10 Best Chili Oil Substitutes You Should Try

various substitutes for chili oil
18 min reading time

Do you love to add a bit of heat to your dishes with chili oil, but find that it’s too hard to get your hands on some? Don’t despair – there are plenty of wonderfully creative alternatives out there! From oils infused with semi-hot peppers to cooling sesame oils, this guide will help you explore ten new flavors and spices under the sun. All provide that great kick, without having to worry about an overly spicy dish.

Get ready for a taste sensation as we dive into the world of flavorful chili oil substitutes and discover all the exciting possibilities they have in store!

What is Chili Oil?


Chili oil is a type of seasoned oil used in Chinese and Sichuan cooking. It is made with chili peppers, garlic, and vegetable oil, and often includes other spices such as cumin or Szechuan peppercorns. The ingredients are blended together to extract their flavourings into the oil.

The most commonly used variety of chili pepper for making chili oil is dried red Chili de Arbol (also known as Yunnan chilies). These small spicy chilies pack a punch and add an intense heat to whatever they’re added to—they range from 3-5 on the Scoville scale. Other varieties of dried peppers, such as dried jalapenos or guajillos can also be used when making chili oil at home. For more intense heat ghost peppers can even be thrown into the mix!

Chili oils come in varying levels of intensity so they can suit lots of different recipes and palates – they generally fall somewhere between mild to very hot on the Scoville scale (roughly 500-50,000 SHU).

Best Uses of Chili Oil

Chili oil is an incredibly versatile and flavorful addition to your kitchen pantry. Not only can it be used for a variety of savory recipes, but it also works as an amazing condiment for a number of dishes.

Chili oil packs a serious punch in terms of flavor and is typically made with chilies, garlic, and other aromatics cooked in vegetable or sesame oil. This makes it one of the most flavorful oils you could use on any dish — from Asian-style to Latin American-inspired cuisine.

One great way to use chili oil is as part of marinades for grilled meats or vegetables. Simply combine 1/4 cup each chili oil and olive oil together in a bowl along with fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme before rubbing onto whatever you plan on grilling up!

Another unique application for chili oil would be adding some heat to breakfast foods such as omelets or scrambled eggs— just drizzle it over your morning meal before eating!

Is Chili Oil Good for Health?

Chili oil is a tasty ingredient used in many different dishes, but is it healthy? The answer depends on certain factors.

When it comes to nutrition, chili oil has some benefits. It’s rich in plant-based polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which can help keep your cholesterol levels at healthy levels. Additionally, chili oil provides antioxidants such as carotenoids and vitamin E that can protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.

Not all chili oils are equal when it comes to nutrition though; the kind of oil used for cooking makes a difference. Generally speaking, olive oil or sesame oil are healthier options than peanut or vegetable oils because they contain a higher amount of beneficial fatty acids like alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

How to Choose the Best Chili Oil Substitute?

Choosing the right chili oil substitute depends on a few different factors, including your specific needs and preferences. First of all, if you’re looking to replace chili oil because of its heat or spiciness, then it’s important to note that there are multiple substitutes that provide similar levels of spice. For instance, some popular alternatives include cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, jalapeno peppers (either fresh or pickled versions), wasabi paste/powder, and Sambal Oelek (a condiment made with ground fresh chilies).

If you’re in search of something relatively milder yet still flavorful to use as a chili oil substitute then consider using garlic-infused oils such as olive oil infused with garlic cloves or grape seed oil that has been mixed with minced garlic.

Another thing to consider when choosing a substitute for regular chili oils is whether it can impart the same rich colors and flavors into food items without compromising their health benefits too much.

10 Best Chili Oil Substitutes: Spice Up Your Dishes with These Substitutes

Spice up your meals with these delicious chili oil substitutes! Whether you’re looking for a healthier option or a unique flavor profile, we’ve got you covered. Whether you opt for crushed red pepper flakes, sriracha, or even cayenne pepper, there is a chili oil replacement out there that will work for you. So don’t be deterred from trying out that new recipe just because you’re out of chili oil – experiment with some of these substitutes and find your new favorite way to add some heat to your meals.

1. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper - one of the alternatives to chili oil

Cayenne pepper can make an excellent chili oil substitute as its flavor and hotness are very similar. In fact, cayenne peppers are the workhorse of many chili oil dishes due to their intense heat and vibrant hue. Cayenne peppers possess a unique flavor profile that sets them apart from other types of chili peppers; they’re sweet, smoky and have a slight citrus-like finish with a sharp kick at the end.

many people opt for using cayenne pepper rather than chili oil when they want that extra kick without risking becoming overwhelmed by too much intense spiciness – not everyone likes things so hot! Cayenne’s temperature threshold makes it very easy to adjust how much goes into whatever dish you’re making while still maintaining some control over just how spicy your final dish turns out – something that’s hard to do if relying solely on chili oils due to their powerful punch. Plus since cayenne packs more of an earthy flavor than actual heat itself; adding this ingredient brings added complexity and depth instead of having one overwhelming layer just built around pure fire alone!

2. Sichuan Sauce

Sichuan Sauce adds an incredible spicy-sour flavor that never fails to invigorate taste buds. It is slightly thicker than chili oil and has a greater depth of flavor coming from the addition of garlic, ginger, and other spices.

At its core, Sichuan sauce contains two main ingredients: chile peppers and doubanjiang (fermented black bean paste). This combination provides the perfect balance of heat and sourness.

Additionally, other spices such as Sichuan peppercorn, garlic, onion powder or flakes, star aniseed, or five spice mix are commonly added in order to round out its flavor profile even further.

The versatility of this sauce makes it ideal for not only marinating but also stir-frying meats/veggies with other sauces; adding depth and complexity that ordinary chili oil can’t quite achieve on its own.

3. Soy Sauce

Organic dark soy sauce in a white bowl

Soy sauce is one of the excellent chili oil substitutes because it contains many of the same flavors and ingredients, while also providing some unique health benefits.

Soy sauce is a fermented soybean paste made with water, salt, wheat flour, Aspergillus oryzae (a type of mold), and other ingredients like Schnapps or beer. It has been used in East Asian cuisine since ancient times as a condiment and flavor enhancer. The main components of soy sauce are sodium and potassium salts which can be anything from 8-18%. This gives it its salty taste as well as its ability to act as a preservative for food.

In comparison to chili oil, this savory flavor not only imparts more complexity but higher nutritional value too – one tablespoon of soy sauce contains just 14 calories compared to 44 kcal found in average chili oils (depending on the brand). Its fat content is almost negligible at just 2 g per tablespoon – meaning people looking for lower-fat options can still enjoy the full flavor without the added calories or saturated fats associated with traditional oils.

4. Black Bean Sauce

Black bean sauce kept in a bowl

Black bean sauce is becoming increasingly popular as a substitute for chili oil for multiple reasons. In many cases, it can provide a similar level of spiciness, while in some cases it may even be milder and less daunting to use. Black bean sauce also has various benefits that make it the ideal substitute for chili oil in certain dishes.

First, black bean sauce has a unique flavor that is distinct from chili oils and other types of sauces. This makes black bean sauce an ideal way to add depth and variety to different recipes without overpowering them with extreme heat or complexity. Additionally, unlike chili oil which is mostly composed of either chilis or pepper flakes soaked in some kind of oil, black bean sauce adds more complexity through its mix of fermented beans, garlic and ginger – all ingredients that bring their own individual sharpness as well as an earthy flavor profile that’s impressive when combined with softer ingredients like noodles or vegetables.

Furthermore, blackbean sauce contains high amounts of iron due to the presence of soybeans within its composition which provides essential nutrients along with its umami-laden spicy kick.

5. Dried Pepper

Dried Peppers - one of the best substitutes for chili sauce

First of all, you will get a good flavor from the dried pepper flakes without having to add any unnecessary fat or oil. This can be beneficial for people who are looking to manage their calorie intake as chili oil is high in calories and saturated fats.

Second, the taste of dried pepper is different than that of chili oil, but still flavorful and spicy enough to provide that unique kick many recipes require. By adding some additional seasoning on top of it — like paprika or red pepper powder — you can enhance the flavor even more!

Finally, dried peppers are simple to store and will last longer than fresh peppers or chili oils do since they don’t need refrigeration. The shelf life of these flakes typically ranges from three months up to two years if stored correctly (air-tight container in a cool and dark place). This makes them an ideal substitute for many dishes where you want something spicy but don’t have access to fresh chilies or Chili Oil readily available. Plus, they save time too since there’s no need to cook them first before adding them to your dish — just sprinkle them over your food!

6. Chili Flakes

dry chili pepper flakes in a white bowl with two whole chilis kept on a table

Chili flakes make one of the great chili oil substitutes because of their intense, spicy flavor and smaller size. The most common type of chili flakes is made from dried chilies, which have had their seeds and inner ribs removed prior to being ground into a coarse powder.

Chili flakes are typically spicier than pre-made chili oil due to the removal of the seeds and inner ribs, which contain capsaicin – a compound that gives peppers their heat. As a result, you can use much less when seasoning your food with chili flakes as compared to using pre-made chili oil; however, it is important to be cautious with how much you add as they can be quite potent.

Chili flakes also boast many health benefits: they are low in calories but high in Vitamin C and other antioxidants like carotenoids; they help fight inflammation within the body by working as an anti-inflammatory agent; and may even be beneficial for those looking to lose weight since capsicum (the active ingredient in chilies) has been found to boost metabolism!

7. Sweet Chili Sauce

sweet chili sauce - one of the popular substitutes for chili oil

Sweet chili sauce contains many of the same flavor components but often with added sweetness or tartness. The difference between sweet chili sauce and chili oil lies in the types of ingredients used and how each ingredient reacts with heat. Sweet chili sauce typically contains some combination of garlic, vinegar, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes (or other chilies) and sometimes lime juice. The mixture is cooked until thickened to form a paste that can be used as a condiment or dip. Chili oil on the other hand is made from one main ingredient: plenty of dried red chilies! This type of oil has a much more aggressive punch than sweet chili sauce and can add intense heat to dishes if used in large quantities.

The reason why many people use sweet chili sauce as a substitute for chilli oil is that it offers subtle sweetness along with its spiciness which makes it less overpowering than chilli oil alone would be. Additionally using sweet chilli sauce instead gives you more control over the overall flavour profile – you can tailor it to your own preferences by adding citrus notes or extra sugar depending on what you’re making. When making stir-fries or Asian cuisine at home sweet chilli sauces are just about essential for giving your food an authentic taste while still being able to adjust the intensity levels yourself.

8. Chili Garlic Oil

garlic chili oil used as one of the substitutes for chili oil

It has a rich, robust flavor and adds heat without being too spicy or overpowering. The combination of garlic and chili gives a nice balance between sweet and savory.

The most obvious advantage of using Chili Garlic Oil instead of regular Chili Oil is that it contains two key ingredients in one product, saving you time when prepping meals as it does not require additional grinding, chopping or frying. In addition to being convenient, using the oil also enhances the flavor of your dishes with its natural aroma and taste which cannot be replicated by just adding dry spices or chili flakes to your dish.

Another great thing about using chili garlic oil is that it does not contain any artificial or unnatural flavors or preservatives; instead, it relies solely on its natural ingredients to give dishes that extra oomph they may need.

Chili Garlic Oil is packed with nutrients such as Vitamin C, Iron, Calcium and Potassium making it very healthy too! It also helps boost metabolism due to its high concentrations of capsaicin which acts as an appetite suppressant so you stay feeling full longer.

9. Tabasco Hot Sauce

Tabasco sauce used as one of the alternatives to chili sauce

Tabasco offers a unique balance of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy flavors that many find more enjoyable than straight-up chili oil. It also provides more heat than plain chili oil, making it a great choice if you like your food extra spicy.

Tabasco hot sauce is made with three key ingredients: aged red peppers (such as jalapeños), vinegar, and salt. This base mixture can then be used in a variety of ways – the most popular being the classic Tabasco Hot Sauce which has been around since 1869! The aging process helps to mellow out some of the heat while adding complexity to its flavor profile.

When compared directly to chili oil, Tabasco does have some advantages nutritionally speaking as well! While both contain beneficial vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A & C from peppers plus iron for energy production; Tabasco tends to have less saturated fat since there are no added oils involved in its making like there would be with traditional chili oils/pastes. Plus it’s low in calories so perfect for those counting their macros or following a keto diet! Ultimately though it comes down preference; do you prefer the milder all-purpose flavor boosting power of traditional Chili Oil or do you want something spicier? If so then consider giving Tabasco Hot Sauce a try!

10. Homemade Chili Oil

The concept of a homemade chili oil substitute may seem daunting at first, but don’t be intimidated! With the right ingredients and technique, you can make an equally-tasty chili oil from scratch.

To get started, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • ¼ cup of dried red chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons of crushed Sichuan peppercorns (or another type of peppercorn)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil (it’s best if it has a high smoke point such as peanut or sunflower oil)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

To begin making your chili oil, start by combining the chili flakes, Sichuan peppercorns, minced garlic, and salt in a bowl or mortar. After that has been mixed together thoroughly use either a pestle or spoon to grind all the spices into an even mixture before setting them aside for later use.

Next, take your cooking pot and pour in ½ cup of vegetable oil before placing it on medium heat until it reaches its smoke point – which should take around three minutes – while stirring the contents with wooden tongs continuously during this time to prevent burning.

Once heated reduce the flame slightly so that it isn’t boiling anymore but is still hot. Then very carefully add in the spice mix created earlier taking care not to spill any over when pouring as this could cause dangerous splatter burns!

Keep stirring continuously while ensuring none of these spices burn until they have infused into every drop within two minutes then turn off stove top heat before transferring everything into an airtight container/jar for storage at room temperature away from direct sunlight exposure. That’s all there is to it!

What are Some Non-spicy Chili Oil Substitutes?

If you’re looking for a non-spicy alternative to chili oil, there are many options available. Here are five chili oil substitutes that can give your dishes a unique flavor without the heat:

1. Garlic-Infused Oil: Garlic-infused oil has all the flavor of garlic with none of the heat. Give your food an amazing savory taste and aroma by infusing olive or vegetable oil with pieces of fresh garlic in them.

2. Miso Paste: Miso paste is made from fermented soybeans and is packed full of umami flavor which means it’s perfect for adding depth and complexity to any dish without too much spice.

3. Sesame Oil: For dishes like stir-fries, sesame oil adds an aromatic nuttiness without bringing too much heat along with it.

4. Cumin Powder: Cumin powder has a smoky earthy flavor which makes it perfect if you’re looking for something mild but still enough oomph in taste and aroma department; add cumin powder not just while cooking but even when serving as garnish on top salads curries stews etc.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Much Chili Oil Should You Use?

As a general rule of thumb, start with a small amount and mix it in with your dish. You can always add more if needed, but it’s difficult to remove too much spice once it’s been added. It’s important to also consider the type of chili oil you’re using – some varieties may be spicier than others.

How Long Does Chili Oil Last before it goes bad?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including the quality and freshness of the ingredients used and the storage conditions of the chili oil. Generally, homemade chili oil can last for up to 6 months if stored properly in an airtight container and kept in a cool, dark place. However, if you notice any mold, strange odor, or change in color or texture, it’s best to discard the chili oil immediately.

How Chili Oil Should be Stored?

The best way to store chili oil is by keeping it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. This will prevent oxidation and maintain the oil’s freshness and vibrant color. It’s important to avoid exposing the oil to direct sunlight or moisture, as these factors can cause the oil to spoil quickly.

Can Coconut Oil be Used in Chili?

Coconut oil is a versatile and delicious addition to many dishes, including chili. Not only is it a healthy fat option, but it also adds a slight sweetness and unique flavor profile to your chili.

Which Oil is Best for Chili?

A popular option is peanut oil, which has a high smoking point and a neutral flavor that won’t overpower the other ingredients in your chilli. However, some people prefer to use sesame oil for a more fragrant and distinct taste. For those who want a healthier option, avocado oil is a great choice thanks to its high level of monounsaturated fats and low levels of saturated fats.

Is Chili Oil Korean?

Although chilli oil is commonly associated with Chinese cuisine, it has also made its way into Korean dishes. Some argue that Korean chilli oil is slightly different in flavor and contains additional ingredients such as soy sauce and sesame oil. Regardless of its origins, chili oil adds a delicious kick to many Korean dishes, from stir-fries to noodle soups.

Bottom Line

Chili oil is an indispensable seasoning for many different cultures, adding depth of flavor and spicy heat to dishes. Whether you’re seeking a flavorful meal, a healthy way to spice things up, or a way to simplify your recipes, chili oil can provide the solution.

For those who are seeking something milder and non-spicy, there are numerous alternatives such as cayenne pepper powder, Sichuan sauce, soy sauce, black bean sauce, and dried peppers that can plenty bring plenty of flavors. Ultimately, with the right combination of ingredients and techniques, you can create something unique and comforting with chili oil.

So why not explore all the culinary possibilities it has to offer today?

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