7 Chili Oil Substitutes: Homemade Recipes and Not Only

Chili oil is a common cooking ingredient in Asian cuisine. It’s made by infusing chili peppers with oil, and the end result is a spicy and flavorful condiment that can add zing to all sorts of dishes. If you’re looking for a chili oil substitute, here are seven options to consider.

The best alternatives are homemade chili, chili garlic oil, sweet chili sauce, chilies heated in oil, Chiu Chow chili oil, crushed red peppers with oil and Salsa Macha.

1. Homemade Chili Oil: How to Make Chili Oil?

All you need for this recipe is dried chilies, chili flakes and oil. Depending on what level of heat you want to get, you should opt for the most suitable type of chilies. Different chilies come with different tastes, spiciness and heat. 

As for the oil, you should consider whether the chosen oil is good for this recipe or not. Usually, it is better to boil red chilies in neutral oils. Try vegetable or peanut oil. Olive oil and sesame oil are other good options but they are more flavorful and are basically used as garnishing oils. 


1 cup of oil

2 tablespoons of red chili flakes 

2-3 whole red dried chilies

How to Make:

First, pour 2 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add chili flakes and whole chilies and boil for about 1 minute. Meanwhile stir them and they will start sizzling. Avoid overcooking so as not to ruin the peppers. If they become brown, then you should know you have overcooked them. 

Second, add the rest of the oil to the pot and heat until it’s warm. It should not be too hot. Turn off the fire and let the oil cool to room temperature. 

Now, you can store it in an airtight jar and shake from time to time to disperse the peppers. 

Other Chili Oil Substitutes To Try

2. Chili Garlic Oil

Your next choice can be chili garlic oil. You can find it in grocery stores and use it as a chili oil replacement in many cases. It is made of vegetable oil, chilies, garlic, sugar, salt and vinegar. The process of making this oil is similar to chili oil. 

Compared to chili oil, chili garlic oil has a richer flavor and stronger taste. You can use it in many ways just like chili oil. 

If you decide on making it at home you can also use olive oil or sesame oil. 

3. Sweet Chili Sauce

If you are looking for a chili oil alternative that offers a milder taste then go for sweet chili sauce. It is made of red chilies, vinegar, garlic, ginger, sugar and vinegar.

It doesn’t contain oil but it can work as a perfect dipping sauce for dumplings, roasted meat and many other dishes that call for chili oil. 

4. Heat Chilies in Oil

If you have chilies on hand, you can heat them in oil and get fresh chili oil. Stir fry chillies in oil and add spices and seasonings according to your taste. This way you’ll also create a unique taste which will compliment your recipes. 

Of course, you can’t use it as a dipping sauce or oil, as it may have a liquid-like texture, but it’s ideal for frying and other dishes that require spicy oils like chili oil. 

5. Chiu Chow Chili Oil

Chiu Chow chili oil is another spicy and hot chili oil popular in China. It is made of preserved or fresh chilies, chili flakes, garlic and other spices. You can either make it at home or buy from stores, if it’s available in your region. 

Chiu Chow chili oil is used with dumplings, spaghetti, ramen and as a dipping oil. You can choose it for almost all dishes that go with chili oil. 

6. Crushed Red Peppers Oil

1 tablespoon of crushed red peppers boiled with 1/4 cup of oil is an easy and simple recipe of chili oil. You may have red peppers in your pantry and even if they are dried, they can still be used to replace chilies.

If you want to add more heat you may also add chili flakes or garlic or any other spicy seasoning. 

7. Salsa Macha

Salsa macha is the Mexican style chili oil made of dried chilies, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, shallots, garlic and olive oil. Compared to Chinese chili oil, it comes with a denser texture and has a richer flavor. 

This chili oil has a smoky and deep spicy taste and you can choose it instead of chili oil as a marinade for savory dishes and meats. It is basically used with tacos, quesadilla, roasted veggies and as a dipping sauce for many other meals. 

FAQs about Chili Oil

Is chili sauce and chili oil the same?

No, chili sauce and chili oil are not the same. Chili sauce is a thick, red sauce made from tomatoes, peppers, and spices. Chili oil is a thin, red oil made from chili peppers. Both are used to add heat and flavor to food, and they are interchangeable.

Does chili oil need to be refrigerated?

Typically no, chili oil does not need to be refrigerated. You can store it at room temperature in a dark, cool place. But if you live in a hot climate, you may want to refrigerate your chili oil to prevent it from going rancid.

How long does chili oil last?

Chili oil can last for several months, but it will eventually go bad. If you notice the oil starting to change color or develop a rancid smell, it’s time to toss it out.

What is the best way to store chili oil?

The best way to store chili oil is in an airtight container or jar in a dark, cool place. If you live in a hot climate, you may want to refrigerate your chili oil.

Is chili oil good for you?

Yes, chili oil is good for you! It’s a great source of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Where to find chili oil in grocery stores?

You can usually find chili oil in the Asian, Latin, Middle Eastern and Indian sections of your grocery store.

How to use chili oil?

Chili oil is a great way to add flavor to your food. You can use it as a cooking oil, or you can drizzle it over cooked meats or vegetables, dumplings and pasta dishes. You can also use it to make a dipping sauce for your food.


All in all, if you are looking for a chili oil substitute that will give you the same flavor profile, your best bet is homemade chili oil. This will give you the heat and smokiness that chili oil lends to dishes. Give it and other types of oil a try next time when you try to cook up something spicy but run out of chili oil.

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