Culinary Arts

Learn About Chili Oil: Homemade Chili Oil Recipe in 6 Easy Steps

Written by MasterClass

Jun 10, 2019 • 3 min read

If you like food that brings the heat, then chili oil is for you. This spicy condiment is just as much a staple in China as soy sauce, particularly in Sichuan-style cuisine from the Sichuan province. Chili oil is used in the pan as a cooking base for meats and vegetables, as a spicy dipping sauce for rolls and dumplings, or drizzled over almost anything. In any way it’s used, chili oil packs a hot punch with every bite.


What Is Chili Oil?

Chili oil is a popular ingredient in Chinese cuisine that adds a hot and spicy flavor to foods. This bright red oil is made by pouring hot vegetable oil over fresh chili peppers and crushed red pepper flakes. The simmering chili infuses its spicy flavor into the oil.

4 Ways to Use Chili Oil in Cooking

Despite its Chinese heritage, chili oil is a popular ingredient in Korean dishes like noodle soup, Italian cuisine from Calabria, and Mexican salsas from Veracruz. Chili oil can be found in many grocery stores and Asian food markets, but it’s also simple to make at home.

You can use chili oil in a number of different ways in cooking:

  1. In the pan. When you heat oil in a pan or wok, cut the serving in half and use chili oil, too. It’s the perfect liquid to toss a stir fry in.
  2. As a marinade. Brush chili oil over chicken, pork, or shrimp and let it sit for half an hour in the refrigerator. Cooking the meat on the grill will add a smokey flavor as the chili flakes roast over the open flames.
  3. As a dipping sauce. Chili oil is often placed on tables as a dipping sauce in Chinese restaurants. Dipping spring rolls or dumplings in chili oil mixed with soy sauce gives a sweet and spicy taste to an appetizer. Salsa macha is a Mexican dipping chili oil, perfect for tortilla chips or quesadillas.
  4. Add it to almost anything. The versatility of chili oil makes it the perfect complement to so many unexpected dishes. Adding peanuts or Sichuan peppercorns, or a variety of herbs and spices, in the preparation of chili oil can add new dimensions to its flavor. It makes a perfect topping for scrambled eggs, injects a little heat to a cool cucumber salad, or simply drizzled over a baked sweet potato or warm baguette.

Easy 3-Step Recipe to Homemade Chili Oil

Chili oil can be a simple, three-ingredient recipe that takes ten minutes to make, or a longer process that calls for multiple ingredients and steps.

When it’s ready, chili oil can be stored at room temperature in a sealed jar for several weeks, or up to six months in the refrigerator.

There are two ways to make chili oil, depending on the flavor you want.

2 Recipes Using Chili Oil

Put your homemade chili oil to the test with these traditional Sichuan recipes.

  1. Dandan noodles. This is one of the most popular Sichuan street-food dishes, and a great medium for chili oil. There are three parts to this dish: noodles, pork, and the sauce. For the sauce, combine chili oil, peanut butter or sesame paste, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, green onions, honey, and Sichuan peppercorns. For the pork, cook the pork in oil. Add ginger, green onions, soy sauce, dry sherry, salt, white pepper, chili powder, and sugar. Cook the noodles. Blanch greens like spinach or bok choy in chicken broth. In a serving bowl, combine broth, noodles, greens, sauce and ground pork. Garnish with crushed peanuts.
  2. Cucumbers with chili sauce. This is an easy, Sichuan-style dish. Chop a cucumber up into bite-sized pieces. Toss with chili oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and vinegar. Serve cold.

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Basic Homemade Chilli Oil Recipe

  • 1 ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons red pepper flakes
  • 4 whole dried red chili peppers
  1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Throw in a slice of ginger if desired. Do not overheat the oil. It should be on medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Put the pepper flakes and chili peppers in a heatproof bowl or glass jar.
  3. Pour the hot oil over the peppers. Stir with a metal spoon as it bubbles and cooks the spices. Let it cool for an hour. For a more-infused oil, leave the chili in the oil overnight. When ready, filter the flakes and peppers out by pouring the oil through a metal strainer. Add whole dried chili peppers to the storage jar.