This 30-minute chicken tempura is an easy Japanese recipe that tastes amazingly crispy yet fluffy. This recipe involves marinating chicken strips in Asian-inspired spices and coating them in a batter before frying until golden brown. They are perfect party food for dipping in your favorite sauces!
⭐ Why this recipe works
Crispy fried chicken tempura is one of those simple recipes that any home can make in a hurry using pantry ingredients that are always on hand in most households. It's always a family favorite, and the kids love them!
Like chicken tenders coated in breadcrumbs and either baked or fried, chicken tempura is coated in a thick batter and fried to a delicious crisp. The chicken is also marinated in Asian-inspired ingredients and pounded to make them tender.
The marinade is a flavorful mixture of garlic, ginger, and soy sauce, which infuses the chicken strips, and the batter is a simple mixture of flour, water, egg, and cornflour, which helps to create a crispy puffed coating around the chicken.
Chicken tempura is the perfect party food for Super Bowl day, BBQs, picnics, potlucks, or snacking in the evening. They can be used as a tasty appetizer with some dipping sauces. Same as my fried chicken tenders recipe.
However you enjoy them, these crispy chicken tempura are an irresistible treat that everyone will love!
🍽 Key Ingredients
Homemade chicken tempura strips is such an easy recipe with pantry ingredients. Although the recipe can be pretty messy, it is definitely worth making these crispy pieces of chicken.
Chicken breast - Buy boneless skinless chicken breasts for this recipe. You could also use boneless chicken thighs if you prefer. Just make sure to pound them to an even thickness to cook evenly.
The marinade - Minced ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and black pepper are all you need for the marinade.
Tempura batter - You'll need cake flour, egg, water, and corn starch to make the batter. The corn starch is important as it helps to create a crispy coating.
Oil - You'll need to use oil for frying. Choose an oil with a high smoke point, such as vegetable oil, peanut oil, or canola oil.
Ginger and garlic
If you don't have any fresh ginger or fresh garlic, you could use ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger and garlic powder instead.
If you don't have any soy sauce, you could use tamari or coconut aminos instead.
You can use all-purpose flour as a substitute for cake flour, although the batter will not be airy and light. All-purpose flour has more protein than cake flour, and that causes the batter to be denser. If using all-purpose flour, add 1 tablespoon of baking powder to make the batter light and airy.
🔪 How to make chicken tempura
To make chicken tempura is as easy as following the instructions below have this dish on the table in no time! This delicious deep-fried chicken can be enjoyed as party food or an appetizer using just a few pantry staples.
Pound the chicken breasts on a chopping board using a meat tenderizer until it's thin.
Then cut chicken strips 1-inch wide and 3-inches long.
In a small bowl combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce, salt, and pepper.
Place the chicken strips into a ziplock bag with the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, salt, and pepper to marinate for 15 minutes to an hour.
Heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (170 degrees Celsius) in a large skillet or deep fryer while making the batter.
Make an ice bath in a large bowl with water and ice cubes, and place a medium bowl inside so that the water comes halfway up. Beat the egg in the bowl for 1 minute until fluffy.
Then sift in the cake flour and cornstarch into the bowl with the egg.
Slowly pour in the cup of water while whisking until you end up with a thick airy tempura batter.
Remove the chicken strips from the ziplock bag and dip them into the batter, thoroughly coating each piece.
Place the battered chicken into the hot oil (2 or 3 pieces at a time), and fry for 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown, flipping the chicken halfway to crisp evenly.
Place the homemade chicken tempura on a paper towel-lined plate to remove the excess oil and continue to fry the remaining pieces.
Serve with your favorite dipping sauce and lemon wedges for squeezing the lemon juice over, and enjoy!
💭 Cooking tips
No meat pounder, no problem!
If you don't possess a meat tenderizer, you can use a wooden mallet or rolling pin to bash the chicken breast.
Making batter can be quite messy! A simple way to avoid tempura batter and flour falling on all of your surfaces is to line it with plastic wrap before making the batter. It makes cleanup much easier and faster by just removing the plastic wrap once you've finished frying.
Leave the marinade for longer.
Let the chicken fingers marinate in the ziplock bag for longer, so that the flavors infuse into the chicken better. For best results, leave it overnight in the refrigerator!
Keep the tempura batter cold.
The key to making the best tempura batter is to keep the batter cold. Using an ice bath is one way to do this, and another is to add ice cold water to the flour mixture.
Don't overmix the batter.
Try to only mix the water and flour until just combined. Overmixing the batter can cause it to become dense and lose its air pockets.
📖 Recipe variations
There are many ways to change up this tempura chicken recipe to suit your taste. Here are a few ideas:
Make a spicy batter.
Adding a teaspoon of chili powder, half a teaspoon of turmeric, and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper to the flour mixture will give your batter a wonderful yellow color and a spicy kick.
Add a half cup of beer to the flour mixture instead of water for a crispy beer-flavored tempura batter that will be a hit!
Like beer, soda water has the same effect as frying batters, as it creates bubbles in the tempura batter, which makes food even crispier.
🥗 What to serve with
Apart from serving these crispy chicken tempura pieces with dips like BBQ sauce, soy sauce, ponzu sauce, and sweet and sour sauce, they pair well with other party foods like some of these easy and delicious creations:
Spicy cheesy pinwheels are the definition of party food, and they only take 30 minutes to whip up. They're baked, chewy in the center, and crispy on the outside.
Pizza and party go together like gin and tonic, so why not make this easy-peasy 40-minute BBQ chicken and bacon pizza to feed your crown.
Another party favorite in my house is jalapeno poppers! They're easy to make and stuffed with cream cheese, salsa, and sausages, then wrapped in bacon and baked to crisp.
If you're looking for something slightly different, try these cheesy, savory pretzel balls. These tiny pizza balls have a cheddar cheese and Italian sausage filling and a crispy coating, making them perfect for dipping in sauces with the chicken tempura.
This chicken tempura recipe pair fantastic with some refreshing summer cocktails for those warm days.
🙋 Frequently asked questions
What meats are good for tempura?
Many types of meat can be used for tempura, but some of the most popular choices include chicken, shrimp, and beef.
What is the difference between tempura and katsu?
Katsu is a Japanese dish similar to tempura, but the meat or vegetables are coated in a breadcrumb mixture rather than tempura batter before being fried.
🧊 Storing and ♨️ reheating
Leftover chicken tempura can easily be stored and reheated or eaten cold for meal prep.
Fridge - Place the chicken in an airtight container, and it will last for up to 3 days in the fridge.
Freezer - You can also freeze chicken tempura for up to 3 months. Make sure to place it in a freezer-safe bag or container.
Reheating - To reheat, place the chicken tempura on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 400F/200C for 10 minutes (14 minutes from frozen), or until heated through.
🍳 Related recipes
If you like my easy chicken tempura recipe then you must try one my delicious chicken recipes full of comforting ingredients. Including my easy corn nuggets recipe.
👪 Serving size
This recipe makes enough chicken tempura fingers for 4 servings, perfect for feeding a small crowd. However, you can easily double or triple the recipe if you're feeding a larger group of people.
So there you have it, crispy and mouth-watering chicken tempura that takes 30 minutes to prepare. Try this Asian-inspired classic to serve as an appetizer for your friends and family at your next dinner party.
I hope you enjoy this chicken tempura recipe!
Love this appetizer recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page.
Try one of my comfort appetizer recipes for your next family meal! And if you have any questions, I'm here to help!
Homemade Chicken Tempura (Fried Chicken Fingers Style)
- 1 large skinless chicken breast - about 125g
- ½ teaspoon ginger - minced
- 1 clove garlic - minced
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ cup cake flour - swans down
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- ⅓ cup cold water
- 3 cups oil
- Use a sharp knife to mince the garlic clove and piece of fresh ginger.
- Pound the chicken breasts on a chopping board using a meat tenderizer until it's thin, then cut chicken strips 1-inch wide and 3-inches long.
- Place the chicken strips into a ziplock bag with the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, salt, and pepper to marinate for 15 minutes to an hour.
- Heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (170 degrees Celsius) in a large skillet or deep fryer while making the batter.
- Make an ice bath in a large bowl with water and ice cubes, and place a medium bowl inside so that the water comes halfway up.
- Beat the egg in the bowl for 1 minute until fluffy, then mix in the cake flour and cornstarch.
- Slowly pour in the cup of water while whisking until you end up with a thick airy tempura batter.
- Remove the chicken strips from the ziplock bag and dip them into the batter, thoroughly coating each piece.
- Place the battered chicken into the hot oil (2 or 3 pieces at a time), and fry for 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown, flipping the chicken halfway to crisp evenly.
- Place the homemade chicken tempura on a paper towel-lined plate to remove the excess oil and continue to fry the remaining pieces.
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce and lemon wedges for squeezing the lemon juice over, and enjoy!