Sichuan Chilli Oil Recipe

It seems like everyone who makes Sichuan chilli oil, or any kind of chilli oil, has their own way to make it, and there seems to be no true 'right way' to make it – as long as it's red, spicy and flavoured to your liking, then you've done well.

I use chilli oil in so many dishes, from an ingredient in Sichuan dan dan noodles and gong bao chicken to a seasoning to go with grilled fish. I could eat it with almost anything. But let's start with the basics: the oil itself. Some people make it plain, some people add chopped onions, some sesame seeds etc. This combination of spices and extras is my preference, but feel free to switch it up a bit yourself.

Ready? Let's go.


50g dry chilli flakes
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp raw skin-on peanuts (optional)
1/2 tsp sea salt
220ml peanut or vegetable oil (or any other flavourless oil)
1 black cardamom pod
2 thick slices of fresh ginger
1 star anise
2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
2 strips cassia bark


1. Put the chilli flakes, garlic, peanuts and sea salt in a heatproof bowl and set aside.

2. Heat the oil on a medium heat until a dry wooden chopstick starts to sizzle after a few seconds of dipping it in. and Add the rest of the spices and sizzle away for about 10 minutes, until fragrant.

3. Take the oil off the heat, and do another 'sizzle check' with wooden chopstick, inserting one into the oil and seeing if it begins to sizzle a little after a few seconds (if it sizzles lots immediately, the oil is too hot and may burn the chillies – in which case wait a minute or so and test again). Pour the oil through a sieve into the chilli bowl, discarding the spices, and give everything a good stir.

4. Leave to cool a little before transferring to a jar for storage. If you can, wait at least a day before using to let everything infuse even more.

Enjoy, and have fun.


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