How to Make Chinese Red(Chili) Oil

Two versions of Chinese chili oil.

In different Chinese cuisine especially Sichuan cuisine, condiments and seasonings are quite important. Since chili pepper and Sichuan peppercorn are the most two important condiments in Sichuan cuisine. Besides, combined Szechuan style chili oil is also an important seasoning, not shining but indispensable to your kitchen.

making chili oil at home|ChinaSichuanFood

Red oil(红油) is the oil cooked with red chili pepper until the color becomes red. Generally there are two types of red oil used in many Chinese dishes. One is pure oil which means that all the substances are filtered and only oil is left. And the second type, as you guess is that all the substances are kept.

As for the usage, it depends on the recipe but sometimes your own choice too. Red oil with chili powder can create a more spicy feeling or appearance while red oil can hide the basic ingredients. You may find some dishes taste hot but no spices are seen directly.

The condiment red oil with chili powder can be considered as the necessary part of many famous Sichuan dishes such as Sichuan cold noodles, Sichuan dumplings, Sichuan wonton soup and nice street food: Dan Dan Noodle.

The traditional red oil with chili powder add many other spices besides chili pepper powder such as star anise, cassia bark, fennel, ginger, Sichuan peppercorn, Tsao kuo, bay leaves and etc. All the ingredients are pulverized firstly and then hot oil is poured in. The hot temperature helps the ingredients to release their aroma.

Then here comes our firstly ultimate version today.  Prepare dried chili pepper, star anise, roasted sesame seed, Sichuan peppercorn, cassia bark and ginger slices as below. Do adjust the amount accordingly. And then stir-fry the dried chili pepper and Sichuan peppercorn in the wok with small fire until you can small the taste. Move them out and cool down and  grind into powder. (You may also purchase chili powder directly). Then add sesame seeds in.

Prepare a wok and heat up 2 tablespoons oil with star anise, ginger slices and cassia bark. Then pour the hot oil in the bowl with the chili powders.

making chili oil at home|ChinaSichuanFoodThen filter the powders and other ingredients out and get the pour chili oil now.

making chili oil at home|ChinaSichuanFood

How to Make Chinese Red Oil(difficult version)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

How to Make Chinese Red Oil(difficult version)

Homemade Chinese spicy red oil. This is a Composited Sichusn style chilli oil.


  • 4 oz dried chili pepper
  • 3~5 star anise
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorn
  • 1 inch cassia bark
  • 1 inch root ginger sliced
  • 2 cups--3 cups peanuts oil


  1. Add Sichuan peppercorn and dried chili to a wok. Use slow fire to stir-fry until the chili pepper becomes crispy on the surface.
  2. Transfer them out to a food processor and grind into powder.
  3. In a large bowl, mix chili powders with roasted sesame seeds.
  4. Heat up peanuts oil in wok. Add cassia bark, star anise and ginger slices in to stir-fry until you can see the waves on the surface of the oil. Pick other ingredients out and only leave the oil in.
  5. Pour the hot oil carefully into the bowl with chili powders. Set aside for at least 2 hours (based on the room temperature)to cool down and let the oil absorb the spicy taste and present the red color.
  6. Use a filter to remove dregs to get the pure chili oil.


Please adjust the amount according to your needs. The chili oil can be kept up to a month in a sealed container.

This is no salt version, if you want your chili oil has some salty taste, add 1 teaspoon of salt with the chili powders.

Do not want to brother that much?? Here is a simplified version.

Purchase chili powder, Sichuan peppercorn powder , five spice powder and sesame seeds directly. Then mix them together with a proportion of 5(chili powder):1(Sichuan peppercorn):1(five spice powder):2 (sesame seeds)or similar. This is a basic guideline for large amounts.  But it is totally up to you to adjust the amount according to unique taste requirements.  Put all the powders in a blow. Add ginger slices and star anise.

Chinese chili oil--simplified version

Heat up oil as needed in wok and then pour directly in the bowl with the spice powders. For this version, just keep the ingredients in the bowl. It is really easy! I do not make a large amount at a time because of the simplicity. I have used this in many of my recipes like Szechan style noodles.

About how much oil to be added: in fact, there is no strict standard for how much oil you should added. A common range is 6 to 10 times of chili powder.  I would recommend starting with 1 cup of cooking oil (around 250ml)

For 1 cup of oil, you will need

  • 3-4 ginger slices
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Chinese chili oil--simplified version

Wait for around 1 day or 2 days, the red oil will present itself. Happy cooking and thanks for visiting.


    • Elaine Luo says


      Thanks for stopping by and hope it work out well on your side. Homemade chili oil is healthier and economical.

  1. David says

    By the way, the picture with the red oil in the spoon is amazing. This is the picture that made me discover your website.
    Last time, I did the short version, but tonight I’ll do the full one.

  2. Margarida says

    I made my first time and it got a little brown and not red like yours. I’m sad. Maybe next time will go better. I made the more difficult version. But you didn’t put the measures for that one.

    • Elaine Luo says


      If you are making the simple version, the color actually depends on the chili powder you are using since oil in poured directly. You can wait the oil to cool down a little bit before mixing with the powders, otherwise the powders might be burnt and thus bring a darker color. Besides the simple version usually cannot be pure red since the ingredients are not filtered.
      For the more difficult version, I have added the measures for your convenience. And hope it works great this time.

  3. James says

    Hi Elaine!

    Thanks for sharing the recipe!
    For the simple version, when you say a 10:2:2:4 what does that refer to and how much oil should I start out with?


  4. Stuart says

    Hi Elsine to date I have tried quite a few of your recipes and they are fantastic

    For quite a while now I have been looking for a really authentic dim sum pastry recipe but having tried a considerably amount off the net I just can’t seem to get that perfect texture and taste – I’m ok with fillings it the pastry recipe please

    Is there any way you would have time to post a response with the exact ingredients and method please

    Kind regards … Stuart

    • Elaine Luo says

      Wow That’s really so many chili Jun. Do you mean that you plan to make all of them to chili oil? Have you never heard of Chinese Lao Gan Ma. I think it might inspire you some way.

  5. tseba says

    hello. dear, i like to make very large qty if chilli oil, this might use in restruant if goes well with it, is there anything i should know more about it?? thanx

    • Elaine Luo says

      Hi Tseba,
      The only suggestion I can give is to test with a small batch firstly to see how it goes and you can add more spices for restaurant dishes.

  6. Alanna says

    Hi Elaine-

    Thanks for sharing the recipes. I tried the simple version a few months ago and it turned out great! I want to explore the more difficult version but have a quick question. How much oil am I adding to the spice mixture? 4 tablespoon seems like a very small amount. Just want to double check to make sure the oil comes out perfect! Thanks for all your help!


    • Elaine Luo says

      Hi Alanna,
      Thanks for your feedback about the simplified version and your correctness about the more complex version. Usually I did not measure the oil used in the recipe at that time. And yes, 4 tablespoons are too small and I have updated the recipe for a more appropriate amount, for 4 oz chili pepper, it should be around 2 cups. However if you want the chili oil to be less spicy, you can use 3 cups oil too.

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