This Italian hot chili oil (olio di peperoncino) is an easy infused oil made with dried chili pepper flakes and olive oil. This oil lasts for about three months!
Who else loves to visit gourmet olive oil stores?
I love tasting the different infused oils.
When we visited Italy several years ago, we were able to do some wine and olive oil tastings at a few different Tuscan vineyards. I didn't want to leave!
If you, like me, love trying a variety of different infused oils, you may have realized something.
Infused olive oils can be quite pricey, and they aren't all delicious! You can end up with both sticker shock and disappointment, a sad combination.
Happily, my favorite infused oil is easy to make at home, meaning there's no weird chemical aftertaste like with some commercial infused oils.
This easy Italian hot chili oil (olio di peperoncino) is made with olive oil infused with dried chili flakes. It's perfect for adding a little extra heat to your pizza, pasta, and sauces!
This oil infusion is based on a recipe in The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook by Linda Ly.
Safety With Infused Oils
When done correctly, infused oils are safe and delicious. That said, there are a few things you should be aware of.
The safest way to make infused oil at home is to use commercially dried ingredients (such as the dried chili flakes we're using here).
"Wet" ingredients (such as any type of raw, cooked, or marinated pepper) will lower the pH level of the oil and allow bad bacteria (such as botulism) to grow.
When you buy commercially infused oils at the store, any wet ingredients have been acidified before infusing to make the oil shelf-stable.
What's my point?
Do not substitute raw, marinated, or cooked peppers for the dried chili flakes in this recipe.
Also, I recommend using commercially dried chili flakes instead of home-dried chilis, because it's really important to be 100% positive that all the moisture is gone from the chilis.
Asian Chili Oil Vs Italian Chili Oil
What's the difference between Asian-style chili oil and Italian olio di peperoncino?
Quite a bit, actually.
The Asian-style oil contains quite a few more ingredients, and has a different flavor profile. It also tends to be cooked, while the Italian version is a cold infusion.
Both are delicious, but they aren't the same thing and aren't (usually) interchangeable in recipes.
What's the Best Olive Oil to Use?
To make a delicious infused oil, you need to start with a delicious olive oil. But it doesn't need to be an extra-pricey bottle.
Here's what I look for when olive oil shopping.
Look for a bottle marked with a harvest date, not just an expiration date. Olive oil has the best flavor within 18 months of harvesting.
Olive oil can go rancid when exposed to sunlight, so look for bottles that block light. Dark green olive oil bottles are better than clear glass bottles.
I typically buy California Olive Ranch's olive oil, because it lists the harvest date, comes in a dark green bottle, is relatively affordable, and is easy to find.
What's the Best Kind of Chili To Use?
Any type of dried chili will work.
That said, I would probably avoid using dollar-bin or very old chili flakes, which (likely) don't have a ton of flavor.
I like this hot chili oil with the dried peppers I usually have on hand, Simply Organic's crushed red pepper flakes.
This is also a perfect place to try specialty pepper flakes, like these gourmet peppers from Flatiron Pepper Co.
If you're using a very hot variety of pepper, such as Flatiron Pepper Co's "I Can't Feel My Face" blend, you may want to use fewer pepper flakes in the oil.
How to Make Italian Hot Chili Oil
Simply add the dried chilis to a clean glass bottle, pour room temperature oil over the chilis, and seal the bottle.
Set it out of direct sunlight for about two weeks to infuse, and then start using it!
Drizzle it on your pasta sauce (like this San Marzano marinara sauce), on your pizza (like this focaccia pizza), or anywhere else that you'd like a little heat! It's also delicious on eggs, potatoes, and roasted vegetables.
If you're not using this oil quickly, keep in mind that you should discard any leftover oil after about three months. At that point, simply start over with a new batch!
Hot Chili Oil
- 1 tablespoon dried chili flakes (or more for a hotter chili) Or swap 6-12 whole dried chilis, and thinly slice before using.
- 1 cup olive oil
- Add the chili flakes to a clean glass bottle. Add the oil and seal the bottle.
- Place the oil out of direct sunlight and allow the hot chilis to infuse in the oil for at least two weeks.Optionally, strain the chilis out of the oil. (I like to leave them in.)Use the oil within 3 months. After 3 months, discard any remaining oil.