This Sichuan chile oil is a hot condiment made by infusing oil with chile peppers, Sichuan pepper, cinnamon, bay leaf, and cloves. Drizzle over rice, noodles, vegetables, stir-fries, eggs, fish, just about anything, and prepare to be amazed. One of the best condiments we’ve tried.
This tongue-tingling Sichuan chile oil is hot. There’s no denying that. But it’s hot in a haunting and earthy and floral and pretty much addictive sorta way thanks to the dried chiles and Sichuan peppers doing a little dance with a touch of cinnamon, cloves, and star anise. What you end up with is a subtle complexity, making this fiery condiment eminently more interesting than any store-bought chile oil. Known as red oil in China, it’s absolutely transformative with whatever you drizzle it over, including rice, noodles, potstickers, fish, stir-fries, and all manner of steamed or grilled vegetables. Now that’s what we call hot stuff!–Jenny Howard
NOTE: What Are Sichuan Peppercorns?
Despite the name, Sichuan peppercorns are actually the dried berries of the Chinese prickly ash bush. Numbingly spicy when eaten, they also have an enticing floral and citrusy aroma and come in both red and green varieties. If your whole Sichuan pepper mix contains black seeds along with the red husks, you’ll want to pick them out since they contribute a rather strong bitterness. We like to toss the Sichuan peppercorns in a hot, dry skillet for a minute or so to coax out all the sensational flavors and aroma before grinding them into a fine powder.
Sichuan Chile Oil
- 2 heaping cups dried Chinese red chile peppers (70 to 80) preferably Japones or Tien Tsin or another medium-hot variety, or 1/2 cup crushed red chile flakes
- 2 cups mild vegetable oil or peanut oil
- 1 cinnamon stick or more as desired
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 whole star anise
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or more as desired
- 2 tablespoons ground Sichuan pepper* (see NOTE above)
- If you’re using whole dried Chinese chile peppers, remove any stems and pulse the whole chiles in a food processor until you have about 1/2 cup coarse flakes. If you’re using crushed red chile flakes, proceed to step 2.
- In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the oil until the temperature reads about 200°F (95°C) on a deep-fry thermometer. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the chile flakes, cinnamon, bay leaf, star anise, cloves, and Sichuan pepper. (If more of a warming spice note is desired, add a touch more cinnamon and/or cloves.) Let the oil sit for 2 hours and then scoop out the cinnamon, bay leaf, and star anise and discard. (Do not strain out the chile flakes, cloves, or Sichuan pepper.)
- Transfer the chile oil to a clean glass jar or use a funnel to transfer it to more slender-necked bottles. Screw on the lid and keep at room temperature. It will keep for up to several months when stored in a cool, dry place.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Chili oil is my favorite condiment but I never thought of making my own until now.
This Sichuan chile oil recipe is very easy to put together and I’ve enjoyed this oil in so many ways. I love to drizzle it over fresh tomatoes or cucumbers. I like to add a little to baked sweet potatoes. It’s a great addition to Dan Dan Noodles. It adds zip to salad dressings, bacon anything and homemade croutons. This will be a nice addition to my Christmas gifts this year.
This Sichuan chile oil is numbingly hot and very easy to make. The most involved part of the recipe is grinding the spices up but even that is simple! This has a nice almost floral flavor with a touch of earthiness to it. Looking forward to seeing how this matures in the pantry!
I had a very hard time locating the listed peppers in this recipe. In fact, I’m not convinced the ones I ended up with are in fact Tien Tsin peppers but that’s what came up when I searched Amazon and they seemed to be the right ones. None of the peppers on Amazon were Japones or Tien Tsin by name. They sold Tien Tsin seeds ironically. I went to a local Asian market but they didn’t stock them. Penzey’s Spices stocked a rather small bag but they were expensive and would take a long time to ship. I think the peppers I got were close but again are only labeled as “medium hot dried red chili.”
I was hoping to taste the cinnamon and star anise a little more. I couldn’t really tell they were there. I used these on plain noodles and my god is this spicy. I absolutely got the tingling and numbness but these were also just all around spicy. A little goes a long way for sure. I also made Dan-Dan noodles with this and went easy on the chili oil and it was really good but still mind-blowingly spicy. Will be enjoying cautiously! Overall a really nice recipe!
This oil is fruity, with a hint of cinnamon, savory from the bay, and a floral heat that lingers well after tasting it. It really packs a punch, and I will be using it on meats, stir fries, as a kick for dips, and anywhere else some flavorful heat is wanted. I’m excited for this new condiment in the house, and love that it came together in 15 minutes. Yes, I had to wait 2 hours for the flavors to steep into the oil, but it’s worth the wait.
My oil did not take on that very bright red color. It’s much more subtle, but the flavor is not at all subtle. It’s delicious. Since not much is lost from transfer from the pot to a clean bottle (I used a quart mason jar), you get a little over two cups. Don’t try to fit it into a pint mason jar unless you want to throw out some of it to fit.
The flavors of this Sichuan chile oil were coming through in the finished oil and the color of the chilis had infused the oil so that it was a reddish colour. I didn’t realise how easy it is to make chile oil and I think it would make a great present.
Super easy, this Sichuan chile oil has immediately become a family staple which I will no longer purchase from the shop. The heat develops on your palate, which is really interesting at first you just get tingle, this moves to a warmth throughout your mouth and the heat gradually grows to what is a very good intensity for those who like their chiles! It’s a beautiful deep reddish orange color that looks gorgeous in a little glass bottle. You could easily give these as gifts.
Decanting into a bottle wasn’t a problem, I used a wide funnel so no spillages but as we used chile flakes they do tend to clog up the neck of the bottle so you need to keep shaking it to clear it.
We had it as a dip for pot stickers alongside soy sauce and Shaoxing rice wine and it was absolutely delectable. We have also sprinkled it on pizza—it was so nice to actually get heat as so often when eating pizza in a restaurant the chile oil isn’t even hot! (Though that may just be in the UK!) Next on the list to try is drizzling it over homemade minestrone soup to liven things up!
Originally published April 14, 2019