By Carl Hanson

Panko is perfection. We always keep a container of panko Japanese-style breadcrumbs close by. Panko crumbs are flaky and light as a cloud. They create a crispy coating on just about anything that needs a little crunch -- from chicken tenders to breaded veggies and baked casseroles. You can also use panko in place of breadcrumbs to help bind meatballs, tuna or rice cakes, meatloaves, and veggie burgers. Here are seven recipes that showcase ways to put your panko to delicious use.

1. Tonkatsu

Let's start with the classic. Tonkatsu is the traditional Japanese boneless, breaded pork chop. "A wonderful, easy recipe, yet special," says Trish. "I love another use for panko crumbs."

Photo by Jennifer Ryan Frye

2. Panko Crusted Mashed Potato Cakes

Panko takes leftover mashed potatoes to new heights of amazement. Treat the taters just like you would a fish cake. "Dredging these in the panko crumbs is a wonderful idea," says Trish. I will do it this way from now on."

Photo by lutzflcat

3. Crispy Panko Chicken Breasts

If panko works with pork, you better believe it's choice with chicken. "Delicious," says Carrie. "I loved the crispy panko breading! It was a great easy recipe full of flavor! I sprinkled a little Parmesan cheese on top. Yum!"

Photo by ReneePaj

4. Pumpkin Lobster Mac and Cheese

Panko makes a great topping for almost any casserole that you'd top with breadcrumbs or potato chips. Here's a semi-fancy, adult-friendly mac-and-cheese that proves the point.

Photo by Life Tastes Good

5. Smoky Black Bean Burgers

Build a better burger with panko. "WOW are these YUMMY," says Maybelle. "I never write reviews but these were TOO good and they whipped up really quick. I will never buy expensive veggie burgers again."

Photo by Allrecipes

6. Japanese-Style Deep-Fried Shrimp

Panko creates light, crispy deep-fried foods. With this recipe, you'll season fresh shrimp with garlic powder, and then triple dip: first into a beaten egg mixture, then into a flour and paprika combo, and finally into panko crumbs. The shrimp fry up beautifully light, crispy, and golden brown. "Absolutely fabulous," says Lola. "The panko makes all the difference."

Photo by Soup Loving Nicole

7. Chicken Parmesan

Panko is also one of the secrets to Chef John's re-engineered and absolutely rave-worthy Chicken Parmesan recipe. "Loved it," says Tanya. "The chicken came out perfect and panko breadcrumbs really made the dish. This is my new go-to recipe for chicken parm."

Photo by Allrecipes

8. Baked Jalapeno Poppers

You'll also want panko for lightly breaded appetizers like jalapeño poppers and stuffed mushrooms. "These poppers were very good," says monica. "Made these with the over-abundance of jalapeño peppers from my garden. I combined the two cheeses and used a Mexican cheese blend then sprinkled panko crumbs on top."

Photo by bd.weld

9. Crispy Onion Rings

The light flake of panko breadcrumbs also makes them essential for onion rings. Chef John's secret ingredient is instant mashed potatoes. The other secret ingredient? Panko breadcrumbs, of course! "Absolutely wonderful," says Stacie. "My family is onion ring fanatics, and they said this recipe was it. Great crunch even when they cool down."

Related: 6 Recipes That Prove Chef John's a Master with Panko