I purchase chili oils for all sorts of recipes. They're pretty standard in certain parts of the world. They figure prominently in Chinese and Japanese cooking, and in many parts of Asia, although the Italians enjoy their own version as well. I like to always have a good brand on hand, but sometimes it is more efficient to make your own when you need a small batch, or even as a gift. Perfect for this time of year, right?
A typical chili oil is made from a vegetable oil that has been infused with your chili peppers of choice. I've included a recipe below for a very simple superhot version made with a blend of dried 7-Pots and Scorpion chili peppers, though you can use any type of pepper you'd prefer. Heat the oil, then add dried peppers and other seasonings and ingredients, then allow to cool, thus infusing the oil with heat and flavor.
Other ingredients might include garlic, shallots, peppercorns, ginger root, and so much more. There are many, many possibilities to explore your creativity.
The key to making proper chili oils is to prevent the oil from getting too hot, which can burn your peppers and other ingredients. If your oil begins to smoke, then it is too hot and you’ll need to reduce your overall temperature. Remove it from the heat source immediately and allow it to cool.
You can serve the resulting chili oil as a condiment or stir it into a variety of dishes, like stir fries, noodles, dressings, drizzles and more. You can keep the peppers in the oil and serve it that way, or strain and serve only the oil. The dried peppers that eventually sink to the bottom of the oil are called the “sludge,” and can be served on their own in a variety of applications. I've seen some chili oils with a thick sludge on the bottom, which can be used in recipes all by itself. So good!
You can also include whole dried chili peppers into the oil, which can be decorative.
5-Minute Homemade Chili Oil - How to Make Chili Oil
- 1 cup canola oil – or any neutral oil, such as peanut oil, though yes, you CAN use Olive Oil
- 3 tablespoons crushed dried peppers – I used a blend of 7-Pots and scorpions
- Dash of salt, if desired
- Add oil, dried peppers and salt (if using) to a small pot and stir. Heat to medium-low heat and stir often for about 5 minutes.
- Do not allow the oil to smoke. If it smokes, remove it from the heat to reduce the temperature.
- After 5 minutes, remove from heat and cool. Pour it into a bottle or jar. You can strain it if you’d like.
- Refrigerate and use within a month.