If you love spice, you’ll love chili crisp!
It’s deeply savory, not too spicy, and has little bits of crispy crunchy bits that are incredibly addictive. Anyone who’s tried chili crisp falls in love with it. It has a cult following, and for good reason. It’s a huge favor bomb, full of umami with just the rice amount of spice to keep you going back for more.
What is chili crisp?
Chili crisp is a Chinese infused oil that’s used as a condiment or sauce. It’s full of crunchy little bits: chili peppers, garlic, and soy beans.
Lao Gan Ma
The most well known chili crisp is Lao Gan Ma brand, with its ruby red oil, crunchy large flakes, and serious looking grandma on the jar. Lao Gan Ma (it means old godmother in Chinese) is incredibly popular in China. Lao Gan Ma was started by a woman named Tao Huabi, in 1996 when she created the company from nothing. It’s an inspiring story: Tao started selling rice noodles with chili oil to support her two young children after her husband passed. Soon, people came to her just for the chili oil, not the noodles.
With the help of her local government she opened a factory and now she’s a millionaire. Lao Gan Ma is beloved not only in China, but all over the world. It’s my favorite brand and I have a HUGE jar of it in the fridge right now. It has spicy with a hint of sweetness and has loads of caramelized chilies, crunchy soy beans, and garlic. There are several varieties but I always buy the classic spicy, the one without peanuts.
What can I substitute chili crisp with?
If you’re looking for that signature crunch, nothing will really be a close fit, but if you’re just looking for a chili flavor, there are plenty of spicy chili oils that you can use too. If you happen to have chili oil at home as well as crispy shallots, crispy garlic, and roasted soy beans, you can make an approximation by mixing them all up. Here’s a recipe for classic chili oil.
What is the difference between chili oil and chili crisp?
Chili oil has chilies, oil, and aromatics (that are usually strained out), while chili crisp has crunchy bits left in it adding textural crisp. The crunchy bits are usually things like: fried garlic, fried shallots, roasted soy beans, roasted peanuts, and crispy chili flakes.
Is it very spicy?
It depends on your spice tolerance. I don’t find it spicy. I think it’s a 5/10 on the spice scale, but I’ve also had some pretty spicy food in my life. It’s about as spicy as the dried red pepper flakes you can buy in spice aisle.
Where to buy chili crisp
You can find it at a local Asian grocery store or online. There are lots of artisanal versions out there too!
What does it taste good on?
EVERYTHING! It’s garlicky, spicy, crunchy and makes everything taste better.
What to make with chili crisp
- 1 cup neutral oil
- 1 inch ginger sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 green onions white part only
- 1/4 cup fried garlic see note
- 1/4 cup fried shallots see note
- 1/4 cup dry roasted soybeans or edamame
- salt to taste
Place the chili flakes in a medium sized heat proof bowl. Set aside. Add the oil, ginger, bay leaf, star anise, cinnamon, and green onions to a saucepan and heat over medium-low until it starts to bubble gently and the green onions start to brown, 5-6 minutes, or until the oil reaches 300°F. When the time is up, carefully use a slotted spoon to remove and discard the aromatics, leaving the oil in the pot.
Heat the oil in the pot until it is hot and shimmery, 350°F. Carefully pour the hot oil into the bowl with the chili flakes – it will sizzle and bubble up. The oil should be bright red. When cool, stir in the fried shallots, fried garlic, and roasted soy beans.
Transfer to a clean jar and store in the fridge. Chili oil keeps pretty much indefinitely but I’m pretty sure you’ll use it up quickly.
Estimated nutrition based on 1 tbsp serving.
Chili Crisp Recipe
Amount Per Serving (1 tbsp)
Calories from Fat 76
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 1.2g8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.