How to Make Your Own Chili Oil

Making your own chili oil only takes 5 minutes! Chili flakes and sichuan peppercorns bring the heat, cinnamon, five spice, and star anise add a touch of warmth and sweetness, and bay leaves add an aromatic freshness to the mix.

This chili oil is the perfect mix-in or topping for Mike's Mighty Good craft ramen noodles. Get your spices and let's get into it.

Chili Oil Spices

Chili oil is one of the most popular ingredients in ramen noodle recipes. With its bold, powerful flavor, it makes a great addition, and it combines well with many ingredients. It’s also one of those things that can be hard to find at the store. (We’re obsessed, by the way, with chili oils such as Fly By Jing’s Chili Crisp) That’s where your kitchen comes in.

Thankfully, you don’t have to drive all over town to find a good bottle of chili oil. In fact, it’s quick and painless to make at home. In just a few minutes, you can create a delicious bottle of chili oil in the comfort of your own home.

Here, we’ll talk about what chili oil is, how you can make your own, and how you can use it to improve your ramen recipes. Let’s take a closer look!

What Is Chili Oil?

If you’re not already familiar with it, you might think that chili oil is like olive oil or avocado oil. You press an olive or an avocado, and oil comes out, but that’s not how chili oil works. Instead, chili oil is a vegetable oil that has been boiled with chili peppers and other ingredients. Most chili oil is red in color, but this depends on the peppers, as well as the type of oil. For example, some chili oils are made with green chili pepper, which lends a different color to the sauce.

The oil itself can be virtually any kind of vegetable oil. The most popular traditional choices are soybean oil, sesame oil, and peanut oil. In the U.S. and Europe, western producers have started using olive oil and even canola oil, which are more familiar oils to western users. Recipes will also use a variety of other ingredients. These may include cinnamon, bay leaves, paprika, garlic, soy sauce, and occasionally sugar.

When the oil is cooked, the spices are left over in the mix. A lot of western manufacturers strain this out, which is a real shame. The remaining spices still retain a bold flavor, and can add a lot of punch to any meal. If you don’t want them, just wait for them to settle, and take the oil off the top. If you do, give your bottle a good stir before using your oil. It’s entirely a matter of preference.

Because there are so many possible combinations, different chili oils have vastly different flavors. One thing to note is that they aren’t nearly as spicy as you might expect. It does add a nice kick, though, and tends to hit you right in the back of the throat. When it’s prepared properly, it has a complex flavor profile, with a roasted taste that pairs well with almost any ingredients.

Chili oil can be used for different purposes, depending on the recipe and culture. In Chinese and Korean cuisine, it’s traditionally used as a dipping sauce for meats. I Japanese cuisine, it’s more often used as an ingredient in larger dishes, such as a bowl of ramen.

5-Minute Chili Oil Recipe

If you want to take a crack at your own chili oil, you can do it in only five minutes. Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp chili flakes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp Sichuan peppers
  • 2 tbsp five spice
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 oz vegetable oil (any kind)

First, break the cinnamon stick into a few chunks, and blend all of your dry ingredients together. Do this in a heat-resistant bowl or jar that won’t shatter when exposed to sudden heat. Next, bring the oil to a boil in a small saucepan. Do this carefully; you don’t want to scorch it.

As soon as the oil comes to a boil, take it off the heat, and pour it over your dry ingredients. Make sure to wear oven mitts when you do this. The oil may splatter, and you don’t want to get burned.

Wait a few minutes for the oil to cool. Remove the cinnamon and bay leaves, and pour the rest of your ingredients into a bottle or jar for storage. Keep your chili oil in a cool, dark place, and it will last for several months. Like any oil, though, it will eventually spoil. If it gets cloudy or starts to smell “off,” you should throw it out and make a new batch.

How to Make Your Own Chili Oil

General Guidelines

When you’re making your own chili oil, you can choose all kinds of ingredients and recipes. That said, there are some general guidelines that apply in almost every situation.

To begin with, the oil you choose makes a difference. In most cases, a neutral-flavored oil is best. This means absolutely no animal fats or fish oils. Instead, choose something like a peanut, soybean, or grapeseed oil. Canola oil is another popular choice as is rapeseed oil. In fact, “Canola” is actually a brand name, like “Kleenex,” used for some canola oils sold in the U.S.

Chinese caiziyou oil is an even better choice, if you can find it. In the U.S., you’ll have to visit a local ethnic market and hope that you get lucky. This is a high-quality oil that’s similar to canola oil, but grown in a low-acid soil. Olive oil and avocado oils are viable choices as well, as long as you go with a lighter variety. Then again, these oils have a lower smoke point, so they’re harder to boil without scorching.

When it comes to the chili pepper, don’t use any substitutes. Your best option is genuine Sichuan chili flakes. If you go to a Chinese ethnic food market, you may even find several brands. Different brands are different colors due to different roasting techniques, and some are more or less fine. Regardless, you’re getting the right spice, with the optimal amount of kick.

If you can’t find any Sichuan chili flakes, Korean gochugaru is an okay substitute. It’s not going to be as intense, but you’ll get the right color and general flavor profile. You can even use more if you want to crank up the intensity. Whatever you do, don’t use Italian red pepper flakes. These have nowhere near the necessary intensity, they don’t taste like chili, and they don’t give you the same bright red color.

If you’re making your own recipe, you may also want to add some other spices. Salt is a good choice, since it enhances all the other flavors. Other great choices include Chinese black vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame seeds.

Cooking With Chili Oil

Chili oil is best when you add it late in the cooking process. It’s already been cooked, and if you add it too early, you risk scorching it. Here are a couple of sample recipes to get you started.

No-Cook Vegan Chili Black Bean Noodles

If you want a quick, easy meal, it’s tough to go wrong with no-cook vegan chili black bean noodles. You actually have to cook the noodles, but other than that, no cooking is required. Just add black bean sauce, chili oil, and a handful of other ingredients.

Garlic Chili Oil Ramen

Garlic chili oil ramen is yet another super-simple recipe. Along with the garlic and the chili oil, ingredients include sesame seeds and green onion, so you’re getting a broad flavor profile. Add a splash of Chinese black vinegar, and you’re ready to go.

garlic chili oil ramen

Wrapping Up

A great bowl of ramen starts with a great pack of noodles. If you want the best meal, start with Mike’s Mighty Good. Our ramen is steamed, not fried, and it contains simple ingredients, not a bunch of weird chemicals. With our noodles and your own homemade chili oil, you’ll have the building blocks for an awesome dinner. All you have to do is choose your other ingredients.

Pro tip: keep it in the fridge and it lasts 6 months! Chili oil is one of our favorite ways to spice up ramen. Learn more about chili oil and other ways to add spice to your ramen here.

Check out our blog for more information, follow us on Instagram to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest in the fabulous world of ramen noodles, and watch our TikTok videos for recipe inspiration and visual walkthroughs.

Want some recipes to use your chili oil? We have a few:

Garlic Chili Oil Ramen

No-Cook Vegan Chili Black Bean Noodles

Peanut Chili Oil Ramen

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