Crispy Chilli Oil

Crispy Chilli Oil

This recipe is a combination of Omnivore’s Cookbook’s chilli oil, Bon Appetit’s Chilli Crisp, my inability to follow recipes and my unleashed need to improvise.

I could not find Chinese chilli flakes, so I thought cayenne chilli flakes would do.

I was not technically wrong, but it resulted in the spiciest chilli oil known to man. So hot I would only be able to use a drop or two at a time for a whol plate – and I usually can handle heat.

The recipe below is an adaptation of my first chilly oil… but slightly more edible.

It’s still VERY hot, but manageable, so you can still distinguish the layers of flavour that the different ingredients bring in.

Use a milder type, or smaller amounts, of chilli if you’re not used to the heat.

Don’t leave out the star anise or the cinnamon stick, as it brings a warmth and sweetness to the oil that balances the heat.


Stage 1

  • 1 small onion (or 2-3 shallots)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup (mild) oil

Stage 2

  • 3tbsp chilli flakes. Choose type based on heat you can handle – I stuck to my murderous cayenne, but not sure I would do so again!
  • 2tsp five spice powder
  • 3tsp sesame seeds
  • 1tsp ground Sichuan peppercorn


Finely slice the onion, ginger and garlic. You’re looking for them to have broadly the same thickness so they cook evenly. Use a mandolin if you have one.

Place these chopped veggies alongside the rest of the “Stage 1” ingredients in a small sauce pan, and cook over medium heat.

You’re looking for the oil to be at a constant gentle simmer.

Stir frequently using a fork to lift up and mix the ingredients to ensure even cooking.

Cook adjusting the flame as necessary until the onion and garlic are slightly brown and crisp. Cook it slowly so the lose all the moisture and caramelise. You’re looking for a golden colour, not brown or black!

Meanwhile, place the “Stage 2” ingredients in a heat-proof bowl.

Put a sieve over the bowl, and when the onion mix has achieved its golden colour, pour the oil through the sieve over the spices.

These will sizzle and splatter, so watch out!

Spread the onion and garlic on the colander a little, and let them cool over the bowl.  These will crisp as they cool.

You can take the star anise and the cinnamon out at this stage- they’ve serve their purpose.

When everything is cool, mix the onion and garlic back into the oil and spices, stir well.

Pour into a jar with a lid, and store in the fridge.

Drizzle on virtually anything- sometimes you might just be after the oil, sometimes you’ll want some of the solids in there as well.

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