Szechuan spicy peanuts are an addictive beer accompaniment. Crunchy, salty, slightly sweet, and fiercely hot, with the citrusy tingle of numbingness. You won’t able to stop once you pop the first peanut into your mouth.
The real name of this spicy peanut dish is Huang Fei Hong spicy peanuts (黄飞鸿花生), a famous Chinese snack that combines the numbing spicy Szechuan seasoning with fried peanuts. I wasn’t surprised when I saw it recommended by Saveur as “pure dynamite”.
It’s difficult to find this snack in Asian markets here in the US. And they are pricey on Amazon. The good news is that now you can make them at home.
Creating the perfect Huang Fei Hong Spicy Peanuts requires quite a bit of effort.
The most time consuming part is peeling the peanuts.
In this recipe, I used the old-fashioned method – soaking the peanuts in warm water and peeling them one by one. Not that it’s the fastest or the easiest way to do it. It’s what my mom does. I’m sentimentally attached to this method because it reminds me of the good ol’ homemade food at my parents’ place. If you’re going to use the same method, make sure you turn on the TV while peeling the peanuts. It makes the process less tedious.
The second step is frying the peanuts. To make proper crispy and crunchy peanuts, you need to roast them very slowly without burning them. You could (1) cook them with a little oil and constantly stir them; or (2) fry them. I tried both and the latter was the winner. The peanuts cooked more evenly. Plus, it saved a lot of stirring. I suggest you use a wok, so you can use the minimum amount of oil to cover all the peanuts. The peanuts will barely absorb any oil and you can save the oil for later use.
The third step is to season the peanuts.
To do this step properly, you have to remove the extra oil from the wok. Otherwise you’ll end up with oil-soaked peanuts that are bland and flavorless.
The other key to seasoning is to use ground spices instead of whole chili peppers and Szechuan peppercorns. Yes, the real-deal Huang Fei Hong peanuts contain whole chili peppers in the bag. They are just there as garnish. The peanuts won’t absorb enough flavor during the short cooking time. So always use plenty of ground spices to properly season the peanuts.
It might seem like a ton of flavoring for such a small batch of peanuts. But trust me, it is not too much. This won’t be the healthiest thing in the world, but using less spices will definitely kill the joy.
You will spend an entire hour (or two, if including the soaking time) to make this small appetizer. But once you pop a peanut into your mouth, you’ll know it was worth every single minute.
If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it #omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!
Szechuan Spicy Peanuts (黄飞鸿花生, Huang Fei Hong Spicy Peanuts)
- 1 cup raw peanuts
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or enough to cover the peanuts)
- dried chili peppers and 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn for garnish (Optional)
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn powder , toasted (*See footnote 1)
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper powder
- 1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
- Cover peanuts with warm water. Let soak for 30 minutes to 4 hours. Peel and discard the skin. Drain and pat dry peanuts with paper towel.
- Combine all the ingredients for the spice mix in a small bowl.
- Add peanuts into a wok and oil to cover. Turn on medium heat. Cook until the peanuts start to sizzle. Turn to medium low heat. Cook and stir occasionally until the surface turns pale yellow. Transfer peanuts using a colander onto a plate layered with paper towels. Remove extra oil from the wok and reserve just 1 teaspoon.
- (Optional) Add chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns into the same wok. Cook and stir until fragrant.
- Return peanuts to wok. Add the spice mix. Stir to mix well so the peanuts are evenly covered with spices. Transfer peanuts onto a big plate to cool. Don’t worry if the peanuts are not crispy enough when they’re still warm. They’ll crisp up and become crunchy once completely cooled.
- Serve immediately as a snack or store in an air-tight container.
- To make roasted Sichuan peppercorn powder, cook whole Sichuan peppercorns with a bit of oil until dark and very fragrant. Let cool and transfer to a coffee grinder. Grind until peppercorns turn to flakes. You can make extra and save it in an air-tight container in the fridge. It will stay good for many months.
I won’t suggest using store-bought Sichuan peppercorn powder. But if using, add less (1/4 teaspoon as a start) to the dish.
Questions and Reviews
My husband would go crazy for these! He loves to snack on peanuts. I think I will make him a batch for Father’s Day 🙂
Spicy Peanuts is definitely something my husband would enjoy. Like Jennifer, I will be making him a batch for Father’s Day. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe.
What an interesting snack, Maggie!
I actually find shelling peas really therapeutic so I don’t think I’d mind shelling the peanuts one by one! 🙂
My husband and I are drooling over these, Maggie! What a perfect Father’s Day snack!!
They serve this as a complementary appetizer in a very small portion at a local Szechwan restaurant. Recipe looks great. Can I use a ready made blistered peanuts instead of cooking fresh peanuts from scratch?
I believe you can use blistered peanuts without any problem. You might want to use less salt, since these cooked peanuts are already seasoned. Happy cooking 🙂
I began making these a little while ago, and your recipe is THE BEST!
I’ve learned to go really easy on the oil as being heavy handed with it leaves you with oily peanuts. Blecch!
Also, I’ve found that getting the more “flavorful” and more red Szechuan peppercorns gives you some really lip-tingling peanuts!
I like that, so I always get the red package from the Asian market nearby.
These are always a big hit when I have people over. Thanks for sharing this recipe!
I plan on giving bags of them away this Christmas.
Hi Scott, I’m so glad you like these peanuts! Yes the red Szechuan peppercorns are the fresh ones (the stale ones turn black), so they are much more flavorful. It’s great that you can find them in the Asian market. I always bring them from China directly!
Thanks for taking time to leave a comment. Have a nice week ahead and hope your Christmas gift will be a hit 🙂
Thanks for the recipe. I love Huang Fei Hong peanuts and they have stopped stocking them here in most shops (UK). However, for me the peanuts did not hold the flavour that well; I am going to double up the chilli and peppercorns and see if that helps. They were also super oily.
Hi Dan, yes the peanuts do not hold spices so well because their surface is so smooth. You can definitely increase the chili pepper and peppercorns powder. Also, try use even less oil to toast the whole chili pepper and peppercorns, so the peanuts won’t be so oily in the end.
Happy cooking and I hope they turn out better the next time 🙂
Thanks for the reply. I used much less oil, basically cooked the seasoning in it and tossed the peanuts after in the pan, then transferred to an oven for roasting. They don’t stick the flavour quite as much, but they are less oily. Your use of equal measure sugar to chilli is a stroke of genius – I found even the scraps of chilli that don’t stick are delicious because they’re balanced by the sweetness, and I think if I substituted it again with something agave nectar the spices would stick even better as per candied nuts. Very pleased with them now. Just have to buy a larger bag of raw peanuts to bulk bake!
Hi Dan, yes I enjoy eating the scraps of chili too 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your method! I would love to try roasting the peanuts in the oven the next time. Sounds like a great method to get them crispy without making the peanuts too oily. Also, interesting idea of using agave nectar. Pretty sure it goes great the the chili too. Now I’m craving the spicy peanuts! I’ll need to bake another batch soon!
I love this snack with my favorite drinks!thanks for sharing ..
Just made these ahead of time for CNY. WOW!!!! Taste test proves they will be a hit!! Thank you!!! 新年快乐！
Will be making these again soon, I can tell!
Wonderful! Just like the ones I’ve had as appetizers in China.
My wife had some Chinese brand of dried peanuts that I used but still turned out pretty good. Next time I will just used the bagged raw Virginia peanuts we usually have. Not much into the peeling. 🙂
Outstanding recipe! Couldn’t stop eating the peanuts! Thank you!
Fabulous. I almost never comment on recipes I try, but this one deserves that five star rating and more.
I made these peanuts for the first time recently. We loved buying them while in China, but they are not often readily available in our city. I increased the recipe 8 times and cooked them in a cast iron wok on the side element of my barbecue as I don’t like to fry indoors. With the last batch I decided to cook them in the rotating basket of my Chefman air fryer. Before putting about 2 cups peanuts in the basket of the air fryer, I coated them with 1 tbsp of oil. I didn’t record the exact length of time they cooked in the air fryer but I set the temperature to 350*. The peanuts cooked in the air fryer were not distinguishable taste wise from those I fried in the wok; both methods of cooking produced delicious peanuts! Next time I might put a little more oil on the peanuts cooked in the air fryer after they are cooked to help the spices adhere. I will also make he recipe without the sugar and 5 spice powder in order to try to replicate the exact taste of the peanuts we bought in China. This is a wonderful addictive recipe that I will be making often . Thank you!