Sichuan All Purpose Chili Garlic Sauce

Sichuan All Purpose Chili Garlic Sauce - Cook this versatile sauce and you can easily create your favorite Sichuan dishes in under 20 minutes |

Do you like Sichuan food? Do you want to spice up your dish with a pungent and appetizing flavor? Cook this versatile chili garlic sauce and you can easily create your favorite Sichuan dishes in under 20 minutes!

In this post, I will discuss:
– The inspiration for creating this recipe
Why use this recipe
An example of how to use the master sauce by itself
More quick & yummy Recipes by using this sauce


Before I started talking about this amazing sauce, I need to thank Nagi of RecipeTin Eats for this wonderful idea! When Nagi created this super convenient and versatile Chinese all purpose stir fry sauce, she told me that a reader would also like to cook a Sichuan all purpose sauce but she couldn’t find the recipe. I thought it’s a brilliant idea. I am a big fan of Sichuan food, and I wanted to create a sauce I could use to cook all my favorite Sichuan dishes in no time.

However, when I started this mission, I found the recipe development not as easy as I thought. For authentic Sichuan food, there are so many flavors beyonds spiciness. For the mainstream Sichuan flavors, there are:

Mapo, 麻婆 – the classic mapo tofu has a deep savory and numb flavor from Sichuan peppercorn and fermented chili bean paste.

Yu xiang, 鱼香 – directly translated, means “fish fragrant”, it has a spicy, sweet, and sour flavor. The ingredients include vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar (very close to kung pao, but with more sour and sweet flavor).

Ma la, 麻辣 – or numb spicy flavor, uses a lot of Sichuan peppercorn to create a numbing taste.

Guai wei, 怪味 – directly translated into weird flavor (it sounds weird, I know). It uses Chinese sesame paste, vinegar, and sugar to create a nutty aroma with a sweet, sour, spicy flavor.

(There are a few more authentic flavors, but they’re less known outside of China.)

So you can see, it is impossible to include everything in this one sauce.

However, I did find some common characteristics and a few shared ingredients among all the flavors. In the end, I created this Sichuan all purpose chili garlic sauce – to be used as a master sauce.

Sichuan All Purpose Chili Garlic Sauce - Cook this versatile sauce and you can easily create your favorite Sichuan dishes in under 20 minutes |

Why this recipe

– Save you tons of time chopping garlic and cutting chili peppers every time you want to cook a simple dish.

– Adds a kick to a normal stir fried dish and turns its taste into authentic Sichuan within a minute.

– You can spend an extra 3 minutes to blend a few (very few) more ingredients to the master sauce and turn it into any of the mainstream flavors listed above. So, making this master sauce really puts 5 sauces at your disposal.

– The sauce gets even better after being stored for a while.

– Your friends will be amazed at how you can cook your favorite spicy shrimp dish in 5 minutes (get recipe here).

Sichuan All Purpose Chili Garlic Sauce - Cook this versatile sauce and you can easily create your favorite Sichuan dishes in under 20 minutes |

One example of using the master sauce by itself

The day I created this sauce, I cooked a stir fried spicy chicken wing dish. I know it’s a bit strange to use wings in a stir-fry, but that’s the only thing I had in my fridge that day.

What I did is marinate 10 wings with 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch (a very standard marinade for almost any protein) for 10 minutes. I heated 2 teaspoons oil with 2 tablespoon chopped green onion. I grilled the chicken on stove top until cooked through and slightly charred. And added a chopped green pepper (Chinese jalapeno) and mixed in 2 tablespoons of this chili garlic sauce in the end. And voila, a Sichuan style stir fried chicken was ready in 20 minutes.

Sichuan Style Spicy Chicken Wing Stir-Fry |

Only one thing to take note of, you should always add a generous amount of the master sauce to give the dish a nice flavor. I will generally use 2 tablespoons of the sauce for a normal stir fried dish (which serves two), but I might use up to 4 tablespoons if I have many ingredients (for a dish that serves four). So depending on the type of chili pepper you use, the dish might end up quite spicy. Read the footnote in the recipe about creating a less spicy sauce.

Use this all-purpose chili garlic sauce to cook:

These hot shrimp are so appetizing, scrumptious, and flavorful, that you can hardly imagine they require only 15 minutes to get ready - Sichuan Spicy Shrimp Stir-Fry |
Sichuan Spicy Shrimp Stir-Fry

Spicy Beef Stir-Fry with Pepper - A super comforting and appetizing stir-fried beef dish with a sweet, savory flavor and a pungent aroma |
Spicy Beef Stir-Fry with Pepper

The chicken is quickly cooked with colorful veggies in a pungent sweet and sour garlic sauce. A quick, healthy and comforting dish that only requires 30 minutes to get ready! |
Yu Xiang Rou Si (Sichuan Shredded Chicken Stir-Fry)

What is your favorite Sichuan dish? Drop a note below if you’re looking for a Sichuan recipe, and I can create it for you! 🙂

Sichuan All Purpose Chili Garlic Sauce

Sichuan All Purpose Chili Garlic Sauce

Do you like Sichuan food? Do you want to spice up your dish with a pungent and appetizing flavor? Cook this versatile chili garlic sauce and you can easily create your favorite Sichuan dishes in under 20 minutes!

Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 16 to 20
Calories: 67kcal
Author: Maggie Zhu


  • 30 grams (1 cup) chili peppers , whole dried (*see footnote)
  • 15 grams (1 thumb) ginger , minced
  • 60 grams (15 cloves) garlic , crushed
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorn
  • 4 tablespoons spicy fermented bean paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar


To cook the sauce

  • Use scissors to cut each chili pepper into 4 to 5 pieces. Prepare ginger and garlic.
  • Add oil and peppercorn to a wok (or small skillet) and heat over medium heat. When the peppercorns start sizzling, continue cooking for about 2 minutes, until they turn dark brown and you can smell a pungent fragrance. If the oil starts to smoke, turn to lowest heat. Remove the peppercorns with a straining ladle or spatula and discard them.
  • Add chili peppers and cook over low heat until the color darkens. This will happen very quickly, in less than 1 minute, if you’re using a gas stove.
  • Add ginger and garlic and give it a quick stir. Add chili bean paste and sugar and continue to cook over low heat until everything is mixed well and you can smell a strong garlicky aroma, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off heat and transfer everything to a large plate to cool off.
  • When the sauce has cooled, transfer it to a clean jar. You can store the sauce at room temperature for a month or in the fridge for up to 3 months.

Use the master sauce to cook meat, poultry, and/or vegetables

  • You can add the chili garlic sauce into any stir fried dish at the end of cooking and mix well. The dish will be infused with a pungent and hot flavor just as in authentic Sichuan dishes (example below).
  • Slice or cube half a pound of meat or poultry into bite sized pieces. Chop 2 cups vegetables.
  • Marinate meat or poultry with 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet (or wok) and cook the protein until the surface is cooked but is still raw inside. (Skip this if you’re cooking a vegetable dish)
  • Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in the skillet (or wok) until warm and add minced ginger (or green onion) to infuse flavor. Add veggies and cook until almost cooked through.
  • Add cooked meat back into skillet. (Skip this if you’re cooking a vegetable dish)
  • Add 2 tablespoons chili sauce with salty seasoning (about 1/2 salt or 1 spoonful light soy sauce). Mix well and adjust seasoning.

To use the sauce with other seasonings to create a new sauce

  • (option 1) Combine the chili garlic sauce with other ingredients such as soy sauce, black vinegar, Sichuan peppercorn powder, spicy fermented bean paste and / or sugar, and then use as a sauce for stir frying. It will create a lot of authentic Sichuan flavor, like that found in yu xiang (literally “fish fragrant”, practically spicy, sweet, and sour), xiang la (sweet spicy), mapo (savory spicy).
  • (option 2) You can also add it to oyster sauce or hoisin sauce to spice up a comforting American Chinese dish.
  • More detailed recipes are coming soon.


Depending on the type of chili pepper you’re using, the sauce will have varying levels of spiciness. I prefer to use a less spicy chili pepper, so the sauce will be well balanced and not too spicy. If you’re not sure about the spiciness of the pepper, smell them when you just open the package. If you can smell a strong and pungent aroma, that makes your nose itch, then you should be careful. You can discard the seeds after breaking the peppers. If you don’t smell a very pungent aroma, you can use the whole chili pepper with seeds.


Serving: 16g | Calories: 67kcal | Carbohydrates: 3.8g | Protein: 0.8g | Fat: 5.8g | Saturated Fat: 0.9g | Sodium: 130mg | Potassium: 50mg | Fiber: 0.8g | Sugar: 1.5g | Vitamin A: 400IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.2mg


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Meet Maggie

Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my New York kitchen.

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23 thoughts on “Sichuan All Purpose Chili Garlic Sauce

  1. Shinee

    I truly enjoy the detailed explanations of each recipe you share here, Maggie. Not only do I get inspired, I learn something new each time I visit your blog. So thank you!

  2. Nagi@RecipeTin Eats

    Maggie….I literally have chills reading this. That’s how excited I am that you have created this recipe. You are a genius. GENIUS! I am actually speechless. I’m keeping this short because I need to go schedule a zillion pins to share this EVERYWHERE. You are seriously a legend, legend, legend, legend! I can’t WAIT to try this!! 🙂

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hey Nagi, I should thank YOU! It was such a wonderful idea and it is so generous of you to share it! I was quite nervous, because the idea is so great and I don’t want to blow it. This one has became my to go sauce now, and I’ve been using it all the time. Thanks to you, I was able to create a lot yummy AND fast dishes! Many many thanks 🙂

  3. Kathleen | HapaNom

    I love the flavors and heat in this sauce! Pantry items are actually one of my favorite recipes because I use them all the time and in all sorts of matters. Thanks for this wonderful sauce, I know I will use it in all sorts of dishes.

  4. Susan

    Maggie, I’m delighted that you posted this recipe. I like that it can be used as a base for other sauces. My favorite Sichuan dish is Kung Pao Chicken. I’d love to have a really good recipe for that dish, because I have very fond memories of eating it at a restaurant that introduced me to it. That experience was more than 25 years ago, but I’ve never forgotten it.

    1. Maggie Post author

      I’m glad you like this one Susan! Yep, Kung Pao chicken is one of the most popular dishes in Sichuan cuisine, and I like it very much. I posted about it long time ago (you can find the recipe here => But I’d love to use this all purpose sauce to create an easier version of the Kung Pao chicken soon. Thanks for your suggestion!

  5. Emily P.

    I’ve made the chili garlic sauce a number of times now and it fills the house with such amazing fragrant smells!! We ordered pizza for the kids and the pizza guy smelled the sauce from the front door and said he’d like to stay and have what we were having! After you get the hang of this, it is not time consuming and it really adds depth to any dish you use it with. I prefer fresh garlic and ginger but I’m sure you could use the pre-minced stuff as well.

    1. Maggie Post author

      I’m so agree with you, I can use this sauce in almost any dish. If you want a milder flavor, simply add less. It makes the room smelling so nice 🙂
      Oh yeah, I’m pretty sure you can use the pre-minced stuff too. I guess I’m already used to dealing fresh herbs, so it never occurs to my to use pre-minced ones. It’s a great idea for busy people! Thanks for sharing this Emily 🙂

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Maura, you won’t need the peppercorns after making the sauce. In fact, you can save them, ground them into powder, and use it in other dishes that call for peppercorn powder. But if I won’t use them soon, I usually just threw them away after cooking them in the oil.

  6. Sayed M Al-Haddad

    Hi Maggi,
    Thanks for this recipe. Where i come from, Kenya, getting some Oriental ingredients can be a problem. Is there a substitute for fermented bean paste. I love to make Chinese dishes. My favourite is Beef in black bean sauce. A friend got me the fermented black beans from one of his foreign visits.

    Take care and keep us informed.

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Sayed, I cannot think of a great substitution of fermented bean paste. But if you have fermented black beans and love the flavor, you can use them in this recipe instead of fermented bean paste. It changes the flavor profile of the sauce but it is super tasty too.

  7. Blake

    Thanks for sharing your techniques and recipes. I’m a little confused as to how to handle the chili peppers. The pictures make it appear that the peppers have been chopped up and fried with the seeds; however, the directions say to use whole chili peppers. Are suggesting to simply test the hotness of the pepper by breaking it, otherwise to leave them whole? thanks for the clarification

  8. Greg

    Outstanding. I’ve made three batches, the last two doubles. Good in stir-fry, steamed veg, or just stirred into rice. The chilis are calmed by the toasting and are spicy/tasty…not volcanic. Thanks for the recipe.

  9. Marijke Schellenbach

    Your sauces are so, so good Maggie. I hope you never stop sharing your knowledge. I love the way you explain and the uses for your sauces. It is so helpful when you are a novice but want to learn. Thank you.

  10. Marijke Schellenbach

    Maggie, have you ever thought about having a cooking show, on PBS maybe. I love watching cooking shows (real cooking shows like Ina Garten’s, and not like those crazy challenge shows!) Saturday is always my day for watching and learning on PBS, because they have the good ones.

  11. Kacper

    Perfect, now i’m addicted to this sauce.
    I eat it straight from the jar few times a day.
    I add fine powder made from roasted chilli seeds and peppercorns.
    Thank you for this recipe 🙂