Chinese-Style Chile Oil

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:

    1 quart

Appears in


By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About

Because most commercial Chinese chile oil is harsh (and often rancid), conscientious Chinese cooks make their own. Recipes for the oil range from simple (hot chiles heated in peanut oil) to relatively complex (garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and black beans added to the mix). This recipe falls between the two extremes.

The chiles suggested below can be combined for different flavor nuances and degrees of heat. Chipotles and pasillas de Oaxaca will lend a characteristic smoky note to the oil. If using all small or relatively mild chiles, add a few extra.


dried chiles such as ancho, guajillo, mulato, pasilla, chipotle, or pasillas de oaxaca 20 to 40 20 to 40
fresh ginger, coarsely chopped 3 tbsp 45 ml
garlic cloves, peeled 5 5
peanut oil 1 qt 1 L
dark Asian sesame oil ½ cup 125 ml


  1. Rinse and dry the chiles or wipe them with a moist towel. Cut off the stems.
  2. Chop the chiles, ginger, and garlic for about 30 seconds in a food processor or chop everything finely by hand. If there is less than cups (450 milliliters) of the mixture, add more chiles.
  3. Combine the chile-garlic-ginger mixture with the peanut oil in a saucepan. Place the pan over medium heat. When the solids are sizzling and beginning to float, turn the heat down to low and allow the ingredients to sizzle gently for about 5 minutes, until they smell toasty. Take the pan off the heat and let cool for 30 minutes. Alternatively, to avoid overcooking the chiles, cook the mixture sous vide at 140°F (60°C) for 12 hours.
  4. Strain the infused oil through a fine-mesh strainer or a strainer lined with a triple layer of cheesecloth. Combine with the sesame oil.