Sichuan Chili Oil Wontons (Hongyou Chaoshou, 红油抄手)


Jump to Recipe – proceed at owN risk

A Taste of Childhood

These Sichuan Chili Oil Wontons (红油抄手, hóngyóu chāoshǒu) take us back to slurping down a bowl of chaoshou at our fave Chongzhou noodle shop. For authentic texture and hometown flavor, traditional technique is everything.

Whether you know them as everyday 馄饨 (húntún), Sichuan 抄手 (chāoshǒu), or Cantonese-derived wontons, these soup-friendly meat parcels are a hole-in-the-wall mainstay. Unlike 饺子 (jiǎozi) or 水饺 (shuǐjiǎo), aka boiled dumplings, chaoshou are served “wet” in bowls of broth or, in this case, hongyou dressing. Moreover, the delicate, crossed wrappers trap sauce by their very coattails. And the pared-down filling won’t weigh you down the way jiaozi can.

Right outside my grandparents’ apartment in Chongzhou—Ma’s hometown, just west of Chengdu—my favorite breakfast stall slung noodles and chaoshou left and right. The aunties who ran the shop knew every time I showed up, I’d come craving their 清汤 (qīngtāng) chaoshou. Unlike their hongyou counterpart, qingtang or “clear broth” chaoshou are served in a light, simmered stock. Nine times out of 10,  I’d still choose the qingtang… but eight of those nine times, I haven’t prepared said stock in advance. So at home, hongyou chaoshou reigns.

a bowl of clear broth from the chaoshou pot with cut scallion
Huntun broth is a far cry from proper qingtang stock but an excellent post-dinner palate cleanser nonetheless

The best part about making Sichuan chili oil wontons at home is getting a clear and spicy soup 2-for-1. Down the chili oil dressing with the huntun first, then cleanse your palate with a couple ladlefuls of the boiled broth after.

Usually we reserve pot water from cooked dumplings/noodles for cleaning dishes (Asian auntie kitchen tip: “You don’t even need soap!” — the leftover starches whisk away oily residue, no scientific citations here), but when I’m making chaoshou, you’ll catch me drinking most of the leftovers. I don’t know what it is about huntun broth that makes it so drinkable, but it may have to do with the fact that everything cooks so quickly, leaving behind a relatively clear soup.

packaged Twin Marquis Shanghai Style wrappers for Sichuan chili oil wontons
Twin Marquis is the old standby for readily available wrappers, available for $2-3 at any Asian supermarket. Unlike jiaozi, which require hand-rolling wrappers for the preferred thickness and chewiness, huntun wrappers are commonly store-bought.

Traditional Techniques You Need to Know

One major difference in how wisened Sichuan aunties prepare chaoshou is their use of 葱姜水 (cōngjiāngshuǐ), “scallion ginger water.” Instead of mincing raw ginger and scallion, we smash them and soak in cold water. Hot water volatilizes the aroma, but cold-soaked congjiangshui produces a concentrated scallion-ginger solution that melds to the filling mixture.

Similar to the scallion ginger water, any hongyou chaoshou dressing worth its salt uses 蒜水 (suànshuǐ), “garlic water.” This time, we do want the minced garlic pieces in the bowl, so the purpose of cold-soaking is to create a garlic solution that elevates your dressing from hongyou + garlic to hongyou garlic. I smash each clove anyway (helps with peeling, for one thing) and mince from there. Add it and just enough water to a dipping bowl to cover, then set aside for later.

VIDEO: Mincing your own ground pork from whole pork meat in one minute

While your congjiangshui and suanshui soak, now’s the time to mince your pork shoulder. If you’re using store-bought ground pork, skip this step and read ahead. But if you love dumplings, wontons and other “bao” (包子, bāozi) where ground pork carries the filling, we encourage you to try making these recipes with freshly ground meat whenever possible. You can taste the difference! (Speaking as someone who made a lot of wontons through college with store-ground stuff). All you need is a cleaver and a couple minutes (one if you’re a pro, see above video).

Then, you’re going to work that filling like an old-time granite millstone: vigorously, continuously and in one direction only. Doing so whips the muscle fibers and proteins into the best shape of their lives—that is, a tacky, gluey paste. In Chinese we call this 上劲 (shàng jìn), very roughly translated as something like “taking up strength.” This is not a task for the faint of heart! Halfway through, you may think you’re done, but what you’re really at is halfway through. Go for broke. A full 10 minutes, minimum—it takes me up to 15 minutes sometimes. One does not wishy-washily develop paste from pork.

a white enamel bowl with a green rim holding stirred meat filling for Sichuan chili oil wontons and a pair of bamboo chopsticks
Stir in one direction only, until meat gums up. This is what you should start seeing a couple minutes in. If you’ve ever had a proper labor-of-love Chinese meatball, you should know this step impacts the texture above all. Miss me with those dense Italian meatballs.

More Tips for Real-Deal Sichuan Wontons

  • Your reserved congjiangshui must never be added all at once. The meat filling will not hydrate this way successfully, but instead it will 吐水 (tǔ shuǐ) or “spit out the water.” Add one tablespoon at a time, go stir-crazy for a couple minutes, then add another tablespoon and repeat.
  • Old-school aunties don’t bother adding rice wine. You may be familiar with adding rice wine to meat in Chinese cooking to 去味 (qù wèi), remove any number of gamey odors. This is especially true for fishy (腥味, xīngwèi) dishes. Generally, the alcohol cooks off when wine hits a hot wok, leaving behind only a subtle, fragrant aroma (why Shaoxing wine is so desirable). But with this kind of cold, raw meat filling, wine doesn’t evaporate when added. It gets folded into a wrapper before ever being cooked, which can produce an undesirable flavor down the line. However, if you’re sensitive to raw meat odors, adding a little rice wine will still help.
  • Marinate filling briefly, covered, once glued up and gummy. Let that meat rest before folding.
a prepared huntun (wonton) sitting on the palm of an open hand, with more out of focus huntun in the background
Made ahead in bulk and then frozen, quick-cooking huntun have your back for every lazy or last-minute meal.

Have a baking sheet or cutting board and a small dipping bowl of water ready within reach.

  1. Position your wrapper like a diamond in the open palm of your non-dominant hand. Add about ½ teaspoon of filling, dip your finger or chopstick in the water and wet the top corner.
  2. Fold top corner down to meet bottom corner in an even triangle. Press together and seal.
  3. Wet one wing tip of the triangle. I’m right-handed and I wet the left corner.
  4. Using the thumb and index finger of each hand, squeeze both wings on either side of the meat filling and twist together toward center.
  5. Overlap the wing tips, crossing in the center with your dominant thumb on top.
  6. Pinch together, press tightly and seal. Set aside on baking sheet.

Every family has their own way of folding huntun, but Sichuan chaoshou variations all feature the “crossed hands” they’re named after. Actually, my dad’s Nanchong style is slightly more complex than the kind shown above from Ma’s Chongzhou version. But since I’m always thinking about the huntun I’ve eaten in Chongzhou, that’s how we’re making them today.

TIP: You don’t want to pack huntun with meat like you would a dumpling. Since huntun wrappers are much thinner than jiaozi, they aren’t meant to hold much meat, and their twisted shape might leak filling if stuffed. In the same vein, resist the urge to wet every side of the wrapper and seal the entire shape. When you boil those huntun, they’ll puff up and float to the surface before they’re ready. The slightly “open” shape helps chaoshou cook evenly.

Serving Authentic Sichuan Chili Oil Wontons

Finally, the hongyou chaoshou lifeblood you’ve been waiting for! This recipe makes individual 二两 (èr liǎng) serving size bowls (一两 = 50 grams, 二两 = 100 grams; in Chengdu, this average adult portion means 10 chaoshou).

  • As covered above, suanshui is the key technique you need to know for assembling the dressing! Now’s the time for your cold-soaked garlic water to shine.
  • Leave the vinegar in your pantry. This chaoshou is not the hot and sour 酸辣 (suānlà) version.
  • Use a proper Chinese soy sauce, not salty, two-dimensional Kikkoman. Sichuan Zhongba soy sauce was made for dressings like this, and its proprietary recipe and secret ingredient give it depth no other soy sauce can match.
  • Lard. L-a-r-d. I, too, was raised hating the sound and implicit ~unhealthiness~ of this word. But now I know better (and I eat better too). Self-rendered pork fat gives hongyou chaoshou the taste and mouthfeel Chengdu cooks swear by.
  • You know caiziyou is the soul of Sichuan kitchens. You also know every local noodle house smells deliciously of the stuff, and it’s generally cooked before use. Short of taking out a pan to heat up a drizzle of oil every time you want big flavor in your homecooked noodles or chaoshou, what can you do? Answer: make real-deal Sichuan chili oil with it! Then add liberally to your hongyou dressing as God intended.
  • Smart cooks skim the red oil from the top of the chili oil jar first, then dredge up solid flakes from the bottom.
  • Lastly, when cooking any huntun, let boil briefly upfront, then immediately add a cup of cold water. This crucial step stops the thin wrapper from overcooking into a flimsy mess before the raw meat cooks through. You know the difference between al dente and soggy pasta. Treat your chaoshou (and especially jiaozi, which need three additions of cold water due to the meat:skin ratio) right!
close up overhead shot of a bowl of prepared Sichuan chili oil wontons with a topping of leafy greens and chopped scallion
Fresh pea shoots are the traditional green served alongside Sichuan chili oil wontons, but hard for us to find in the winter. We serve with whatever leafy greens are at hand.

If you love these Sichuan Chili Oil Wontons, try Taylor’s Zhongshuijiao next! They’re Sichuan’s famed dumpling equivalent to hongyou chaoshou. Or for the secret to making your own super-umami chicken broth for qingtang chaoshou, refer to Mala Mama’s Clarified Old Hen Soup (Dunjitang, 炖鸡汤).

Sichuan Chili Oil Wontons (Hongyou Chaoshou, 红油抄手)

By: Kathy Yuan | The Mala Market | Inspiration & Ingredients for Sichuan Cooking
Yield: 66 wontons


Congjiangshui (Scallion Ginger Water)

  • 1 thumbs rinsed, unpeeled fresh ginger, smashed
  • 2 large scallions, smashed
  • ¼ cup cold water

Suanshui (Garlic Water)

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, roughly minced
  • water just enough to cover

Chaoshou (Wontons)

  • 250 grams ground pork shoulder (approx. 9 ounces) see note
  • ½ teaspoon salt more or less to taste
  • teaspoon ground white pepper optional
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoons scallion-ginger water, divided
  • 1 package wrappers (we use Twin Marquis Shanghai style) comes in 16-ounce package
  • 1 small bowl reserved water for sealing dough

Hongyou Chaoshou for one

  • leafy greens of choice (pea shoots/wandoujian if available), washed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese light soy sauce (Zhongba preferred)
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 2 pinches sugar
  • dash ground huajiao (Sichuan pepper) to taste, see note
  • pinch MSG optional
  • 2 teaspoons oil from chili oil
  • 1 teaspoon flakes from chili oil
  • ½ tablespoon garlic water
  • ½ teaspoon pork lard
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped on diagonal
  • 10 chaoshou
  • ½ cup reserved cold water for cooking, more if larger pot
  • splash hot broth


Congjiangshui (Scallion Ginger Water)

  • Smash the ginger and scallion against a cutting board with the flat side of a cleaver. Chop the scallions in half and slice them lengthwise into long slivers. Place in shallow bowl and cover with ¼ cup of cold water for 30 minutes.
  • After soaking, strain the ginger and scallion from the water, squeezing out as much extra juice as possible. Set aside for filling.

Suanshui (Garlic Water)

  • Smash garlic to peel and mince roughly. Place in small dipping bowl and add just enough water to cover. Set aside for dressing.

Folding Chaoshou

  • Mince pork if starting from whole pork shoulder (see note). Otherwise, in a medium mixing bowl, add (in order) ground pork, salt, ground white pepper, egg and sesame oil.
    Start mixing vigorously in one direction. Once egg is entirely incorporated, add 1 tablespoon of the reserved scallion-ginger water. Resume power-stirring, until visible moisture is entirely absorbed, before adding 1 more tablespoon of the water at a time. Repeat as needed. Continue mixing in this way for 10-15 minutes total, all in one direction. At this point, the mixture should look and feel sticky, lighter in color and gummy. Cover and rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
  • Set aside a baking sheet or cutting board and a dipping bowl of clean water. Retrieve the meat filling from the fridge. Laying a wrapper in the palm of your nondominant hand like a diamond, add about a ½ teaspoon of filling. Wet the top corner and fold the diamond down into a triangle with the tip pointing toward you. Wet the corner of the side opposite your dominant hand. Squeeze both wings of the triangle between your index and thumb on each hand, then twist them toward the center until the two tips "cross" or overlap. Press and seal. Set aside and repeat until all the filling and wrappers are used up.

Serving Hongyou Chaoshou For One

  • In a wok or large, wide pot, add water two-thirds full and bring to a boil. While waiting for the pot to boil, wash and drain your leafy greens of choice.
  • In an individual serving bowl, add light soy sauce, salt, sugar, ground huajiao, MSG, chili oil*, lard, garlic water and chopped scallion. Resist the urge to pour more soy sauce, as it easily overpowers the rest of the hongyou flavor.
    *Skim the red oil from the top of the chili oil jar first, then dredge up solid flakes from the bottom.
  • When the pot has reached a rolling boil, add chaoshou (10 = average adult serving). Stir immediately after adding chaoshou to avoid sticking. When the pot comes back to boiling, wait about 40 seconds, then add the reserved cold water. Spoon a small ladleful of broth into the assembled dressing bowls (best described as a "splash" — less is more! Beware that turning this soupy dilutes the hongyou flavor you just created).
    When the pot returns to a boil and the chaoshou are "rolling" around at the surface, add the drained greens. While they cook briefly, check the chaoshou skin. Remove with a slotted spoon once white edges are cooked through and add to serving bowl. Once bowl is assembled, top with veggies and extra scallions for garnish. Serve immediately and enjoy.
  • Reserve the broth for a clear soup and for washing dishes, soap-free!


Freshly ground pork shoulder (前腿肉, qiántuǐ ròu) is highly absorbent and the best-tasting cut for fillings. Look for a boneless, skinless cut of pork shoulder about 70/30, no less than 25% fat, or the meat will be tougher and less tasty. Skinless pork belly with the top fat layer removed can also be used. You can take a chunk of meat to fresh ground pork in no time with a cleaver (see video in post), but I have no clue whether it’s a good idea to do this with a chef’s knife (probably not). If mincing your own pork is not an option for you currently, no worries!
One 16 ounce Twin Marquis Shanghai style package includes 66-67 wrappers. This recipe makes 66-67 chaoshou with no filling leftover. 
Slide a full baking sheet of chaoshou into the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes to an hour. Then, take out the baking sheet and transfer chaoshou one-by-one into a plastic bag (we reuse thin produce bags from the supermarket) or container of choice. This prevents the chaoshou from sticking together! If you throw chaoshou straight into a bag or Tupperware and freeze directly, you’ll be stuck prying delicate wrappers (unsuccessfully) from one solid block.
Why we reuse produce bags: 1) reduce, reuse, recycle! 2) their malleable shape means we can fit this bag anywhere in our packed freezer, in any configuration. Resealable freezer bags are poorly shaped, bulky in tight spaces and redundant by comparison, so we don’t bother.
GROUND HUAJIAO (Sichuan pepper):
Toast whole huajiao in a dry skillet until pods start to smell very fragrant, but do not brown them. Let peppercorns cool, then grind in a spice grinder or in a mortar + pestle to your desired coarseness. Sichuan pepper powder will retain its potent flavor and numbing punch for only a few weeks.

Tried this recipe?

About Kathy Yuan

Kathy is a first-gen, twenty-something daughter of two Sichuan immigrants who cooked her way back to her parents’ kitchen during the pandemic and is now helping Ma (you can call her Mala Mama) keep generational family recipes alive. All photos shot and edited by her.

Recipes you might like

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


      1. thanks for your sharing.seems very native language expression.

        Not only can I get useful English expressions,but delicious recipes.

  1. Is there a gluten free wrapper available? Is there a recipe I can make from scratch if there are no easily gluten free pre made wrappers ?

    1. Hi David, thanks for reading! This is a great question for our gluten-free friends. It doesn’t look like anyone sells premade GF wrappers, but I found several highly rated recipes when I searched “gluten free wonton wrappers” online. If you roll the dough out by hand, try and get the wrappers as thin as possible or you might end up with dumpling wrappers instead. If you have a pasta machine at home, I recommend using that (lasagna sheet style) to get the most uniform texture and shape out of the wrappers. It should also help you get it as thin as possible. Hope this helps!

  2. I’m new to the website but so impressed with this recipe. I can’t wait to try it, thank you so much for the detailed instructions and photos. I have question regarding ready made wrappers. What is the difference between the round wrappers vs square wrappers. May I used them interchangeably? Thank you!

    1. I’m so flattered, Toni! Thanks so much for reading, wow 🙂 The difference between round vs square wrappers is their intended use. The round wrappers are used for dumplings and Cantonese siu mai, while square wrappers are for huntun (wontons). They don’t generally make thick square wrappers since all huntun are thin-skinned and quick-cooking, but you will find both thick and thin round wrappers. If you use a round wrapper for these chaoshou, you won’t have any “ends” to fold into the “crossed hands” style chaoshou are named after! That shape also happens to be the best for capturing all the delicious sauce. The hongyou would just slide off a dumpling-shaped wonton. One of the many reasons I’m biased toward chaoshou! Hope this helps. Let us know what you think if you get the chance to try!

  3. I don’t understand where the broth comes in. Is it the water you’re boiling the wontons in or is it like chicken broth heated separately?

    1. Hi, David! Thanks for reading and sorry for any confusion. The broth I mention in the recipe card itself is simply the cooking water you boil the wontons in, correct. Since the hongyou dressing for this recipe has so many other strong flavors, you don’t need to add chicken broth. Although if you ever have a great homemade chicken stock on hand, another way to eat chaoshou (and my favorite at-home method!) is to boil the chaoshou in the chicken stock, no hongyou dressing or chili oil at all. This is similar to the “qingtang” version I mention earlier in the post. Hope this helps!

    1. Hi Raj, thanks for reading! I’ve never used a mixer but if you’re talking about the KitchenAid stand mixer with the single mixer attachment, that sounds like it could be worth a try! I would start on the lower settings just in case. The goal is to not break apart the long protein strands that glue the meat paste together. Please be sure to report back and let us know how it went 🙂