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Crumbing | How to crumb chicken & fish

What is Crumbing

The term “crumbing” also known as breading is to coat uncooked food in a breadcrumbs or other crumbs such as crushed breakfast cereals, before frying or baking to give it a crisp, crunchy texture.

It’s a basic process that’s used all the time for making everything from fried chicken to onion rings .

Crumbing helps to seal in moisture when deep-frying or pan-frying.
It also provides a crunchy and delicious exterior, and the golden-brown colour makes the food more attractive.

While this method is typically used for foods that will be fried, crumbed items can be baked and grilled/broiled as well.

Crumbing of seafood, chicken, fish, cutlets, chops and sausages are all popular.

Here we explain 3 different methods of crumbing.
The first (using flour) is the traditional French way and yields a nice solid crispy crust,
while the second (not using flour) is how many Italians coat their scaloppini and give it that light yet crispy coating.
The third (not using egg) is a vegetarian version and is great for people with egg allergies.

How to crumb chicken & fish

Here we use the traditional 3 step method, this is the most popular way of getting the job done.
This method can be used to crumb anything.

The details here are for two 100g servings of fish or chicken fillets.

Basic crumbing ingredients

  • ½ cup plain/all-purpose flour
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs

Crumbing Instructions

  1. You will need three bowls/containers.
    Place seasoned flour in the first, beaten egg in the second and breadcrumbs in the third.
  2. Using paper towel pat dry the food to be crumbed.
  3. Dredge or cover each fillet all over in flour.
  4. Dip in beaten egg, shaking off excess.
  5. Cover in breadcrumbs trying to get the fillet evenly coated.

Crumbing Without flour

Flourless crumbing ingredients

  • 2 cups dry bread crumbs
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • black pepper freshly ground

Flourless crumbing instructions

  1. You will need two medium bowls/containers.
  2. In the first bowl lightly beat the eggs.
  3. Add the milk, oil and salt and pepper to taste then stir in.
  4. Place the bread crumbs in the second bowl.
  5. Using paper towel pat dry the food to be crumbed.
  6. Place the food in the egg wash.
  7. Remove the food from the egg wash and allow it to drain a little.
  8. Place the food in the crumbs and gently coat by pressing the crumbs onto it.

Crumbing Without Egg

One option is just dipping the fish or chicken breast in melted butter before rolling it in the spices or coating.
You could also try milk, mayonaise or yoghurt.

Or you can follow this recipe.
While vegetarians and people with egg allergies will appreciate this version of crumbing. I promise you other’s will to.

Eggless crumbing ingredients

  • ⅔ cup of Plant Milk
  • ½ cup of plain/all-purpose Flour
  • 1 – 1½ cups of Bread Crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon of seasoning such as mixed herbs, Italian herbs, Paprika or Barbecue spices (optional)
  • Salt and pepper

Eggless Crumbing Instructions

  1. You will need two medium bowls/containers.
  2. In the first bowl mix milk and flour into a thick slurry.
  3. In second bowl mix bread crumbs, salt and pepper together.
  4. Using paper towel pat dry the food to be crumbed.
  5. Add your vegetables (or meat) carefully in the wet slurry, remove and shake off excess.
  6. Place the food in the crumbs and gently coat by pressing the crumbs onto it.
  7. Fry the pieces in butter or oil on the pan – or deep fry them.
    You can also cook in the oven until the food is golden and crispy.

Gluten Free Crumbing

If you are gluten free, here are some easy breading options.
Using any of the recipes above, use any of these substitutes.

Gluten Free Bread Crumb Substitutes

Use one of the options listed below.

  • Homemade bread crumbs;
    Keep the end pieces of any dry crumbly gluten-free bread, such as the crusts.
    Just whiz the bread chunks in a high powered blender or food processor, and you have fresh bread crumbs ready to go.

    Just be sure to store them in the freezer because the moisture is still in them and they will be prone to growing mold.

  • Crunched up gluten free cereals;
    Use cereal such as Rice Bubbles, Rice Chex, Rice Crispies, or corn flakes.
    You can either:
    1. Put them inside a plastic bag and smash up with your fist or a rolling pin.
    2. Just use a food processor.
      Be careful with this method as you don’t want your crumbs too fine.
  • Store bought gluten free bread crumbs;
    These are super expensive generally, so you may want to avoid them.
    It’s much cheaper to make your own using something you already have in the pantry as suggested above.

Gluten Free Flour Substitutes

Use one of the options listed below.

  • Your own simple flour & spice mix;
    Any plain/all-purpose gluten free flour will do, but usually brown rice, sweet rice, or regular rice flour for breading.
  • Almond Flour and other nut flours.
  • Coconut Flour.
  • Oat Flour.
    If you’ve got oatmeal in the pantry, you can turn it into flour! Just pop it in the blender and pulse until powdery.
  • Chickpea flour.
  • Coconut flour.
  • Corn flour.
  • Cornstarch.
  • Gluten-free flour.
  • Millet flour.
  • Potato starch.
  • Rice flour (brown and white).
  • Spelt flour

Perfect Crumbing Tips

These steps will guarantee that breading stays on whatever you are crumbing.

  1. Setting up your work station

    Before you start, arrange your ingredient bowls in an assembly line on the work surface.
    Start with the flour, then the egg, and finally the breadcrumbs. If you are left handed you may want to do it in opposite order.

    This will make the crumbing process easier.

  2. Your crumbing process

    Keep one hand as your “dry hand” and the other as your “wet hand” throughout the crumbing process.
    Use your “dry hand” for coating the food in the flour and breadcrumb mixtures.
    Use your “wet hand” for dipping the food into the egg and transferring it to the breadcrumb mixture.

    Doing this prevents the wet and dry mixtures from cross contaminating, combining or sticking to your hands.

  3. You Don’t Start Dry

    When breading anything the rule is:
    dry sticks to wet and wet sticks to dry.
    Wet and wet doesn’t work; dry and dry doesn’t work.

    This step in crumbing is crucial; make sure the food is dry before starting the dredging process.
    Using a paper towel, pat the food dry on all sides.

    Excess moisture will cause the flour to get soggy and thus will not adhere properly to the food.

  4. Always Shake the Flour off

    Be sure to shake off any excess flour on the food.
    Excess flour will create a coating that prevents the egg mixture from sticking on to the food.
    This will ultimately stop the crumbs from sticking properly.

    For crispy, flavourful crumbed food, make sure to remove any excess flour before proceeding.

  5. Skimping on the Crumb

    Whatever you coat the chicken in, make sure to do so thoroughly.

    No matter what type of crumb you use, coat the meat evenly and completely on every side.

  6. Cooking temperature

    Always make sure your oil is correct cooking temperature before frying your food.

    If you put your food in oil that is not up to temperature the crumbsit won’t seal the crumbing mixture and will soak up the oil.
    This will result in soggy breadcrumbs.
    If it’s too hot, the crumbing mixture will burn before the food is cooked.

  7. Forgetting the Last Pat

    After you’ve covered the meat in breading, pat it down gently on all sides so that every piece sticks to the egg layer.

    Well-coated food is the key to the crunch, so make sure the breading is patted down before cooking.

  8. Give Plenty of Room

    If you’re frying, grilling/broiling, baking or barbecuing, place them with plenty of space in between—and let them be!

    If the foods are touching each other, the more likely the breading is to fall off.

  9. Don’t try and hurry the cooking process

    The more you touch the food with tongs, the more likely the breading is to fall off.

    Be cautious not to touch or turn the chicken too much.
    The key here is to be patient. As soon as you see a golden rim appear around the side of the food that is submerged in oil, feel free to flip it.

    The same goes for baking or grilling/broiling, give them space, flip them once, then it’s hands off.

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