Top 10 Best Chili Oil Substitutes

Best Chili Oil Substitutes

Chili oil, sometimes known as spicy oil or hot oil, is an essential ingredient in many Sichuan dishes. Made from chilies and other spices, it’s used to season food with heat and flavor at the same time.

Unfortunately, if you have any allergies or sensitivities to particular ingredients that chili oil contains, it can be very difficult to find acceptable chili oil replacements for this flavorful condiment. These top ten chili oil substitutes will keep your spicy food from suffering!

What Is Chili Oil?

Chili oil is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, most notably Sichuan cuisine. It’s also often used as a dipping sauce for dumplings.

Chili oil is made by frying dried red chilies and other spices in vegetable oil until the peppers become dark brown and fragrant. This mixture is then strained and set aside for a few days before being used in recipes.

The Best Chili Oil Substitutes

1. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

This is a favorite in many Asian dishes, and it’s quite easy to make. Cayenne pepper has a strong flavor and can be used to substitute chili oil, but you need a smaller amount because of the higher levels of heat. It will add spice to your dish.

To make this substitute, simply take one tablespoon of cayenne powder or flakes and mix with one tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add more cayenne if you want more heat!

2. Sichuan Sauce

Sichuan Sauce

Sichuan sauce is one of the best chili oil substitutes you need to know about. It’s made from red chilies, garlic, and vinegar and is spicy with just a little tang.

It has a thicker texture than chili oil and is also much spicier. It can be used in place of chili oil to add an extra kick to your stir-fry or fried rice. 

It may not be as strong as some other chili oils but it does an excellent job of adding flavor without being overpowering. 

One tablespoon has less than five calories so it’s a healthy chili oil alternative that won’t give your dish too much heat.

3. Gochujang


Gochujang is another great chili oil substitute. It is a thick and spicy Korean condiment that adds depth and heat with every bite. It can be used as a flavor enhancer in everything from soups to salads, meat dishes, and even desserts.

What’s more, you can use it as an all-purpose dipping sauce or marinade thanks to its low salt content. Use it sparingly until you know how much heat your palate can tolerate—and don’t worry if you find yourself sweating after one taste!

4. Soy Sauce

Soy Sauce

If you’re a fan of chili oil and want a substitute, soy sauce is the best option for you.

Soy sauce is not only rich in umami flavor, but also provides a salty taste that has many health benefits. It’s also gluten-free and vegan!

The problem with using soy sauce as a substitute though, is that it doesn’t have the same heat or sweetness level as regular chili oil does. To counter this, use less soy sauce than you would with traditional chili oil so the flavors are more balanced. Or, you can mix it with chili flakes and other spices. It will then taste more similar to chili oil and be hotter and spicier as a result.

5. Black Bean Sauce

Black Bean Sauce

Black bean sauce is made from fermented black soybeans. It has a strong, salty flavor that is similar to that of most chili oils. Use the sauce in place of any type of oil when cooking food like egg rolls or fried rice and enjoy the wonderful taste this great substitute will add.

6. Sriracha Sauce

This popular Asian condiment is a mixture of chili, vinegar, garlic and sugar. Sriracha sauce originated in Thailand but has become famous in western culture, where it’s beloved by vegetarians as a substitute for fish sauce or as a dipping sauce.

Although it doesn’t have the same texture as chili oil, it makes a great dip when you’re looking to add some heat to your food.

If you don’t have any chili oil handy and you want to make your food spicy, try using sriracha instead. Add 2-4 teaspoons of Sriracha per serving—it really depends on how spicy you like your food. You can also heat the sriracha sauce with two to three tablespoons of oil. After thoroughly combining the two ingredients, you can use this mixture as a substitute for chili oil in any dish!

7. Dried Pepper

Dried Pepper

Dried red pepper flakes are one of the most common chili oil substitutes and can be found in many grocery stores. Another thing that makes these a popular substitute is the fact that they don’t have a strong flavor, so it won’t change the taste of your dish too much. 

To use dried pepper as a chili oil substitute, mix 2 tbsp of dried pepper with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and add it to your dish. This will give your dish a little spice without adding too much chili flavor. Or, you can just measure out the amount of flakes that you want and sprinkle them on top of your dish.

8. Homemade Chili Oil

You can use homemade chili oil as a chili oil substitute. It may sound crazy, but it works!

The flavor is going to be different than a store-bought bottle, but it will still work in the same recipe. You can find the recipe of homemade chili oil down below.

9. Chili Flakes

Chili Flakes

You can use chili flakes as a chili oil substitute, but they will not have the same consistency as a regular chili oil because of the different ingredients. 

You can use them as a garnish or add them to dishes that might traditionally use chili oil or mixe them with vegetable oil to make a close substitute.

But be warned: They’re much spicier than actual chili oil! If you’re sensitive to heat, go easy on these until you get used to them. They also tend to lose their flavor more quickly than chili oil would—so if you’re storing them away for future use, stick with fresh ones rather than dried flakes.

10. Sweet Chili Sauce

Sweet Chili Sauce

Sweet Chili Sauce is made from sugar and chilies with other spices and seasonings. 

This sauce has a low heat level, making it the perfect substitute for dishes with children or those who don’t like spicy foods. Plus, Sweet Chili Sauce is easy to find in grocery stores nationwide, making it a simple solution for last minute dinner prep.

How To Make Chili Oil At Home?

How Much Chili Oil Should You Use?

Although chili oil is relatively spicy, a little bit goes a long way. Traditionally, chefs would use up to 3 tablespoons of chili oil per pound of meat in stir-fries or other dishes, but you can certainly start with less and add more as necessary.

If you’re using it as part of a dipping sauce, 2 teaspoons should suffice per serving. However much chili oil you end up using, remember that different brands and varieties can have wildly different levels of spiciness—some are extremely potent!—so read reviews before trying out new brands.


We hope this guide has been helpful in helping you find a chili oil substitute that works for you. From specialty store brands to homemade recipes, there are lots of options. Remember: if you don’t have any of the ingredients on hand, try substituting with an ingredient that’s close enough and see if it still works for your dish!

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