How to make your own crispy chili at home


I was a chili oil collector. Whenever I ordered Chinese take-out, I always asked for extra small containers of hot pepper oil – dried and ground chili pepper flakes and seeds soaked in red fireball oil. I combined them in a separate pot and filled with neutral oil so I always had a reserve in my fridge – as important to me as good soy sauce and Asian vinegars in my homemade Asian cooking repertoire.

It wasn’t until the start of the pandemic, when my cravings for Chinese take out became more intense, that I discovered the burgeoning field of crispy chili sauces. Crispy chili, or sometimes called crunchy chili, is a tastier, more textured version of the chili oil I used to hoard. Made from crushed and crushed dried chili pods, fried shallots and garlic, sesame seeds or chopped peanuts and spices soaked in neutral oil (vegetable, canola, peanut), crispy chili has become my favorite condiment that makes everything better – noodles, dumplings, ramen soups, stir-fries, scrambled eggs, pizza and even fried chicken.

My first store-bought chili crisps turned out to be the flagship: Lao Gan Ma, the Chinese company that makes a variety of chili sauces, including revered chili crisps and nubby fried chili oil. Soon I started to see a variety of crunchy chili sauces available for ordering online. This was followed by a plethora of recipes online for homemade chili crisp.

Recipe: Spicy Chili Crumble

Play. The pandemic has given time to dive deeper. Most of the recipes I found used ingredients available in most supermarkets: dried chili pods, chili pepper flakes, garlic, shallots, and spices such as cinnamon sticks and whole star anise. The only thing I had to buy by mail order was Sichuan peppercorns.

What I quickly discovered is that there really is no way to falter. Cook your shallots and garlic in neutral oil and add them to the ground chili peppers or red pepper flakes with the desired spices, a little sugar and salt and boom you have your own homemade crunchy and crunchy . Make is as hot as you like; add more oil if you like a soupier version like I do.

Recipe: Bon Appetit Chili Chips

Today, I no longer need to accumulate chili oil.

If you’d rather buy your own chili crisps, here are several to try:

Fly By Jing Sichuan Chili Crisp: This crisp, endorsed by Milk Street’s Christopher Kimball and sold on the company’s carefully curated site for pantry and kitchen essentials (, is a condiment with added umami. The chili sauce is made with candied black beans, mushroom powder, seaweed and sesame oil, which adds an extra depth of flavor. Made in Chengdu, China, it’s flavorful and intensely tangy, with a nice texture and chili pepper and Szechuan pepper punch. About $ 15 per jar from


Momofuku Chilli Crunch: David Chang, the super chef whose Momofuku empire pretty much changed the way we understand modern Asian cuisine, makes a nasty chili crunch. Made with three types of Mexican dried peppers, its nubby elixir also includes onions, garlic, shallots, sesame seeds, seaweed and coconut sugar. It’s a perfect, punchy crispy chili that you’ll want to put on everything. About $ 12 per jar at


Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crumble: This Chinese nubby chili oil, widely available in Asian supermarkets, is a perfect medium heat condiment for everyday noodles, fried rice, dumplings and stir-fries. Packed with ground dried chili peppers and peanuts in soybean oil, this is a tasty, spicy and thick sauce that you will always want to have on hand; a go-to standard that has been called Heinz Ketchup from the crispy chili world. About $ 10 in Asian markets and (Lao Gan Ma also makes fried chili oil, about $ 5).

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