Learn how to make the perfect Gluten-Free Tempura at home with my step-by-step recipe. I’ll share my tips for how to make a light and crispy batter with rice flour and how to deep-fry shrimp and vegetables for the most delectable homemade tempura.
Crispy fried vegetables and seafood, Tempura is one of the most popular Japanese foods. Regrettably, people with celiac disease can’t enjoy it because tempura batter is usually made of wheat flour which contains gluten. After receiving many requests for a Gluten-Free Tempura recipe from my readers, I decided to test it out so they will get to enjoy tempura at home.
Today I am thrilled to share this perfectly made gluten-free tempura recipe with you after some testing in the kitchen with a surprisingly great result. Coated with a thinner layer of batter, the tempura with gluten-free batter turns out to be much lighter and crispier than regular tempura. Whether your diet is gluten-free or not, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does.
Table of Contents
What is Gluten-Free Tempura Batter Made of?
Gluten-free tempura batter is made of just three simple ingredients: rice flour, egg, and water. I’ve tested different ratios for each ingredient, and the ratio I am sharing in the recipe resulted in the best texture and flavor.
Unlike regular tempura, batter made from rice flour is thinner. You could add potato starch or corn starch to thicken the batter, but I actually prefer just simple rice flour. The rice flour that I use is Organic White Rice Flour from Bob’s Red Mill.
Gluten-Free Tempura Cooking Tips
I want to share a few tips that will help you make successful tempura:
As I mentioned earlier, this gluten-free batter is very thin. As you bite into it, it won’t feel like you’re eating regular tempura batter. Instead, you can taste the ingredient (whether it’s vegetable or shrimp) that is lightly coated with a thin layer of crispy batter.
Since the batter does not contain any gluten, you won’t need to worry about “over-mixing” the batter (and you can make it ahead of time). In fact, I recommend whisking the batter each time you are about to coat the ingredients. The bubbles or foams created from the whisking motion will stay on the ingredients as they are dunked into the hot oil, which yields a crispy layer of tempura batter.
Also, the fine grain of rice flour tends to deposit on the bottom of the bowl, so you have to whisk the batter quite often so the consistency of the batter is optimal.
The oil temperature has to be between 340-350°F (170-180°C) depending on how long it takes to cook through the particular ingredients. If it takes a long time to cook, then deep fry at a lower temperature because high temperature will cook the batter too fast and the inside might not be done.
It’s very important to control the temperature of the oil when it comes to deep-frying tempura. A thermometer will be very helpful if you’re new to deep-frying or making tempura.
Do not overcrowd the deep frying pot with ingredients: just half of the oil surface should be covered with ingredients. When you put too many ingredients in at once, the oil temperature will drop too quickly, and the tempura will absorb too much oil and you’ll end up with soggy tempura. On the contrary, when oil gets too hot, add a bit of extra oil or add more ingredients to cool down the temperature.
Make sure to pick up crumbs in the oil between batches. The burnt crumb will attach to your new tempura if you don’t pick them up. Once the crumbs become burnt, it will leave a bad flavor in the oil and the color becomes darker.
Gluten-Free Tempura Dipping Sauce (Tentsuyu)
The gluten-free tempura isn’t complete without gluten-free tempura dipping sauce! Tentsuyu (天つゆ) or tempura dipping sauce is made of dashi, soy sauce, and mirin. Regular soy sauce contains wheat, therefore you will need to use gluten-free soy sauce for this recipe.
I used the Kikkoman Gluten-Free Soy Sauce. If you want to know more about this product, click here. If you’re not gluten intolerant, you can use regular Japanese soy sauce to make the dipping sauce.
Similar Recipes on Just One Cookbook
With this, I hope you enjoy making this Gluten-Free Tempura recipe at home. Do you have any requests for gluten-free Japanese food? Let me know in the comment below.
Gluten Free Tempura
For the Tempura
For the Batter
- 1 large egg (50 g each w/o shell)
- ½ cup rice flour (weigh your flour; for weights, click the Metric button; or use the “fluff and sprinkle“ method and level it off)
For the Dipping Sauce
- ¾ cup dashi (Japanese soup stock) (use standard Awase Dashi, dashi packet or powder, or Vegan Dashi)
- 3 Tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp mirin (hon-mirin is made with sweet rice and contains nothing else; aji-mirin or seasoned mirin may include wheat; you can substitute 1 Tbsp mirin with 1 tsp sugar + 1 Tbsp sake, dry sherry, or Chinese rice wine)
- 2 inches daikon radish (grated and squeezed of most of the liquid)
- Before You Start: I highly encourage you to weigh your ingredients using a kitchen scale for this recipe. For weights, click the Metric button above. If you‘re using a cup measure, please follow the “fluff and sprinkle“ method: Fluff your flour with a spoon, sprinkle it into your measuring cup, and level it off. Otherwise, you may scoop more than you need. Now, gather all the ingredients.
To Make the Dipping Sauce
- In a small saucepan, add 3 Tbsp mirin. Bring it to boil over medium-high heat to let the alcohol evaporate.
- Once boiling, add ¾ cup dashi (Japanese soup stock) and 3 Tbsp gluten-free soy sauce and bring it to a boil. When it boils, turn off the heat and set aside.
To Prepare the Ingredients
- Use a spoon to scoop the seeds from ⅛ kabocha squash. Without peeling the skin, cut the kabocha in half widthwise, then cut each half into ⅛-inch (3-mm) slices.
- Cut 1 Japanese sweet potato (Satsumaimo) crosswise into ⅛-inch (3-mm) slices. Soak in water for 10 minutes to remove the starch.
- After soaking for 10 minutes, pat dry the sweet potato with a paper towel to remove the moisture.
- Make a couple of small slits on the skin of 8 okra. This will prevent the okra from exploding while deep-frying. Also, trim the ends of 8 French green beans (haricots verts). Keep the eggplant uncut for now.
To Prepare the Shrimp
- Now, peel and devein 8 large or jumbo shrimps. For detailed, step-by-step instructions, see my post on How to Prepare Shrimp for Shrimp Tempura. For tempura, we remove the last segment of shell but keep the tail tip on. Using a knife, cut along the outer edge of the shrimp’s back.
- If you see the vein, remove and discard it.
- Optionally, you can soak the shrimp in 1–2 Tbsp sake to remove the unwanted odor.
- Lay the shrimp on its side and cut the tip of the tail diagonally (see the left image). This will create a V shape when you open the tail (see the right image). Remove any moisture trapped in the tail by scraping it with the edge of the knife. This will prevent oil splatter during frying.
- Make a couple of slits on the underside. Hold the shrimp with both hands and bend it backwards (belly up) until you hear a popping sound in each segment. Straighten the shrimp as much as possible.
To Make the Batter
- In a medium bowl set on a kitchen scale, add 1 large egg (50 g each w/o shell). Then, pour enough water so the egg-and-water mixture weighs 200 grams. If you don‘t have a scale, add 1 egg to a 1-cup measuring cup, whisk the egg, and add water until you have ¾ cup (180–200 ml).
- Mix well, then add ½ cup rice flour. Whisk until you see no more lumps of flour. Keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to deep-fry. Tip: If you like a thick tempura batter, you can increase the amount of rice flour.
To Deep-Fry the Tempura
- Bring 4 cups (960 ml) vegetable oil to 340ºF (170ºC) and check the oil temperature with an instant-read thermometer. To check with wooden chopsticks, dip them in the oil; when small bubbles form around the tips, the oil is ready. We’ll start deep-frying the hard, dense ingredients first because they will take longer to cook. Dry all the ingredients well with a paper towel so that moisture won’t dilute the batter. Every time you are ready to dip the ingredients, vigorously whisk the tempura batter first since the rice flour tends to separate from the liquid and settle to the bottom of the bowl. Plus, a bubbly tempura batter will help achieve a crispy, light shell around the vegetables and shrimp.
- Coat the sweet potato slices with batter and deep-fry at 340ºF (170ºC) for 3 minutes. Do not overcrowd the surface of the oil. Keep the ingredients in a single layer, without overlapping. I put 4 pieces of sweet potato at a time in my deep fryer. Tip: When you deep-fry, do not crowd the pot because the oil temperature will drop quickly. Your ingredients should take up no more than about half of the oil surface area at any one time. For more helpful hints, read my post How to Deep-Fry Food.
- Once they are deep-fried, shake off the excess oil and transfer to a wire rack (or a plate lined with a paper towel). Continue with the rest of the sweet potatoes. Before moving on to the next ingredient or batch, ALWAYS remove the crumbs in the oil with a fine-mesh skimmer. Otherwise, the crumbs will burn and attach to your tempura. The burnt crumbs will also make the oil darker, which leaves a bad flavor.
- Next up, kabocha. Whisk the tempura batter vigorously, coat the kabocha slices with the batter, and deep-fry at 340ºF (170ºC) for 3 minutes. Again, fry in batches and do not crowd the pot.
- Deep-fry the okra and green beans next. Whisk the batter, coat the okra/green beans, and deep-fry at 340ºF (170ºC) for 2 minutes.
- Keep the oil at the desired temperature while you prepare the eggplants. Quickly, but carefully, cut 2 Japanese or Chinese eggplants in half lengthwise. If the eggplant is long, cut each half into 2 equal size pieces. Tip: Keep the eggplant uncut until you’re ready to deep-fry because they will change color as soon as you cut them.
- For each piece, leave ¾ inch (2 cm) on one end and make 5–6 slits on the skin lengthwise, like a fan shape. This is a typical preparation for eggplant tempura.
- Whisk the batter, coat the eggplant, and deep-fry at 340ºF (170ºC) for 2 minutes.
- We use clean oil for the vegetables first, then we finish deep-frying with the shrimp since seafood has more flavor and you don’t want the vegetables to have a shrimp flavor. Whisk the batter, coat the shrimp, and deep-fry at 340ºF (170ºC) for 2 minutes.
- Serve immediately with the dipping sauce and 2 inches daikon radish, grated and squeezed. You can also serve tempura with sea salt (or green tea sea salt) instead of dipping sauce.
- For the best tasting experience (texture and flavor), I highly recommend consuming tempura immediately after deep-frying. However, if you can’t finish everything, put it in an airtight container after cooling completely and store until the next day in the refrigerator. Use a toaster oven or oven to reheat and do not use a microwave (otherwise the tempura will get soggy).