This Gluten Free Tempura batter is easy to make, and can be used for any kind of tempura you can imagine... and it's as good (or better!) than the real thing!
Tempura is Japanese dish that’s a lot of fun, and makes for an easily customizable appetizer (or meal!) option.
There is a wide variety of foods that you can batter and fry with this method. The beauty of going gluten free with the tempura batter is that you don't have the worry of over developing the gluten.
With traditional tempura, overdeveloping the gluten (by stirring too much) causes the batter to be more doughy, rather than light and airy.
While you still don’t want to overhandle it (beating the carbonation out!), the gluten issue isn’t there.
Anyway, while it’s super easy to make when you actually set about to do so, there’s a bunch of surrounding information that’s good to know.
Here we go!
Is Tempura Gluten Free?
Nope! Regular tempura is traditionally - and commonly, today - made with wheat flour. While some tempura-specific flours exist that are lower in gluten, they’re still wheat flours.
The beauty of gluten-free tempura is that rice flour crisps up REALLY nicely when deep fried. Not only does this batter have a great flavour and work up easily, it has a fantastic texture.
As an additional warning, some tempura dipping sauces will contain gluten, especially any with soy sauce.
Gluten Free Tempura Batter Ingredients
This is a very simple, crispy tempura batter recipe with few ingredients:
- White rice flour
- Corn starch
- Baking soda
- Seltzer water or club soda
The thing is, each one contributes a very specific function to the recipe.
Working together, these ingredients create a great tasting batter that is light, airy, and crisp - exactly what you want in tempura.
I would NOT advise swapping out the gluten free flour / starches for all-purposes mixes. I’m sure it’d work to some degree, but it definitely won’t give you as nice of a final result.
How to Prepare Tempura Vegetables & Meats
Before making your batter, prepare a selection of vegetables and/or seafood.
Gluten-Free Tempura Vegetables:
Bell Peppers: Sliced into strips.
Broccoli: Separated into florets
Butternut Squash: Thin slices or fingers
Carrot, Eggplant, Sweet Potatoes: Thinly sliced (⅛")
Green beans: Trim the ends if you want.
Mushrooms: Washed, whole or halved.
Onions: Sliced, separated into individual rings
Zucchini Cut into spears
Gluten-Free Tempura Seafood:
Crab: Whole soft shell crabs, or leg meat spears
Fish: Use firm, boneless fish cut into nuggets
Sea scallops: Split in half (2 thinner circles)
Shrimp/Prawn: Peeled and deveined (usually with tail left on). For straight lengths of shrimp tempera, make a series of small cuts along the inside curve of the shrimp. Be careful not to cut all the way through!
How to Make Gluten Free Tempura Batter
Once your vegetables and seafood are prepared, whisk together dry ingredients.
After that, you add your egg, whisking until it’s smooth-ish.
Then you’ll add a bit of seltzer water, adding a little at a time, whisking until you have used up all of the water in the recipe.
Cooking Gluten-Free Tempura
Heat vegetable oil to 350F (180 C) - I like to do this just before starting my batter.
You can use a deep fryer, or a heavy pan. If not using a deep fryer, use a deep, heavy pot, filled to at least 3"deep.
Once the oil temperature is right, gently dip your vegetable and seafood pieces in the batter one at a time, slowly removing from the batter and allowing excess to drip off.
Carefully transfer to hot oil. Fry a few at a time - turning every few minutes - until very lightly golden, about 2-3 minutes.
Transfer fried pieces to baking sheet lined with paper towels, to absorb excess oil.
Salt lightly - if you'd like - and serve hot!
Tips for Making Gluten Free Tempura
Mixing the Batter
While you don't need to worry about overdeveloping gluten, you'll still want to stir it as little as possible.
Don't use a whisk - use chopsticks or a fork, and just enough to bring it together. Lumps are not a bad thing, leave em there!
The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you want the batter as cold as possible. The colder the batter, the better the tempura!
Start with well chilled seltzer water. Ideally, use a metal bowl - you can even chill it ahead of time!
For best results, set bowl of batter in another, larger bowl that is filled with ice.
Also: Start with chilled ingredients.
Temperature is also important when it comes to cooking.
Keep an eye on it - allow the temperature to come back up between batches, and don’t let it get too hot.
While our stated temp is a good start, keep in mind that if your food pieces are quite thick, you’ll want to lower the temp a bit, to allow it time to cook through before it overcooks the outside.
On the other end of things, if the oil isn’t hot ENOUGH, it’ll absorb too much oil and be greasy / soggy.
I recommend having a good deep fry thermometer on hand to keep track of the temperature - don’t rely on your deep fryer!
GF Tempura Technique Tips
- Really allow excess to drip off each battered piece before putting your tempura in the fryer. You don’t want a lot of extra batter in there.
- You WILL still get extra batter in there - just use a slotted spoon to scoop out all the little bits of batter / vegetables floating around, between every batch. Anything left will overcook and affect the flavour of the oil.
- Don’t put too many pieces of food in the fryer at one time - this can cause multiple issues.
Too much volume added at once can lead to the pieces sticking to each other, dropping the temperature too low (soggy food), and a lack of proper crisping. Take your time, get better results!
More Gluten-Free International Recipes
Looking for more recipes with an international flair? I’ve got you covered...
Gluten Free Banana Nutella Ebelskivers
Gluten-Free Beef Stroganoff
Gluten Free Beet Gnocchi
Gluten-Free Chicken Pakora
Gluten Free Chicken Satay
Gluten Free Lemon Mascarpone Ebelskivers
Gluten-Free Mango Shrimp Spring Rolls
Gluten Free Mixed Vegetable Pakora
Gluten-Free Paneer Pakora
Gluten Free Paska
Gluten-Free Pasta Salad
Gluten Free Perogies
Gluten Free Ramen Recipe
Gluten-Free Samosa Recipe
Gluten Free Sopaipillas Pasadas
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Gluten Free Tempura Batter
- Deep Fryer Optional - you can use a heavy pot if you don't have one.
- Once your vegetables and seafood are prepared, heat vegetable oil to 350F (180 C). You can use a deep fryer, or a heavy pan. If not using a deep fryer, use a deep, heavy pot, filled to at least 3"deep. As oil is heating, prepare your batter:
- Whisk together dry ingredients. Add egg, whisk until well combined.
- Add a small amount of seltzer water , stirring to combine.
- Continue adding seltzer water, stirring gently until just combined - mixture can be a bit lumpy.
- For best results, set bowl of batter in another, larger bowl that is filled with ice. The colder the batter, the better the tempura!
- Gently dip vegetable and seafood pieces in the batter one at a time, slowly removing from the batter and allowing excess to drip off.
- Carefully transfer to heated oil. Fry a few at a time - turning every few minutes - until very lightly golden, about 2-3 minutes.
- Transfer fried pieces to platter lined with paper towels.
- Salt lightly - if you'd like - and serve hot!