How to make your own chilli oil

Making your own chilli oil is incredibly easy, faff-free and cheap. It looks great too and makes for a lovely gift for a foodie in your life. The hardest bit is picking a decent dispenser – I got my chilli oil bottle from Amazon but I also like this vintage-look chilli oil bottleΒ and also this one, which is a bit smaller and only Β£1.59. A quick Google will turn up lots of affordable results and eBay has options too. If you’re a little unsteady, you may want to invest in a small funnel too, but as a self-confessed clutz, I didn’t need one, so you should be okay too.

Then you have to select your dried chillies. These are much easier to find than you’d think and for your first homemade chilli oil, there’s no need to source something too out there. My first batch were from the corner shop underneath my flat – it’s incredible in there for spices, actually! – and my second from Sainsbury’s. I’ve also bought dried chillies from Whole Foods and have found them to be a bit less spicy than my previous purchases. These are good too. There’s no right or wrong dried chilli for chilli oil, you just have to keep an eye on how hot they are, unless you’re into blow-your-head-off heat!

Lastly, a good quality olive oil is key. I like Fillipo Berio. Don’t use vegetable or sunflower oil. This is as much a part of your dishes as the food itself and can be used for bread-dipping, pasta or risotto-topping, in bolognese, over baked cheese… the list goes on.

Once you’ve got those things down, it’s simple. Just scroll past the picture for my homemade chilli oil recipe.

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You’ll need

Good quality olive oil

Dried chillis (50g bag)

Bottle with dispenser

It’s up to you how many dried chillis you put in your chilli oil. I actually went for a whole bag and the result is quite hot, but in a good way. Start with a quarter of a bag for your first go and you can always add more.

Next pour the olive oil into the bottle. Don’t fill it all the way to the top! Pop the lid on and gently shake it. The chillies will float to the top initially and in time settle on the bottom. Some recipes suggest heating the oil and chillies first – I much prefer this cold infusion method, and as long as you can wait a while, I reckon it’s much better and easier to do.

Leave for a minimum of 2 weeks, try the oil and leave longer if you want a stronger kick. That’s it!

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Freelance writer, eater, drinker and cook living in London.

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