How to Make Hot Pepper Chili Oil

How to make hot pepper chili oil…and feed an addiction and use it everywhere! I mentioned at the beginning of the year, one of my recent flavor obsessions is peperoncino, hot peppers, and the most seductive form of peppers to me is olio piccante, hot pepper oil. (Like cooking? Check out my other Recipes)

It’s most frequently seen in pizzerias here but sometimes I wanted to add it to everything…Pasta dishes and sauces, lentils, beans, fish, even a spicy salad dressing! Kick my Caprese salad up a notch, saute onions and sausage in it instead of regular oil, make a spicy pesto!

Instead of forking out the money for an unknown brand or stealing the bottle at my favorite pizzeria, I decided to make my own. I bought a bunch of fresh peperoncini at the market this fall. They looked so pretty and they were really cheap, less than 1 euro. Had I known how much joy they would bring me, I would have bought several more bunches. These are a smaller version than the huge Calabrian peperoncini I saw at the Artigiano in Fiera.

Fresh Pepperoncini

I hung them by their stems in a dry place, and waited. Every now and then, I checked up on them to see how they were doing, and picked off a few that were getting black or weren’t drying properly. I asked around and read up on the best way to make hot pepper oil, but I didn’t really find any recipe that stood out as exceptional or authoritative.

Pepperoncini Drying

So I decided to make my own, which is fun because when I wing it I end up with things like Butternut Squash hummus and tri-color lasagna.

I decided to go with a “hot infusion” instead of a cold infusion (leaving the peppers in oil for several days) because I was impatient and was ready to use it that afternoon! Be sure to have plastic gloves on if you’re handling the hot peppers.

  1. Wash your container (mine: glass bottle) out with hot soap and water. If you can, boil it in water to disinfect it properly.
  2. Pour your oil of choice (seed, corn, peanut, olive) into a frying pan and heat the oil. Turn it off well before it gets to the smoking point.
  3. Let it cool for a minute or two. Break up the dried peppers into the oil. I didn’t include the stems, but I think you could if you like. More than likely, it will be still quite hot and they will sizzle or “cook” and immediately diffuse their heat into the oil. From now on, the oil is spicy HOT!
  4. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. At this point, you can strain the oil before returning it to the container. With the first batch, I removed the pepper pieces and left the seeds, and with the second batch, I strained everything. The seeds are the spiciest part of the pepper so they will help keep things nice and hot!

Voila’! Hot Pepper Chili Oil!

Olio di Pepperoncino

Note 1: Some of you may have heard about botulism and how there is a risk when canning at home (more info here). I am not a expert or nutritionist, so please make sure to take the necessary precautions and inform yourself when canning or making infused oils, with whatever method you choose. Be on the lookout for cloudy or mouldy particles in the oil. You’re welcome to leave your own tips and/or links in the comments to help others!

– Side note: While researching this, I was shocked to realized that Botox is actually a purified version of this bacteria!

Note 2: Using a high-quality (extra virgin) olive oil is not suggested as the hot pepper will override any nuances in the oil – i.e., it won’t harm the final product, but it won’t improve it, either…so save your money. A canola or other seed oil is a good choice, too.

And if you still needed convincing on how cool this oil is, read up on how spicy foods can kill cancer!

This my candy bowl!

My candy bowl

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Comments

  1. says

    Check out the USFD sites for sure. Cold process chili oil is perilous. Any cold process oil without acidulation is dangerous. Botulism doesn’t look like anything. That’s why it is so deadly.
    That said, I lurve chili oil! I buy the Chinese, because it packs a bigger punch.
    The bacteria is everywhere, it is the excretion that kills you and irons out your wrinkles– which BTW looks fabu on my friends. I’m chicken and poor.

  2. says

    Yum, and yes, isn’t it crazy that people inject botulism into them…ever crazier that someone discovered it in the first place if you ask me! Thanks for the recipe :)

  3. Frank says

    A story you might not know. Grandpa in San Diego use to hang the peppers in the gargage to dry out. I was a child of about 5 or 6 and somehow I was able to reach the peppers with my hands, then rub my eyes. It was not pleasant in San Diego back in 1946……

  4. says

    Man, you are a girl after my own heart!
    Have you ever tried harrisa? It is a north african chili sauce. I made it last summer and boy was it good!

  5. says

    I guess I’m at risk for botulism or worse! I had no idea I had to boil the oil first. I’ve always just bought the dried chili peppers at the market or grocery store and thrown them into some oil in a glass bottle I bought from Ikea.

  6. Ms. Adventures in Italy says

    Ilva, let me know how it goes! I bet you’ll have some tips to improve mine. :)
    Judith, I’m cheap so I like making mine but I’ll take a look at the Chinese one, I wasn’t sure they were similar.
    Sognatrice, it’s strange that it’s morphed into a beauty product when it was first used to relax twitching eyes and such. Ah, technology.
    Dad, you should never rub your eyes! Bet that taught you not to meddle, hehe.
    JennDZ, harrisa, never heard of it! I’ll keep my eye out for that, I like some spice.
    Michelle, I’m not sure how big the risk is, but I saw a lot of conversations about this. I think it also matters if you strain or not….a lot of people seem to make it this way so you’re not alone. I was just impatient. :)

  7. jaci says

    Yes and I am only up to making garlic oil, although I did put chillie seeds into corn oil for a few Months, cold. It didn’t kill nor poison me and it certainly has a kick!

  8. Al Ramji says

    We have been making hot oil for 20 yrs now….we learned from a Chinese Restaurant as to how to make it. First heat the oil to just before it smokes. Take it off the stove and weight a couple of minutes so it cools down a little. Add very dried peppers to the oil mixture. Let it infuse for a day or two and then put in a blender and chop up the peppers. Now you have a very spicy hot oil that will get spicier with time. We store in a refrigerator and add a little fresh oil whenever necessary. Will last a long time. Remember a little goes a long way.

  9. nzo says

    I love you already, but I was looking to make the oil from the fresh peppers!. I have the same urge you had–to use it tonight~ btu I will do one batch as instructed and one with fresh, slit open peppers just to see….

  10. Marla says

    Hey…just a quick point about botulism…if you’re making and canning enough chili oil for a year, in sealed jars, then you need to worry. If you’re just throwing it in a bottle and using it quickly, its ok. Botulism is an anaerobic bacteria…it grows where there is no oxygen and can’t grow when there is oxygen. So it only grows in sealed containers, like cans and jars.

  11. Kim says

    Just a side comment regarding Botox and botulism. Its not all bad. It is not only used to inflate the rich and listless. It does have its positive side in regards to the medical field. There is a treatment they use where the botulism virus is injected into a limb to cause it to become less ridged. For instance in a child with Cerebral Palsy. It allows them to then reposition the leg, for instance, cast it, which then allow the muscles to be retrained. My son had a horrible problem with his foot dropping and pulling inward and this treatment really lessened the number of full body impact with the ground.

  12. Fred says

    Hi All,

    We just stuck lots of fresh garlic and chili in a bottle of olive oil and now after a couple of days it looks and smells like there is fermentation going on.

    -What do now?

    -Heat the bottle up or just let it be?

  13. Allan says

    i am expermienting the same thing… i did actually “fry” the chili

    ill try yours in due time

  14. Trish says

    I just started growing my own chilis and didn’t know what to do with them. Thanks for the wonderful idea and the botulism warning. I had no idea! Can’t wait to try making the oil.

  15. Christine says

    I have simmered a new batch of fresh orange chilis in olive oil for about 15 mins. I deseeded the chilis and placed them in halves in oil as well as a few whole ones. The oil has turned a very cloudy yellow. How can I clear it?

  16. Holly says

    Botox isn’t so bad, ladies. Eating moldy/bleu cheese sounds gross, even wine was invented by someone who ate rotten grapes. I’ve had botox twice and it simply numbs the local muscles temporarily. It doesn’t go into your bloodstream and make you sick.

    Regardless, I’m excited to use my organic 4-alarm hot habanero peppers with this recipe. Thank you for sharing!

  17. Steve M says

    thanks for the insight to the author and all the contributors. Im drying chilis right now, and will try making some oils tomorrow.. Im thinking about one with a bit of minced garlic, and one with chili only.
    will be fun.
    Ill stop back and report my results.
    thanks again, Steve.

  18. says

    I got 195 habanero peppers off of six plants this summer. They’re a nice deep reddish orange color. I’ll be putting them in the dehydrator today and trying this oil method using olive oil.

    I did read though that you could boil peppers down until they liquify and then end up with a pepper “tar,” has anyone tried that?

    Maybe I will and let you guys know what happened.

  19. nitu says

    I drop in a couple of the hot dried chili-peppers (or is it dried hot chili-peppers?) in a T of oil heated to almost smoking point, turn the heat off & let it sizzle, or leave the heat on & add the ings for the recipe I was planning to cook & proceed as per the instructions, to continue cooking whatever I want, & that makes for a delightfully delicious recipe, & makes it my own too.

  20. Amber says

    So, how long do I need to dry these chili’s for? And how many chilis do you put in per “x” amount of oil?

    Can’t wait to make it, I’ve been craving it!

  21. says

    I will have to try your version! I LOVE hot chili oil from Z Pizza … our local pizza chain. It is so delicious and I have tried a couple different recipes but wasn’t overly happy with the results. How long do you think yours lasted???? Before looking suspicious?

    Good to know about the cancer thing, I am always eating spicy spicy so I should be in good shape.

  22. Henrik says

    Hi,
    When reading all of this, I really wonder. Is it not at all possible to use the chilis “fresh” or do I really have to go through the entire drying process. Please tell me I dont :-)
    Any ideas or facts for this one ??
    Enjoyed the ideas and inspiration a lot

  23. don mc mahon says

    Thanks for the hot oil ideas. I have lived in Italy for many years and have received ideas from waiters, growers, etc., concerning pepper oil.

    The peppers have to be dried, better to buy them that way! Remove stems and cut them up. Put about 1 cup pepper “flakes” with seeds, to 5 cups oil. As you say, very good olive oil is not necessary. Even a mixture of oils is o.k.; but, of course, olive oil is the oil of choice here in Italy. After the heating process, I add a cup of good virgin oil to the whole jar; therefore it has the added taste of fresh olive oil…in case you want to put this oil alone on garlic spaghetti!

    The process: Put dried, chopped peppers and oil together in a mason jar (not tightly shut), and heat the entire mixture in a “bagno maria” (bain marie, that is in water that you bring up to boiling with the jar inserted). The low-temperature, slow, long cooking (about an hour or even two) will extract the best pepper flavors out of the pods. Filter it all in a simple sieve. Lasts for a month, at least. I have never had problems with mold or growth…it goes too fast!

    p.s., it is not safe to heat olive oils to high temperatures, or so the Italians say. Unless you are frying, that is. Also, never use aluminum containers…or even metal ones, as they give a bad taste to the oil.

    Enjoy from a spouted glass cruett, which will show off the bright red oil!

    Don Aldo in Rome

  24. Beverly H. says

    This sounds great! Can you tell me how you store your oils and do you heat process them after you jar them up???

  25. don mc mahon says

    I heat the peppers and oil (3 or four parts oil to one part pepper flakes) togethere in a large mason jar, lid not tightly closed…then while it’s hot and finished, seal the jar. It lasts a long time. I also add a little bit of good olive oil at the end, for a bit of added flavor.

  26. Don says

    Thanks for the receipe, great stuff! Incidentally, Botox is purified from the toxin produced by the botulinum bacteria, not the bacteria itself.

  27. pat says

    does anyone know where i can buy dried pepperocino (pepperocini) peppers….i live on the west coast in the u.s.a…..thanks in advance

  28. anne says

    I have the same question as a couple of others did – can I use fresh peppers? And does it sit for the same time? I didn’t find an answer to this.
    Thanks!

  29. Sergio from Brazil says

    There must be a first disinfection with chlorine (as you must do in fresh salads) for 10-15 min, then the fruits must be trown in boiling water for 3-5min and then on cold water for some other 15 min,

    Fresh friuits must be done in vinager or alcohol (vodka is just nice)

    For oil (hot or cold) they must be dried (no matter how, but the faster the better) and soaked in vegetable oil (canola is a good option).

    The substance that causes the burning sensation is not soluble in water, so the vinager mixture is softer than the alcoholic and the oily…

    (any spelling mistakes must be forgiven :) )

  30. JIM CAVINESS says

    I ALSO USED PEPEROCINI PEPPERS WHEN I LIVED IN ITALY (SOUTHERN) HERE IN THE US I ALWAYS USE THE THI PEPPERS. THE ONES I GROW ARE
    “THI DRAGONS”. IM LOOKING FORWARD TO USING
    THIS METHOD TO MAKE HOT OIL–THANKS

  31. Maggie Scott says

    Hi! I just tried my hand at making cold infused hot pepper infused olive oil and I think I made the grave mistake of cutting the peppers in half before adding the oil. I put them in mason jars I had washed and dried in the dishwasher. Then I put them in the refrigerator, but, after two days, the oil is completely cloudy and looks awful! Should I dump it out and start over?

  32. Leawanna says

    Maggie, from all I’ve read the peppers definately need to be well dries or the dried seeds… I suspect if you’re geting cloudy your peppers were not. I also use the dishwasher method but do not towel dry to preserve the sanitation the heat provides.

    I like Don’s process of doing the heating in the jars immersedin hot water… like caning. And I like the blending process to infuse it all. Will try several different ones and maybe even combine a few to see waht I get, including garlic!

  33. Jeff says

    Heated oil, put in the peppers & seeds, let it cool, then placed in tight jar. Now there’s mold spots on the side. It’s been 2 weeks. Not sure if I should it or not. Dissapointed!

  34. Jeff says

    made some hot portugal pepper oil 2 weeks ago. Now I have mold spots on the side of jar? Is this oil safe? Great info. Thanks!

  35. says

    its best to put peppers stored in oil into the freezer. use small containers. if the mixture is too thick when taking out of freezer put in the microwave for a few seconds to unthaw. use what you and and put the peppers in oil back INTO THE FREEZER AND KEEP THEM THERE.

  36. Voodoo says

    I have made Chilli oil for many years now. I have always used dried chillies/garlic, and what ever else you choose to put in it. If I used fresh chillies, then I dried them first.

    It is crucial to dry all the moisture out, this in it’s self can be a primary cause of botulism. Goes with out saying to, it’s imperitive to heat the oil gradually with all your ingredients in, I do this process three to four times, then pass it through a filter two to three times.

    There isn’t really any need to keep all the raw ingredients in, once there has been a numerous ammount of heat treatment, there is only so much heat that can be extracted.

    I have never had a problem at all, never any cloudy oil, and certainly no illness. As mentioned it also true, that storage of the oil is not the best idea, but I keep mine in wine bottles, and I am always taking the cap off to use the oil, so I don’t think i’ll suffer from the oxygen issue…

    But this is only my opinion.

  37. Stevefraz says

    This is my nonna’s recipe (sicillian) for chillies and the oil after you finish the chilli is fantastic.
    Chop fresh chillies, green or red into little rings.
    Place in bowl and mix in rough salt, enough to coat all.
    Leave over night, then fill bowl with white vinegar, enough to cover chillies
    Let soak for 24 hours, then place in sterile jars and cover in good olive oil.
    Leave for as long as you can :)

    We do 8-10 jars at a time, and they seem to last a long long time

    The chillies are beautiful and the oil, once they are finished is as well

  38. CH says

    Folks!! Make the infusion cold. Add fully dried peppers, (less than 12% moisture content), let sit for about a month. No botulism possibility. Think about it, can you get botulism from a bottle of olive oil? No. If there is virtually no moisture in the peppers then the only thing left in the peppers other than fiber and various vitamins and minerals is the pepper oils themselves which are no more prone to feeding botulism organisms than olive oil.

  39. CH says

    PS.
    We lived in Sicily and produced our own oil. I have had pepper infused oil as described above in bottles for up to 3 years. Never a problem. No cloudiness, no mold spots on the bottles, no botulism! Heating olive oil only destroys it’s natural qualities including the polyphenals that are there own natural preservative.

  40. barbara says

    I just made some before reading these directions. i brought the olive oil and dried red peppers to a boil, let them go a few seconds, then turned it off. it did not smoke. Will this work out?
    The oil is not red, but green. I wonder if the commercial oils add food coloring?

  41. Eugene says

    ahh yes but do you know the scientific name i guess for that particular pepper such as Cayenne or something
    I am trying to search for the seeds

  42. Eugene says

    haha I have been searching everywhere and came across your blog and got so excited I made oil perserved chilis in Gaeta and they were the best thing ever and im trying hard to replicate them

    haha now ive spent all my time on your blog haha its lovely I wish I would have seen it prior to my year there

  43. keith says

    i just choped my home grown chillis put them into a clean sealed jar with balsamic vinegar,and tomato puree 6months ago,very hot and tasty but reading all these comments about botulism makes wonder if its safe to eat.

  44. Rolfen says

    What is the fastest and most efficient way to dry the chilies? The ones I have are green and have a high moisture content. I dont think they’ll dry well in the sun.

  45. romeo says

    whoahhh! it’s hot hot hot! I love it! diet no more… eating with chilli oil makes me perspire and wake me up shouting and jumping. great! have tears of joy!!!

  46. Vianna says

    Made this many times, just like you did. I keep the peppers and the seeds IN the jar with the oil. I use a mason jar, and I put it into hot water and bring it to a boil once a week, every week. The rest of the time it resides in the fridge. Never had a problem, and have been doing this for thirty years. I also do garlic infused oil in a similar way. Good luck everyone, there is nothing tastier or healthier than fresh & home made.

  47. Chris B says

    FYI, seeds contain no heat.

    From Wiki..

    Capsaicin is present in large quantities in the placental tissue (which holds the seeds), the internal membranes and, to a lesser extent, the other fleshy parts of the fruits of plants in the genus Capsicum. The seeds themselves do not produce any capsaicin, although the highest concentration of capsaicin can be found in the white pith of the inner wall, where the seeds are attached.[21]

  48. Jason says

    I have tried this and it was amazing!!!! Now I’m curios what to do with the peppers after the oil is gone? I’d like to try and create something, any ideas???

  49. Denis says

    I have tasted a Ugandan scotch Bonnet product called HOT-FRESH packed in 20ml dropper bottles. Its so nice it tastes nice and u eat and feel like not stopping.

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