How to Make Chile Oil

Until we made chile oil for the first time, it lived in the culinary mystery category — home to all kinds of food that we love, and even rely on, but seems too difficult or long-winded a project to tackle in the home kitchen. Of course, as we were delighted to discover, chile oil is ridiculously easy to make. Seriously, but for the hot oil, a child could make it.

What we like about this recipe is that while it’s got a nice kick (hello, red pepper flakes), it’s not mouth-searingly hot. Instead, it offers a superb depth of flavor, thanks to a handful of aromatic spices, including ginger, cinnamon, star anise, and coriander. We like to think of it as a mulled chile oil. Once you have a jar of it, you’ll want to drizzle it on everything, from fried eggs to grilled shrimp, dan dan noodles, and braised dino kale. It’s also lovely swirled through dips, like hummus and labneh.

Our tip: Everyone loves a good chile condiment. Make a double or triple batch of chile oil and give some to your friends.

Yield: 1 cup


1 cup grapeseed oil

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

3 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

1 Tbsp black peppercorns

1 Tbsp coriander seeds

¼ cup crushed red pepper flakes

½ tsp salt

Special equipment: candy thermometer


  1. In a small pot, combine the grapeseed oil, ginger, star anise, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, peppercorns, and coriander seeds and heat to around 250º degrees on a candy thermometer, or just before the oil begins to bubble. Maintain this heat for 30 minutes — be careful not to burn the spices.

  2. Remove the oil from the heat and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Note: This is an important step. If the oil is too hot, it will burn your red pepper flakes.

  3. In a small, heatproof bowl or jar, combine the crushed red pepper flakes and salt.

  4. Pass the oil mixture through a mesh strainer, pouring it over the red pepper flakes and salt. Discard the spices that were in the hot oil.

  5. Stir together the red pepper, salt, and oil mixture.

  6. Allow the oil to cool completely, and then store it in the refrigerator for up to 30 days.