Chili Oil

Chili oil is a common flavoring found on the tables at Asian restaurants. Because it is potent, only a few drops are added when cooking to avoid overpowering the other ingredients.
Chili oil is an essential ingredient in Chinese cooking, especially in  recipes. It is typically made from hot peppers, so only a few drops are added. Asian restaurants also serve it as a condiment for use at the table. The heat in the oil has gained favor with Mexican and Italian cooks as well.


Several brands are available at Asian markets and through on-line retailers. Limited offerings are sold in larger grocery stores.

Commercial chili oils may also contain spices and herbs.

Buying Tips

• Chili oils have a long shelf life. However, always purchase from a retailer with a regular turnover.

• Homemade chili oil is easy to prepare with chili powder or cayenne, pepper flakes, and canola or peanut oil. Dehydrated peppers of any type can also be used.

Storage Tips

• Commercial brands should be good for months. Flavor is enhanced if these are refrigerated.

• Homemade chili oil will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Usage Tips

• Always shake before using if flakes and other seasonings are included in the oil.

• Pour into small bowls for dipping at the table.

• Create a marinade for chicken and beef.

• Add to dressings and sauces.

• Include a few drops in boiling water before cooking pasta or rice.

• When sautéing onions, include chili oil in the last few minutes of cooking time.

Substitution Tips

Cayenne Pepper

Try one of our favorite chili oil recipes:
Chili Oil
Orange Chili Oil
Rosemary-Chili Oil