Chinese chili oil recipe

How to make Sichuan chili oil – La you – 辣油

an essential ingredient for your Chinese kitchen

Sichuan chili oil is an essential ingredient in many Chinese dishes. Of course you can buy your own, but this is much more delicious than anything you’ll get from the supermarket. If you’re not in China, you might need to make a trip to your local Chinatown to pick up a few of the ingredients.

This recipe for this spicy Chinese oil is not only great for spicy dishes, but it’s also great to just keep on hand to drizzle over noodles, dumplings, pasta or pizza for an earthy spicy kick. Here we show you how to make chili oil – it’s is easy to make, has an authentic flavour, and is makes for a great gift for foodies.


50g leek, roughly chopped
20g ginger, roughly chopped
20g garlic, roughly chopped
25g sesame seeds
A few pieces of zi cao (紫草) – purple grass
5 x star anise
5 x bay leaves
100g large dried chilies (the best ones are the fat round ones – not too spicy but flavoursome)
12 x dou kou (豆蔻)
Large pinch of fennel seeds
1 x cao guo bulb (草果)
1 x small piece bai zhi (白芷)
50 Pixian douban sauce / Pixian chili paste (郫县豆瓣酱)
500g canola oil

Recipe for Chinese chili oil, ingredients


  1. Grind all the chilies into a powder in a food processor or mortar and pestle. Break up the star anise. Give all the bulbs a gentle crack.
  2. Add the sesame seeds to a clean, dry wok over the lowest heat. Continually stir until lightly golden. Remove from wok and set aside.
  3. Add oil to wok over low heat. Add all herbs and vegetables – except Pixian paste, ground chilies, sesame seeds and zi cao – and allow to simmer in the oil for around 20 minutes, until all the herbs are dark golden. Strain ingredients from the oil (herbs can be discarded) and allow oil to cool slightly in the wok.
  4. Add the zicao to the oil in the wok over low heat. Stir gently for around 2 minutes until the colour is bright red. Strain out zi cao.
  5. Still over a low heat, add the toasted sesame seeds to the oil in the wok and the Pixian paste. Stir. Simmer gently for about 2 minutes. Finally, add the ground chilies. Stir through.
  6. Pour oil into a sterilised glass container and keep for around one month.

Recipe for Chinese chili oil