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Substitutes For Tempura Flour

Some ingredients may seem difficult to replace, especially if dealing with a new recipe. And while most flours are easily interchangeable, tempura flour brings a new challenge. This ingredient is common in Asian dishes, so knowing how to swap it can be tasking. But it can be replaced with other regular options which work as handy substitutes. But before we address these alternative ingredients, we should first get a lowdown of what tempura flour does in cooking.

Substitutes for Tempura Flour

What is Tempura Flour?

Tempura flour is the specific powder used for making tempura batter. It’s very popular in Japanese and Korean cuisines but can be traced back to the Portuguese missionaries that landed in Japan in the 16th century. It’s a product with several ingredients, prepared to make your life easier when you’re making tempura batter.

Pre-packaged tempura flour usually comes with wheat flour, starch, powdered egg, and baking powder. The major reason it contains all of these ingredients is to make tempura easy to prepare. With the presence of dehydrated egg and starch in the mix, it means you add water.

Looking at pre-packaged tempura flour variants, you’ll find that many of them are gluten-free, and that is because removing gluten helps make tempura crispier. Making tempura becomes easy because of this, as with gluten, the batter can become a soggy mess.

In some cases, tempura flours will be mixed with other seasonings like pepper, garlic, spices to have a special taste. Thai tempura flour is usually a mix of several flours, like wheat, rice, tapioca starch, salt, baking powders, and pepper. Sometimes it also contains MSG as a taste enhancer.

Tempura Flour Uses

Tempura is to be consumed while it’s hot, as in making every effort to eat your tempura as hot as possible. Always dip the tempura quickly and avoid long soaking whenever you use the dipping sauce. You can also add a small amount of grated radish to the sauce mixed in, and some people add only a bit of salt or lemon for seasoning.

Tempura-coated foods are used as appetizers or as a side-dish served before, with, or after the main course. Seafood tempuras are made from prawns, squid, shrimp, scallops, and other kinds of fish. Vegetable tempura, however, is made from eggplant, lotus root, green pepper, sweet potato, squash, shiitake mushroom, onion, shiso (perilla) leaf, and carrot. But you can also experiment with the vegetables and seafood available to you.

Tempura is usually served with tentsuyu, a dipping sauce made with soy sauce, mirin, and dashi, plus shredded daikon radish and ginger to stir into the sauce.

  • Egg-free Tempura Batter
  • Tempura Batter with Mayonnaise
  • Homemade Agedama
  • Chikuwa, Onion and Parsley Kakiage
  • Carrot Leaves Tempura
  • Vegetable and Prawn Tempura
  • Prawn, Onion and Carrot Kakiage
  • Squid Isobe Age Tempura
  • Japanese Assorted Tempura
  • Curry Flavored Brussels Sprout Tempura
  • Much Veggie Tempura
  • Parsnip and Carrot Kakiage
  • Beetroot and Onion Kakiage
  • Tempura Beans
  • Tempura Fried Spinach and Eggplant

Tempura Flour Substitutes

Knowing how distinct this ingredient is, you may feel it can’t be swapped, but the reverse is the case. And below are interesting options that can replace tempura flour in your cooking.

All-Purpose Flour

All-Purpose Flour


One of the major and popular alternatives to tempura flour is plain, all-purpose flour. Pre-packaged tempura flour is usually wheat flour, to begin with. However, when you use plain flour, it’s important to use cold water in making your batter. The cold water helps to keep the gluten within the flour itself. Also, if the flour is stirred too much, the resulting mixture will be chewy instead of crispy. You can also add an egg to help make your tempura flour a shiny golden brown. Taking these things into consideration, all-purpose flour is an excellent substitute for tempura flour.

Rice Flour

Rice Flour


Rice flour is completely gluten-free, meaning you’ll never have to worry about a chewy tempura flour substitute. Tempura flour processed with rice flour will always be crispy but not as crispy as tempura flour with potato starch. However, rice flour’s other great advantage is the overall texture after cooking. Rice flour won’t soak as much oil as regular flour, so your tempura flour won’t feel sticky or greasy. This means that the resulting tempura flour is also healthier overall. Rice flour is a great tempura flour substitute.

Potato Starch and Flour

Potato Starch and Flour


Adding regular flour with potato starch is a sure way to get crispy tempura flour. When mixing the flour and potato starch, you should ensure the ratio of two parts flour to one part potato starch. The crispier you need your tempura flour is, the more potato starch you can add. But if you don’t have flour but have potato starch, you can still make tempura flour, though the texture might become too crispy. This can make the resulting tempura flour batter hard when fried. It’s not your best bet, but it does work as a last resort.

Okonomiyaki Flour

Okonomiyaki Flour


This substitute contains baking powder, just like pre-packaged tempura flour. The presence of baking powder makes the flour puff up, one of the effects of tempura flour. Furthermore, okonomiyaki flour also brings other ingredients than your tempura flour, some of which are bonito shavings. This can give the tempura batter a ‘seafood flavor that can be quite desirable. Bonito shavings characteristically turn water into dashi stock, a flavor found in some miso soups. Another angle to consider with okonomiyaki flour is the presence of ingredients that provide a chewy texture. For the aim of making tempura, this may be something to avoid. Tempura is supposed to be crispy, not chewy.

Adding Mayonnaise to the Batter



Surprisingly, mayonnaise is an excellent ingredient for any food item that should be fried. The base ingredients help bring a delicious, golden batter that gives a desirable crunch. When you add mayo to your tempura batter, it should be added with water. The ratio you’ll want to consider is four parts water, two parts flour, and one part mayonnaise. Don’t be if you’re worried about the sour smell you’ll get with mayonnaise. The mayo smell and taste disappear as the food is fried.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I use avocado oil for tempura?

Yes, you can. Avocado oil works just as well as most other frying oils for tempura. The only drawback is it’s quite pricey, but if you have a bottle of it in your kitchen, then give it a go.

What kind of oil do you use for frying tempura?

You can use any vegetable oil to fry tempura, ranging from safflower to corn, canola, peanut, and sesame. The latter adds an extra bout of fragrance to the recipe. But it’s advised to avoid using olive oil as a frying medium for tempura.

Does tempura batter have milk?

It’s possible to have milk to tempura batter, as most batter need it in their mix. But if you aren’t sure, it helps to always check the ingredient list before using it.


Tempura flour is a staple in many Japanese cuisines and is revered worldwide. Using this flour helps bring out lots of goodness and a chewy feel, but tempura flour is not the only flour or ingredient with such qualities. The others above can take your dish very close to what tempura flour offers. So, whenever you need tempura flour, use one of our substitutes and enjoy your dish.