornflake-crusted chicken or French toast are both incredibly yummy, and cornflake crumbs make great casserole toppings, too.
  • Cracker Crumbs – Speaking of crumbs, crush up some crackers! Grab a sleeve of Ritz or any other cracker you have available. Chicken casserole topped with crushed cheese crackers = life-changing. (You're welcome!)
  • Crushed Tortilla Chips – Here's the perfect way to use your leftover tortilla chips! Crush, blend, or crack them. Do what you gotta do to make some crumbs. By the way, leftover potato chips work, too! Oh, and for the record, you NEED to try breaded pickle chips in the air fryer.
  • Dry Stuffing Mix – Grab some dry stuffing mix, toss it in a resealable bag, then use a mason jar or glass to crush it into crumbs. This is the world's best way to relieve a little stress, too! #Bonus
  • Crushed Pretzels – If you have a bag of pretzels leftover from making trail mix, put it to good use. Pretzel crumbs make the perfect breading, filler, or topping. Pretzel-crusted chicken tenders are extra delicious. And if you have the honey mustard flavor? Well, that's pretty much divine!

See? It's super easy to swap in a substitute for panko bread crumbs if you need to! And we're not done yet. Are you ready for the world's easiest recipe?


Okay, spoiler alert: if you have a loaf of white bread, you've got everything you need to make your own panko! Ready for the super simple recipe? Here we go!

homemade panko breadcrumbs, Shelf Cooking

Easy Panko Bread Crumbs Recipe

You're just minutes away from a big batch of panko bread crumbs. This 1-ingredient recipe will save you tons of time and money!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Course Ingredient
Cuisine American, Italian, Japanese
Servings 3 cups


  • 1 loaf white bread
  • Garlic salt, to taste optional


  • Preheat oven to 300°F.
  • While the oven preheats, remove the crust from your bread, and break each slice into bite-sized pieces. Using a food processor, blend your bread into crumbs.
  • Place crumbs on a lined baking sheet, and allow them to bake for around 8 minutes, or until dry, flipping halfway through.
  • Allow your panko bread crumbs to cool, then store in an airtight container.


While we typically use loaf bread to make our panko, you can use leftover Italian bread, too. Just be sure to remove the crust. Want to add some flavor to your panko? You can season your crumbs with the herbs and spices of your choice before baking. 
Keyword bread crumbs, easy recipe, panko bread crumbs

It doesn't get much easier than that, huh? Feel free to use stale bread when you're making those crumbs, and if you want a bigger batch, just add more bread! If you keep your crumbs in a cool, dry place with an airtight seal, they'll last up to six months.

Now you're prepared for the next panko-packed recipe that comes your way! The key takeaway? You don't need to run to the store if you're out of those bread crumbs. Whether you make your own or use other ingredients in the pantry, you can bring your favorite recipes to life without spending an extra dime!

What's your go-to recipe that calls for panko bread crumbs? We love trying new things, so please leave a comment below!

Image with text that reads "homemade panko bread crumbs" from Shelf Cooking

Want to try one of our favorites?

Time to go break bread!