Add some spice to your life.
This homemade Sichuan-inspired Chinese chili oil recipe deserves a place next to other essential condiments like ketchup and mustard. Get this homemade chili oil recipe. This spicy, fragrant, flavorful oil takes minutes to make and is infinitely versatile.
All About This Chinese Chili Oil Recipe
Whenever I go out to eat, my eyes seriously light up when I see a little jar on the table filled with fiery red oil, thick with chili flakes and maybe a few bonus seasonings like minced garlic cloves or sesame oil or seeds.
Sure, chili oil is available at most Asian grocery stores. and many homemade chili oil recipes exist, from Italian-style to Asian. But this chili oil recipe, Chinese inspired and easy to make, is the best: a Sichuan chili oil that’s nice and spicy, with good aromatics mixed in for good measure.
Chili Oil Recipe Instructions
Homemade chili oil takes minutes to make. The recipe steps are very straightforward:
- Heat neutral vegetable such as canola or avocado oil in a sauce pan or small pot with ginger, star anise, and cinnamon until it shimmers. (I use avocado oil for its clean taste, high smoke point, and health benefits.)
- Pour the hot, infused oil over a heat-proof bowl of Sichuan chili peppers, chili flakes, and salt.
- Stir, cool, serve!
Chinese Chili Oil Recipe Ingredients
The recipe for hot chili oil comes down to a combination of oil, peppers, and aromatics.
What chili is best for chili oil? Sichuan chili flakes and peppercorns.
- Use Sichuan (Szechuan) chili peppers if you can find them. Sichuan peppercorns have more heat compared to black peppercorns, with a different flavor profile. Sichuan peppercorns have citrus and lavender notes.
- Use Sichuan chili flakes if you can find them. These Chinese chili peppers are cooked and ground a little differently than the Italian-style chili flakes, and will give a fantastic, vivid red color to the finished oil which the Italian chili flakes will not. (That said, definitely just substitute Italian-style in a pinch!)
What oil to use in this hot chili oil recipe
- Use a neutral vegetable oil. Avoid olive oil; the flavor will be way off, and the heat can turn the oil rancid. I prefer canola oil, which tastes very plain and has a high smoke point.
- Heat the oil in a small pot or sauce pan until it moves thinly like water and shimmers a little. I just go by eye, but if you have a kitchen thermometer, the ideal temperature for the hot oil is around 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Chinese chili oil aromatics that make this fragrant and tasty.
Along with the oil and peppers, this chili oil recipe includes bay leaves, a cinnamon stick, star anise, and ginger for extra flavor and aroma that blooms when the oil is heated in the saucepan. You could also add a teaspoon of sesame seeds or some minced garlic.
Substitutions for Sichuan Peppercorns and Chili Flakes
If you can’t find Sichuan peppercorns, substitute whole black peppercorns. If you don’t have Sichuan chili flakes, substitute Korean gochugaru or even Italian red pepper flakes.
Hot Chinese Chili Oil Recipe Notes
This recipe for chili oil is very straightforward and easy. But to summarize, here are the main recipe notes:
- Get the oil temperature in the right range, around 250 degrees Fahrenheit. I heat the oil over medium heat so it does not get too hot.
- Try to seek out Sichuan peppercorns and chili flakes for both color and flavor, but substituting black or peppercorns and Italian-style chili flakes will do in a pinch
- You can halve this chili oil recipe as necessary — especially if you don’t have a house full of spicy-food lovers
- Serve by tossing with noodles, spooning over rice or dumplings, or add the chili oil to finished meals for a spicy kick.
How Long Will Homemade Chili Oil Last?
Homemade chili oil has a fairly long shelf life. Store it in the refrigerator. My personal preference is to keep mine in a clean, airtight container in the fridge (such as a clean jar) for about a month.
Like spicy Asian food? You’ll also love these recipes:
- Spicy Broken Cucumber Salad
- Thai Chicken Kra Pao (Basil Chicken)
- Homemade Wonton Soup (This one isn’t spicy — just really good!)
Chinese Chili Oil
- 1/4 cup red chili flakes, preferably Sichuan
- 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, lightly crushed (see note, below)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal brand)
- 1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola or avocado oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Combine the chili flakes, peppercorns, and salt in a heat-proof bowl.
- Heat the oil, bay leaves, ginger, star anise, and cinnamon stick in a saucepan over medium to medium-high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes. The oil is heated when the oil reaches 250°F or looks thin like water and shimmers a bit.
- Pour the hot oil mixture over the chili flake mixture, taking care in case any oil spatters. Stir gently and cool to room temperature. Store in a clean container.