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A jar of freshly made Chinese chilli oil with a spoon on the side.
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4.79 from 55 votes

Homemade Chinese chilli oil (油泼辣子)

Chilli oil is an essential condiment for Chinese cuisine. Try my effortless recipe!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Chilli oil
Servings: 32
Calories: 90kcal
Author: Wei Guo


Group 1: for the chilli

  • ¼ cup chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Group 2: for the oil

  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 piece Chinese cinnamon/cassia cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tsao-ko/Chinese black cardamom optional
  • 3 slices ginger
  • 1 stalk spring onion


  • In a bowl, mix all the ingredients in Group 1. Have another empty bowl ready. The bowl should be deep, heat proof and completely dry (see note 1). Place a sieve over it.
  • Pour oil into a cold wok /pot, add all the ingredients in Group 2. Cook over a low heat. Watch attentively. Turn off the heat immediately when the spring onion turns brown (you should see smoke at that moment).
  • Pour the oil into the empty bowl through the sieve. Discard everything caught in the sieve.
  • Add half of the chilli mixture into the oil. You should see it bubbling intensively. Add the remaining when bubbling calms down. Stir well with a clean dry spoon.
  • Leave to cool uncovered. Wait for at least 12 hours before using to allow all the flavours to combine. Then transfer to a container of your choice (see note 2).

A simple version

  • You can reduce the ingredient list to four essentials: chilli flakes, sesame seeds, ginger and oil. Try the complete version whenever you have a chance. It is truly worth the effort!



1. Use glass or porcelain bowl since they cool down the oil more efficiently than metal ones. Make sure it is deep enough to avoid overflow when chilli mixture is added to the hot oil.
2. In an air tight container, the lifespan of chilli oil is about 1 month in the kitchen cupboard and up to 6 months in the fridge.
After a while most of the cooked chilli flakes and sesame seeds tend to stay at the bottom of the container. Use a clean spoon to stir before serving.
If your dish requires pure chilli oil, use a sieve to filter out the chilli flakes and sesame seeds.


Serving: 1tablespoon | Calories: 90kcal