Whenever we’re talking about chilli oil, we always refer to homemade chilli oil. It tastes ten times better than the store-bought product, lasts just as long if you store it in the fridge, and does not contain additives or MSG. There is this fresh aromatic nuttiness that bottled chilli oil never delivers. We love making chilli oil at home for many reasons. One of them is that it is delicious and easy to make. chilli oil is an indispensable condiment in Chinese cuisine.
Years ago we have made a recipe for making chilli oil, however as time passes our method of making chilli evolved. And thus we decided to make a new post on our latest recipe for making chilli oil. We have compiled two different types of chilli oil into one recipe for you. One we have is the chilli oil infused method where we mainly use the oil of the chilli oil. On the other hand, we have the chilli flakes version where we will also enjoy the chilli flakes in the chilli oil in our food.
Depending on what chilli you use will massively affect the outcome of your chilli oil. There are hundreds and hundreds of different chilli pepper varieties – and I’m not an expert. However, there are a few that I do know of that can work excellently for this infused oil.
We think it’s essential to begin by stating that the best chilli for you depends on the type of heat that you want from the oil. For example, we recently heard about the Chinese málà (麻辣) flavour. This refers to a numbing, spicy oil that combined Sichuan peppercorns with pepper flakes. While some may love that tongue-numbing effect, we know many others won’t – so variety is the spice of life.
- Hot red pepper flakes can be found in most stores and are an excellent option for those that want moderate heat levels. Meanwhile, Sichuan pepper chilli flakes are also modest in heat (it’s the peppercorns that bring out the heat) and can provide a lovely red oil colour.
- Dried red chilli can be found easily in the dried goods stores, this kind of chilli taste as mild as the Sichuan pepper chilli flakes that we preferred, however, it does work well too. Breaks it into smaller pieces by blending them in a blender. (We like using this kind of chilli when we only want the infused oil of the chilli oil.)
- Korean pepper flakes (gochugaru) provide a subtle smokiness to the oil with a relatively hot and slightly sweet flavour and can be found in many Asian supermarkets.
Choosing herbs to boost the flavour
While the chilli oil already tastes good with just two ingredients – chilli flakes and oil. However, this base can undoubtedly handle some add-ins to boost flavour and texture in various ways. But if you start adding too many additional ingredients, then the next thing you know, you have a chilli sauce, rather than infused oil.
At a minimum, you’ll need these spices:
- 5-star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick (preferably cassia cinnamon; note that cassia cinnamon comes in larger rolls, so you really just need about a 3×1-inch piece)
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
If you want more flavour, add these spices:
- 2 black cardamom pods
- 4 nuggets of sand ginger (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 teaspoons cloves
- 2 stalks of spring onion
How to make Chilli Oil?
First, gather up the following ingredients:
- 1 cup canola oil – or any neutral oil such as peanut oil
- chilli flakes
- your choice of herb
- Dash of salt if desired
Next, add the oil and herbs to a small pot and stir. Heat to medium-low heat and often stir for about 5 minutes. Do not allow the oil to smoke. If it smokes, remove it from the heat to reduce the temperature. The goal is not to boil the oil but to slowly simmer it, allowing the flavours of the peppers to infuse it.
After 5 minutes, remove from heat and pour the infused oil into your bowl of chilli flakes and salt over a drainer.
Allow the chilli oil to cool before storing it in airtight containers in the refrigerator. Always use a clean utensil when handling to prevent spoilage. It can last for up to 6 months if handled in this way.
Wait for at least 12 hours before using the chilli oil to allow all the flavours to combine. Chilli flakes and sesame seeds tend to stay at the bottom of the container after a while. Use a clean spoon to stir before serving. If your dish (eg. Mouth-watering Chicken) requires pure chilli oil, use a sieve to filter out the chilli flakes and sesame seeds. Here is a list of recipes that call for Chinese chilli oil:
And that’s it! Below, you’ll find our printable recipe card with the full list of ingredients. The instructions within the post itself have the most detail, while the instructions in the recipe card can serve as a quicker reference.
How to Make Chilli Oil
1½-3 cups neutral oil (350-700 ml)
1 cinnamon stick (preferably cassia cinnamon)
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
2 black cardamom pods (optional)
4 nuggets of dried sand ginger (optional – about 1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons cloves (optional)
3 cloves garlic (optional – crushed)
1-2 shallots (optional – halved)
2 stalks of spring onion (optional)
¾-1 1/4 cup Sichuan chilli flakes (65-110g)
1 – 2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
- Gather all the aromatics you plan to use. Place oil and selected aromatics into a pot with at least two inches of clearance between the oil and the rim of the pot. If using minimum aromatics, 1 ½ cups of oil should do it. If using all the aromatics, you can add up to 3 cups of oil.
- Set it over medium heat to start, then progressively lower it to medium low or low heat as the oil comes to temperature. The oil should be at about 225-250° F / 110-120° C and causing small bubbles to slowly rise from the aromatics. If you notice the spices sizzling more vigorously than that or turning dark too quickly, reduce the heat to cool it down. If you are not achieving small bubbles, slowly increase the heat. Hovering around 200-225° F is the safest way to prevent burning. Infuse the aromatics this way for a minimum of 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour for best results.
- While the oil is infusing, prepare your Sichuan chilli flakes by placing them in a heatproof bowl. If you used 1½ cups of oil, ¾ cup of chilli flakes is best. For 3 cups of oil, use 1¼ cups of chilli flakes.
- Carefully pour the hot oil through a strainer onto the chilli flakes. Stir to evenly distribute the heat of the oil. You’ll know you’ve gotten it right when you smell a “popcorn”-like smell that is not at all burnt-smelling.
- Stir in the salt, and allow the chilli oil to cool. Store in airtight containers in the refrigerator. Always use a clean utensil when handling to prevent spoilage. It can last for up to 6 months if handled in this way.