The 15 Best Chili Crisp Brands, Ranked

How do you chili crisp? This buzzy condiment, which comes in many forms but is usually a mixture of crunchy dried chili peppers, onions, garlic, and other savory ingredients suspended in chili oil, has endless uses. You can toss noodles with it, use it to perk up bland leftovers, or even spoon it on top of plain rice for low-effort lunch with serious flavor. Maybe you're even one who likes to put chili crisp on ice cream; we won't judge.

There used to be only a few brands of chili crisp to choose from, at least in the U.S., but lately, it seems like everyone is making their own version. With so many brands out there, it's time to taste some of the best chili crisps on the market to figure out which ones you should keep in your pantry. We gathered 15 brands and tasted them all on a simple bed of white rice so we could evaluate them in their purest state. Some were mind-blowingly delicious, and others not so much. Here is our definitive chili crisp ranking.

15. Oo'mämē

The difficult to type (but easy to say) oo'mämē brand of chili crisp bills itself as being unique in the marketplace because it produces four different flavors inspired by different regional cuisines. The most traditional is the Szechuan, China, flavor, which includes fermented black beans (which provide umami), chilis, peanuts, sesame oil, ginger, and Sichuan peppercorns. The company also makes an Indian-inspired flavor with dried mango, coconut, and masala spices; a Moroccan variety with dried figs, crystallized ginger, almonds, and Berbere spices; and a crisp informed by the flavors of Oaxaca, Mexico, with pepitas, more dried mango, agave nectar, chipotle, and orange rind.

While we applaud oo'mämē's creativity in coming up with all these flavors, we find that the brand's experiments haven't yielded consistently pleasing results. By far, the tastiest variety is the Chinese-inspired one, which balances the flavors of chili pepper, onions, and garlic well. We also enjoy the crunchy peanuts. The fermented soybeans, however, aren't crispy and have a chewy texture we're not overly fond of. Unfortunately, all the other globally-inspired chili crisp riffs this brand produces also contain these chewy black beans. At least the bean flavor works with the Szechuan ingredients — in the other jars, it stands out as odd. The non-Chinese oo'mämē crisps are all far too sweet as well. They all have dried fruit in them, which didn't work for us at all. Ironically, there's not enough umami flavor to balance all the sugar.

14. Mr. Bing

Looking at the label of Mr. Bing, with its Chinese writing, you'd think that this was a Chinese brand of chili crisp, perhaps made by someone named Bing. Nope: it turns out that the Mr. Bing brand was created by two non-Chinese men who developed a taste for bings, a flatbread-based street food while studying abroad in China as college students.

As for the product itself, we weren't impressed. Mr. Bing chili crisp comes in mild and spicy varieties. The mild has barely any heat, and the spicy is only marginally hotter. Other than that, the two types taste and smell the same. When you open the jar, it smells like pizza, which isn't a good sign. Lots of chunks sound crispy when you stir them around in the jar, but the actual texture isn't precisely crisp; it's more like chili oil with random bits of hard stuff in it.

As for the flavor, it's far too sweet, and it tastes like there's a ton of sugar in the mix, and there's not enough salt to counteract it. Mr. Bing uses little pieces of rice bran (the exterior layer of whole grain rice) to try to add crunch. Not only did we not enjoy the rice bran, but its flavor was also odd. It added a toasted, grainy note to the chili crisp that did not play well with everything else going on.

13. Bowlcut

The Bowlcut brand has a cool story: It was founded by three Asian-American entrepreneurs who grew up with parents working in the restaurant industry. The company endeavors to make sauces that are updated take on flavors that the founders grew up with.

Bowlcut sent us its char siu barbecue sauce, which was quite nice, but we're here to talk about chili crisp. We wanted to like this brand's crisp, but we just weren't into it. Maybe we're old-fashioned, but this new-school chili crisp didn't taste right. It smelled like pure brown sugar, which was a bad omen. There were many small pieces of chilis and alliums, but they weren't crispy at all. We also noticed coconut aminos, which, combined with the sugar in the recipe, again made this one much too sweet. The flavors in Bowlcut chili crisp didn't gel together into an appetizing whole. Weirdly, it tasted kind of like hoisin sauce, which is not what we want in a chili crisp.

12. Milu

Milu is a slightly upscale-looking Chinese restaurant in Manhattan. The company also sells various packaged goods, including many sauces, under the name Milu Pantry. While we aren't crazy about Milu's chili crisp, it's a big step up from the three previous entries on this list.

The best thing about this chili crisp is its aroma. It smells floral and complex, with notes of deeply toasted chilis. There aren't a ton of solids in it compared to other brands, but all the solids are fried until crispy, so the texture is nice. Mercifully, Milu's chili crisp isn't super sugary.

While we appreciated the crunchiness of the ingredients in Milu chili crisp, it seemed to us like they were fried at too high a temperature. The fermented black beans especially were overtoasted and bitter, almost on the verge of being burnt. This chili crisp also tasted more like Mexican food than Chinese food to us, which wasn't so bad as much as odd.

11. Boon

Boon is a little bit of an outlier on this list because it doesn't advertise itself as a chili crisp but rather a chili oil. However, it's filled with so many chunks of chilis and other ingredients that it fits in with the other entries in this ranking. It's made by Chef Max Boonthanakit, who tried to combine the Chinese and Thai flavors he grew up with in his signature sauce.

The smell of Boon chili oil is quite potent and chili-forward. The chilis seem well-toasted, with a nutty edge. This sauce has a ton of minced shallots and garlic which don't come through very much in the smell but do dominate the flavor. The garlic tastes a little too browned and lends the sauce a bitter note that stands out from the mix poorly. The caramelized shallot flavor is nice but combined with the sugar in the sauce; it lends a little bit too much sweetness. We also thought the fennel seed was more potent than it should have been. Overall, this gets points for originality, but it wasn't to our taste.

10. Chile Crunch

Chile Crunch is supposed to be a version of chili crisp you can use for Mexican food. It comes in mild, medium, and hot varieties, all of which are made with the same ingredients.

This may be the hottest brand of chili crisp on this list. Even the mild jar packs a little bit of fire, and the hot variety is pretty darn spicy. The flavor profile of the chilis in this product is smoky, which definitely fits with Mexican food. However, the primary smell you get when you sniff the jar is caramelized onions and garlic. These browned alliums make Chile Crunch still taste a lot like a regular Asian-style chili crisp. We liked the strong allium flavor, but the garlic and onions weren't completely crunchy. They were a bit crispy, but they were also soft enough to get stuck in our teeth.

The other aspect of Chile Crunch that prevented it from ranking higher was that it didn't have much umami flavor, and it would have benefited from more salt or a dose of MSG or mushroom powder to amp up the savoriness. As is, it tasted just a little bit flat.

9. Momofuku

Chef David Chang's Momofuku empire includes restaurants, the Milk Bar chain of dessert shops and a line of packaged goods. Chang is a talented chef, and according to the product description, Momofuku Chili Crunch spent ten years in development before reaching customers, so we had high hopes for this sauce. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't nearly as good as we thought it would be based on its pedigree.

Momofuku Chili Crunch comes in three flavors: original, extra spicy, and black truffle. The original is decently spicy, but that's most of the flavor you get. It has some seaweed and sesame in it to up the umami, but it still doesn't taste very savory. It's disappointingly flat. We thought the extra spicy was significantly worse than the original. It has habaneros but is not much more intense than the original flavor. It is, however, much sweeter, and we didn't enjoy how the sweetness played with the taste of the seaweed powder. The texture of these chili crisps is disappointing. For something that goes out of its way to call itself "Chili Crunch," it really lacks crispness.

Of the three varieties, the black truffle was by far our favorite. The fungus flavor was quite potent, and although it seemed a little bit weird in the context of chili crisp, we grew to enjoy it. It would be quite tasty on pizza or pasta.

8. Liquid Fire

When we cracked the lid of this jar, our noses were greeted with a scent that reminded us more of something from the Italian peninsula than anywhere near Asia. It made us think of Neapolitan pizza with Calabrian chillis or an excellent pasta arrabbiata. However, Liquid Fire actually comes from a company with Filipino-American roots. The brand's flagship product is Liquid Gold, a crunchy garlic oil that mimics Filipino-style garlic fried rice. Liquid Fire is the spicy version of Liquid Gold. There's an even hotter version called Liquid Patáy, but we just sampled Liquid Fire for this taste test.

It makes sense that Liquid Fire's smell is pizza-like, as its main ingredients are garlic and olive oil. The garlic chunks are super crunchy, which is nice. The taste isn't as reminiscent of Italian food due to the significant amount of sugar. At first, the combination of sugar and olive oil threw us off, but the sweetness played well with the crispy toasted garlic. The chili flavor was complex and well-developed without being scorchingly hot. Overall, Liquid Fire was tasty, though we'd probably like it even more if it was 50% less sweet.

7. Su

Su chili crisp is an artisanal Taiwanese brand that produces three flavors: mala (hot and numbing), cilantro, and five spice.

The mala is the most traditional. It's pretty spicy, but the most notable flavor in it is Sichuan peppercorn. If you've never had them before, Sichuan peppercorns have a zesty, herbaceous, floral, and mildly bitter taste. More importantly, they contain a compound that can make your mouth tingle or even go numb. There's a ton of Sichuan peppercorn in this chili crisp, and it makes your mouth very numb, which is a pretty cool sensation.

Our favorite Su chili crisp flavor-wise is the cilantro, which has lots of garlic and onions. It is crunchier than the other varieties and has more of a savory edge. We thought it was delicious, but if you're the sort of person who thinks cilantro tastes like soap, you should avoid this. The five spice was okay, but we thought the sweet five spice seasoning didn't fit well with the sharp heat of the chili peppers. We loved the other two flavors enough to put Su medium-high on this list.

6. Junzi

Junzi Kitchen is a small chain of Chinese restaurants with locations in New York City and Connecticut. It also sells little jars of chili crisp. We got two jars featuring nifty labels designed in collaboration with NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The original flavor of Junzi chili oil isn't spectacular, but it's a solid workhorse chili oil for when you want to add spiciness to something without changing the overall flavor of a dish too much. It mostly tastes like toasted chilis and oil, with very little else going on.

The Year of the Tiger Celebration chili oil from Junzi, however, is truly something special. It has a hefty amount of Sichuan peppercorns that add floral notes and a decent amount of numbing sensation to every bite of food you put it on. Crunchy coriander and fennel seeds provide a fun textural contrast and deliciously herbal flavors. We love the crunch and the complexity of this chili oil. It's shockingly savory, considering it has no salt, MSG, or fermented beans. We would happily dump large amounts of this on any food that needed a serious flavor punch-up.

5. Fly by Jing

Fly by Jing is a company that makes Sichuan sauces and seasonings in Chengdu, China. The brand's Sichuan-style chili crisp combines oil, chilis, fermented black beans, garlic, various umami-boosting ingredients, Sichuan peppercorns, and other seasonings. Its flavor is as complex as expected, given its ingredient list. It's not as numbing as other Sichuan peppercorn-containing oils on this list, but it does have a deeply savory flavor from the garlic and fermented beans. It tastes very toasted, on the verge of burnt, but not unpleasantly bitter. It's also perfumed with ginger, which was a nice touch that isn't present in many of the other sauces on this list.

Fly by Jing is a wonderful condiment from a flavor perspective, but its texture isn't as good as some of the higher-ranking chili crisps. The chilis and garlic aren't fully crunchy, and the whole fermented black beans have a chewy texture that slightly lower this chili crisp's score. However, those complaints are nitpicking. Fly by Jing tastes awesome; it's just that a few other chili crisp brands taste even better.

4. Lao gan ma

Now we come to the OG chili crisp that predates every other product on this list: Lao Gan Ma. With roots that stretch back to the 1980s, this company is arguably why we're talking about chili crisp. It's the older sibling of all of these upstart artisanal brands.

While this original classic chili crisp didn't entirely take the top spot, it's still one of the best on the market after all these years. Texture-wise, Lao Gan Ma is the best chili crisp brand. The jar is filled to the brim with huge chunks of chilis and onions that are shatteringly crisp. We love that the fermented black beans in this product are fried and crunchy rather than chewy. This oil's smell is also amazing — a darkly toasted chili and allium aroma that's not overly bitter or sharp.

Lao Gan Ma is no slouch in the flavor department, either. It has a light to medium heat with lots of caramelized flavor from the fried onions. If we have one complaint about the taste, it's that it's not quite as savory and salty as some of the competition. However, that could be good if you want to put it on food that's already well-salted.

3. This Little Goat

This Little Goat chili crunch is the creation of "Top Chef" champion and James Beard Award winner Chef Stephanie Izard. Her restaurants pull from various global flavors, so it makes sense that she would make a creative, nontraditional line of chili crisps. While we weren't fans of some of the weirder crisps we tried from other brands, her experimental approach really paid off.

Unlike Momofuku's similarly named chili crunch, This Little Goat really brings the crunch. The solids in the oil are small, but they're seriously crispy. This Little Goat comes in original, spicy, and chili lime varieties, and all are excellent. The original and spicy taste is almost identical, except the spicy is hotter and sweeter. Both are very garlicky and have a little bit of tang from vinegar powder. The best part is how savory they are; these chili crisps are made with instant dashi powder, which adds loads of salt and umami.

The chili lime is the strangest product in the lineup, but it really works. It's pretty sour from lime juice powder and has an extra crunchy mouthfeel from chopped-up pepitas. It's great on tacos and other Mexican-ish entrees.

2. S&B

S&B is the only Japanese company with a product on this list. Its Umami Topping Crunchy Garlic with Chili Oil delivers everything you could want from a chili crisp with a fun Japanese spin.

Like This Little Goat, S&B chili crisp is an absolute umami bomb. It's seasoned with soy sauce powder, MSG, sesame oil, and salt, which combine to deliver intense savory, salty flavors. The texture of this product is enjoyable. The chili component is a fairly homogeneous paste, but it also delivers the crunch with hefty chunks of fried garlic and crispy almonds. The garlic is executed with plenty of finesse — it's perfectly crispy without being overtoasted or bitter.

The bright red chili paste combined with the garlic reminded us a little bit of the flavor of Korean food, although less spicy. This product is really more about garlic and umami flavor than heat, though it does deliver a touch of burn. Its comparative mildness means you can load a ton onto your food, which we recommend.

1. Bullet

It was tough to decide which crisp should earn the crown, but Bullet is a truly special product. Unlike other chili crisps, which use primarily vegetable oil, Bullet is made with 100% cold-pressed toasted sesame oil. This gives it a unique, nutty savoriness that no other chili crisp has. The aroma has strong notes of sesame, obviously, but also umami components that remind us of dried mushrooms.

Compared to some other crisps, Bullet has a short list of ingredients, but it just goes to show that high-quality ingredients don't need to be messed with much. The soy sauce, onion, and garlic give the product a yummy base flavor, while toasted chilis and Sichuan peppercorns add zip, heat, and a touch of tongue-tingling numbness. Toasted sesame oil can be a strong, overbearing flavor, but in this product, it's just another member of the ensemble, reinforcing the deliciousness of everything else in the mix. Although this product is more savory and complex than burn-your-tongue hot, certain bites jump out at you with a surprising hit of chili burn. This is the chili crisp that we keep returning to day after day, and it deserves its spot at the top of the heap.