Spicy Szechuan sauce is you could say, a cousin of sriracha and a distant cousin of tabasco. The gene pool for all spicy sauces is quite similar actually; fiery peppers/chilies with some acidifying and sweetening agents. The variation of these adjuvants (an agent that modifies the effect of other agents) is what makes a Szechuan or a sriracha or a tabasco. (Do forgive the excessive scientific… swearing if you will. That is the nerd in me talking 😛 )

Szechuan Sauce

A few years ago(a decade ago to be precise. Darn! Am I getting old… or wise? 🙂 ), my dad met this chef from a popular local Indo-Chinese restaurant in town on his morning jog and befriended him. The chef came home one day to cook something for his friend’s kids (sounds fancy, It was not). My apologies for not remembering his name, it was a decade ago and I had a lot going on in my life the day he visited home (I was in the midst of completing my admission process with my college). He made this Szechuan sauce at home and created an almost-instant Szechuan fried rice with it! Whoa!

Szechuan sauce

My brother and I have replicated this quite a few times at home. We did not even jot the recipe down anywhere. Some moments and recipes create such an impression on you that they stick around in your head for a long time. This was one such and every time we make this, it just tastes as good as it did when the chef made it (I think so).

Szechuan sauce

While the original Szechuan sauce uses traditional Szechuan peppers, this recipe calls for just any peppers/dried chilies. Like I said earlier, same gene pool you know. Like I have said before, what is cooking if not adding your own colors to it? So, here goes the recipe for an amazing Szechuan sauce which can be stored for a few months in the refrigerator, pulled out and used tbsp. or 2 at a time to create instant fried rice and Szechuan stir-fry. 

Szechuan sauce


Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes



  • 3 cup dried red peppers/chilies with their stems removed
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 1/8 cup minced ginger
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • Water to soak the dried peppers


  1. Soak the dried chilies in warm water for about 2 hours. Blend them into a coarse / smooth paste depending on how you want the sauce to look. You can add few spoons of water if required to help the blending process.
  2. Heat oil a pan.
  3. Add the minced garlic and ginger and sauté for a min. Add the minced celery and continue the process for about 4-min until the raw smell of the ingredients fade away.
  4. Add soy sauce, salt & chili paste; roast for 4-5 min until you see the sauce bubble. It’s not going to be bubbling like boiling water but very tiny light bubbles. If you do not happen to see it, go ahead and turn the heat off.

My Take:

Look for spicy red chilies. Any variety will do.

A quarter cup of minced onion can be added along with the garlic and ginger.

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  1. very useful post dear. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for sharing the recipe.. is it dry red chilly or the dry red bell peppers??

    • Hey Preetha!

      I have use dried red chili bought from Indian stores. I used the word peppers because of the difference in meaning of the word chili to different readers. 🙂

  3. Oh, this looks good! Will try it out this week!

  4. szechuan sauce without!!! any szechuan pepper in it is realy weird!

    • I know right! You would be amazed at how authentic this sauce tastes even without the traditional Szechuan peppers! That’s why I mentioned the gene pool of peppers in my post .
      Give it a try and let the flavors of Szechuan bowl you over! 🙂

  5. Doesn’t this need some sort of acid to make it safe? I know when I make a mojo de ajo oil (roasted garlic in oil) you have to add lime juice or the garlic can give you food poisoning.

    • Hi Dianna,
      You are absolutely correct. Garlic oils could lead to food poisoning if there is no preservative such as an acid or salt.
      This sauce is safe for refrigeration and consumption because:
      1) It contains salt, a natural preservative to inhibit growth of bacteria
      2) It contains Soy sauce which contains acetic acid.
      3) Most important, the hot nature chilies/peppers is due to capsaicin, which again, is a natural preservative. The hotter your chili/pepper, the longer the shelf life.

      You can make and store this sauce without the fear of food poisoning. Hope this helped 🙂

  6. I came across this recipe and I must say it looks promising. I wanna make this and wanted to know if you have added celery for texture or taste. I cant find celery around me. What can I substitute it with? Looking forward to hear from you.

    • Hey Anshu! Thank you 🙂 The celery definitely contributes to the taste. The chef who taught us this recipe made sure we find celery (10 yrs ago, celery was not so common in India right?). Presuming it’s vital to the taste, I have never made it without.

      • Thank you Prash. I did proceed without celery because I knew I wud never find it in this part of the world. Made a few changes and it came outstanding. Will post on my website giving due credit to you. Thank you so much for your recipe and time.

        • Wow Anshu! Thank you 🙂 I shall look forward to your recipe. it will be sure handy. Celery can sometimes be hard to find.

  7. here is the way I made it using your recipe..making few modifications.Thanks Prash.

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