This is the best Chinese crispy chili oil recipe you’ll ever try!
There are many ways to prepare Chinese crispy chili oil and most recipes make the process more difficult than it needs to be. Here I would like to show you my Chinese crispy chili oil recipe, the way I make it all the time at home.
It’s very easy and so much better than any Chinese crispy chili oil you can purchase. I know because I always try to improve the food I purchase and like in my recipes. If you do a taste test of this homemade chili oil with a well known brand, it will win hands down! All is explained below.
This chili oil isn’t just delicious with Chinese food! You can add it to most anything when you desire a bit of heat. It’s especially good as a spicy side with Malaysian, Indonesian, Indian, Thai, Sri Lankan and Vietnamese meals.
What is Chinese crispy chili oil?
Chinese crispy chili oil, also known as “crispy chili in oil” or “crispy chili,” is a popular Chinese condiment known for its rich, spicy, and crunchy texture.
It’s made from a combination of chili peppers, oil, and various aromatics, which are cooked together to create a flavourful, spicy, and crispy condiment. This condiment is a staple in Sichuan and other Chinese regional cuisines. You can use it to add heat and flavour to a wide variety of dishes.
What are the key ingredients in this chili oil recipe?
You will find many recipes for chili oil but this recipe is basic but delicious. To make this chili oil recipe, you will need the following:
Dried Sichuan chili flakes: You don’t want to confuse these with the Italian variety of dried chili flakes that are more readily available. Although Italian dried chili flakes will still be good, they have a different flavour and heat. You want to source Sichuan chili flakes that are readily available at Chinese grocers and online.
Oil: You need to use a neutral vegetable oil like rapeseed (canola) or peanut oil.
Aromatics: Finely chopped garlic, spring onions (scallions) and ginger are often added for flavour. You need to be a bit careful adding them though as they will reduce the shelf life of your chili oil. I explain this below and how to get around it when you prepare this chili oil recipe.
Spices and Seasonings: In the chili oil recipe below, you add Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cardamom seeds, cloves and cinnamon to enhance the flavour of the oil. You then add salt to taste. Many recipes include adding a little sugar and vinegar which you can do to add complexity but I rarely do. I like it just as it is.
How long will this chili oil keep?
If you don’t add the fresh aromatics, namely the garlic, ginger and spring onions (scallions), it will keep for months in a clean, air tight container in a dark and cool location. The aromatics do taste great in this chili oil recipe so read on about how to add it.
Adding aromatics to the chili oil.
Adding fresh aromatics can be dangerous if stored too long. You could get food poisoning and not feel well or worse!
If you make this chili oil recipe and plan to consume it within a couple of weeks, go ahead and add the aromatics to the oil when you add the whole spices.
If you don’t plan on consuming all the chili oil in about two weeks, you can still add the aromatics by frying them separately. It’s actually a lot easier to do this as you don’t have to pick all the whole spices out before adding the aromatics and oil to the chili flakes.
Frying the aromatics.
Eye it up. I usually double the amount of aromatics used if I am stirring them into a whole batch.
In this case, I was serving the oil to about 8 people and only needed half of it for the table. You can just fry up the aromatics you need and then pour them into the oil you plan on serving.
Why is it called crispy chili oil?
You will see why when you try this chili oil recipe! When the pour the hot oil over the dried chili flakes, it fries the flakes at the perfect heat. The chili flakes become crispy and it’s so good!
How important is the frying heat of the oil?
Very… but you can use your eyes to ensure perfection. You are aiming for a cooking heat of 110C/225F.
If you don’t have an oil thermometer, just watch the spices carefully as they infuse in the oil. They should just be bubbling a little around the edges. That is plenty hot enough to infuse their flavour into the oil.
For best results, try to infuse the spices for 30 to 60 minutes. This takes time and attention though. 20 minutes will do the trick.
Why do you toast the chili flakes?
This is optional. You will get great results even if you don’t do this. It does add depth of flavour though.
To toast the chili flakes, just heat them up in a wok or pan until warm to the touch and fragrant. It takes a couple of minutes and can be done while the whole spices are infusing into the oil.
Step by step photographs
Your Chinese crispy chili oil is finished. Or is it?
If not consuming within a week or two, this is how you should store you crispy chili oil. It will keep for months in the fridge.
You might like to add crispy garlic, ginger and spring onions (scallions). This you can do at any time as when needed.
Have you tried this chili oil recipe?
If so, please leave a star rating in the recipe card below and leave a comment. I love to get your feedback as do other readers of my blog. Thank you!
- 325ml (1 ½ cups) rapeseed (canola) oil or another neutral vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 4 star anise
- 1 x 5cm (2 inch) cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp cloves
- 2 black cardamom pods (optional)
- 1 cup Sichuan chili flakes
- 1 sp salt (to taste)
- Place all of the spices in a medium sized sauce pan and cover with the oil. It is important that you use a pot that allows for at least a 5cm (2 inch) space between the level of the oil and the top of the pan.
- Gently heat the oil over a medium heat. You are aiming for a cooking temperature of 110C/225F. If you don’t have an oil thermometer, just watch the oil closely. The oil should gently simmer around the spices. If it is boiling too vigorously, you will burn the spices and it will become bitter, so take the oil off the heat or reduce the heat to low if too many bubbles are forming. Likewise, if you are not seeing small bubbles that slowly rise from the spices, turn up the heat some.
- Watch it all carefully and infuse the flavour of the spices into the oil in this way for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour for more flavour.
- Meanwhile, pour the Sichuan chili flakes into a heat-proof bowl or pan. When you are finished infusing the spices into the oil, carefully, pour the oil through a fine mesh strainer over the chili flakes.
- Stir the oil into the chili flakes. As you do this, you’ll be hit with the aroma of what smells like popcorn. That is the chilies roasting in the hot oil.
- Allow to cool some and then add salt to taste. Pour the chili oil into a clean, air-tight container. You can keep this oil for about 6 months in this way.
- To add the aromatics, simply fry the garlic, ginger and spring onions (scallions) over a medium-high heat until lightly browned and a bit crispy. Don't burn the garlic!
- Pour the fried aromatics into the amount of oil you want to flavour. In this case I only used enough aromatics to flavour half of the oil.
For the best flavour, try to infuse the flavour of the whole spices into the oil for about 1 hour without burning them. To be honest, I have infused the spices into the oil for as little as 20 minutes and was not disappointed.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 36Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 51mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 1g