My Ultimate Chile Oil

June 23, 2021
6 Ratings
Photo by Mandy Lee
  • Prep time 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 5 minutes
  • Makes 2 1/2 cups
Author Notes

I once thought about bottling this stuff and selling it as my ticket to an early retirement in a grand château in the French countryside. It is that good. During my chile oil–sodden years in New York, Beijing, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, swimming through countless commercial brands and the versions offered in restaurants, I could always find legitimate reasons that this recipe is comparably more versatile and better tasting. And that’s saying a lot.

Reprinted with permission from From THE ART OF ESCAPISM COOKING: A Survival Story, with Intensely Good Flavors by Mandy Lee, published by William Morrow Cookbooks. Copyright © 2019 by Mandy Lee. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Collins Publishers ( @ Lady and pups

What You'll Need
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) Sichuan (spicier) or Korean (milder) chile flakes (I don’t recommend using any other kind)
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground Sichuan peppercorns
  1. Mix the soy sauce and grated garlic together. Set aside.
  2. Using a spice grinder, grind the chile flakes, star anise pod, coriander, cumin, and curry powder into a fine powder. In a large saucepan at least 6 inches (15 cm) deep, combine the spice powder with the oil, sesame seeds, and bay leaves. Set it over medium heat and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the chile flakes have turned maroon in color (but not black!).
  3. When the chile flakes have turned to the desired color, turn off the heat immediately, then add the ground Sichuan peppercorns. Stir and let fry in the residual heat for about 30 seconds, then add the soy sauce/garlic mixture. The oil will boil up a little due to the added moisture (which is why we’re using a deep pot). Just keep stirring until the sizzling has died down.
  4. Let the chile oil sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours (or best overnight) before using. Keep in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 3 months.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Alexandra Cerny
    Alexandra Cerny
  • Christof Putzel
    Christof Putzel
  • Mandy Lee
    Mandy Lee
  • Ahtoy

9 Reviews

Ahtoy June 23, 2021
I can't believe she shared this with us for free. This recipe is gold.
i8fromage June 1, 2021
This chili oil has been devoured at our house on many dishes. I highly recommend it. I particularly love the roasty toasty flavor.
Alexandra C. April 3, 2021
Hi Mandy, I have tried this oil from a friend and it’s divine. Would it spoil it by swapping out the oil for a olive oil?
TheBigVee November 5, 2020
Mandy, I have bag of gochugaru in my pantry. Would that work as the “chile flakes” in your recipe? (This looks great. Will be making first chance I get!) Thanks.
Mandy L. November 6, 2020
Yes it would :).
Robin F. July 4, 2020
Mandy, this is indeed the Ultimate Chile Oil. Great recipe. Can’t wait to use it tonight with your Saliva Chicken recipe.
Thank you!
Bsalmi June 29, 2020
Both items are in the ingredient list
Christof P. June 27, 2020
I don’t see Bay leaves in the ingredient list. How many?
Sheryl L. June 26, 2020
I don't see Sichuan peppercorns in the ingredient list but the directions say to add them.