How to Make Chile Oil

Chile Oil recipe, Chile oil in a glass container

The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Servings: 20 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
248 Calories
28g Fat
1g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 20
Amount per serving
Calories 248
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 28g 35%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 5mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Protein 0g
Calcium 3mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Chile oil's introduction into the Moroccan food landscape might logically have come from neighboring Italy, where the equivalent olio di peperoncino is a standard condiment in restaurants. But Chinese cuisine and its omnipresent use of chile oil might have played a role in how Northern African food is prepared and served.

The beauty of this oil is that you can control what goes in it and avoid unwanted preservatives, and you can alter the spice level to make it as light or strong as you'd like. While other recipes use several spices to flavor the oil, our simple recipe offers an easy method for making Italian-style chile oil—fragrant and spicy, ideal for adding a kick to your favorite meals.

Chile oils, no matter their origin and different aromatic flavor profiles, are great condiments to accompany bread, pasta, dumplings, pizza, handheld savory pies, or empanadas. They also make fiery additions to soups, dips, and sauces.

The recipe easily doubles or triples, and you may adjust the ratio of chile pepper to oil to taste. You can also experiment with different dried chile peppers to yield varying flavor and heat.

Ingredients

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Chile Oil ingredients, olive oil and red chile peppers

    The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

  2. Prepare a clean, dry glass bowl or jar and place the crushed chile peppers in it.

    chiles in a white bowl

    The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

  3. In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat for a few minutes, just until it begins to smoke. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the oil to cool in the pan for a minute or two. Be mindful that olive oil has a low smoking point and if heated up too much for too long, its flavor can change.

    olive oil in a sauce pan on a burner, crushed and whole Chiles in white bowl

    The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

  4. Slowly and carefully pour the oil over the crushed chile peppers, making sure that the oil completely covers them. If necessary, use a spoon to stir so that all the chile is submerged. If using the whole chiles, add them now, and stir.

    Pouring olive oil into a white bowl of whole and crushed Chile

    The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

  5. Set the oil aside to cool for at least an hour or two. 

    olive oil, crushed and whole Chiles in a white bowl

    The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

  6. Once cooled, you can taste the oil. If it's to your liking, strain the oil to remove the crushed chile peppers. If you'd like more heat and flavor, cover the oil and allow it to infuse overnight or for as long as desired before straining—if choosing to do so, as the crushed chile will settle on the bottom of the jar, and you can use it along with the oil as a condiment.

    crushed and whole Chiles in a metal strainer

    The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

  7. Once strained, store the oil in a clean, airtight glass container. If you used whole dried chile peppers, they can be returned to the oil to gradually intensify its color and flavor. If left unstrained, the infusion will continue to mature, and the heat factor will amplify.

    Chile oil in a glass container with a wood lid, on a white table

    The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

  8. Enjoy.

How to Store Chile Oil

  • The chile oil will keep at room temperature for two to three months if the jar you used was properly sterilized before using. It will keep in the fridge for up to six months.
  • If you didn't use a sterile bottle, an airtight container and the fridge are your best options for storage.

Fresh Pepper Oil

To make chile oil with fresh chile peppers:

  • Take a small handful of fresh red hot peppers and make a long slit lengthwise in each one.
  • Place in a glass jar or bottle.
  • Add a bay leaf, garlic clove, or sprig of fresh rosemary if desired.
  • Cover with up to four cups of olive oil.
  • Seal the jar and set aside for one to two months before using it.

Other recipes add one or more of the following for a spicy and aromatic oil: dried rosemary, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, dried thyme, dried oregano, juniper berries, whole peppercorns, dried marjoram, and dried sage. Mix and match, experiment, and make your own favorite recipe for a delicious condiment.

For a Deep Red Hue

  • The more finely ground the chile peppers, the more intense the color of the oil will be. Asian-style chile oil, therefore, will be of a deeper hue than its Italian cousin. If you want to intensify the color of the Italian version, just replace some of the crushed chile pepper with ground cayenne (felfla sudaniya) or hot paprika (piment fort or felfla harra).