I have my fair share of strong food opinions, but here’s one I don’t see myself backing down on anytime soon: Panko is the best type of breadcrumb.

I spent way too long relying solely on more finely ground breadcrumbs, and while I don’t remember exactly when I first cooked with panko, I suspect I might have felt cheated by all the lost time. Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb, sold in crispy, golden flakes. That size and shape make panko ideal whenever you want to add impressive crunch to a dish, which is why recipes often use it as a breading or topping (try it on your next mac and cheese). Panko also works well as a binder in situations such as meatballs or crab cakes where you might otherwise grab a more sandy-textured variety.

Haven’t fully appreciated the potential of panko? These seven recipes from our archives will help you get there.

No-Fry Eggplant Parmesan, above. One of the reasons I could get away with cutting the laborious task of frying individual slices of eggplant was the generous (1 cup!) layer of panko on top of this cheesy, saucy dish of nostalgia. Stirred together with olive oil and fresh oregano, the breadcrumbs truly shine.

Spicy Chicken Parm. Let’s continue on the Parm theme. Rather than assembling chicken into a casserole where it would inevitably get soggy, individual cutlets are coated in a mix of panko and finer breadcrumbs before pan-frying. A restrained topping of sauce and cheese and a quick run under the broiler preserve the crispy breading.

Crab Cakes With Lemon and Panko. Even if you don’t see it, the panko performs an important task here, holding the crab mixture together without turning it gluey. Panko is also the binder in 30-Minute Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Cod and Tomato Oreganata. This elegant sheet-pan dinner combines panko with herbs, garlic and cheese for a topping that graces both the fish and tomatoes.

Baked Chicken Nuggets With Warm Potato Salad. Make a grown-up version of a happy meal with spiced, baked chicken and a tahini-laced potato salad. Also check out the versatile Quick and Crispy Chicken Cutlets.

Hasselback Potatoes. Panko isn’t just for meat. In this stunning side, the breadcrumbs are folded into softened butter with herbs and garlic. The mixture then gets applied in between and on top of the sliced potatoes.

Pork Milanese With Gribiche. My colleague Olga Massov perfected this recipe so that she could replicate a dish from one of her favorite New York restaurants, Wildair. As with some of the other recipes here, the panko contributes to an audibly crispy exterior. See also Crispy Sesame Schnitzel, made with chicken.

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