Add some spice to your life.
As a spicy food lover, I firmly believe that homemade Sichuan-style chili oil deserves a place next to other essential condiments like ketchup and mustard. Here’s the recipe for how to make homemade chili oil. This spicy, fragrant, flavorful oil takes minutes to make and is infinitely versatile.
How to Make Homemade Chili Oil
Whenever I go out to eat, my eyes immediately light up when I see a little jar on the table filled with fiery red oil, thick with chili flakes. A dollop of chili oil makes any dish exciting. Plus, science shows that spicy food may have important health benefits.
Many homemade chili oil recipes exist, from Italian-style to Asian. But this recipe is inspired by traditional Chinese or Sichuan chili oil: nice and spicy, with good aromatics mixed in for good measure.
Homemade chili oil takes minutes to make. The steps are very straightforward:
- Heat neutral vegetable with ginger, star anise, and cinnamon until it shimmers. (I use canola for its clean taste and high smoke point.)
- Pour the hot, infused oil over a bowl of peppers, chilis, and salt.
- Stir, cool, serve!
Homemade Chinese Chili Oil Ingredients
The recipe for homemade chili oil comes down to a combination of oil, peppers, and aromatics.
- Use Sichuan (Szechuan) peppercorns 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 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!)
- 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 until it moves like water and shimmers a little. I just go by eye, but if you have a kitchen thermometer, the ideal temperature is around 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Along with the oil and peppers, this recipe includes bay leaves, a cinnamon stick, star anise, and ginger for extra flavor and aroma.
Substitution 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.
Homemade Chili Oil Recipe Notes
This recipe 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.
- 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
- Store this in the refrigerator. I usually keep mine in a clean container in the fridge for about a month.
- You can halve this recipe as necessary — especially if you don’t have a house full of spicy-food lovers!
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!)
Homemade Chili Oil
- 1/4 cup red chili flakes, preferably Sichuan
- 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, lightly crushed
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola
- 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-high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes. 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. Some people leave theirs 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.