Utterly addictive, this easy recipe for Air Fryer Chicken Tempura is a favorite! Tender, juicy chicken strips are coated in a light and crispy batter, and then air-fried to golden perfection.
Restaurant-Style Tempura at Home!
Sometimes, you just want to treat yourself, and the people you love, with something snackable, addictive, and a little out of the ordinary. In that case, I totally recommend chicken tempura – it’s like serving chicken strips, but lighter and more delicate, with tons of crispy crunch thanks to a special batter and coating of corn flakes.
Kids and adults alike adore tempura, but let’s face it – anything deep-fried is a pretty big hassle, so you don’t really want to casually make it on a busy weeknight or even a busy weekend. But friends, let me say my air fryer has changed all of that. Now it’s totally possible to make your favorite “fried” foods without using tons of oil or a big mess. Air fryer chicken tempura, here we come!
This Recipe Is Great Because…
- It’s light. Air frying allows you to use a small amount of high-quality oil, instead of frying in large amounts of more processed or undesirable oil.
- It’s fast! Air fryers are quick, and efficient, meaning that you’ll only need to cook the chicken for a short time to achieve juicy, crispy results.
- Air fryer chicken tempura is a great appetizer, snack, or light entree. Yum!
- You can serve it with all kinds of dipping sauces – sweet chili, yum yum sauce, soy sauce, sesame or peanut sauces… the choices are endless.
Is Tempura Healthy to Eat?
You might be wondering if eating chicken tempura is going to spoil your diet – and of course, that depends on the diet! If you are strictly limiting carbs, then this recipe might not be a good fit. It contains flour, tapioca flour, and corn flakes, although each piece of chicken will only be coated in a small amount of these ingredients.
However, in general, air fryer chicken tempura is made with simple ingredients, no preservatives or processed items, and contains a decent amount of protein thanks to the chicken breast. Unlike traditional fried foods, it’s not heavy or greasy – you only need a tiny bit of healthy olive oil to make this!
What Is Tempura Chicken Made Of?
The ingredients for air fryer chicken tempura are all focused on maximum flavor, lightness, and crispiness. But that doesn’t mean this is a complicated recipe! Here’s a complete rundown of what you’ll need, and it’s super simple.
- Flour: Regular all-purpose flour is the base of the batter.
- Tapioca Flour: A little bit of additional tapioca flour brings some lightness and softness to the batter, which will help it fry up nice and crispy.
- Baking Soda: For bubbly lightness.
- Seasonings: A combination of salt, garlic powder, chicken seasoning, and Cajun seasoning adds a ton of umami flavor.
- Egg: You’ll need the yolk and the white, separated.
- Corn Flakes: For an extra crunchy coating. Yum!
- Olive Oil: Or non-aerosol cooking spray.
- Water: Cold water works best.
- Chicken Breasts: The chicken should be cut lengthwise into strips.
How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Tempura
Unlike deep frying, air frying is really quick and practically mess-free. These are the steps for creating the perfect crispy air fryer chicken tempura, without the hassle of traditional frying. Let’s do this!
- Season the Chicken. First, season the chicken pieces by sprinkling them with salt, and rubbing half of the chicken seasoning, half of the garlic powder, and half of the Cajun seasoning mixes into the chicken strips, massaging them with your hands.
- Make the Tempura Batter. Next, combine the flour, tapioca flour, and the remaining half of each seasoning in a medium mixing bowl, and make a well in the center. Beat the water and egg yolk together, and pour this mixture into the well. Stir or whisk just until moistened, and then stir in the beaten egg whites and olive oil.
- Bread the Chicken and Coat in Oil. Set your chicken, batter, and crushed corn flakes out in their separate dishes. Take one piece of chicken at a time, and dip it in the batter, followed by the corn flakes. Finally, roll the breaded chicken strips on a lightly-oiled baking sheet to coat in oil – or just spritz them with non-aerosol cooking spray.
- Fill the Air Fryer Basket. Arrange the chicken strips in your air fryer basket, leaving some space in between each piece. (If they don’t all fit in one layer, you will need to cook in batches. Be careful not to crowd the basket or your chicken will be soggy!)
- Cook! Preheat the air fryer to 350°F and set the baking time to 18 minutes. Air-fry the chicken, shaking the basket halfway through the cooking time so that the pieces brown evenly.
- Enjoy! Once the air fryer chicken tempura is cooked, serve it warm with your favorite dipping sauce.
Tips and Hacks
I hope you are feeling inspired to try your hand at this recipe. Air fryer chicken tempura is so tempting, and so fun to make, especially with these helpful tips!
- Don’t Over-Mix: Be careful not to over-beat the batter, or it will be more bready and chewy, instead of crispy. It’s fine if there are a few lumps.
- More Tempura Options: You can use the same batter to make veggie tempura (like zucchini, mushroom, or broccoli), great for serving with chicken tempura!
- Use Something Bubbly: Sparkling water instead of regular water can create an even lighter tempura batter, so feel free to swap!
What to Serve with Air Fryer Chicken Tempura
Serving this dish is so easy! It’s fabulous as a starter with your favorite dipping sauce, or as a side with some good stir-fry. Want more ideas? How about…
- Sushi: No need to buy it from a restaurant – just follow these simple step-by-step instructions to make your own Rainbow Roll sushi at home.
- Spring Rolls: My mouth waters just thinking about these Golden Veggie Spring Rolls! This side dish is light, crispy, and full of nutritious veggies.
- Soup: Miso soup is a nice choice, or you could go with Egg Drop Soup – it’s light, nourishing, and incredibly easy to make.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- For maximum freshness, keep any leftover chicken tempura in an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator, and use within two days.
- Reheat your leftover tempura at 350°F in the air fryer or oven.
Can I Freeze Air Fryer Chicken Tempura?
- Yes, you can freeze this chicken tempura for up to 3 months. Cool it down before placing it in a freezer bag or airtight container, and storing it in your freezer.
- Reheat directly from frozen.
Air Fryer Chicken Tempura
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut lengthwise into strips
- salt, to taste
- 1 teaspoon chicken seasoning blend (I use Lawry's), divided
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder, divided
- ½ teaspoon cajun seasoning, divided
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons tapioca flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 egg white, beaten
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup corn flakes, crushed
- Sprinkle the chicken with salt. Then rub half of the chicken seasoning, half of the garlic powder, and half of the Cajun seasoning mixes into the chicken strips, massaging them with your hands.
- Combine the flour, tapioca flour, baking soda, and the remaining half of each seasoning in a mixing bowl.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Beat the water and egg yolk together, and pour this into the well. Mix just until moistened, and then stir in the beaten egg whites and olive oil.
- Place the crushed corn flakes in a separate bowl.
- Dip each piece of chicken into the batter, coating it well, and then roll in the crushed corn flakes.
- Lightly oil a baking sheet, and arrange the chicken pieces on it. Roll each piece of chicken on the baking sheet to lightly coat in oil on all sides. Alternatively, spritz each chicken piece lightly with oil from a non-aerosol container.
- Place the chicken in your air fryer basket, leaving some space in between each piece. If it can’t all fit in one layer, you will need to cook in batches. Do not crowd the basket or the chicken will not be crispy.
- Preheat the air fryer to 350°F and set the baking time to 18 minutes.
- Halfway through the cooking time, shake the basket, so that the chicken pieces cook evenly on all sides.
- Place the chicken strips on a serving dish, and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.