8 Fun Ways to Use Chili Crisp

Crushed chili peppers are the backbone of chili crisp. But did you know this spicy condiment pairs perfectly with chocolate?
Crushed chili peppers are the backbone of chili crisp. But did you know this spicy condiment pairs perfectly with chocolate? / Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

This post originally appeared on Salon by Ashlie D. Stevens.

Over the past several years, chili crisp, a crunchy and spicy condiment made with fried chili pepper, garlic, and roasted soybeans, has seen its popularity heat up across the United States. A well-stocked condiment collection these days includes at least a jar, perhaps by Lao Gan Ma, Fly by Jing, or Loud Grandma.

But after you've used it on the basics—over leftovers, swirling into rice, as a topping for dumplings—consider spooning chili crisp into these eight dishes for a more flavorful day, from breakfast to dessert.

1. Drizzled over vanilla ice cream.

In 2018, dessert shops in Sichuan, China, starting posting images of creamy white ice cream flecked with deep red chili oil. The trend hit the States soon after, and for good reason. The mix of creamy and cold ice cream with spicy chili crisp is a delicious juxtaposition.

2. Swirled into spaghetti al limone.

This idea comes from Jenn de la Vega, who published her recipe for Chile Crisp Spaghetti al Limone over on TASTE. "I wondered if chile crisp would stay crisp if I cooked it in a sauce," de la Vega wrote. "And the answer is yes!"

I love this recipe. The delicately acidic cream sauce is given a serious spice boost from the addition of chili crisp, which also adds a delightful textural contrast that isn't always present in pasta. Also, the umami of the crisp pairs beautifully with the umami of the pecorino cheese.

3. Whipped into mayonnaise.

Amp up your ho-hum lunch by crafting a quick sandwich spread from velvety mayonnaise (we like Kewpie) and chili crisp. It's also a great binder for a more flavorful egg, chicken, or tuna salad.

4. Incorporated into chocolate.

The bittersweetness of chocolate and the spice of chili crisp are a natural, if not intuitive, pairing. Melt eight ounces of dark chocolate and spread it on a parchment-covered sheet pan and sprinkle with chili crisp to taste. Put the pan in the refrigerator until the bark completely sets up and break into shards for snacking.

5. Sprinkled on mango.

One of my favorite summertime snacks is chile-spiced mango. For a play on that, cut up some mango, spritz it with a little bit of lime juice, and drizzle it with chili crisp.

6. Spooned onto hummus.

I love hummus, but the stuff from the grocery store can definitely veer a little bland. There are a few add-ins that help—a squeeze of lemon juice, some chopped olives or roasted red pepper, pine nuts—but chili crisp is an all-in-one solution. It adds spice, crunch, and salt.

7. Layered onto grilled cheese.

As mentioned in the spaghetti al limone and ice cream examples, chili crisp plays really well with creamy flavors. Spice up your basic grilled cheese with a smear of chili crisp before frying.

8. As an addition in savory oatmeal.

While I like a bowl of oats spiced with cinnamon, brown sugar, and a pat of butter, I absolutely love savory oatmeal. It's simple to make—cook the oats down in stock instead of water and reach for add-ins like fried or soft-boiled eggs, crumbled bacon, avocado, dashi, or citrus kosho. Chili crisp is the perfect final touch.