Best Tempura Flour Substitutes

When it comes to Japanese cuisine, tempura may be one of the best known foods available! It’s crispy and delicious, and can be put on just about anything you can think of. As such, making tempura at home may be on your mind. If that’s the case, you may need to look for substitutes for tempura flour. Tempura flour isn’t one of the most commonly available ingredients, but thankfully there are plenty of alternatives that work just as well when making your tempura batter. Check them out below!

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What is Tempura Flour?

Tempura flour is the specific powder used for making tempura batter. It’s a product with several ingredients, designed to make your life easier when you’re making tempura batter. When all of the ingredients are in the flour, it means that you don’t have to worry about adding them yourself.

What Ingredients are in Tempura Flour?

Pre-packaged tempura flour tends to have all of the following ingredients in it, give or take:

  • Wheat flour
  • Starch
  • Powdered egg
  • Baking powder

The reason it contains all of these ingredients is to make tempura easy to make. With dehydrated egg and starch already in the mix, it means that you just have to add water!

Many Tempura Flours Are Gluten-Free

When you look at pre-packaged tempura flour options, you’ll find that many of them are gluten-free. This is because removing gluten helps make tempura crispier! Making tempura is easy because of this. With gluten, the batter can turn into a soggy mess.

Tempura Flour Substitutes

You may not be able to purchase pre-packaged tempura flour readily. As such, there are some great substitutes that are readily available for when you’re cooking your tempura. Check them out below!

Flour

Plain, all-purpose flour is a great option for a tempura flour substitute. Prepackaged tempura flour is mostly wheat flour to begin with. However, when using plain flour, it’s important to use cold water to make your batter.

Cold water helps keep the gluten within the flour itself. Additionally, if flour is stirred too much, the resulting tempura will be chewy instead of crispy. Adding an egg can also help make your tempura a beautiful golden brown. Taking these things into consideration, flour is a great alternative to tempura flour.

Potato Starch and Flour

Mixing regular flour with potato starch is a sure way to get crispy tempura! When mixing your flour and potato starch, you should try to keep the ratio at 2 parts flour to 1 part potato starch. The crispier you want your tempura, the more potato starch you can add.

If you don’t have flour, but you do have potato starch, you can still make tempura. However, the texture may become too crispy. This can make the resulting batter hard when fried. It’s not the best alternative, but it does work as a last resort.

Rice Flour

Rice flour is one of the most desirable alternatives to tempura flour. It’s completely gluten-free, meaning that you’ll never have to worry about making chewy tempura. Tempura made with rice flour will always be crispy, but not as crispy as using potato starch.

Another great benefit to rice flour is the tempura’s texture after cooking. Rice flour won’t absorb as much oil as regular flour, so your tempura won’t feel sticky or greasy. This means that the resulting tempura is also healthier overall. Rice flour is an excellent tempura flour substitute!

Okonomiyaki Flour

Okonomiyaki flour contains baking powder, just like pre-packaged tempura flour does. This makes the flour puff up, one of the desirable effects that tempura flour provides. However, okonomiyaki flour also brings other ingredients to your tempura. Among them are bonito shavings. This can give the tempura a seafood flavor that can be quite desirable. Bonito shavings turn water into dashi stock, a flavor found in some miso soups.

Another thing to take into consideration with okonomiyaki flour is the possibility of ingredients that provide a chewy texture. For the purposes of making tempura, this may be something to avoid. Tempura should be crispy, not chewy.

Takoyaki Flour

Takoyaki is very similar to tempura flour overall, making it an excellent candidate for substitution. It tends to be sweeter than tempura flour is, making your tempura take on a dessert or snack like taste.

Takoyaki is also like okonomiyaki flour in the way that it puffs up. This batter is almost cake-like. Again, it may be chewy, depending on the ingredients used. Be on the lookout for powdered yam, which will surely make your tempura chewier than it should be.

Less Common Substitutions

Sometimes, you want to experiment with your food. As such, you may look for other substitutions when making your tempura batter. If you’re looking to get adventurous, you can also substitute the water in your batter with other ingredients! These ingredients will change your batter overall, possibly in a way that you’ll enjoy more.

Using Beer Instead of Water

Beer battered fish is a common fried food that you can find, so using beer in tempura also makes sense. Beer is carbonated, meaning that it has more gases in its liquid form. This means that when it fries, it tends to release more air, making your resulting batter far crispier. Don’t use just beer, though. Use beer and water at a 1 to 1 ratio. Like some of the other substitutions for tempura flour, add an egg to get that beautiful golden color when frying.

Adding Mayonnaise to the Batter

Believe it or not, mayonnaise is an excellent ingredient for any food that should be fried. The base ingredients in mayonnaise lead to a delicious, golden batter that gives a satisfying crunch. When you add mayo to your tempura batter, it should be added with water. The ratio you’ll want to use is 4 parts water, 2 parts flour, and 1 part mayonnaise. If you’re concerned about the sour smell that you’ll get with mayonnaise, don’t worry too much. The mayo smell and taste disappear as the food is fried.

If you’re looking for more information about recipe substitutions, be sure to check out our page on it! We have common alternatives to many ingredients that you may need.

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