chili crisp

Wilder Shaw / Cheapism

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Chinese cooking has given us a lifetime of treasures, but chili crisp has to be one of the most wonderful. The spicy, oil-based condiment has centuries-old origins, but today, it’s one of the trendiest items in the grocery store.

Lao Gan Ma’s spicy chili crisp was the first to gain popularity in major grocery stores back in 1997, and was created by Tao Huabi, a former street food vendor from the Guizhou province of China. Today, everybody from celebrity chef David Chang to Trader Joe’s is making their own jars.

Are you as much of a chili crisp addict as I am? Need a jar of the stuff on hand at all times? I scoured the internet for chili crisp recipes and Frankensteined them into one just for you, featuring ingredients that are both cheap and easy to find.

Chili Crisp JarsPhoto credit: Lacey Muszynski / Cheapism

What Is Chili Crisp?

Chili crisp is a type of hot sauce condiment made with fried chili peppers, aromatics, and other ingredients preserved in oil. You can find dried onions, fried garlic, shallots, dried red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, star anise, and even peanuts in a good chili crisp. 

It often ranges in spiciness, is sometimes incredibly mild, and at other times is made with tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorns. The best part? The oil itself becomes a delicious, infused chili oil that makes for the world’s most perfect topping on a pizza or fried egg.

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Chili Crisp Recipe

There are a lot of ways to make chili crisp. And, as long as you’re working within the right flavor profiles, there’s a ton of room for improvising. Though this chili crisp recipe is by no means the most traditional crisp you’ll find, it’s cheap and easy. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 shallots

  • 2 tablespoons dried, minced garlic

  • 2 tablespoons dried onions

  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt

  • ¾ cup peanut or vegetable oil

  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to preferred spice level

  • Glass jar for storage

Here are some other ingredients that are optional, but will help your homemade chili crisp out immensely:

  • 1 tablespoon umami flavor mushroom powder

  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) 

  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil

  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns

Related: 10 Delicious Ways to Use Chili Crisp, According to Reddit's Spicy Food Fans

chopping up shallotsPhoto credit: Wilder Shaw / Cheapism

First thing’s first: Dice your shallots. If you want big, tasty shallot bombs in your crisp, don’t chop them up too finely; if you want them to blend in with the rest of the crunch, chop them as much as you can.

shallots frying in a panPhoto credit: Wilder Shaw / Cheapism

Over low-medium heat, fry the shallots in the peanut oil. They’ll be ready to go once they’re golden-brown and crispy, about 15 to 20 minutes.

blender with dried garlic and onionsPhoto credit: Wilder Shaw / Cheapism

While the shallots are frying, grab a blender or food processor and crush up your dried garlic and onions. Once they’re at a nice, even consistency, add them to a bowl and mix in the red chiles, paprika, and the rest of your dry ingredients. 

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chili crisp in a panPhoto credit: Wilder Shaw / Cheapism

When the shallots are ready, remove them from the heat. Mix in your dry ingredients, and add some sesame oil for flavor. Mix, mix, mix.

Once the mixture has cooled down, pour everything into a glass jar, making sure you scrape up every last one of those crispy bits from the pan.

homemade chili crispPhoto credit: Wilder Shaw / Cheapism

Ta-da! You’re done. This jar will last for months, and the longer it sits, the tastier it will get. 

If you’re like me, you’ll finish it within a week.

How To Use Chili Crisp

If you’re not sure what to do with chili crisp, there are practically no wrong answers. This is one of the most accommodating condiments you’re likely to find in life. It's top-shelf, Ivy-league stuff, and there’s really no wrong way to go about it. 

Noodles and fried rice bowls are classics. Eggs and pizza are terrific for it, too. Tuna salad can soar because of it; all fish, actually. Grilled veggies are a must. I've had it with vanilla ice cream. Spread it on your toast in the morning. Mix it into your water bottle. Lick it off the damn floor, if you can.

Where To Buy Chili Crisp

Thanks to chili crisp's immense popularity these days, it shouldn’t be hard to get if you don’t feel like making it yourself. Look for it in the same place that your store keeps soy sauce.

Lao Gan Ma is the O.G. brand, but Fly by Jing Sichuan Chili Crisp has become a huge hit as well. David Chang’s Momofuku Chili Crunch can be found in most grocery stores, too. And of course, Trader Joe's has its own house-brand variety as well.

Does Chili Crisp Need To Be Refrigerated?

Like most foods, you’ll prolong the flavor and freshness if you keep your crisp in the fridge, but it’s not mandatory. If you’re curious about a store-bought brand, be sure to check the label.

Related: I Tried The Viral TikTok Salad with Cucumbers, Chili Crisp, and Mini Peppers, and OH BABY

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