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How to Make Spicy Chili Oil (辣椒油) | Yi Reservation

How to Make Hot Chili Oil 辣椒油

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chinese spicy chili oil recipe 红油

Updated on 2/27/2017. Originally published on 2/24/2011

Chinese hot oil aka spicy chili oil or 辣椒油/红油 in Chinese is a chili infused oil and a fundamental condiment used in many Chinese dishes.

And for those of you in the know, it’s the soul to a lot of spicy dishes found in Sichuan region.

Wonder why the Dan Dan noodle is better at a particular restaurant? It’s probably because they have better chili oil! Why is the beef noodle soup lacking the kick? It’s probably because the chili oil is stale. And I can list many more examples but you get the drift.

Hot oil is an essential ingredient regions like Sichuan, Hunan, and Yunnan where hot and spicy food is dominant and a lot of families make their own hot oil from scratch on weekly basis.
chinese spicy chili oil recipe 红油

Spicy hot oil is reasonably easy to make. The most basic hot oil recipe is just to combine the heated oil and chili.

In this recipe, however, I’d share with you how to make what I call the enhanced basic chili oil that I make almost on weekly basis.

It’s not overly simplified yet it’s totally doable in just 30 minutes and provides a nice kick and excellent aroma. And all you need are a few simple ingredients:
chinese spicy chili oil recipe 红油

YouTube Video

I have made a YouTube video if you’d like to follow along. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel if you’d like to stay posted on my latest videos.

Alternatively, you can watch the video right here:

When I was growing up in Chongqing, then a part of the Sichuan province, my parents always conveniently kept a big jar of homemade chili oil on our dining table as a table condiment.

To me, chili oil was more than just a condiment but a magic potion that could turn ordinary food to extraordinary.

Nowadays, the hot chili oil is sold in jars everywhere under various brands. In the States, you can find it in Asian supermarkets or specialty stores for about 3 USD per jar.

Despite the commercial availability I still insist on making my own homemade chili oil.

Because it is easy to make, it is of better taste, and most importantly it’s 100% MSG and additives free!

Plus it makes a wonderful gift for a foodie friend of yours 🙂
chinese spicy chili oil recipe 红油

Important Notes on Chinese Chili Oil:

  • To get the best flavor, consider using a blend of dried chilies. In this recipe, I have combined two kinds of chili peppers (the larger ones are very fragrant and the small ones are very spicy) to get a good amount of kick and aroma.
  • I prefer to not use pre-made chili powder. For one,you don’t know how spicy the chili powder is. Also, the package powder is often stale and just can’t compare to the freshly roasted and ground chili. Get a spice or coffee grinder and work with whole chilies so you can control how spicy you want your chili oil to be.
  • Don’t go crazy with spcies. Some recipes call for a secret blend of 30+ spices in making chili oil but in my experience, anywhere from 2-5 spices are perfectly fine for an everyday use chili oil.
  • Temperature is the key. If the oil is too hot, it burns the chili powder and gives the chili oil a burnt taste. If the oil is too cold, it doesn’t fully extract the flavor out of the chili. If you use a cooking thermometer, make sure the oil is around 200c/390f.
  • If you are not sure, test out with lower temperature so at least you don’t burn the chili powder.

chinese spicy chili oil recipe 红油

How to Make Chinese Hot Chili Oil

Yield: 1 cup

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 20 mins

Total Time: 30 mins

Sharing an easy recipe on how to make spicy Chinese chili oil aka hot 辣椒油 which is a fundamental condiment used in many Chinese dishes especially in Sichuan cuisine.


  • 1 cup dried chili peppers (use a combination of two kinds if you can)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (corn oil, soybean oil, or canola oil)
  • 1 scallion, cut in half
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1tbsp sesame seeds


Add dried chili peppers to a large pan over medium-low heat. Toast until parts of the peppers turn dark. About 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the peppers cool to room temperature.How to Make hot chili oil 辣椒油 In a separate pot, add the cooking oil over medium heat. Then add the scallion, star anise, and bay leaf to the oil and reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Cover with a lid if the oil splashes. Discard all the dry ingredients after 20 minutes.How to Make hot chili oil 辣椒油 In the meantime, grind the chili peppers into powder with a spice grinder or coffee grinder.How to Make hot chili oil 辣椒油 Transfer the chili powder into a heat proof bowl. Add sesame seeds.How to Make hot chili oil 辣椒油 In batches, add the hot oil to the chili powder. You should see some mild bubbling coupled with light smoke. If the chili turns dark very quickly, that means the oil is too hot. Start with 2 ladles at a time and mix well in between each oil addition.How to Make hot chili oil 辣椒油 After the first 2 additions of oil, progressive increase the ladles in each addition until all the oil is used up. Again mix well between each addition but it tastes better after sitting in a jar overnight.How to Make hot chili oil 辣椒油 You can store the hot oil for up to one month in a sealed jar but for the best result, use it within two weeks.

Now, you’ve got the chili oil, what dishes would you like to use it on?

chinese spicy chili oil recipe 红油

chinese spicy chili oil recipe 红油

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  1. 19


    Can you please post a Szechuan pepper corn oil recipe? Is it similar in preparation as the chili oil?


    • 19.1

      hello Emil. It is very similar. However, when you toast the peppercorn, keep the temperature low and watch closely. It gets burned easily. Also, I use a lower temperature for peppercorn oil. Hope this helps.

  2. 18

    Best chili oil I’ve ever eaten, and my husband loves it too. Thanks!

  3. 17

    Yi –

    How do you feel about adding cinnamon stick & Szechuan peppercorn? Would that be authentic? What about dried shrimp?

     One final question – would adding any salt make the chili oil keep longer?

    Thanks so much!

    • 17.1

      Hi Kevin, sorry for not getting back to you sooner. The recipe I shared is a very basic one. If you are looking for sometime more specific, you can totally experiment with different species. I have seen recipes including cinnamon and Szechuan peppercorn (if you do use cinnamon, make sure its this kind and start with a small amount). Dried shrimp is not traditionally in Chinese style chili oil but I have seen in a Indonesian style chili sauce. Lastly, I don’t think the salt will make the chili oil keep longer. I don’t normally add salt because it’s easier for me to control the taste. Hope this answers your questions.

  4. 16

    Pinned and will be making it soon! Just found a bag of chile de arbol and a bag of chile pequin in the pantry. Since I love Chinese type chile oil your timing is perfect. Love this! Thanks!

  5. 15

    I agree, homemade is always better! Controlling the ingredients is a component to home cooking that is often overlooked and yet so important to our health and well being. And such a rewarding project too!

  6. 14

    Never made it to Chongquing, but we did have a spicy time in Chengdu. Loved it! And this chili oil will help tide me over until I get back!

    • 14.1

      Great to hear from you Abbe. Hope you enjoyed the stay in Chengdu and not sick of the smell of chili oil and hot pot everywhere 🙂

  7. 13

    I never thought about using different chilies to make chili oil. I’m going to try this soon. I usually use the large dried ones and after the hot oil has cooled down, I add some sesame oil to it instead of sesame seeds.

    • 13.1

      Here a literally hundreds of ways of making hot oil but personally I like to mix up different kinds of chili peppers so the taste is more interesting.

  8. 12

    Love anything spicy! I usually buy this, but should make my own — so easy to do. Thanks!

  9. 11

    Wonderful work! This is the kind of information that are supposed to be shared across the web.

    Shame on the search engines for not positioning this submit higher!
    Come on over and discuss with my site . Thank you =)

  10. 10

    Just this morning, I went to an Asian market to find wonton wrappers. As I was looking around (and my mouth watering) looking at all the yummy ingredients, I decided I was going to have a regular “Asian food” night at our house. I came home, determined to find a blogger who could give me GOOD directions and authentic recipes. You were the first I’ve looked at, and I have no need to look any further. I am overwhelmed with the amount of delicious looking choices I have to try. Maybe I will have to jump start my plan with a whole week of Chinese food!!! Thanks so much~I’ll let you know when I try my first recipe! : )

    • 10.1

      Hello Nicole, thank you for your visit and your kind words. I am glad that you’ve found this blog useful. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks.

  11. Pingback: Spicy Beef Noodle Soup (四川紅燒牛肉麵) | Yi Reservation

  12. 9

    Yi –
    I love your website. I’ve made the chili oil and will soon be making your Sichuan Spicy Cold Noodles and Cucumber Salad. I recently moved from the US to Hong Kong and I am having fun trying to make some relatively authentic Chinese food at home. Your website has been the best by far in terms of recipes, suggestions and pictures. I am going to keep coming back! If you have time, check out my site I have developed with my wife to document our adventures in HK and traveling around Asia. It’s only a few weeks old at this point, but it will grow! Looking forward to new recipes!


    • 9.1

      Hi Taylor, thanks for your visit. I am glad that you have found this site helpful! By the way, if you have any request in terms of dishes you like but you can’t find a recipe for please feel free to give me a shout. I love to experiment new dishes!

      • Hi Yi,

        Just came across your site and it’s fantastic! I’m definitely going to try some of your recipes. Since you mention requests, I have two: dry fried string beans (干煸四季豆) – I haven’t found a good English-language recipe yet (my Chinese is ok but not fluent), and then 煎饼, Beijing style. You know the crepes with egg and some mysterious crispy rectangle with different sauces and scallions and cilantro they sell on the streets everywhere? I had it every day for breakfast when I was in Beijing for 7 weeks and haven’t been able to find anything similar in either Manhattan’s Chinatown (where I live) or even Flushing. I have a video of it but don’t know what the crispy thing is, and am unsure of how to make the batter. http://s121.photobucket.com/player.swf?file=http://vid121.photobucket.com/albums/o214/hengde/MVI_0037.flv If you have any experience with those and could post, it would change my life 🙂

        • Hello Hengde, thank you for visiting and taking the time to leave a comment. I absolutely love the recipes you requested!
          I am quite familiar with dry stir fried string beans or 干煸四季豆, it’s one of those comfort dishes I cook from time to time. So yes the recipe will be shared 🙂
          As for the Beijing Jianbing (煎饼) or Beijing style crepes, my experience so far has only been eating them but not cooking. It’s one of those dishes you makes your jaw drop as you watch the vendors whip up a crepe in 2 minutes with that magic brush. I haven’t had it in a long time but your video brings back all that memory from years ago. Please keep an eye on this blog because I am on a mission to figure out a recipe for this dish!
          Thanks again for checking out my blog. Please don’t hesitate to drop a line whenever you have questions or suggestions.


  13. 8

    Ok that’s it! I’m bookmarking this site! Its awesome!
    ! I had cravings for 酸辣粉and your recipe nailed it! 🙂
    I added Sichuan peppers to my chili oil though, and they turned out quite well.
    keep the recipes coming!

    • 8.1

      Hi Jasmine, thanks for your feedback. What a great idea to put the Sichuan peppercorn in the chili oil! I used to do that but now I just make a separate Sichuan peppercorn oil for other uses. Please check back soon!

      • Sichuan oil recipe? I haven’t found it yet. A pointer would be appreciated, PLEASE. 🙂

        Just discovered this sight and have bookmarked it. I think I have been looking for it for a while.

        • Hi Brian, is this chili oil the recipe you have been looking for or is it something else? Thanks.

        • I don’t see it. ???

          This past weekend I discovered Spicy Black Bean Sauce. I loved regular Black Bean Sauce, but the spicy is rocking my world! 🙂

        • I wish I could delete my comment. Hadn’t thought about scrolling all the way up. 🙂 Will have to take a better look at it. Thanks!!

        • no worries Brian. I am glad that you’ve found what you were looking for. Please don’t hesitate to comment if you have any questions. Thanks.

  14. 7

    What is the shelf life? …Or ‘fridge life’ if I keep the product in a fridge?

    • 7.1

      Hi Dr. Isaak,
      Thanks for stopping by.
      You should be able to keep it in a fridge for up to 2 months assuming it doesn’t get contaminated with other raw stuff. I normally finish it way before that though because I can add this to pretty much anything :).

  15. Pingback: Sichuan Spicy Cold Noodle (四川麻辣涼面) | Yi Reservation

  16. 6

    had no idea that this is how chili oil is made (with onion and star anise!) i love having mine mixed with wonton…hmmmm. YUM!

    • 6.1

      Hi Vivienne, the truth is you can literally make a chili oil with almost any ingredients as long as dry chili is present. This recipe is just my own variation and you can easily create your own style by mixing in different herbs/ingredients.
      And I agree that chili oil wanton is the way to go!

  17. 5

    So how long does it keep?

    • 5.1

      Hi Sarah,
      If you store the chili oil in a sealed jar and store the jar in a cool environment you should be able to keep it for about 2 months. However I would recommend finishing it as soon as possible because after a while the oil starts to lose its flavor.

  18. 4

    Excellent. I’ve been wanting to make my own chili oil. What kind of oil do you use/recommend?

    • 4.1

      Hello TheBadMonkey,

      I would recommend using one of your favorite vegetable oils such as peanut, corn, canola, or olive oil. The key is you have to be comfortable with the flavor of the oil of your choice.

      In the recipe I used canola oil as it has low fat content. Please let me know how yours comes out to be.

  19. 3

    This is awesome! I love hot chili oil and use it a lot whenver I have Chinese food. Thanks for sharing this simple recipe!

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