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Jan 7, 2024

Tempura Onion Rings with Homemade Dipping Sauce

If you love all things tempura, and especially if you are a fan of onion rings, you'll love these tempura onion rings. 

Tempura Onion Rings with Homemade Dipping Sauce in a white bowl.

These tempura onion rings are exactly what I was craving. They are crispy, lightly crunchy, and not at all greasy. 

I'm pretty happy with how these onion rings turned out and I am looking forward to trying more traditional tempura vegetables and fish. In the meantime, my onion ring craving is totally satisfied with these. 

Tempura Onion Rings in a white bowl.

I've always wanted to try making tempura (天ぷら) but I've also been intimidated. It's a signature Japanese dish that some Japanese chefs spend eons perfecting their technique for transforming simple ingredients into a light and lacy crust. 

Note: When you dip the onions in the batter, you might notice that there appears to be very little batter on the onion. It may even look like there is no batter on the onion ring. Rest assured, the batter will puff and become lacy as the onions fry. 

About Tempura: 

Before sushi became well-known in the U.S., Japanese restaurants catering to American tastes featured teppenyaki, hibachi, and tempura, at least in California, where I grew up. I remember getting a hibachi for grilling Japanese-style steak out on the patio of our first apartment. 

I also remember visiting amazing tempura restaurants in Pasadena, Gardena, and Signal Hill. My favorite Japanese restaurants featured gorgeous plates of tempura shrimp and vegetables, typically root vegetables and broccoli. You could also get plates with both hibachi and tempura. So good. 

Japanese Tempura supposedly has roots from Portuguese traders from the 17th century and then adapted by Japanese chefs, street vendors, and home cooks. 

Kombo and Bonito flakes in their packaging.

Tempura Dipping Sauce (Ten Tsuyu):

Tempura also calls for a dipping sauce, which begins with dashi, which is a stock. There are several versions of dashi. This common version is made from kombu (a dried kelp) and dried bonito flakes. While I made my own, there is dashi powder available that you can use to skip this step. 

I already had the ingredients from making shio ramen as well as yuzu kosho scallops so I made my own dashi. It involves soaking the kombo in water, and then boiling the bonito flakes in the same water. You save the extra dashi for making any soup. It will easily freeze for later to make homemade ramen. 

Homemade dashi in a large measuring cup.

Once you've made the dashi, use some of it to make the dipping sauce by combining it with soy sauce and Mirin, a sweet rice cooking wine. You can also add a couple of teaspoons of sugar for a sweeter dipping sauce. 

Bring the dashi, soy sauce, and mirin to a simmer and cook for a minute or two. You can make the dipping sauce in advance and then reheat it when you are ready to serve the tempura. 

Tempura dipping sauce in a jar.

Tips for Preparing the Tempura:

First, get everything staged before mixing the batter. The trick is to have a cold batter that is just barely mixed so that you don't develop any gluten in the flour. Many sites and books recommend using chopsticks for mixing the batter. You should have a few lumps of flour in the batter. This is not a problem. 

Use cold cake flour (I keep mine in the freezer), cold egg yolks, cold water, and then add a few ice cubes to the batter for insurance. 

Make sure to keep your oil at an even temperature, about 360 degrees F. If the temperature is too low, the tempera will be soggy, and if it's too high, the batter might burn. 

Use a candy thermometer to monitor the oil temperature so you can adjust it, and don't overcrowd the pan. 

I used a mini deep fryer, one of my favorite kitchen toys. It's small enough to store and super handy for the rare times when I deep fry. You don't need one of these, but they are super handy. Because you are cooking in small batches, you can keep the already fried onions on a baking sheet in a 200 degree F oven while you are frying the rest. 

Tempura Onion Rings in a white bowl.


Set up your work station with a bowl with cake flour for dipping the onions and another bowl to hold your sliced and separated onion rings. Have a paper towel-lined plate set aside. Heat your oven to 200 degrees F with a baking sheet set on the middle rack. 

Bring the oil to 360 degrees F. 

Mix the egg yolks with the cold water in one bowl and add the ice cubes to the mixture. Whisk together the flour and salt in another bowl. When you're ready to fry the onions, add the flour to the egg and water mixture and mix briefly with four chopsticks, moving them up and down until the batter is lumpy but the consistency of cream. 

Dip the onions in the dry flour, then the batter, and then lay them in the hot oil. Work in batches to not overcrowd the pan. 

Drain the cooked onions on the paper towel lined plate. Once drained, move them to the sheet pan in the oven while you continue to cook the rest of the  onions. 


If you have leftovers, cover them in foil and refrigerate them. Later, reheat them in an air fryer, toaster oven, or in the oven with the convection setting. 

More onion ring recipes you May Also Enjoy:

Sourdough onion rings

Oven-fried onion rings

Get More Tempura Recipes from the Sunday Funday Group:

Tempura Onion Rings with Homemade Dipping Sauce on a white plate.

Tempura Onion Rings

Tempura Onion Rings
Yield: 8 servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 30 MinCook time: 30 MinTotal time: 1 Hour
If you love all things tempura, and especially if you are a fan of onion rings, you'll love these tempura onion rings.


For the Onion Rings
  • 2 large yellow or brown onions, peeled and cut into 3/8 inch rings, rings separated.
  • 1/2 cup cake flour, in a medium bowl
  • 1 1/2 quarts neutral oil
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1/4 cup ice cubes
  • 2 cups cake flour whisked together with 1/2 teaspoon of salt
Tempura Dipping Sauce
  • 1 cup dashi
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • Grated daikon radish
  • Grated fresh ginger
For the Dashi
  • 4 cups water (plus 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 6-inch piece of kombo
  • 3/4 ounces dried bonito (about 1 1/2 packed cups)


To Make the Dashi
  1. Add the 4 cups of water to a saucepan along with the kombu. Let steep for 30 minutes.
  2. Bring the stockpot to a boil over medium heat. Once it is boiling, remove the kombu. Add the tablespoon of water and the bonito flakes and stir once. Once the water is boiling again, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat and let the bonito steep for 15 minutes. Strain the ingredients through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl or large glass measuring cup.
  4. This mixture can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To Make the Tempura Dipping Sauce (Ten Tsuyu)
  1. Add the dashi, soy sauce, and mirin to a saucepan. Bring the ingredients to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  2. Serve warm along with some grated daikon radish and grated ginger (optional). Mix it in just before serving.
To Make the Onion Rings
  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the separated onion slices on a plate.
  2. On a separate plate, spread the 1/2 cup of cake flour.
  3. Add the oils to a pan or deep fryer and heat to bring them to 360 degrees F.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the egg yolks and cold water. Stir in the ice cubes.
  5. Add the 2 cups of cake flour and salt to the egg and water mixture and, using four chop sticks, "stab" the mixture using and up and down motion to mix everything for about 30 to 60 seconds. The mixture will be lumpy, which is expected.
  6. When the oil has reached 360 degrees F, working in batches, lightly toss the onions in the cake flour, then dip them into the batter and lay them into the hot oil. Cook the onion rings for 2 to 3 minutes, until the batter turns golden. Transfer the onion rings to the paper towel lined plate to drain and then to the baking sheet in the oven.
  7. Repeat with the rest of the onion rings.
  8. Serve with the dipping sauce along with some grated daikon radish and grated fresh ginger (optional) mixed in just before serving.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

31 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

2 g

Carbs (grams)

6 g

Fiber (grams)

0 g

Net carbs

6 g

Sugar (grams)

1 g

Protein (grams)

1 g

Cholesterol (grams)

8 mg
Tempura, onions,
side dishes
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This recipe was adapted from the book Japanese Soul Cooking: Ramen, Tonkatsu, Tempura, and More from the Streets and Kitchens of Tokyo and Beyond by Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat

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Would you like to comment?

  1. I love onion rings and these are screaming to me. Thanks for sharing the sauce recipe too.

  2. I love onion rings and can not wait to try your homemade dipping sauce. How delicious.

  3. This looks so much lighter and delicious than regular onions rings!


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