If you love spicy Chinese food, you’ve probably wondered how to make chili oil—that fiery condiment that’s ubiquitous in Sichuan restaurants. This spicy hot oil is drizzled over dishes at the table and also used as an ingredient in many dishes.
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Sichuan or Szechuan cuisine is one of 8 distinctive Chinese cooking styles and it is distinguished by its liberal use of hot chili peppers and the famously mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns. Sichuan chili oil often combines both of these ingredients into one mouth-burning/mouth-numbing oil. Other ingredients including garlic, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaves or fermented beans are often added to give the oil even more flavor.
You can buy chili oil—either clear or stocked with chili flakes and other ingredients—in any Asian supermarket (or probably any supermarket these days), but once you learn how to make chili oil yourself, you’ll see how fun it is to add your own flavor flourishes.
What is Chili Oil Made Of?
Szechuan style chili oil is made using a high-smoke-point oil like peanut, soy, or canola oil, dried chilies, and other seasonings. My version is made with:
- Crushed dried Sichuan chil flakes
- Star anise pods
- Cinnamon sticks
- Soy sauce
Learn How to Make Chili Oil
With my easy instructions, you’ll quickly learn how to make chili oil at home and customize the flavor to your own preferences. Here’s how it’s done:
- Combine aromatic spices like star anise and cinnamon, plus garlic and shallots, with oil and bring it to a hearty simmer.
- Simmer for a good 45 to 50 minutes.
- Strain the infused oil into a jar or bowl containing crushed red chili pepper flakes, ginger, sugar, and soy sauce and let stand until cooled to room temperature.
How to Use Your Homemade Chili Oil
Once you learn how to make chili oil, you’ll want to use this delicious condiment in your cooking. You can use it in Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles or Szechuan Shrimp, or use it in a dipping sauce for dumplings.
How Long Does Homemade Chili Oil Last?
Keep it in the refrigerator and it will last essentially forever. You can certainly keep it for 6 to 9 months, but I’d guess it would be good for well over a year.
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 12 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1½ cups cooking oil (I use safflower oil)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 6 star anise pods
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- ¼ cup crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- In a small saucepan, combine the shallots, garlic, oil, cinnamon, and star anise and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low or medium-low and cook at a hearty simmer, stirring occasionally, until the shallots and garlic are golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.
- In a heat-safe bowl or a pint-sized mason jar, combine the ginger, red pepper, soy sauce, and sugar.
- Set a fine-meshed strainer over the bowl or jar containing the ginger and red pepper mixture and pour the hot oil through the strainer. Discard the solids (the shallots and garlic can be saved and used for another person, such as adding to a stir fry, if desired).
- Let the oil mixture cool to room temperature and then store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
1. You can use the chili oil right away, but its flavor improves over time.
2. Chili oil will keep indefinitely if kept in a covered jar in the refrigerator.
Amount Per Serving Calories 34 Total Fat 4g Saturated Fat 0g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 3g Cholesterol 0mg Sodium 19mg Carbohydrates 1g Net Carbohydrates 0g Fiber 0g Sugar 0g Sugar Alcohols 0g Protein 0g