Chili crisp is the condiment of 2022. The combination of fried garlic and chili peppers steeped in oil has existed across many cultures for centuries, but thanks to the wave of content creators repping it on TikTok and the American food media gatekeepers writing about it ceaselessly (yes, I get the irony), this condiment has burst into the American mainstream in recent years. Thank goodness for that. It’s hard to imagine a better enhancement to fried rice, cheesy pasta, yolky eggs, or even vanilla ice cream than this crispy, spicy, oily complement.
Thanks to its increased popularity in North America, many brands are now selling their own version of chili crisp. I bet some of your local restaurants sell their own, and I recommend you try those—but I tasted and ranked as many of the nationally available brands as I could get my hands on. With fellow taste testers, I judged each chili crisp on a bed of plain white rice, looking for the following:
- Flavor: Is it tasty?
- Crunch: How substantial is the crunch? How crispy are the bits?
- Value as an additive: How much pleasure does this add to my eating experience?
I also ranked the heat level of each on a scale of 1-5 chili peppers, with one being “where’s the heat?” and five being “hot damn.” Here we go!