Are you ready to try our mouth-watering traditional German schnitzel recipe? With easy-to-follow steps, you will want to make this over and over again. Enjoy!
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About once a year, my mother used to make her version of Wiener Schnitzel, found nowhere in the entire world except her kitchen, and it became one of those meals that just feels like a hug from her. It’s that good! Since moving to Grafenwoehr, we have been on a serious hunt to find and eat the best traditional schnitzels in the country.
Where Does Schnitzel Come From?
While many argue that schnitzel originated in Austria, its origins probably lie somewhere else in eastern Europe. Today schnitzel, or some form of it, can be found in most countries around the world. Italy has veal scallopini, Japan has tonkatsu, and in the US we have chicken fried steak. It seems that there is just something magical about frying up a thin piece of breaded meat.
Regardless of where it comes from, we’ve come to look at some schnitzel as being a traditional German dish. German schnitzel is usually made with pork as opposed to the veal typically used in Austria. Also, schnitzel in Germany is much more likely to be served with some topping or sauce.
Traditional German schnitzel is definitely on our must try foods list for Germany. It is a flat, breaded and fried slice of pure goodness, one of my favorite foods in the entire world. When I’m tired, worn out, sick of the usual work grind and I want a home-cooked, feel good meal, I always want schnitzel.
What Meat Is Used for Schnitzel?
You can use pretty much any type of meat for your schnitzel. For example, I’ve seen turkey, chicken, pork, veal, and even ostrich schnitzels on the menu. If you’re going with a traditional Wiener Schnitzel then you’re talking veal. But the most common and popular schnitzel would have to be pork or Schweineschnitzel and that’s our choice as well.
Pro Tip: The trick to a tender, juicy German schnitzel is not slicing the meat super thin but rather using a meat tenderizer (hammer or rolling pin) to pound the meat down to a 1/4 – 1/2 inch thickness. I’ve used a few different cuts over the years including boneless pork chops (several different cuts) pork steaks, and tenderloins. My favorite, for both tenderness, flavor, and consistency is the pork tenderloin.
Which Cut of Meat Makes the Best Schnitzel?
I’ve tried several different cuts of meat for my schnitzel, but I keep coming back to pork tenderloin with the silver skin trimmed away and separated into two or three sections. If I’m making chicken schnitzel, then it has to be the breast. For Wienerschnitzel, it has to be veal and a boneless veal chop is almost always used.
It is possible to find thinly sliced, boneless chops, either pork or veal, that seem like a good choice. These are often thin enough to be taken right out of the package, breaded, fried and served on the plate with no other prep work. These might work good for a quickie, but never come out as good.
For a true schnitzel the meat must be pounded with a meat tenderizer or wooden mallet from about 3/4 of an inch down to about 1/4 inch. This breaks down the meat fiber and ensures the most tender of schnitzels. It’s then dredged in flour, egg, and then bread crumbs before frying to a delicious golden brown.
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What Kind of Breading Makes the Best Schnitzel?
There are so many choices for breadcrumbs in the grocery store, but I’ve found the best, most traditional schnitzel is made using plain breadcrumbs. I’ve tried making my schnitzel using Italian seasoned bread crumbs, and it was ok, but the seasonings didn’t really add anything to the flavor and it clashed with the creamy jaegersauce I love to have on my schnitzel.
Once I had schnitzel breaded with pretzel crumbs, which was interesting and tasty, but not my favorite. Another option is panko bread crumbs. These are more light and airy than regular bread crumbs and are a good substitute. In fact, this is what is used for tonkatsu, in Japan, and that is a wonderful meal.
We’ve found a few great schnitzel restaurants, but we’ve also learned how to make the best ourselves, and here is our German Schnitzel recipe, complete with video. We’ve also learned that we love a good sauce or filling for a different schnitzel experience.
What is the Best Way to Cook Schnitzel?
The best schnitzel is cooked in rarified butter. This adds a rich nutty taste to the schnitzel and almost always ensures that deep golden crust. Rarified butter has a high smoke point so is less likely to scald then regular butter. If rarified butter isn’t an option, any non-flavored cooking oil will do; vegetable or peanut oil are what we fry schnitzel in.
Next, it is important that the oil is hot, about 300 degrees f. and deep enough that the schnitzel will just float in the oil. I use a cast iron pan that has been brought up to temperature slowly. The cast iron works good because it retains its heat when the uncooked schnitzel is placed in the hot oil ensuring the temperature doesn’t drop too low and comes back up quickly.
Our Favorite Traditional Schnitzel Restaurants
We’ve found good schnitzel in German restaurants all around the world, but our favorites are all in Germany. These are stand out kitchens that consistently serve delicious, tender and juicy schnitzel, encased in a delectably crispy golden breading. Another factor that goes into our decision is the toppings involved. I’m a real sucker for a rich, creamy sauce.
Of course, you don’t need to go to Germany for a good schnitzel. There are a number of small “German towns” or neighborhoods around the US where tasty schnitzel can be found. We’ve found some delicious schnitzel in Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, even in California!
Authentic German Schnitzel Recipe
This traditional pork schnitzel recipe is tried and true. Eating it will make you feel that you are smack dab in the middle of a German Gasthaus. Enjoy!
- 1 pork tenderloin, about 2 lbs.
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 eggs
- 1-2 cups bread crumbs
- vegetable oil
- 1 lemon, sliced thin
- Trim excess fat and silver-skin from the tenderloin, and then cut it into 4 equal pieces.
- Place one piece between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound with the flat side of a meat tenderizer until about 1/4 inch thick. Repeat for the remaining 3 pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
- Combine the flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic and spread it out on a large dinner plate. Whisk the egg on a second large dinner plate. Spread out a thin layer of bread crumbs on the third plate.
- Dredge one of the schnitzels in the flour mixture, being sure to coat both sides evenly, and shake off excess flour. Transfer the floured schnitzel to the egg and coat both sides.
- Lay the egg washed schnitzel on the bread crumb bed and sprinkle a layer of bread crumbs on top, pressing down gently to adhere the crumbs to the schnitzel.
- Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a heavy skillet to around 325 degrees Fahrenheit so that the oil will be hot and ready for the breaded schnitzel (but be careful not to scorch the oil). Gently put the breaded schnitzel into the hot oil. Shake the pan carefully side-to-side while the schnitzel swims in the oil. Carefully flip the schnitzel after two or three minutes and continue frying for another two or three minutes (remember to shake the pan, side-to-side). Remove the schnitzel when it has a nice golden brown color. Repeat for the other three schnitzels.
- For the crispiest German schnitzel, serve directly out of the frying pan after a short cool down on a paper towel. Otherwise, finish frying all of the schnitzel and keep them warm in a 225 F (100 C) oven while you finish off sauces or toppings. Serve the schnitzel with a slice of lemon and side of fried potatoes.
Try using chicken breast instead of pork for something different.
Looking for ways to liven up your schnitzel, we recommend trying something new with these additional schnitzel toppings and sauces!
Author Bio: Jim Vail, is a travel, food, and video creator and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 15 years. For many years he lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands, and he’s visited over 90 countries.
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