How to Make Chili Oil (Hung Yao)

  • 01 of 07

    What You'll Need to Make Chili Oil

    Chile peppers
    Judy Bellah/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images
    Made with hot chile peppers, chili oil is the secret ingredient in many Szechuan dishes. Besides its use in cooking, chili oil (also called hot chili oil or pepper oil) is frequently served as a condiment in dim sum or noodle restaurants. Like all hot oil infusions, the secret to making chili oil lies in getting the temperature of the heated oil just right. Too cool and the oil won’t absorb the flavors; too hot and the chili flakes will burn. Ideally, the temperature should be about 225 – 240...MORE degrees Fahrenheit (107 to 122.5 degrees Celsius). For best results, use peanut or canola oil. You can also use olive oil if desired; just make sure it has a high enough smoking point. (Steer clear of extra virgin olive oil).

    This is a basic recipe for chili oil. Once you’ve got the technique down, feel free to jazz it up by adding garlic, ginger, cumin, sugar or other spices. To make it even hotter, add more dried chiles or reduce the oil to 1/3 cup. The chili oil can be used almost immediately, but for best results leave the oil for a day to allow the flavors to blend.

    Chili Oil Ingredients
    10 – 12 small dried chilies (1 – 2 inches long) to make 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped chili flakes
    1/2 cup peanut, canola, or olive oil.
    1 tablespoon sesame oil, optional
    Continue to 2 of 7 below.
  • 02 of 07

    Preparing the Dried Chiles

    Chile Flakes
    Rhonda Parkinson
    Cut off the stems of the dried chilies and remove the seeds.
    Chop the chiles into coarse flakes (it's easiest to do this by processing them in a blender for about 20 seconds).
    (Handle the chile peppers with care - the oil in capsicum can be very dangerous for your skin and eyes. You may want to wear plastic gloves when handling the chile peppers. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterward).
    Continue to 3 of 7 below.
  • 03 of 07

    Placing the Chili Flakes in a Container

    Chili Flakes in a jar
    Rhonda Parkinson
    Place the chili flakes in a heat resistant jar with a seal.
    Continue to 4 of 7 below.
  • 04 of 07

    Heating the Oil

    Heating Oil
    Rhonda Parkinson
    Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high to high heat until it is starting to smoke. Continue heating the oil for 20 to 30 seconds.
    Remove the skillet from the heat. Wait 3 minutes, or until the oil has cooled to 225 – 240 degrees Fahrenheit (107 to 122.5 degrees Celsius).
    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Infusing the Oil With the Chili Flakes

    Chili oil in a jar
    Rhonda Parkinson
    Pour the oil over the flakes. Add 1 tablespoon sesame oil if using.
    Continue to 6 of 7 below.
  • 06 of 07

    Cooling and Straining

    Straining Chili Oil
    Rhonda Parkinson
    Cool and strain the oil. (Be sure to save the chili flakes to use in other recipes).
    Continue to 7 of 7 below.
  • 07 of 07

    The Chili Oil is Ready to Use!

    Spring Rolls With Hot Chili Oil
    Rhonda Parkinson

    Leave the chili oil for at least 1 hour to give the flavors a chance to blend (longer if adding sesame oil). Use as desired in recipes or as a dipping sauce with dumplings and noodles. Stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, chili oil will last for at least one month.

    Recipes Using Hot Chili Oil:
    Bang Bang Chicken
    Dumpling Dipping Sauce
    Hot and Sour Soup (the soup gets its heat mainly from white pepper, but chili oil can be added if desired)
    Take-Out Ginger Beef