These air fryer tonkatsu is a leaner version of traditionally deep fried Japanese fried pork cutlet, and it turns out so juicy and crispy! They are paleo, Whole30, and keto, and served with a delicious homemade tonkatsu sauce!
Tonkatsu was a meal on rotation in our house growing up. While it’s a Japanese dish, it’s wildly popular in Korea and you can find a variety of restaurants specializing in it with different versions and flavors there.
What is Tonkatsu?
Tonkatsu is a Japanese fried pork cutlet dish that’s breaded with Panko breadcrumbs then deep fried in oil. It’s served with a delicious sweet and tangy sauce, with a side of cabbage and rice. It’s such a comfort food for me!
Paleo Air Fryer Tonkatsu Recipe
These crunchy and juicy Whole30 and keto pork cutlets are made healthier and easier in the air fryer. There’s no mess or splatter involved, and I was shocked at how much it tasted like the deep fried version.
For this grain free and paleo pork cutlet recipe, pork panko is used instead of breadcrumbs. It’s such a tasty and low carb alternative to breading, and you can hardly notice the difference! The delicious and easy tonkatsu sauce really pulls the dish together so it tastes like the authentic traditional version.
Ingredients in Paleo Tonkatsu
The ingredients are fairly simple for this paleo and Whole30 tonkatsu. The homemade tonkatsu sauce actually requires more ingredients than the pork:
Air Fryer Tonkatsu Ingredients:
- Thin boneless pork chops: These should be about 1/4 inch thick. If they are thicker, you can use a meat mallet to pound them down.
- Coconut flour
- Pork Panko: These are just crushed up pork rinds and you can find them already prepared HERE. You can also grind them up yourself, and I suggest you use a food processor.
Easy Tonkatsu Sauce Ingredients:
- Ketchup: To keep it Whole30 and keto, make sure you use sugar free ketchup. I love this one.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Coconut aminos
- Coconut sugar
- Dijon mustard: This one is a Whole30-compliant brand.
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Ground ginger
How to Make Pork Tonkatsu in the Air Fryer
It just takes some simple steps to make this keto tonkatsu, and it really doesn’t take a long time in the air fryer. Here’s how to make pork tonkatsu in the air fryer:
- Make the homemade tonkatsu sauce first. Whisk together all ingredients together then chill while you make the keto pork cutlets.
- Preheat the air fryer to 360 degrees F.
- Set up an assembly line of 3 bowls for the breading station, each with coconut flour, whisked egg, and pork panko. Dredge each pork chop into coconut flour, then dip into egg, then dredge in pork panko.
- Cook in the air fryer for 5 minutes per side. Increase the heat to 400 degrees F, then cook for an additional 2 minutes per side.
- Serve paleo tonkatsu with the tonkatsu sauce.
You can serve with coleslaw or shredded cabbage, along with rice or cauliflower rice.
Keto or Whole30 Version
The base recipe uses molasses and coconut sugar in the sauce, but to make keto or Whole30 tonkatsu, you just need to make a small substitution for the sweetener.
For keto tonkatsu sauce:
- Omit molasses and coconut sugar, and add Swerve sweetener instead. I would start with 1 tsp, then taste to add more if desired.
For Whole30 tonkatsu sauce:
- Omit molasses and coconut sugar, and add 1/2 of a medjool date. For this version, you’ll have to blend the sauce so the date can break down. Taste and add more, if desired.
If you enjoyed this fried paleo pork cutlet recipe, you might also like…
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Air Fryer Tonkatsu (Japanese Fried Pork Cutlet) – Paleo, Whole30, Keto
- 1/4 cup sugar-free ketchup
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos
- 1 tsp molasses omit for Whole30 and keto
- 1 tsp coconut sugar Use 1 tsp Swerve for keto (see Notes for nutrition info), or ½ medjool date for Whole30
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/8 tsp onion powder
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- Make the tonkatsu sauce first by whisking together all its ingredients. If you are making a Whole30 version, blend the ingredients together so the date can break down. Taste to add more sweetener if desired. Chill until ready to use.
- Preheat air fryer to 360 degrees F.
- Pat the pork dry, then generously season with salt and pepper.
- Set up an assembly line of 3 bowls, each with coconut flour, whisked egg, and pork panko.
- Working one at a time, dredge each pork chop into coconut flour, dip into egg, then dredge in pork panko. Press to coat.
- Add the pork into the air fryer in a single layer. Cook for 5 minutes, then flip to cook for 5 more minutes. Increase the air fryer temperature to 400 degrees F, then cook for 2 additional minutes on each side until golden and crispy.
- Serve immediately with tonkatsu sauce.
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