8 Great Tempura Flour Substitutes

Tempura flour is used frequently in various Asian dishes, but it can be difficult to find if you don’t have a specialty grocer in your town.

Cornstarch that can be used as a tempura flour substitute
Cornstarch can be used as a tempura flour substitute.

8 Substitutes for Tempura Flour

If you need a replacement for tempura flour, consider using one of the following ingredients:

  1. All-purpose flour
  2. Rice flour
  3. Okonomiyaki flour
  4. Cornstarch
  5. Chickpea flour
  6. Buckwheat flour
  7. Whole wheat flour
  8. Corn flour

We’ll discuss how to use these substitutes in more detail later.

Making tempura flour
Tempura flour mixture

What Is Tempura Flour?

Tempura flour is made of ingredients such as wheat flour, starch, baking powder, and powdered egg. It is used specifically to make tempura batter, which is used to coat dishes such as fish, prawns, scallops, and even squid. There is also a tempura made with veggies such as mushrooms, carrots, onions, squash, and sweet potatoes.

In most cases, foods made with tempura batter are used as appetizers or side dishes.

Keep in mind that pre-packaged tempura flour is available, which means you don’t have to buy all the ingredients to make it yourself. You’ll usually need to add some water to the mix. There are several types of this flour. One type, for instance, is gluten-free, and many people prefer this one because it results in a more crispy tempura dish. If the flour contains gluten, it can result in a slightly mushier dish.

You might also want to look at the ingredients of the flour you buy. Usually, either rice flour or potato starch is used to make the flour, and while both will make your dish crispy, flour with potato starch will get it the crispiest. This is important because many dishes made out of tempura flour are best when they’re nice and crispy in the end. That being said, rice flour is a little healthier and won’t make the food greasy or oily.

Now let’s talk more about how to use the alternatives to tempura flour.

All-purpose flour that can be used as a tempura flour substitute
All-purpose flour

1. Regular (All-Purpose) Flour

Regular flour, or all-purpose flour, can always be used instead of tempura flour. When using this type of flour to replace tempura flour, make sure you stir in some cold water so the gluten remains in the flour, and never stir it too much because the dish will come out chewy instead of crispy. And if you want the batter to be a golden brown color, you can add an egg to the mixture.

2. Rice Flour

Since rice flour is gluten-free, it is a healthy substitute for tempura flour. Rice flour soaks up a lot less grease and oil than other types of flour, and as a result, your food will not taste oily or sticky. Most foods made with tempura flour are supposed to be crispy, and rice flour promises to get them nice and crispy in the end.

3. Okonomiyaki Flour

This flour contains both tempura flour and baking powders, and it’s these powders that make the flour puff up, which give the foods a nice texture. Another ingredient sometimes included in this type of flour are bonito shavings, which turn the water into dashi stock and are often used to flavor miso soups. These shavings, however, often make the food rather chewy and not crispy, which is something you might not want.

4. Cornstarch

The good thing about using cornstarch instead of tempura flour is that you can use it in the same amounts. Cornstarch is not only easy to find and very inexpensive, but it also makes the dishes you cook very light and crispy, giving them a superb texture.

Chickpea flour that can be used as a tempura flour substitute
Chickpea flour

5. Chickpea Flour

Chickpea flour shouldn’t be your first choice as a replacement for tempura flour, but it works nonetheless. Start by mixing 1 cup of the chickpea flour, 1/2 cup of ice-cold water, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. This batter is good for deep-frying all types of veggies, and if you do this, make sure you fry them in very hot oil until they turn golden brown.

6. Buckwheat Flour

Buckwheat flour is a gluten-free option. Like chickpea flour, you’ll have to make the batter by mixing up a few ingredients, namely 1 cup of buckwheat flour and 1/2 cup of ice water, then any seasonings you happen to love, such as salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.

7. Whole Wheat Flour

If you choose to use whole wheat flour instead of tempura flour, you’ll have to make some adjustments. First, cut the amount of flour by one-third, since whole wheat flour is so dense. Second, you’ll need to add something acidic (e.g., lemon juice or rice vinegar) so the gluten is activated properly.

Corn flour that can be used as a tempura flour substitute
Corn flour

8. Corn Flour

To use this substitute, combine 1 cup of corn flour with 1 cup of cold water and 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil. In a separate bowl, mix 1 egg and 1/4 cup of cold water, then combine this with the dry ingredients until the two are completely mixed together.

How To Make Your Own Tempura Batter

  1. Mix 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder. Stir well and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of oil until completely mixed.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients. Mix completely for a good consistency. Your batter is ready!