Cayenne Pepper Oil

A whoppingly spicy-hot oil, this is the perfect seasoning to use when you are wanting 1, 000-watt chili power with only a few drops of oil. It was suggested by a recipe in one of my all-time favorite cooking-as-culture books, Chinese Gastronomy by the erstwhile ladies Lin.

Be strict about observing the oil temperature, and do not add the cayenne if the oil is hotter than 250°F, or it will burn to a hideous mess.

Like any dry spice, the cayenne should smell “alive” if the results are to be good. The kind we buy from our spice merchant comes in three grades of ferocity. We buy the hottest. Why fool around?


  • 3 cups corn or peanut oil
  • ¾ cup cayenne pepper


  1. Pour the oil into a heavy, non-aluminum 1½- to 2-quart saucepan. Bring to 225°F on a deep-fry thermometer over moderately low heat. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the cayenne powder, and let cool to room temperature undisturbed, or overnight if you like.
  2. Strain the oil slowly and patiently through one or more large paper coffee filters into an impeccably clean glass jar. Store at cool room temperature.