Chicken Tempura

published Jan 26, 2023
Chicken Tempura Recipe

Featuring boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces dipped in batter and fried, chicken tempura is a Japanese style of fried chicken that’s decidedly crispy and tender.


Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook15 minutes to 20 minutes

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Credit: Meleyna Nomura

My family loves all types of fried chicken — especially the boneless varieties. Easy to eat and endlessly delicious, chicken tempura is a fun twist on the typical chicken tenders you may be used to. Serve with rice, ponzu sauce, and some thinly sliced cabbage during dinnertime, and no one will able to resist.

Tempura batter can be made entirely with all-purpose flour, but swapping in a bit of potato or corn starch makes for an especially light crust. If you don’t have it, all-purpose flour works just fine.

The Differences Between Chicken Tempura, Chicken Katsu, and Karaage?

Chicken tempura, chicken katsu, and karaage are all different Japanese styles of fried chicken, and there are a few differences.

  • Chicken tempura is boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces dipped in batter and fried, similar to fish and chips.
  • Chicken katsu is a whole boneless, skinless chicken breast breaded in panko breadcrumbs and fried, like schnitzel.
  • Karaage is made with boneless, skin-on chicken thigh pieces tossed in starch and fried, more like a classic fried chicken, without the bone.
Credit: Meleyna Nomura

Tips for Making Chicken Tempura

  • Use half potato starch. A combination of half all-purpose flour and half potato (or corn) starch will yield the crispiest crust.
  • Use icy-cold unflavored seltzer or water. It’s the key to puffy, crispy perfection.
  • Don’t overmix the batter. Stir gently with chopsticks until barely combined — lumps are OK!
  • Don’t load up each piece with batter. It will be cakey and gummy, and makes it harder for the chicken to cook through all of the way. Let some of the batter drip off before placing in the oil.
  • Monitor the oil temperature. You want to keep it around 350°F.

Chicken Tempura Recipe

Featuring boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces dipped in batter and fried, chicken tempura is a Japanese style of fried chicken that’s decidedly crispy and tender.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1 1/2 pounds

    boneless, skinless chicken breasts (3 small or 2 large), divided

  • 1 tablespoon

    soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons


  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • 1 clove


  • 1 (1/2-inch) piece


  • 4 cups

    neutral oil, such as canola, for frying

  • 1/3 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/3 cup

    potato starch or cornstarch

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1/2 cup

    plus 2 tablespoons cold seltzer water or ice water


  1. Place 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast inside a gallon zip-top bag. Press out as much air as possible and seal the bag. Using the flat side of a meat mallet or rolling pin, pound the chicken until about 1/2-inch thick. Transfer to a cutting board. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts.

  2. Cut the chicken crosswise into 3/4-inch wide strips (if very large, halve first). Place in a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 teaspoons sake, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar. Peel and finely grate 1 garlic clove and 1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger into the bowl. Toss to coat. Marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or preferably up to 6 hours in the refrigerator.

  3. Heat 4 cups neutral oil in a medium pot or wok over medium-high heat until 360°F. Meanwhile, place 1/3 cup all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup potato starch in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Place 1 large egg in a small bowl and whisk to break up. Add 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold seltzer or ice water to the bowl with the egg and gently stir. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. It should look like a thin pancake batter, and lumps are okay. Line a large plate with paper towels, or set a wire rack over a baking sheet and top with a double layer of paper towels.

  4. Dip a piece of chicken in the batter until completely coated. Let most of the batter drip off back into the bowl and carefully add to the hot oil. Repeat until about a third of the chicken is in the pot. Fry, turning the chicken occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed to keep the oil at 350ºF, until the chicken is cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the paper towels or rack.

  5. Repeat battering and frying the remaining chicken, using a slotted spoon or spider to skim off the bits of fried batter crumbs in the oil before each batch. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Chicken tempura is best served immediately, but can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in a low oven until heated through.