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Chinese Chili Oil

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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.

chili oil recipe homemade

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.

A dollop of chili oil makes any dish exciting, particularly spicy chili oil noodle dishes. Plus, science shows that spicy food may have important health benefits.

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.

chinese chili oil ingredients hot pepper Sichuan peppercorns garlic ginger star anise

Chili Oil Recipe Instructions

Homemade chili oil takes minutes to make. The recipe steps are very straightforward:

  1. 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.)
  2. Pour the hot, infused oil over a heat-proof bowl of Sichuan chili peppers, chili flakes, and salt. 
  3. Stir, cool, serve!

chinese chili oil ingredients hot pepper Sichuan peppercorns garlic ginger

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.

hot chili oil in bowl with broccoli

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.

hot garlic chili oil noodles in bowl

Like spicy Asian food? You’ll also love these recipes:

chinese chili oil recipe ingredients

Chinese Chili Oil

An easy, hot Chinese chili oil recipe, Sichuan-style, to spice up your condiment shelf--and any dish you like. Chinese chili oil takes minutes to make and keeps for weeks in the fridge, ready to be added to rice, noodles, vegetables, and more.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Course: condiment
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, Sichuan
Keywords:: chili, chili oil, chinese food, condiment, Sichuan, spicy, Szechuan
Servings: 1 cup
Print

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

A note on the crushed Sichuan peppercorns: There are several ways to grind the Chinese peppercorns a bit. You can use a mortar and pestle, or place them in a baggie and crush them by banging them with the bottom of a pan or saucepot. If you do this method, just leave the baggie unsealed a little so that air can escape and won't pop the bag like a balloon.
A note on storing Chinese chili oil: Some people leave their chili oil at room temperature, but I prefer to refrigerate mine because I am a bit paranoid about bacteria. This will keep for about a month, if not longer.

 

4 comments

  • I could not find wide rice noodles, will wide lo-mein suffice? I realize it’s a wheat noodle but the only rice that I saw was more like vermicelli and given the other recipe ingredients guessed wide was better even if it isn’t rice?? Thank you.

    • Unpeeled

      That will be fine! The flavors will still be the same, just different texture, that’s all.

  • Johannah

    5 stars
    super easy.

  • Wallace

    5 stars
    Great heat. Tastes/looks just like I have had at restaurants.

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