Easy Japanese Tempura Batter

Tempura batter recipe

The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Servings: 6 servings
  • Yields: 2 cups
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
374 Calories
18g Fat
32g Carbs
19g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 374
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 5g 27%
Cholesterol 452mg 151%
Sodium 880mg 38%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 12%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Protein 19g
Calcium 173mg 13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Tempura is a popular Japanese dish of vegetables and seafood coated in a very light and airy batter and fried to perfection. It's served at Japanese restaurants worldwide, but it's also fun and easy to make from scratch at home. This is a quick recipe that's best when fried as soon as the batter is mixed and then eaten right away. Plan and prepare your dinner before you begin.

A basic Japanese tempura batter is made of flour, egg, and ice water. While simple, there are some tricks to producing crispy tempura. Ice water, sifted flour, and hot oil are just a few of the key factors that will produce restaurant-style results.

Nearly anything you can deep-fry is a candidate for tempura batter. Shrimp tempura is the best known, and chicken tenders or fish fillets work, too. For vegetables, try bell peppers, broccoli, eggplant, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes. The batter can even be used to make onion rings. Serve the tempura with your favorite dipping sauces and enjoy as an appetizer or light meal.

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Click Play to See This Delicious Tempura Recipe Come Together

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup water
  • Ice cubes (for chilling the water)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for tempura
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  2. In a small bowl, sift the flour once or twice to remove any clumps and to make it light and soft. Set aside.

    Sift flour
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  3. In a separate medium bowl, gently beat egg until the yolk and egg whites are just barely incorporated.

    Gently beat egg
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii 
  4. Combine the water and ice cubes in a cup. Using a strainer, strain the water (you should have 1 cup of ice-cold water) and add it to the bowl with the beaten egg. Make sure you do not actually add ice cubes to the tempura batter.

    Combine water
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  5. Add the sifted flour into the bowl with the egg and water mixture and lightly combine the flour using chopsticks. Be careful not to overmix the batter; it should be a little lumpy.

    Add flour
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  6. The batter is now ready for immediate use. If for some reason the batter won't be used right away, place it in the refrigerator temporarily (for a few short minutes) to keep it ice cold until you're ready to deep-fry your tempura. Do not store in the fridge for an extended period of time.

    Battered vegetables
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

How to Use

When ready to use your tempura batter, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • First, lightly coat the seafood or vegetable in either cake flour, Wondra flour, or all-purpose flour before dipping them into the tempura batter. This allows the batter to adhere better.
  • Once coated, dip your items into the batter gently. Too much batter runs the risk of a crispy exterior and mushy interior.
  • When ready to fry, make sure that your frying oil is between 340 F and 360 F. Any higher and it will be too crispy. Any lower and the tempura will absorb too much oil and won't get crispy enough.
  • Once fried, serve immediately with a dipping sauce and dig in. Tempura can get mushy if it sits too long.

Tips

  • Prepare all of the ingredients you plan to deep-fry prior to mixing the batter ingredients.
  • Always sift the flour. This makes the flour lighter and easier to incorporate into the batter when it's mixed.
  • For crisp tempura, use ice water instead of room-temperature or tap water.
  • Instead of a whisk, use chopsticks to mix the tempura batter ingredients. This minimizes the amount of air in the batter and lessens the risk of overmixing.
  • Heat the oil for deep-frying before the tempura batter is prepared to ensure the batter is at its coldest when it hits the oil and that the oil is ready for frying.
  • While frying, do not place the bowl of batter on the hot stove or it will get too hot.
  • Don't prepare the tempura batter ahead of time, as it will not yield the best results.

Why Isn't My Tempura Crispy?

To make the tempura batter crispier, use a low-protein flour such as cake or pastry flour. Another option is to add 1 to 2 tablespoons of cornstarch or potato starch for every cup of all-purpose flour. Also, be sure the water is ice cold, the batter isn't overmixed, and the oil is at the recommended temperature.

Can I Make a Thicker Batter?

A slightly thicker batter will create a thicker coating on the fried food. Start with about 3/4 cup of cold water, dip and fry a veggie, and add a little more water if it's too thick. Remember: Don't overmix with the new addition.

Can I Make Tempura Batter Egg-Free?

Quite often, tempura batters do not include egg. Some recipes include just the yolk and are crispier batters with a whole egg. Try this recipe with the flour and cold water alone if you prefer to avoid eggs.

What Is the Best Oil for Tempura?

Any oil with a smoke point that can handle the high temperatures of deep-frying will work. Vegetable and canola oils are popular and affordable choices, while some people prefer peanut oil. Traditionally, tempura is often cooked in sesame oil. Choose refined oils because the smoke point is always higher than the unrefined version.

What's the Difference Between Tempura and Panko Breadcrumbs?

Both ingredients are commonly used to make Japanese deep-fried foods, but the results are different. Tempura batter results in a light, airy, and crispy exterior, while panko is more of a crisp, flaky, and coarse breading.