Infusing your own cooking oils is one of the quickest and easiest kitchen tasks, and the payoff is enormous. You can use virtually any kind of oil you prefer to cook with, and infuse it with any flavor you can dream of – and best of all, the oil will keep for months and months, its flavor improving with time. Infused oils also make outstanding and cost-effective gifts for the chefs in your life.
(NOTE: While the oil can be stored in any airtight container, investing in an inexpensive oil bottle like the one pictured here yields the best presentation, in our opinion.)
What You’ll Need
– 2 cups sunflower oil, or other preferred cooking oil*
– 5 to 10 dried chili peppers, broken or crushed (we used ancho chilies but any kind will do)
– 2 or 3 cloves garlic
*If you decide to use an oil with a low smoking-point, such as olive oil, be sure to heat gently and NEVER bring close to the boiling point.
Heat your oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until it is hot to the touch (do not actually TOUCH the oil! Use your judgment, not your fingers!). Remove the saucepan from the heat.
Score the garlic cloves by making several small cuts along the sides. Add the garlic and chili peppers to the oil and let cool, at least 20 minutes.
Transfer the oil to an oil bottle or other airtight container. The oil will be ready to use immediately, but will greatly improve after a few days in the bottle. For a spicy kick, try using chili oil in any recipe that calls for vegetable oil; this chili-garlic variety is also superb by itself over popcorn – try it and see.
You can use almost any spice or herb to infuse oils using this same method. Try chopped herbs such as basil or sage, whole black peppercorns, or anything else you hanker for. Enjoy!