The following excerpt is from James Park's new cookbook "Chili Crisp: 50+ Recipes to Satisfy Your Spicy, Crunchy, Garlicky Cravings," available now on Amazon. Read on for the perfect formula for a spicy, crunchy, zesty chili crisp.

Chili Flakes

This is arguably one of the most important components of making chili crisp. It sets the tone for flavors and heat level, and it creates the unique identity of chili crisps. It’s important not to use chili powder for this because we want to see chunks of chili flakes. The coarser the flakes, the better. If you can’t find chili flakes, I would recommend getting dried chiles and breaking them apart in a food processor. You can just use one kind, but I highly recommend playing with a blend of different varieties to maximize flavors. Following, I provide a list of chili flakes with a range of Scoville Heat Units (SHU), a metric to understand how spicy each pepper is. This number is measured by the number of times capsaicin, the main component that makes peppers spicy, needs to be diluted by sugar-water. It ranges anywhere from 0 to millions!

Maybe you’ve tasted a few different types of chili crisp but haven’t found “the one” yet. Don’t worry; I’m here to guide you in making your perfect chili crisp formula. When making chili crisp, there are three main components — chili flakes, oil, and flavoring — and the combinations are infinite. You can customize the flavors, textures, and spices that satisfy your chili crisp fantasy. Let’s go on this adventure together, shall we?

Aleppo Pepper Flakes (about 10,000 SHU): These Middle Eastern pepper flakes are lightly smoky and moderately spicy but not over-powering. They create a deep, dark color when infused in oil.

Ancho Dried Chili Flakes (500-3,000 SHU): These have a deeply fruity taste, like dried plums and sweet raisin, with a touch of smoke. If used in making chili crisp, the color will be slightly different from the traditional, dark-red color because the flakes are more brown.

Cobanero Chili Flakes (30,000–50,000 SHU): These Guatemalan chili flakes have bright, smoky, and sweet flavors and definitely bring the heat.

Gochugaru (4,000–8,000 SHU): These Korean red pepper flakes are slightly fruity and not super spicy. Gochugaru builds a nice savory taste when used in chili crisp.

Guajillo Dried Chili Flakes (2,500–5,000 SHU): These herbaceous, delicate chili flakes have a wonderful balance of ripe fruits and tingles of fresh peppers.

Pasilla Chili Flakes (250–4,000 SHU): These Mexican chili flakes have slightly nutty, fruity flavors.

Red Jalapeño Chili Flakes (7,500–10,000 SHU): Did you know that there are red jalapeño peppers? These chili flakes bring a nice kick of spice to many dishes.

Red Pepper Flakes (30,000–50,000 SHU): As the vague name suggests, these chili flakes aren’t from any specific type of peppers. They include all parts of the pepper, including skin and veins. Don’t underestimate how spicy, sometimes sharp, they can be.

Sichuan Pepper Flakes (50,000–75,000 SHU): Sichuan pepper flakes can be made with a variety of dried peppers, including small “Facing Heaven” peppers or Er Jing Tiao chili, a slightly milder version that’s considered Sichuan Province’s most-loved chile pepper.

Silk Chili Flakes (5,000–10,000 SHU): These Turkish chili flakes have a pleasant, tomato-like flavor with a moderate level of spice, similar to Aleppo pepper flakes.


Oil transforms chili flakes into chili crisp. It doesn’t add dramatic flavors to the overall product, but a good blend of oil can add subtle differences that will make your chili crisp unique. One important note: You have to think about the smoke point. Depending on the type of oil you choose, you may not be able to simmer chili flakes in oil for as long as you would like, because the hot temperature of the oil may burn the chili flakes too quickly. The point here is to have fun and find your own perfect oil through trial and error, so think beyond just canola oil and olive oil. How about ghee? Margarine? Beef fat? Any sort of liquid fat will work here. I’m imagining a chili crisp made out of chicken fat — I haven’t made that yet, but imagine how wildly delicious that would be!

• Avocado oil • Beef fat • Canola oil • Chicken fat • Coconut oil • Duck fat • Ghee • Grapeseed oil • Olive oil • Peanut oil • Sesame oil • Vegetable oil


This is the part where things get interesting and creative. This element is where you can add your own twist. Whether it’s for adding textures, such as fried garlic, or flavors, such as black vinegar, the unwritten rule of flavoring chili crisp is to keep the options open and exciting. Maybe you want to add potato chips for crunch! Or crushed chicken skin? The sky’s the limit!

• Apple cider vinegar • Black vinegar • Brown sugar • Chicken bouillon powder • Crushed almonds • Crushed peanuts • Dried onion • Fried garlic • Fried onion • Fried shallots • Gochujang • Miso • MSG • Mushroom bouillon powder • Pomegranate molasses • Soy sauce • Toasted sesame seeds • Tomato paste

Chili Crisp: 50+ Recipes to Satisfy Your Spicy, Crunchy, Garlicky Cravings by James Park, © 2023. Published by Chronicle Books.