How to make a spicy Chinese chili crisp that'll add a spark to any dish

Food blogger Hein van Tonder shares an easy recipe for a fiery Asian condiment

29 April 2021 - 09:44
The fiery Chinese condiment chili crisp is fantastic on almost anything, says food blogger Hein van Tonder.
The fiery Chinese condiment chili crisp is fantastic on almost anything, says food blogger Hein van Tonder.
Image: Hein van Tonder

Capetonian Hein van Tonder is a brilliant food photographer and stylist who has a penchant for chilli.

As such, the inspiring recipes he posts on his blog,, often include a touch of the hot stuff.

A great condiment man, he adores the ready-made Chinese condiment chili crisp — yes chilli with one l. This spicy, oily, garlicky mixture is sure to add a spark to any dish.

“It’s fantastic on almost anything, dumplings, fried eggs, grilled vegetables, chicken mayo sandwiches, you name it,” Van Tonder enthuses on his blog.

“As good as the bottled stuff may be, I think homemade is always better,” he adds. That's why he developed his own recipe for it, which is loosely based on one from Marion’s Kitchen.

“This chili crisp is not difficult to make but you need to keep an eye on the oil when frying the shallots and garlic,” Van Tonder cautions.

“If the vegetables fry too long and get too dark the oil will have a burnt flavour.”



35g dried red chillies

15ml (1 tbsp) Szechuan pepper, crushed

2 whole star anise

2 cardamom pods, crushed

10ml (2 tsp) salt

10ml (2 tsp) stock powder

5ml (1 tsp) sugar

250ml (1 cup) grape seed oil

3 shallots, finely sliced

6 garlic cloves, finely sliced

60ml (¼ cup) peanuts, roughly chopped

15ml (1 tbsp) sesame seeds


  1. Tear open the chillies and remove as many seeds as you can. A few left behind won't matter.
  2. Discard the seeds and place the chili skins in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped.
  3. Place the chillies, Szechuan pepper, star anise, cardamom, salt, stock and sugar in a heat-proof bowl.
  4. Place the oil and shallots in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and fry until the shallots start to turn a light golden colour.
  5. Add the garlic and fry for another few minutes until the garlic turns a golden colour.
  6. Add the peanuts and sesame seeds and fry for another minute or two.
  7. Place a sieve on top of the bowl containing the chillies and spices. Pour the hot oil through the sieve. Give the oil in the bowl a stir, and leave the shallots, garlic etc in the sieve. Set both aside to cool.
  8. Once cool, add the shallots, garlic etc to oil and spoon into sterilised jars. The flavour and colour of the chili crisp will develop the longer it stands. It can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 months.