If you haven't made your own chilli oil before, this recipe will change your mind.
Not only does it taste better than a shop-bought version, but there is something immensely satisfying about the process of making it, like a science experiment. It's so quick to make too, you can knock it up in less than 10 minutes.
Chilli oil is a divinely flavourful Chinese condiment that is made by infusing oil with Sichuan peppercorns and other spices. The spicy kick and aromatic flavours of the oil can enhance the taste of many dishes, making it a popular condiment in many cuisines around the world.
What is chilli oil?
Chilli oil is a condiment made by infusing a neutral oil with chilli peppers, usually along with other ingredients like garlic, ginger, Sichuan peppercorns, and star anise. The heat level of chilli oil can vary depending on the type and amount of chilli used.
It's commonly used as a dipping sauce or a cooking ingredient in various cuisines around the world, particularly in Asian cuisines such as Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. It can be used to add a bit of heat and tonnes of flavour to a variety of dishes, such as noodles, stir-fries, soups, and dumplings.
What's to love about this homemade chilli oil
- The flavour it provides is more prominent than the heat. Many people avoid chilli oil because they think it's just about the heat and nothing else. This is not the case, the heat is definitely secondary to the aromatics it contributes to your dish.
- You get wonderfully crispy chilli flakes in the oil, much like you get from chilli crisp
- The useful options for this oil are infinite
- Quick and easy to make (but don't involve the kids where searing hot oil is involved)
- Very satisfying to watch when you add the oil to the spices!
- Great for gifts when bottled in small sterilised jars
Key ingredients and substitutions
Sichuan peppercorns - Not all supermarkets seem to stock Sichuan pepper. We buy ours online. Once you start using it for this oil you will be glad to have a little stash for future use.
Other spices - Dried chilli flakes, onion flakes, salt, star anise, garlic and ginger. You can adjust the quantities of the spices to your palate. Also consider adding a cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cardamom and fennel seeds.
Different types of chilli peppers can have varying levels of heat and flavour, and some people like to use a blend of different chilli peppers to create more complexity. If you like extra heat, you can also add a pinch of chilli powder.
Oil - Use a neutral oil with a high smoking point like sunflower, vegetable, rapeseed, canola or corn oil. The oil is just the carrier for the spices and you don't want it to interfere with the taste. Olive oil for instance has too strong a taste and it is not made to be used at such high temperatures.
That said, some people prefer to use sesame oil for added taste. That is one flavoured oil that will work well for this sauce.
How to make chilli oil - Quick summary
Step 1 - Combine all the ingredients bar the oil.
Step 2 - Over medium heat, heat the oil until almost smoking hot. Some steam should just start to rise from the surface. To test it, drop a few chilli flakes into the oil. They should immediately start to sizzle and float to the top.
Step 3 - The fun part! Pour the oil directly onto the spices and leave it to complete its angry eruption. Once the oil has calmed down, give it a quick stir and leave to cool. You can now bottle it in a sterilised jar.
Step 4 - For presentation at dinner, we like to pour the chilli oil into individual tiny bowls and sprinkle sesame seeds on top - This is optional.
Very important safety tips
- Do use a good quality heat-proof vessel to pour the oil into
- Do not use plastic - Trust me, I made this mistake once and all the oil ran out the bottom through the big melting hole it made
- It's helpful to place your heatproof bowl in an empty kitchen sink before pouring the oil over. It will splatter and this will make cleaning up easier
- Use a larger vessel than you think you might need. Initially, the oil will bubble up quite high and you don't want it going over the edge
- This is not a recipe to make with the kids. They can help with mixing the spices but as soon as the hot oil gets involved, they're best kept out of harm's way
Uses for chilli oil
- Noodles. Add some sliced spring onion on top
- Rice dishes like coconut basmati rice
- As a dip for bread
- Any other dish that needs a little bit of oomph!
- Chilli oil lasts a long time. Store in an airtight container or a sterilised jar. If you won't be using it up quickly and it's hot where you are, keep it in the fridge for up to 6 months.
On its own, it is yes, but the idea is to have this with or on top of a dish. Combining it with something else will dilute the heat and what you're left with is a gentle simmer and wonderful flavours.
Yes, it is.
Yes, it is.
It is believed that chilli oil was first used in China, where it is still a popular condiment today.
The oil has also become very popular in other Asian cuisines, like Korean, Japanese, and Thai. Each of these different cultures has its own variation of chilli oil, with its own unique flavours and various ingredients.
More recipes you can enjoy your chilli oil with
Easy homemade chilli oil
- 1 Heatproof container like a bowl or jug
- 2 teaspoons chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon Sichuan pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 star anise
- 4 garlic cloves - finely sliced
- 20 gram piece of peeled fresh ginger - finely sliced
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 250 millilitre neutral oil - like vegetable, sunflower or corn
- In a heatproof bowl or jug, mix together all the ingredients bar the oil. Ensure it's well combined and that the sugar is lump-freeNote: Use a large bowl or jug. Once you pour the oil onto the spices it will bubble up ferociously. It's imperative that the container is heat proof to handle the hot oil. DO NOT USE PLASTIC
- Heat the oil in a deep saucepan on the stove until almost smoking hot. To test it, drop a few chilli flakes into the oil. They should immediately start to sizzle and float to the top.
- Remove the oil from the heat and immediately pour it over the spices. Careful, it will sizzle and spit. It might be easier to do this process inside an empty kitchen sink
- The oil will keep sizzling and foaming for about 2 minutes. Once it's died down, carefully give the mixture a stir with a spoon and leave it to cool down completely
- You can now bottle the mixture in a sterilised jar, or store in an airtight container in the fridge. Enjoy over noodles or with a variety of other dishes
**Nutritional data disclaimer**
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is calculated by a third party and we cannot guarantee the accuracy. We try our best to give you the most accurate information, but we do not take responsibility for errors that may be present. Also, the nutritional value of the recipe may change depending on the exact brands and products used. We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalised advice on your dietary needs.