This chilli oil is easy, quick (30 minutes), delicious and can be used in so many ways. Drizzle it over salads, pizza, and pasta, and use it as a dipping sauce – the possibilities are endless! It also makes a wonderful gift.
Chilli oil is pretty foundational in a lot of my recipes. And this one is just SO GOOD. My boyfriend will quite literally sit and eat it with a spoon!
There’s not a lot that chilli oil doesn’t make better. Eggs on toast? Add a drizzle of chilli oil and now it’s a flavourful meal. Salad needs something? Add a drizzle of chilli oil. Want to jazz up some instant noodles or ramen? Add some chilli oil. Ready to take your avocado toast to another level? Add chilli oil. Need something to dip dumplings into? CHILLI OIL.
And once you find out how to make it yourself, you’ll realise just how easy it is. It also makes a lovely gift – I like making a big batch for friends and family at Christmas and they’re always a hit. It will last for months unopened in a sterilised jar, which is another bonus.
Why should you make your own chilli oil?
Have you ever bought chilli oil that was WAY too hot or just not spicy enough? When you make it yourself, you control the level of chilli and spice in the oil. You can completely tailor it to your taste, meaning you’ll end up with something you enjoy and will use again and again.
My chilli oil uses a couple of Korean spices to differentiate it from others and it is SERIOUSLY good. I recommend seeking them out because they add a real depth of flavour to the oil as well as a gorgeous red colour, but I’ve given some alternatives below.
- Gochujang paste. This is a fermented chilli paste that’s sweet, savoury and spicy and just adds a real layer of umami deliciousness to the oil. I use gochujang A LOT in my recipes so I recommend picking some up. A little goes a long way, so it lasts for a while and is now more readily available in supermarkets. You can also find it on Amazon. If you can’t find gochujang, you could just use tomato paste.
- Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru). I LOVE these flakes. They’re smoky, sweet and mild in heat but again just bring a real depth of flavour. They also make the chilli oil a gorgeous deep red which is always a good thing. You can find these in Asian grocery stores, or grab them from Amazon. If you can’t find them, just can replace them with regular chilli flakes.
- Szechuan peppercorns. These guys are CRUCIAL. They bring a super unique numbing pepperiness to the oil and a little truly does go a long way. If you can’t find them, just use black pepper. The oil won’t have the numbing quality, but it will still be great.
- Sunflower oil. You want to use a neutral tasting oil here so the spices have room to sing and aren’t overpowered by a strong flavoured. Stay away from olive oil, but rapeseed or another vegetable oil would work well.
- Shallot. I love the sweetness of shallots, but you can just use a regular white or brown onion instead if you like.
How to make chilli oil
It’s pretty straightforward! Start by getting all your fresh ingredients chopped and ready to go. I like to chop the shallot, chilli and garlic finely and then grate the ginger – you don’t need to peel it that way. Lightly crush your Szechaun peppercorns in a pestle and mortar (or with the flat side of a large knife)
Then everything apart from the gochujang paste and sesame seeds is added to a large pot along with a little oil. Cook, stirring, until the shallot has softened up nicely. This will take five minutes. After that, you’ll add the gochujang paste and cook it, stirring for another 3 minutes, before adding the sesame seeds. Cooking down the gochujang paste softens the spice and allows it to release more flavour, so don’t skip this part.
Then all you need to do is add the rest of the sunflower oil and let it simmer over very gentle, low heat for 15 minutes. And it’s done! You can leave it to cool and further infuse and then transfer it into sterilised glass jars to store.
Four ways to use this chilli oil
- It forms a key part of the dressing in my smacked cucumber salad.
- Level up the easiest homemade bread by drizzling it over my easy no knead chilli cheese focaccia.
- Use it as a quick shortcut to delicious flavour in my quick spicy coconut noodles.
- Drizzle it over a show-stopping butter board for a pop of colour and flavour.
How to sterilise your jars
This is a key component of making any kind of preserve. Sterilising your storage jars means your chilli oil will be shelf stable at room temperature – until you open it when it needs to go in the fridge.
Luckily, it’s super easy to do. Wash your jars and lids with hot soapy water, then stand upright on an oven tray (don’t dry them). Get them in the oven at 160C fan and leave them in there for 20 minutes.
And that’s it! If you’d like more information, I have a whole post about how to sterilise jars that shares more detail.
PRO TIP: If your jars have a rubber ring around the lid, remember to take it off before putting it in the oven!
REMEMBER: Glass reacts to sudden temperature changes so make sure you’re not adding boiling hot jam to cold jars, or cold jam to jars straight out of the oven as they can shatter. I discovered this the hard way!
Got a question?
You can if you like! Just use half a fresh chilli instead of the whole thing and reduce the chilli flakes to 1/2 a teaspoon. I recommend keeping the Korean red bell pepper flakes at 1 tablespoon – they’re not very spicy and bring a lovely red colour to the oil.
If stored in sterilised glass jars, you can keep it for months (unopened) at room temperature. Once you do open it, keep it in the fridge and use it within a month. Always use a clean spoon when you’re getting some out, this will help to preserve it and prevent cross-contamination.
I have a whole post all about how to sterilise jars if you’ve not done it before.
You want a neutral-tasting oil – so sunflower, rapeseed or vegetable oil is best. Stay away from olive oil for this one, the flavour is too strong.
You could just use tomato paste!
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If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you! You can leave me a comment below.Print