Pickled Chillies


pickled chillies 5

I first discovered pickled chillies at my local Chinese restaurant here in Zurich. Yes, Zurich. Despite having grown up in Australia where south-east Asian food abounds, and despite my countless trips to Asia since I was a wee tot, I only came across this delightful condiment during what would be the first of many stir-fries that I like to indulge in frequently at my local because I’m rather terrible at making stir-fries at home.

pickled chillies 1

My local Chinese restaurant serves their pickled chillies in little glass jars which you can help yourself to, alongside jars of spicy sambal oelek and bottles of Sriracha sauce – a level of chilli heat for everyone. I’m not usually one to eat fresh chillies as I am a bit of a scaredy cat and find the heat too much in even a nibble. But pickled chillies are really lovely because some of the heat is lost during the pickling process, and they actually become milder the longer you leave them in the pickling liquid. And when added to Asian soups and stir-fries upon serving, they transport a great little kick by way of a wonderful hot, sweet and sour note with every morsel. You will quickly discover that pickled chillies are just simply addictive!

I frequently pickle carrots, radishes and cucumbers for my Vietnamese dishes at home, but the pickling liquid I use there requires gentle simmering and then cooling before it can be poured into jars of waiting vegetables.

The recipe I have used here for these pickled chillies comes from Rachel Khoo, and it is a quick and simple recipe because no cooking or cooling is required. Perfect if you need to make some pickled chillies quickly (you should give them at least an hour of pickling) and if you want to avoid over-powering your kitchen with the smell of cooking vinegar!

red chillies pickled chillies 3

Pickling chillies is also a great way of using up chillies which are likely to pass their best-by date, i.e. pickle them when they are still fresh and firm, not when they have become wrinkly and are starting to discolour. Where I live, chillies are sold in rather large packets and I often end up freezing most of the packet to prevent any wastage. But pickling them is a great alternative to freezing, plus they look so pretty in their glass jars 🙂

You can watch Rachel Khoo make this recipe on her delightful YouTube channel below:

Pickled Chillies
Prep time
Total time
Recipe adapted from Rachel Khoo
Serves: 1 small jar
  • 150g green and red chillies
  • 150ml warm water
  • 100ml rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2½ tablespoons icing sugar
  1. Thinly slice the chillies. If you don't want your pickled chillies to be too spicy, you can rinse them in a colander with warm water to remove some of the seeds.
  2. Place the chillies into a small sterilised jar.
  3. Mix the remaining ingredients in a small jug and pour into the jar over the chillies.
  4. Cover the jar and keep in the fridge.
  5. The pickled chillies keep well in the fridge for a few weeks but will lose a bit of their heat over time. I imagine that they would keep for longer in the fridge but I tend to make these in small quantities which we use within a few weeks.

Share your photos!

If you have made this dish, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #eatlittlebird




  1. Rushi 18 February 2015

    Those jars of pickled chillies are so pretty and Rachel even uses green chilies which I have in my home so I’m off to make a batch of my own. A big hug to ya Thanh 🙂

    • Eat, Little Bird 18 February 2015

      I was umming and aahing about using green chillies but decided not to in the end because I rarely use it in cooking. But once I took these photos, I thought some green chillies would have made the mixture prettier … next time! Hope you will enjoy this recipe 🙂

  2. dani | theloveofvanilla 18 February 2015

    Oooo I saw her using these in a soup on youtube! Our neighbour has a chilli tree which is over flowing with chilli’s… think I might have to ask for a handful to make these 🙂 I haven’t pickled anything yet but have a list of so many things I want to pickle hehe my cupboard will be full of jars after this summer!

    Also do you have Rachel’s new book which is out? Wanted to see what your opinion was since you are also a Rachel fan!

    • Eat, Little Bird 22 February 2015

      This is definitely a recipe to use if you have a glut of chillies! I also grow chillies during the summer and end up freezing most of them come winter, so it’s nice to know of an alternative way of keeping them.

      I only recently received a copy of Rachel’s new book and I can’t wait to cook from it! I’ve earmarked quite a few recipes and hope to post my reviews in the coming months.

  3. Paula 19 February 2015

    I don’t like pepper, but I love chillies. Not eating them, but the flavour they give… So I wouldn’t use it in a salad, but in a curry, that must be nice!!!!!!

    I love the photos, the jars, everything!! The second photo would look really nice in a kitchen wall, don’t you think???

    Have a nice end of week, Thanh!!!!!!

    • Eat, Little Bird 22 February 2015

      I’m a bit like you – I prefer the flavour of chillies rather than the chillies themselves. Although, pickled chillies seem to be quite nice for eating because they are not as hot as fresh chillies, plus I love the sour quality. I love pickles in general (especially cornichons!), which explains why I’m a fan of pickled chillies.

      I’m so glad you liked these photos 🙂 I took them in a bit of a hurry – my son was just about to wake up and I didn’t want him anywhere near these chillies, ha ha! But I think they would have looked better with a bit of green chillies in the mix. Next time!

  4. Truc Vert 8 March 2015

    So beautiful. Sure to be incredibly useful in the kitchen too, for adding a little bit of heat, but not too much heat 😉

    • Eat, Little Bird 25 March 2015

      They have been quite useful, and surprisingly convenient – I don’t have to chop up chillies everytime I want to serve them now 🙂

  5. Megan Stevenson 31 March 2015

    Great pictures! I bet these are great to have in the fridge to throw in stir fries, salads, even quinoa!

    • Eat, Little Bird 2 April 2015

      They’ve been more useful than I first thought. They are actually not as vinegary as the ones at my local Chinese restaurant, which is perfect because it means I can use these chillies in all sorts of dishes without the strong “pickling” taste. I think this is how I will store all of my chillies from hereon!

  6. Theresa 2 April 2015

    These looks great! Such vibrant colours!! I should really give this a try.


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