This is one of the best toasty Sichuan chili oil recipes you will ever make. I learned how to make this Xiangla Hongyou (香辣红油) from Sichuanese Chef Liu while living in Chengdu and it’s still one of my all-time favorite condiments (ever). This highly addictive sesame-flecked red chili oil is as spicy as you want to make it and it’s a chili oil you can eat on just about anything. For anyone new to making chili oil, I’ve included tips and step-by-step recipe photos below.
Why We Love This Sichuan Chili Oil Recipe
- Authentic Chengdu chili oil recipe
- It’s incredibly easy to make
- Toasting your own sesame seeds adds way more flavor than using pre-roasted seeds
- Tastes just like the chili oil you’ll find in Chengdu and elsewhere in the Sichuan province
- Crunchy toasted sesame seeds and crispy chilis add delicious texture and flavor
- It’s slightly addictive in a good way
- Easy to make extra so it’s always on hand (to add to pork buns, noodle dishes, tacos, you name it)
- Using roasted rapeseed oil yields the best flavor, but peanut oil and canola oil can be substituted with great results
What is Sichuan Chili Oil (Xiangla Honyou 香辣红油 )?
This genuine Sichuan chili oil (Xiangla Honyou) is one of the most addictive, roasty, spicy, crispy red chili oils you will ever eat. It’s full of flavor and can be drizzled or doused on just about anything from your morning eggs to homemade wontons, or potstickers.
What is Sichuan Chili Oil Made of?
Sichuan chili oil is made using caiziyou oil (a deliciously fragrant non-GMO expeller-pressed roasted rapeseed oil) and toasted Sichuan red chilis (“Facing Heaven” (aka. zi dan you, bullet head, or chao tian jiao), “Er Jing Tiao”, and “Xiao mi la”) and it’s infused with fragrant scallions, shallots, ginger, red Sichuan flower pepper (花椒 (huājiāo), toasted sesame seeds, and whole Sichuan five-spice ingredients like black cardamom, white cardamom, Chinese cinnamon (cassia bark), star anise, and bay leaves. If you can’t find caiziyou oil where you live, substitute peanut oil, grapeseed oil, or even canola oil, although the flavor will differ from that of roasted rapeseed oil.
What Chili Peppers are Used to Make Sichuan Chili Oil?
Sichuan chili oil typically uses either the Facing Heaven chilis or a combination of 2 to 3 different types of chilis which balances the aromas and the heat in the final chili sauce depending on how spicy you want it to be. For this red chili oil recipe, I’ve used what Chef Liu taught me, Facing Heaven chilis which have medium heat with a robust roasted flavor that I love.
For an even deeper red color, you can add er jing tiao chilis, and then add a few xiao mi la chilis or lantern chilis for extra heat. If you’re using a combination of three chilis, I suggest a 3:2:1 ratio of 3:Facing Heaven/2:Er Jing Tiao/3:Xiao Mi La or Lantern chilis. Below, I’ve outlined the different types of Sichuan chili peppers used for making chili oil and the characteristics of each so you can decide what combination to use.
- Facing Heaven chilis [Used for aroma and color, moderate heat]: (aka. zi dan tou, Bullet head, or Chao tian jiao) these bright red aromatic medium-heat chilis grow towards the sky on the plant hence their name. In Chengdu, you’ll see these used in lots of dishes, but one of my favorites is “gong bao chicken” (kung pao chicken).
- Er Jing Tiao chilis [Used for aroma and color, low heat]: are longer than the other three chilis listed here with a deep red hue. They’re very fragrant with mild to moderate heat and are widely used fresh and dried by everyone in Chengdu and the Sichuan province as a whole. These are the same chilis used to make fermented bean paste (doubanjiang) from Pixan.
- Xiao mi la chilies [Used for heat only]: are the smallest and hottest of our dried peppers. Very popular in Sichuan, xiao mi la brings the heat for those who want their Sichuan classics extra spicy and is often the chili used in mala hot pot. It is also the chili of choice in Yunnan and other southern provinces.
- Lantern chilis [Used for aroma and heat]: (deng long jiao) are deep red, moderately hot, and get their namesake because they look like lanterns.
How Do You Use Sichuan Chili Oil?
With its deeply roasted, spicy, and fragrant flavor, Sichuan chili oil (or red oil) has endless possibilities for how it can be enjoyed. Below are a just few of our favorite ways to use this homemade Chinese chili oil (see above photos).
- Dim Sum Har Gow Shrimp Dumplings (虾饺) (The Ultimate Guide)
- Spicy Sichuan Gold Cream Cheese Party Dip (w/Homemade Wonton Chips)
- Drizzled over fried eggs
- Added to Japanese Momofuku & Ippudo-style pork buns
- As a dipping sauce for homemade wonton shrimp potstickers (recipe coming this soon)
- Add it to a BLT bao bun for an extra spicy kick
- Drizzled over Chinese Special Fried Rice 扬州炒饭 (Yangzhou Fried Rice)
- To dip potstickers into
- Vivian’s Spicy Sichuan Wontons with Crispy Fried Pork
- Drizzled over BBQ Chicken and Pork Bao Buns (Chinese Steamed Pork Buns) Bāozi 包子
- Drizzled over pan-seared soy-ginger salmon
- Use it as a Chinese chicken dumplings dipping sauce
Or use it to make spicy smashed cucumber salad, spicy chili oil noodles, sesame chili oil noodles, drizzled over hot wings, grilled meats, or even tomato salad. This chili oil recipe is the Macgyver of all chili oils (or condiments for that matter).
Does Chili Oil Need To Be Refrigerated?
This authentic recipe for Sichuan chili oil does not need to be refrigerated because it doesn’t include garlic. This means you can store homemade chili oil at room temperature for several weeks in a sealed jar, or up to 6 months or longer in the refrigerator. In the 4+ years of living in Chengdu and working with Sichuanese chefs, I have yet to eat a standard Sichuan chili oil that has added garlic (although adding chopped garlic is delicious, it shortens the shelf-life).
If you add garlic to homemade chili oil, it must be refrigerated to keep bacteria from growing (which is probably why standard Sichuan recipes don’t include it). In fact, in every Sichuan commercial restaurant kitchen, I’ve been in, there’s always a big stainless steel “vat” of house-made chili oil with a ladle resting in it so it can easily be added to dishes. After service, it gets covered with a stainless steel lid and left at room temperature.
How to Make The Best Sichuan Chili Oil at Home (Tips & Techniques)
Here are a few of my best tips for making a better spicy chili oil at home.
Use Caiziyou oil (roasted rapeseed oil) for the best flavor. This typical oil used in Sichuanese cuisine is incredibly fragrant. My entire apartment building would be filled with the warm roasted scent of this oil at least twice a day when neighbors were cooking lunch or dinner. It’s unlike any oil we have in the US or Europe. It’s hard to describe what caiziyou oil (Sichuan rapeseed oil) smells like when it’s being cooked, but the closest thing I can come up with is that it smells similar’ish (but better) to how roasting peanuts smell. If you can’t find roasted rapeseed oil, substitute peanut oil, or another neutral oil with a high smoke point. Just know the chili oil will be missing a dimension of flavor, but it’ll still be delicious.
Caiziyou oil should be heated to just around 464°F/240°C to its smoking point before infusing it. Unlike canola oil, peanut oil, or grapeseed oil (etc,), caiziyou oil has a raw aroma that needs to be cooked out of it before infusing it with the aromatics and adding it to the chilis. This is why we heat the oil in the wok until it smokes first (around (464°F/240°C) and then allow it to cool slightly before adding the aromatics to infuse the oil. If you’re using an oil other than caiziyou, you can skip this step.
Fry the aromatics on medium-low until golden brown but not burned. The aromatics should be sizzling steadily as they cook, but there shouldn’t be any splattering or a lot of black smoke coming up from the oil as it infuses. By maintaining just the right frying temperature, you can infuse the oil for a longer period before the aromatics are browned and need to be removed. However, if you’re inexperienced with frying and perhaps the oil temperature was a bit too high to start, and now you need to remove the aromatics before they burn, and it’s only been 8 minutes since you added them, I can tell you that this will still be the best chili oil you’ve ever made♡.
Sichuan Chili Oil (Xiangla Hongyou 香辣红油) Ingredients
Sichuan chili oil is a condiment that is used multiple times a day in just about every household in Chengdu and the surrounding Sichuan province. And since it’s so often used, home cooks and chefs typically make their own because it’s super easy, cheap, and customizable. Every family has its own recipe, but you’ll find that it typically includes scallions, sesame seeds, Sichuan flower pepper, and whole Chinese five-spice blend. You may increase the amount of oil used to a full 2 to 3 cups (475-600g) if you want to end up with more pure red chili oil without actual chilis in it which will give you a less textured chili oil.
- 1 1/2 cups caiziyou oil (roasted rapeseed oil) (300g) (sub peanut, canola, or grapeseed oil)
- 3 1/2 ounces whole “Facing Heaven” dried chilis (100g) (sub 1 cup Sichuan chili flakes)
- 2 tablespoons freshly toasted sesame seeds (16g)
- 1 knob of fresh ginger (1 ounce), sliced (30g)
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 scallions, roughly chopped (40g)
- 1 shallot, sliced (15g) (sub white or yellow onion)
- 1 Chinese black cardamom berry (tsao ko OR cao guo)
- 3 Chinese small white cardamom berries (Bai Dou Kou)
- 3 whole star anise (bajiao) (1.5g)
- 2-inch piece of Chinese cinnamon (cassia bark) (2g)
- 8 red Sichuan flower peppers (huajiao) (or up to 2 teaspoons for more numbing mala quality) (0.2g to 1.5g)
Other optional aromatic add-ins you can also throw in (but I did not):
- one bunch of cilantro
- 8 whole white peppercorns
- 1 to 2 cloves
- 1 to 2 small pieces of shannai/shajiang (dried sand ginger)
How to Make Chili Oil From Scratch (Sichuan Xiangla Hongyou 香辣红油)
I make chili oil using a wok, but you can easily make it in a large sauté pan, dutch oven, or stock pot. If you do use a dutch oven it can be a little trickier because this type of pan holds on to heat longer than stainless steel.
- Toast the sesame seeds. Add sesame seeds to a skillet and toast them until golden brown over medium heat. Remove them to a large stainless steel and set aside.
- Wash the chili peppers & toast them. Skip to step #4 if using dried chili flakes instead of whole chilis. Wash the chili peppers in a bowl of water to remove any residue, strain them and add them to a wok (or large sauté pan) set over medium-high heat. Dry fry the chilis moving them around constantly to remove the water and toast them (about 6 to 7 minutes). Remove them to the bowl of a food processor and turn off the heat. *Alternatively, you can crush the chilis using a mortar and pestle.
- Crush the chilis. Pulse the chilis to chop them until they are just about the size of crushed red chili flakes. Add them to the stainless steel bowl with sesame seeds and stir to combine.
- Heat the caiziyou oil 455°F/235°C. Skip this step if using peanut, canola, or grape seed oil. Using a thermometer, heat the roasted rapeseed oil just until smoking to remove the raw flavor and immediately turn off the heat. The temperature should not exceed 464°F/220°C.
- Infuse the oil with aromatics. When the oil has cooled by about a 1/3 (to 305°F/152°C), add all of the aromatics and cook over medium-low heat until the scallions turn golden brown (about 20 minutes). Keep an eye on the oil temperature to maintain a bubbling sizzle throughout. The oil should not be so hot that it splatters or smokes heavily. For an even tastier oil, you can continue cooking it for up to 1 hour if you have time). Strain the aromatics from the oil and reserve them for making a homemade Sichuan broth or discard.
- Add the oil to the chilis & sesame seeds. Heat the oil back up to 365°F/185°C and add 1/3 of the oil to the chili mixture and stir to combine. Next, add another 1/3 of the oil and stir to combine. Add the last of the oil to the chili mixture and stir to combine. Allow the chili oil to cool slightly and add it to a heatproof glass jar, seal, and allow it to infuse for 24 hours before using (if you can wait that long), Enjoy!
How to Make Sichuan Chili Oil step-by-step photos
Looking for a Few More Delicious Dim Sum or Asian Dishes?
If you’re looking for a few other dishes to round out your takeout night in or to celebrate the Chinese New Year, below are a few of our favorites we think you may also enjoy.
- Lucky Lunar New Year Fried Cherry Pie “Wontons”
- Homemade Chinese Soup Dumplings Xiaolongbao (小笼包) (100% From Scratch)
- Easy Egg Drop Soup with Crispy Fried Wonton Strips (Danhuatang 蛋花湯)
- Thin + Chewy Homemade Chinese Wonton Wrappers
- Easy Homemade 2-Ingredient Chinese Dumpling Dough
- Takeout Style Pork and Green Bean Stir-Fry w/Glass Noodles
- Easy Pork and Chive Potstickers w/Sautéed Napa Cabbage & Carrots (Jiaozi)
- 20-Minute Singapore Mei Fun Noodles (Shrimp Mei Fun)
- Best Ever Chicken Dumplings Recipe (Plump & Juicy Jiaozi)
- Easy Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry (w/Cantonese Style White Sauce)
- Easy and Delicious Pork Potsticker Recipe (Cantonese Style Jiaozi)
- Crispy Pork and Chive Spring Rolls w/Glass Noodles & Vegetables
- Steamed Pork & Chive Money Bag Dumplings (Beggar’s Purse Dumplings)
- Hoisin Garlic-Ginger Oven-Braised Pork Ribs
- Pork and Vegetable Xiaolongbao Soup Dumplings (小笼包) (w/Short Rib & Pork Aspic)
- Chinese Special Fried Rice 扬州炒饭 (Yangzhou Fried Rice)
Let’s get started!Print