Schezwan sauce is a terrifically spicy, tangy, and salty condiment made with dry red chilies, garlic, shallots and lots of bright spices. This fusion Indo Chinese recipe of a hot chili sauce compliments any number of recipes and snacks. It is one of the most popular sauces from Indo-Chinese cuisine. Follow my step-by-step instructions with photos and a video for making a batch of this versatile sauce to enjoy with all of your favorite dishes!
Table of Contents
About Schezwan Sauce
Spicy, tangy schezwan sauce also known as schezwan chutney is a versatile condiment that goes great with many delicious snacks. It features a wonderfully pungent combination of hot red chillies, garlic, flavorful sichuan peppers, and salty soy sauce. This recipe can easily be customized to your preferred level of heat for a great dip or bold sauce.
The sauce comes from the Indo Chinese cuisine that originated in Kolkata. This fusion cuisine is a creation of the Chinese community that had immigrated to India and combines the classic Chinese methods of cooking with the Indian spices, herbs and often includes veggies.
Schezwan sauce is a wonderful addition to your meals in a way they simply perk up any plain, bland or boring meal. Make it and refrigerate or freeze to bring more flavors and spice up your everyday meals.
Try dipping your savory snacks like Momos, Spring Rolls, Scallion Pancakes, French Fries or Potato Wedges in this spicy sauce, or bring plenty of bold flavors to your Fried Rice or Noodles with this sauce. Trust me, you will love this condiment if you like spicy food.
How to make Schezwan Sauce
Prepare the peppers
1. Firstly, rinse and then soak the 20 dried red chilies in hot water for about 30 minutes. For a slightly less spicy taste it is recommended that you de-seed the chilies before soaking. You can also remove the stems if you prefer.
I added a mix of two Indian variety of dry red chillies – 15 Kashmiri red chillies and 5 Byadagi red chilies.
2. Next, drain all the water from the soaked red chilies and remove the stalks if not removed earlier. Break them into pieces and then add them to a chutney or spice grinder, food processor, or a blender.
3. Add a tablespoon of water at a time – up to 2.5 tablespoons total – and blend to make a smooth paste.
4. Use a mortar and pestle to crush 3 to 4 sichuan peppers coarsely. Set aside. You can choose to skip the sichuan if you like, for a less spicy schezwan sauce.
Make Schezwan Sauce
5. Next heat 4 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil, or any other vegetable oil, in a medium-sized pan over medium heat.
6. Lower the heat and add 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic and 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger.
Sauté for some seconds on low to medium-low heat until no longer raw. Be careful to not brown or burn, or you’ll wind up with a bitter taste.
7. Then add ¼ cup chopped shallots, and sauté until translucent stirring often on a low to medium-low heat.
8. Add the ground red chili paste to the pan.
9. Stir well to combine.
10. Then add the crushed sichuan pepper, if using. At this point you can add ½ tablespoon of finely chopped celery as shown in the video.
11. Saute the paste for 1 to 2 minutes on a low to medium-low heat, until the oil starts to seep from the chili paste. Add ½ cup of water and stir to loosen the paste into a sauce.
12. Simmer the sauce for about 2 minutes on a low to medium-low heat stirring often.
13. Now add all of the following ingredients. Stir and mix. Continue to cook the sauce for 5 to 6 minutes more on low to medium-low heat.
- 2 teaspoons of raw sugar
- salt as required
- ¼ to ½ a teaspoon of black pepper powder
- ½ a teaspoon of light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar (or white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar).
TIP: For a more sweeter sauce, opt to include 1 to 2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup at this step.
14. Turn the heat off. Once the schezwan sauce cools at room temperature, pour it into a small jar or bowl. Cover tightly with a lid and refrigerate.
If the sauce looks very thick, add a few tablespoons of hot water to thin it a bit.
15. Serve schezwan sauce as a spicy dipping condiment with your favorite snacks, or you can add it to recipes that require schezwan sauce, such as the schezwan fried rice, noodles, stir fried veggies, stir fried tofu, schezwan dosa, schezwan idli, paneer schezwan etc.
Tips + FAQs
I have used a mix of the mildly hot Indian variety of Kashmiri red chilies and byadagi chilies. They give a good color, flavor and taste good, too. Depending on your taste buds and spice tolerance, you can choose chilies with lower heat or medium heat, or add more chilies for greater spice.
Scratch-made schezwan sauce stays good in the refrigerator for about 2 to 3 weeks in an airtight container. For the best tasting and longest-lasting sauce, I recommend adding a bit of oil to the top of the sauce before sealing the jar.
You can also freeze this sauce to last longer.
A few snack suggestions to dip in spicy homemade schezwan sauce include potato wedges or veg cutlet, french fries, spring rolls, dumplings or momos. It also goes quite well with savory fried Indian snacks like cheese pakora or veggie pakora, or samosa.
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For Soaking Chillies and Making Paste
- 20 dry red chilies – less hot or medium hot. I added a mix of 15 kashmiri and 5 byadagi dry red chilies
- hot water – as needed to cover the chillies
- 2 to 2.5 tablespoons water or as needed, for blending the red chilies
- 4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil or any vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic or 15 small to medium-sized garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger or 1 inch ginger
- ¼ cup finely chopped shallots or 1 small onion – finely chopped
- 3 to 4 sichuan peppers – crushed, optional (skip if you don' have)
- ½ tablespoon finely chopped celery – optional (skip if you don't have)
- ½ cup water – to be added later
- 2 teaspoons raw sugar or organic unrefined cane sugar or brown sugar – please add as required. For a more sweeter taste, you can even add up to 3 teaspoon sugar.
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon black pepper powder or as required
- ½ teaspoon light soy sauce or as required
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- salt as required
- Rinse and then soak the chilies in hot water for 30 minutes.
- You can also de-seed the chilies and remove their stems before you soak them.
- Drain all the water. Remove the stems and then break the chilies. Add them to a chutney grinder or blender. Add water and make a smooth paste of the red chilies.
- Crush the sichuan peppers coarsely in a mortar-pestle.
Making schezwan sauce
- Heat toasted sesame oil or any other vegetable oil in a frying pan.
- Lower the heat. Add the garlic and ginger first and sauté for some seconds till their raw aroma goes away. Don't brown them.
- Add the chopped shallots and then saute them stirring often till translucent on low to medium-low heat.
- Add the ground red chili paste and combine thoroughly.
- Then add the crushed sichuan pepper and finely chopped celery (if using). Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes more till you see oil releasing from the sides of the sauce.
- Add ½ cup of water and mix well. Simmer for 2 minutes stirring often on a low to medium-low heat.
- Add salt, sugar, pepper, soy sauce and vinegar.
- Stir and continue to cook further for 5 to 6 minutes more on low to medium-low heat.
- Switch off the heat and set the pan aside. Check the taste and add more salt, sugar or pepper as required.
- Once the sauce cools at room temperature, transfer it in a small jar or bowl. Cover tightly with a lid and refrigerate.
- Serve schezwan sauce as a condiment with snacks or you can also add in recipes like schezwan fried rice or noodles, vegetable schezwan or veg balls in hot garlic sauce or schezwan dosa.
- It stays good for about 2 to 3 weeks in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
- For a sweeter taste consider adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup to the sauce.
- Use a mix of dried red chilies that give a good bright color and are moderately spiced. If you use chilies that are very hot or pungent the sauce will also become very spicy. I suggest to either use a mix of Indian varieties of Kashmiri red chili and byadagi red chilli as I have done. Or only use Kashmiri red chilies as shown in the video.
- You can also add some celery as seen in the video recipe.
- The recipe can be scaled to make a small or big batch.
- To preserve the sauce for a longer time, add a layer of oil about ½ inch on top of the sauce. Always refrigerate this sauce and don’t store at room temperature.
- Note that the approximate nutrition data is for the entire amount of schezwan sauce made from this recipe.
Nutrition Info Approximate values
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This schezwan sauce recipe post from the archives (June 2014) has been republished and updated on 10 June 2021.