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Smoky Chili Oil

Complex, nutty, and spicy, it’s very easy to make and tastes better than anything that comes in a jar. Use it to enhance practically any savory dish.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican
Author: Thomas


  • 1/4 cup peanut oil or neutral cooking oil
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • 3 slices ginger sliced as thinly as possible
  • 1 Tablespoon chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns optional
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil plus more as desired


  • Combine the chili flakes, chipotle powder, five-spice powder, and Sichuan peppercorns in a glass or ceramic bowl. Place the bowl on a coaster or trivet. Place a chopstick or other bare wooden utensil near the bowl for stirring.
  • Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the ginger and garlic. Fry until the garlic and ginger are crispy and medium-brown, 4-5 minutes. If anything in the skillet starts to smoke, remove the skillet from the heat, reduce heat, and continue. Remove and discard the garlic and ginger slices.
  • Gradually increase the heat on the oil until it just barely starts to smoke.
  • Carefully pour the oil from the skillet into the bowl of spices. The mixture will sizzle passionately. Give the mixture a stir with the wooden utensil. Be careful not to touch the bowl until it cools.
  • Allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes, then stir in the sesame oil. Taste the oil. If you prefer it less spicy, gradually stir sesame oil into the mixture until it’s sufficiently diluted.


The chili oil will stay good in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.
You can strain out the solids using a mesh strainer if you prefer.
The chipotle powder, five-spice, and Sichuan peppercorns are technically optional, but the flavor will be less complex without them.