Sichuan Chili Sauce

Sichuan Chili Sauce-top viewMaking a jar of Sichuan chili sauce from scratch is fun and easy. It only took me 25 minutes to make this fragrant, spicy, and crunchy chili sauce. You may be familiar with how restaurants indicate the level of spiciness with those little chili pepper icons on their menus? I would give four chili pepper icons for this sauce. It’s hot, but not super hot.

Chili sauce is a staple item you’ll always find in the cupboard of many Chinese graduate students studying abroad. Add a spoonful to a serving of rice, noodles, or stir-fry with vegetables or meat. It instantly converts a plain dish into a boldly flavored spicy meal.

There’s a large variety of chili sauce, in both flavors and spiciness to choose from, in most oriental grocery stores. Our local Chinese grocery store has an entire aisle of nothing but of chili sauce. However, I never buy any because they all contain wheat and many have monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Sichuan Chili Sauce-storeChili sauce is found in almost every family’s kitchen in Sichuan province, China. I still remember the first time I went to visit my dad’s hometown, a small village in Sichuan province, when I was 9 years old. Chili sauce was served at every meal, even breakfast. Having a spoonful of fresh and spicy chili sauce, in a bowl of steaming hot rice, was the beginning of my affection for chili sauce.

Sichuan Chili Sauce-on rice

Besides chili peppers, another key ingredient in Sichuan chili sauce is the red pepper corn. Grind all the different spices in a grinder, and then roast in oil with gluten-free flours to achieve the paste like consistency. At the end, add apple juice to add some sweetness in contrast to the salty and spiciness from the sauce. Toss some roasted soybeans in to give some crunchiness for fun. That’s how easy it is to make your own healthy and mouth watering chili sauce at home.

Sichuan Chili Sauce-spices

This Sichuan chili sauce is versatile. Not only can it be added to rice, noodles, and salad; but also can be used as a marinade base for meat and tofu, or even in many stir-fried vegetable dishes. If you are someone who loves spicy food just like I do, this is definitely a sauce you want to have in your refrigerator all the time.

Sichuan Chili Sauce-in skillet

5 from 1 vote
Sichuan Chili Sauce
Prep Time
2 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
22 mins
Tools Baking dish, Mini grinder or coffee grinder, knife and cutting board, measuring spoons and cups, 8” skillet
  • 1 tsp red pepper corn
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 clove
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbs chopped fresh ginger
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 tsp paprika
  • ¼ cup crashed chili pepper
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ tbs salt
  • ¼ cup white rice flour
  • ¼ cup organic soy beans
  • 2 tbs soy sauce gluten-free if desired
  • 1 cup pure apple juice no sugar added
  • ½ tsp sesame seeds
  1. Preheat oven at 325 °F. Coat the soy beans with ½ tsp canola oil and roast in a baking dish for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, grind all the spices except crushed chili pepper and paprika in a grinder. Heat the skillet over medium heat. Add the rest of canola oil.
  3. After the oil is hot (but not smoky hot), add all ground spices, ginger, garlic, crushed chili pepper, and paprika. Roast over medium heat for 1 minute. Add white rice flour, and stir constantly until the mixture is well combined.
  4. Turn the heat to low. Add apple juice ¼ cup at a time and stir constantly. After the apple juice and the spice-flour mixture are well combined and thickened, cook for additional 2 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat. Add roasted soybeans and sesame seeds.
  6. Let the chili sauce cool in the skillet completely. Then transfer to a glass jar, and cover with a lid. It can be stored in refrigerator for 2 weeks.
Recipe Notes

You can thicken the sauce with any kind of flour except sweet rice flour. Sweet rice flour will make the sauce too sticky and thick.

Sichuan Chili Sauce


  1. Brooke says:

    Thank you for posting this recipe, it looks fantastic. The only thing I don’t have on hand is the soy beans, or else I’d make it right now. Tomorrow then!

    • Joyce says:

      I guess you are referring to the Dou Ban Jiang. They are soybeans coated with wheat flour, salt and all kinds of spices and then followed by fermentation process. But they are not gluten-free.

  2. Martin says:

    I am confused: this is just a pepper sauce from Sichuan, as the ingredient list does not contain what we call sichuan pepper, aka Zanthoxylum, or prickly ash.

    • Joyce says:

      There are many versions of translations for sichuan pepper. As I listed in the ingredients section, the red peppercorn is the sichuan peppercorn. Sorry about the confusion.

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