This recipe for chili crisp is spicy, sweet, and intoxicatingly savory. This amazingly tasty, Chinese-inspired condiment will add a fierce, spicy flavor and crunchy, tantalizing texture to everything it touches!
Step right up, ladies and gentlemen! I am so excited to introduce you to today’s recipe for spicy chili crisp. This intensely flavorful sauce adds a touch of complex flavor and exciting texture to almost anything you can imagine.
Steeped orange peel, ginger, cinnamon, star anise and more make this chili crisp uniquely spicy and sweet with an unparalleled crunch factor from fried garlic and shallots. I’ve worked on this recipe for a while now and it’s a spin off my original Chili Oil recipe.
This condiment is a gift from the world of Chinese cuisine where it is used to flavor everything from noodles and rice to meat and veggie entrees. Get ready for a blast of savory, spicy flavor with a hint of sweetness and irresistibly crunchy flavor.
Table of Contents
The first two packages of chilis below are Sichuan chili flakes and the brands I prefer for flavor and texture. You could substitute regular red chili flakes (see bottom right), but if you’re looking for that rich, deep red color you will need to add 2 teaspoons of paprika to the chili flakes before pouring the oil over them.
- Oil – Choose regular vegetable oil or another oil with a high smoke point like peanut, soybean, or canola oil.
- Garlic – Adds a zesty pungency and adds to the crunchy bits.
- Shallot – Gives the condiment another layer of sweet onion flavor.
- Warming Spices – This recipe comes complete with cloves, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, and coriander.
- Peppercorns – Regular black and Sichuan peppercorns are used to add zesty sharpness, spicy flavor, and additional crunch.
- Orange Peel – Adds a pop of bright citrus flavor.
- Ginger – The ultimate spicy, earthy flavor. If fresh ginger is unavailable, you can sub in 1 teaspoon of dried ground ginger or dried sand ginger.
- Sichuan Chili Flakes – Make Sichuan chili flakes by frying whole chiles in oil to enhance their flavor, texture, and color. To save time, alternatively, you can use regular red chili flakes. If you choose that route, add 2 teaspoons of paprika for color if desired.
- Sesame Seeds – Offer a delicate, nutty flavor and unparalleled crunch. Some recipes include crushed peanuts too.
- Cook the Shallots. Place a large saucepan over medium-high heat along with the vegetable oil. Bring the oil to 350 degrees F, toss in the garlic and shallots, and fry until they are a deep golden brown. Remove from the oil, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, and set aside.
- Add Other Ingredients. Keep the hot oil in the saucepan but turn off the heat. Add in the cloves, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, 2 types of peppercorns, orange peel, and ginger root. Stir well and steep the spices, uncovered, for the next hour.
- Increase the Heat. After the spices are steeped, turn the heat to medium-high and heat the oil to 375 degrees F.
- Combine Spices. While the oil is heating, add the Sichuan chili flakes, sesame seeds, sugar, and salt to a heat-proof bowl (I like stainless steel). Stir to combine, then temporarily set aside.
- Strain & Stir. Place a steel mesh colander over the heat-proof bowl and carefully strain the steeped herbs into the chili flake and sesame mixture. Discard the strained herbs. It will likely bubble and spurt, so take care!
- Cool, Jar & Store. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then stir in the vinegar, soy sauce, fried garlic, and fried shallots. Transfer the mixture to clean jars, stir, and seal.
While every chili crisp recipe will be slightly different, the primary ingredients in most versions include Sichuan peppercorns, red chili flakes, ginger, garlic, and some sort of oil. From there, it’s the chef’s choice about which spices, seasonings, and crunchy bits to include.
In this chili crisp recipe, I have included warming spices like star anise, cinnamon, and clove along with tangy vinegar, savory soy sauce, and a touch of sugar to sweeten the deal. Crispy fried shallots and sesame seeds add flavor and crunch. After you master this recipe, I encourage you to branch out and try adding some of your favorite spices.
Chili crisp can add a dash of exciting texture and complimentary flavor to a wide variety of dishes. Add savory spice to eggs, noodles, rice, meats, vegetables, or even pizza. Here are just a few recipe suggestions to get you started. Seriously though, you are going to want to put it on everything!
– Add to rice dishes like Jasmine, Pork, or Hibachi Fried Rice,
– Serve with appetizers like Pot Stickers, Shrimp Shumai, or Chinese Egg Rolls.
– Spread on sandwiches or burgers like this Pork Belly Sandwich or Thai Burger.
– Mix some into noodle recipes like Beef Lo Mein, Shrimp Ramen Salad, or Ramen w/ Sweet and Spicy Meatballs.
– Use as a dip for meats like Shish Tawook or Grilled Koobideh Kabobs.
Spicy, oil-based condiments have been popular, in one form or another, for centuries throughout China.
Who made the very first spicy chili crisp is uncertain but, the first commercially produced version was made by a restaurant owner named Tao Huabi in 1997 in the Guizhou region of China. He marketed his product under the brand name Lao Gan Ma, and it took off like wildfire.
In no time, chili crisp became a pantry staple throughout China. The condiment started gaining some traction in the US around the 2010s and then, interestingly, exploded in popularity in the 2020s, during the coronavirus pandemic. Try it once and you will understand why!
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The Ultimate Chili Crisp Recipe
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the oil to 350°F and fry the garlic and shallots until a deep golden brown. Remove from oil, drain on paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
- To same saucepan with hot oil add the next 9 ingredients (using no heat) and steep spices for 1 hour (See Note 3), uncovered.
- Turn heat up to medium-high to reach 375°F.
- While oil is heating up: to a large heat proof bowl add the Sichuan chili flakes, sesame seeds, sugar and salt, stir to combine. Set aside.
- Carefully strain the HOT oil over the chili flakes and sesame seeds (discard the steeped spice mixture). This will bubble up so be careful.
- Cool to room temperature and stir in the soy sauce, black vinegar and fried garlic and shallots. Carefully pour into clean jars and seal. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 months and if used often, keep at room temperature in pantry for up to 2 months.
- Slice ginger in half lengthwise, peeled or not peeled. You can substitute 1 tablespoon dried ground ginger or dried sand ginger, also known as ground galangal, for fresh ginger.
- Sichuan chili flakes are made by frying whole chilies in vegetable oil until crisp before grinding into flakes, seeds, or powder. The frying enhances the flavor, color and texture, creating a toasty flavor and characteristic vivid red color without dyes or additives. (source: The Mala Market) You could substitute regular red chile flakes, but if you’re looking for that rich, deep red color, you will need to add 2 teaspoons of paprika to the chili flakes before pouring the oil over them.
- If garlic browns too quickly, remove so it doesn’t burn and discard. Try to keep oil temperature around 225°F.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.