Sichuan Chile Oil

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.

A white bowl filled with sichuan chili oil, with chiles and pepper flakes surrounding it

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

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 2 H, 15 M
  • Makes 2 cups
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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.

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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!


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