Homemade Chilli Oil

A quick and delicious Chinese-style Chilli Oil with crispy chilli pieces to season your favourite Asian dishes. The oil is flavoured with Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, green cardamom and cinnamon for the perfect combination of spices.

chilli oil in glass jars

Chilli Oil

A staple condiment in our kitchen is a Chinese-style Chilli Oil. I use it in a multitude of recipes (like my Steamed Tofu with Soy & Chillies), as well as in dipping sauces or to just simply drizzle over certain dishes which need a touch of glossy heat or some crispy chilli flakes. In fact, I use this chilli oil in almost everything!

I used to buy my chilli oil from the local Asian grocer until, one day, for no particular reason, it was no longer available. I then resorted to using Italian-style chilli oils, i.e. the sort that you can find in most pizzerias. But they never had the right kind of flavour, nor the amount of heat that I needed.

Which is how I began my foray into making my own homemade chilli oil. This is actually the story of how I started cooking when I first moved to Switzerland – in order to recreate many dishes that I craved, I often had to make them myself, and often from scratch. Like completely from scratch.

chilli oil in glass jars with star anise

Chinese Chilli Oil

This particular Chinese chilli oil uses Sichuan peppercorns for both spice and its unique numbing heat.

I also use a good amount of Thai or Vietnamese chilli flakes, which are generally spicier than Italian-style chilli flakes. But I also add pure ground chilli for an extra kick.

What I think is also important is to add salt to the chilli oil so that the oil can also season whatever it is that you are eating it with.

spices used for chilli oil on white plate

How to Make Chilli Oil

Making your own chilli oil requires barely 10 minutes!

Start by heating the oil in a small saucepan until it has warmed.

Meanwhile, toast the star anise, cinnamon sticks and green cardamom pods, and then add them to the warm oil. Increase the heat and allow the spices to simmer very gently in the oil for about 5 minutes. You don’t want the oil to be at a rolling boil – just very small and gentle bubbles. Then take the pan off the heat and allow the spices to infuse for a further 5 minutes or so.

Measure the chilli flakes, ground chilli and sea salt into a sterilised glass jar.

Strain the oil into a large measuring jug (preferably made from glass or ceramic).

Pour the oil over the chilli and salt mixture, and give everything a gentle stir. Add 1 or 2 star anise and a cinnamon stick from the strained spices to infuse the oil further.

Allow the oil to cool completely before covering it with a tight-fitting lid.

Store the chilli oil in a cool, dark pantry (not in the fridge).

white spoon with chilli oil

Perfect Homemade Gifts

These jars of chilli oil make the perfect homemade gifts. Make them for Christmas or surprise your friends the next time they invite you over!

This chilli oil is quick to make and the recipe is easy to double or triple.

For gifts, I recommend using small decorative jars with a capacity of about 200 ml (a bit less than 1 cup), which should be enough for half the recipe below. Simply divide the chilli and salt mixture between the jars, before pouring the hot oil into each jar.

Storing the chilli oil in small glass jars also makes them look nicer for serving at the table, but larger jars are more practical if you use the oil for cooking purposes. So I tend to have a mix of sizes in my pantry.

how to make chilli oil with glass jars

What to Serve with Chilli Oil

This chilli oil works well in most Chinese or Asian dishes.

Use it to drizzle over Pork & Vegetable Potstickers and also in the dipping sauce. The same applies to my Chinese Turnip Cake and Scallion Pancakes.

When serving the chilli oil, I recommend using some of the chilli flakes at the bottom of the jar, which should be slightly crispy from the cooking process, as well as some of the oil to drizzle.

homemade chilli oil in glass jars with star anise

More Condiment Recipes

If you love to add a bit of spice to your dishes, you might also like:

Pickled Chillies

Print

Homemade Chilli Oil

  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 250 ml (1 cup)
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Chinese

A quick and delicious Chinese-style Chilli Oil with crispy chilli pieces to season your favourite Asian dishes. The oil is flavoured with Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, green cardamom and cinnamon for the perfect combination of spices.

Ingredients

  • 250 ml (1 cup) vegetable oil or sunflower oil
  • 3 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 4 star anise
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks
  • 10 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1/2 cup chilli flakes (preferably from an Asian grocer)
  • 1 teaspoon ground chilli powder (see Kitchen Notes)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt flakes

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over low heat until it is warm.
  2. Meanwhile, place the Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods into a dry pan (with no oil).
  3. Toast the spices over medium-high heat until the spices become aromatic and start to smoke slightly. Use a wooden spoon or chopsticks to move the spices constantly to prevent them from burning. This step should take about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Remove the spices from the heat.
  5. Transfer all of the spices to the pan with the oil.
  6. Heat the pan with the oil and toasted spices over medium heat until the oil starts to simmer very gently. You just want gentle bubbles.
  7. Simmer the toasted spices in the oil for about 5 minutes.
  8. Take the pan of oil off the heat and set aside for about 5 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, measure the chilli flakes, chilli powder and sea salt into a sterilised jar.
  10. Strain the pan of oil into a large measuring jug, preferably made from glass or ceramic as the oil will be hot.
  11. Pour the hot oil over the chilli and salt mixture.
  12. Stir the chilli oil gently.
  13. Add 1 or 2 star anise and a cinnamon stick from the strained mixture into the chilli oil to allow it to infuse the oil further.
  14. Leave the chilli oil to cool completely before sealing with a lid.
  15. Store the chilli oil in a cool and dark place, such as in the pantry. I don’t recommend storing the chilli oil in the fridge.
  16. To serve, stir the chilli oil gently. For extra heat, serve the chilli oil with some of the chilli flakes in the oil.

Kitchen Notes

CHILLI FLAKES
I prefer to buy chilli flakes from the Asian grocer for this recipe, which tend to be a lot more spicy. Look for those which are labelled Thai or Vietnamese. If you can only find regular, Italian-style chilli flakes, I would suggest increasing the amount of chilli powder.

CHILLI POWDER
The chilli powder you need for this recipe is pure ground red chillies. Some spices labelled as “chilli powder” are actually a spice blend which is generally not very spicy. 

HOW LONG DOES CHILLI OIL KEEP?
This recipe makes a small amount of chilli oil which can keep for a good year, but you will probably finish it before then! There are no fresh ingredients in the chilli oil, which is why it can keep for a long time. I store my jars of chilli oil in my pantry (not in the fridge).

CONVERSIONS
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

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