Chinese Hot Chili Oil

Chinese Hot Chili Oil is an essential condiment in my fridge, and very simple to make. I drizzle it on everything from noodles, fried rice, dumplings, avocado toast, or savory oatmeal, you name it. One of my favorite things is to heat a teaspoon of this hot oil in a cast iron skillet and fry an egg in it. Yum. Chinese Hot Chili Oil is often referred to as “Chili Crisp” because of the crispy ground chili, garlic, and other treasures at the bottom of the jar that add texture as well as flavor to your dishes.

Over the last year, I have tried numerous versions of hot oils and have created my own recipe. Many of the recipes I found were too salty and some even added unneeded sugar. I enjoyed other recipes with Sichuan peppercorns and ginger, but I feel these ingredients can limit the chili oil narrowly to Chinese dishes. While I obsess over ginger & Sichuan peppercorns, I personally don’t think they belong on avocado toast. I also experimented with paring the recipe down to just chili, garlic, oil, & salt, but that was too plain, really one-note.

After much trial and error, I decided that I like Chinese hot chili oil to have a big hit of garlic, plus some whole star anise & cinnamon sticks for fragrance, and sesame seeds for prettiness. I also adjusted the ratio of oil to ground chili compared to other recipes, creating extra crunchy stuff in the bottom half of the jar. That’s the good stuff. So, my ratio is 1 part ground chili to 3 parts oil (instead of 4 parts oil in other recipes). Try it out and let me know what works for you. (Also feel free to make a second jar of hot oil that includes ginger and Sichuan peppercorns specifically designated for Chinese dishes!)

chinese hot chili oil

1/4 cup ground red chili such as Aleppo pepper or gochugaru, or a combination

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

2 whole star anise

1 cinnamon stick (broken in half if needed to in the jar)

8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3/4 cup neutral oil


In a heatproof bowl, combine the ground chili, salt, sesame seeds, star anise, and cinnamon stick.

Thinly slice the garlic as paper-thinly as possible. Combine the sliced garlic and neutral oil in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat for several minutes, swirling occasionally so the garlic doesn’t stick. Let the garlic slowly cook until almost turning golden. Then turn off the heat and pour the garlic and oil over the dry ingredients in the bowl. At first the garlic while be pale, but after a few minutes, everything will turn red. Let it cool in the bowl, then carefully transfer to a jar.

This type of chili oil is supposedly safe in the pantry, but I keep it in the fridge just in case. Drizzle over anything and everything. Enjoy!

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