Deliciously fragrant and addictively spicy, Chinese Chili Oil is a basic condiment you’ll keep stocked in your fridge all year long!
Chinese Chili Oil makes everything taste better. EVERYTHING. Eggs, fried rice, noodles, congee, dumplings, avocado toast, etc.
And the homemade version is so good and easy to make.
Once you start making chili oil at home, you won’t go back! I promise!
What is Chinese Chili Oil?
Chinese Chili Oil is a condiment/dipping sauce that’s frequently added to East Asian dishes.
Sometimes called Chili Crisp or Sichuan Chili Oil, it’s spicy and aromatic with a pronounced texture from the chili flakes and seeds.
Tingly, spicy, fragrant, deliciously aromatic, and supercharged in flavor! A basic pantry item with multiple uses, you’ll be reaching for it again and again.
If you can make homemade marinara, vegetable stock, biscuits, and BBQ dry rub, you can definitely make homemade chili oil, too!
Make it once and you’ll see — it’s so much better than the store-bought kind. I guarantee you’ll always have a jar stocked in your pantry, too.
- Chinese Dried Chili Flakes. Adds heat and spice. The main ingredient so find the best you can find. Look for vibrantly red, aromatic, and slightly moist (not too dry) chili flakes.
- Gochukaru. My Korean twist. Adds another layer of complexity and flavor.
- Sichuan Pepper. For that tongue-numbing spice and distinctive flavor. Also called Prickly Ash.
- Cinnamon Stick. Spicy-sweet, dusky flavor.
- Bay leaves. More aroma and flavor.
- Star Anise. Deep licorice flavor and aroma.
- Oil. Any neutral-flavored oil with a high smoke point is ideal. I typically use grapeseed oil but have also used avocado, vegetable, canola, and peanut oil as well. They all work well. I do not recommend olive oil.
- In a heat-proof container, add Chinese chili flakes, Gochukaru, Sichuan Pepper (crushed), bay leaves, cinnamon stick, and star anise.
- Heat oil to 370F. Add to the bowl, in batches. It will bubble and foam. Mix gently together with heat-proof spoon (not plastic).
- Cool completely. Remove and discard bay leaves, star anise, and cinnamon stick. Add salt and mix well. Transfer to a glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Add to noodles, fried rice, hot pot, congee, EVERYTHING! Enjoy!
- Use a candy thermometer. Helps to accurately gauge oil temperature.
- Crush Sichuan pepper. Use a mortar and pestle (or ziploc bag and rolling pin) to crush into uniform flakes. You don’t want big chunks of this tongue-numbing chili but rather, coarsely ground bits spread throughout.
- Use a heat-proof container and spoon! The high oil temperature will melt or crack plastic, glass, or bamboo containers and/or spoons.
- Cool completely. Then transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid. A glass jar works well.
What are Chinese chili flakes? Where can I find them?
Chinese Chili Flakes are dried chilies that have been crushed into flakes. Look for them at the Asian grocery store. You’ll find many different brands and forms of dried chilies: powder, whole, chopped, medium flake, large flake, etc. For this recipe, look for medium-flake crushed chilies with seeds. They should be vibrantly red and aromatic.
Please note: Chinese Chili Flakes are different from Italian dried chili flakes (the kind you sprinkle over pizza). By contrast, Italian chili flakes are darker, less aromatic, and slightly bitter. If you substitute with Italian chili flakes (or cayenne or paprika), it will not taste the same.
How do I store Chinese Chili Oil?
The dilemma of chili oil storage: room temperature chili crisp tastes best but storing in the fridge ensures maximum freshness and flavor over a longer period of time.
My recommendation: store in the fridge, tightly sealed. When ready to eat, give it a good stir and bring to room temperature for a few minutes. That will make drizzling easier. Also, the aroma will be more pronounced if eaten with hot food items.
Be careful of cross-contamination and always use a clean spoon!
How long will homemade chili oil last?
In the fridge, tightly sealed, it should last about 1 month. Since there’s no added preservatives, it tastes best within the first 2 weeks of making it. I don’t recommend freezing.
Other sauces/dips you may enjoy:
Chinese Chili Oil
- candy thermometer
- heat proof bowl (ceramic or stainless steel)
- 1/2 cup Chinese chili flakes
- 1/4 cup Gochukaru (Korean chili flakes)
- 2 Tbsp sichuan pepper crushed
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil (not olive oil)
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- Add all ingredients (except oil) to a heat proof container.
- Heat oil in a small saucepan to 370F, using a candy thermometer.
- Pour oil into heat proof container with the rest of the ingredients. Everything will sizzle and bubble. Mix gently with heatproof spoon (not plastic) and set aside to cool.
- When completely cool, remove and discard bay leaves, star anise, and cinnamon stick. Add salt. Mix thoroughly.
- Transfer to a jam jar and serve. When not in use, store tightly covered in the refrigerator. It should keep for up to 1 month.