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Jul 26, 2013 09:52 AM

Is there anything that makes schnitzel different than your usual breaded fried cutlet?

I love schnitzel but have always wondered why it seems to hold a different place for me than a regular breaded fried cutlet even though it seems like the same thing. Am I missing something? Perhaps I haven't been served a traditional schnitzel. Is there anything that distinguishes schnitzel from other pan fried breaded cutlets?

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  1. Schnitzel is twice-fried. The second fry is always in butter.

    9 Replies
    1. re: smtucker

      Aha, thanks. So you fry in oil and then remove from pan, add butter and refry?

      1. re: fldhkybnva

        Yes, after the pounding... but I assumed that you understood that. Here is an online recipe that seems pretty accurate.

        1. re: smtucker

          Where does it say to twice fry? It only fries once in this recipe.

          1. re: wyogal

            Martha says to fry twice, fwiw :-)


            PS I did not know this; had to google. I enjoy schnitzel but if I'm making cutlets, it's usual eggplant.

            1. re: pinehurst

              I was just wondering, because the other link said nothing about it, so was wondering if I missed something.
              Th MS recipe makes more sense as to the "fry twice" concept, but I noticed that she is just coating each side with the sizzling butter, doesn't really seem to say to fry it other than a quick coating of the hot butter.

            2. re: wyogal

              Gosh, it implied, since you have a vat of oil and a skillet with butter, but he never actually tells you to use the vat. Good catch!

              Poorly written instructions. That will teach me not to read more carefully.

              1. re: smtucker

                Yes, it says to put the oil in the skillet, then to add butter to the skillet, then fry in the skillet, basting. Nothing about a second skillet. Nothing about the vat, either. I just says to use a large, deep skillet.
                So, yes, the directions need to be improved if indeed they meant to fry twice.

              2. re: wyogal

                I was taught by a German to make it and we never deep fried it and only once fried.

          2. re: smtucker

            I've never heard this, nor have I ever twice-fried my own schnitzel.

            What you want is copious amount of fat (butter and lard are the preferred combo, but I usually use butter & oil) to get a nice browning on each side.

          3. As I understand it, the principal difference between a fried cutlet and schnitzel of the same meat would be that the schnitzel is pounded to a thin even thickness. If its not pounded and made as big as your plate, then its just a fried cutlet. The pounding tenderizes the meat and makes it something different than a cutlet which is just a thinly sliced piece of meat.

            1. One thing would be that it's way thinner than say and Italian cutlet and no seasoned breading.

              1. Schnitzel is the German word for cutlet, or vice versa. There are many different kinds of Schnitzel - Wiener Schnitzel, Jaeger Schnitzel, Pariser Schnitzel, Schnitzel Cordon Bleu, Zigeuner Schnitzel, Puszta Schnitzel, Paprika Schnitzel, Holstein Schnitzel...

                But I'm sure you're talking about Wiener Schnitzel. :-)

                3 Replies
                1. re: John Francis

                  Whatever kind of schnitzel it is, it's always pounded very thin, as Bkeats states.

                  1. re: pikawicca

                    It depends on the recipe, and on the cook. Even for breaded schnitzel, many people prefer not to pound. It seems to be a popular topic for discussion in German-language cooking forums (since they don't have Paula Deen, or cronuts).

                  2. re: John Francis

                    That is my understanding also root of the word is translated as a"a cut or a slice". Preparations of the basic slice or cutlet are another thing.

                  3. My girlfriend’s husband makes schnitzel as he learned it from his Czech mom - coat in flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs and fry in oil - essentially the same way Milanese and other fried cutlets are made. The only difference (other than spicing) is that he shakes the pan as he fries the cutlets. I saw the same technique on ATK and they claim it puffs up the coating and is the proper technique for schnitzel.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: EM23

                      I use that recipe (which also appeared years ago in Cooks Illustrated, hence it showing up on ATK), and it is precisely correct: the coating stays in one piece, but detaches itself slightly from the schnitzel, and is crisp and shaggy and delicious.