Upgrade Your Fast Food Meal With Chili Crisp

If your go-to fast food meal has become too bland for your tastes, chili crisp can solve that problem by spicing it up. This saucy condiment has a salty flavor and packs a punch of crunch when used as a topping. Chili crisp is a mixture of spices, soybeans, garlic, onion, soybean oil, peanuts, and the perfect blend of numerous chili peppers to provide heat. Some possible peppers include serranos, red chili peppers, habaneros, or Sichuan peppers.

Many argue that chili crisp is an ideal pairing for any meal, but it's especially useful for elevating the flavor of chicken. Because it can serve as a dipping sauce or be poured atop poultry, it's simple to add to nuggets or tenders that you've taken home from the drive-thru or ordered via a delivery app. It goes especially well with Asian food, such as chicken ordered from Panda Express. There's no wonder why, as chili crisp itself originated in China.

The story of chili crisp

In 1997, restaurant owner Tao Huabi started to sell what's now the most popular brand of chili crisp. This product, Lao Gan Ma, was primarily used to top noodles served at her Guizhou, China, eatery before springing into popularity. Traditionally, chili crisp is made with soybean oil, chili, soybeans, onion, peanuts, prickly ash powder, salt, sugar, and MSG. For the majority of recipes, though, these ingredients are just the beginning. Other popular varieties include anything from scallions and black beans to cinnamon and mushroom powder.

Lucas Sin, owner of New York City's Nice Day Chinese Takeout, drove the point home in an interview with Today. "The most important thing to know is that in China, almost every restaurant makes their own. Each one is slightly different — the chili that they use, the type of spices, the aromatics, and even the technique."

That said, you can always create your own mixture. Some add mayonnaise to convert chili crisp into a sandwich spread, while others make it even spicier using fermented ghost pepper mash, which is much hotter than a jalapeno. Next time you order chicken from your favorite fast food joint, give chili crisp a try.