Our Best Spicy Sichuan Recipes to Numb Your Tongue

There's loads of flavor to go with that signature mouth-tingling heat

Numb tongue, lips tingling, and mouth salivating from blasts of vinegar—this is the magic of Sichuan cooking. Located in southwestern China, the Sichuan province—also famed as the home of pandas—is known for its namesake Sichuan peppers. Unlike other chili peppers, these beauties induce a unique tingling and buzzing feeling yet without the direct heat, making for some of our favorite dishes in the Chinese culinary canon.

Start with the basics: one of the world’s best dipping and seasoning sauces is Sichuan chile oil. Then, move on to veggies, meats, and some of the best noodle soups. From kung pao chicken to mapo tofu, here are our absolute best Sichuan recipes to try today.

Spicy Sichuan “Water Boiled” Fish and Celery

Spicy Sichuan “Water Boiled” Fish and Celery
The name for this Sichuanese dish means “ants climbing a tree” because of the way the ground pork clings to the strands of glass noodles. Get the recipe for Ma Yi Shang Shu (“Ants Climbing a Tree”) »

Sichuan Chile Oil

A toasty, subtly fiery chile oil to drizzle over soup or dip with dumplings. It’s worth making a large batch; the oil will keep at room temperature for a year. Get the recipe for Sichuan Chile Oil »
Tossing these tasty pork wontons (a mix of ground pork, rice wine, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce) in red chile oil adds the signature Sichuan heat. Get the recipe for Chao Shou (Sichuan Pork Wontons) »
Chengdu noodle shop owner Ma Yingjun shared his recipe for this dish of stewed pork over noodles. See Matt Gross’s article Flavors of Sichuan for information on hard-to-find ingredients.

Tangcu Muli Rouwan (Sweet and Sour Pork Meatballs)

These succulent Sichuan meatballs are fried until crisp, then coated with a sweet and sour sauce. Get the recipe for Tangcu Muli Rouwan (Sweet and Sour Pork Meatballs) »

Sichuan Twice-Cooked Pork Belly

Sichuan Twice-Cooked Pork Belly

Lu Rou (Triple-Cooked Spareribs with Chiles)

These lavishly spiced ribs are based on a recipe from Chengdu home cook Ivy Hui. The ribs require an overnight marinade, so plan accordingly. See Matt Gross’s article Flavors of Sichuan for information on hard-to-find ingredients. Get the recipe for Lu Rou (Triple-Cooked Spareribs with Chiles) »

​Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken
Shallow-frying green beans blisters them on the outside and renders them tender on the inside, with a whisper of a chew.

Sichuan Tofu and Ground Beef in Red Chile Sauce (Mapo Tofu)

This spicy braise, garnished with mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns, is one of the region’s most well-known dishes. Get the recipe for Sichuan Tofu and Ground Beef in Red Chile Sauce (Mapo Tofu) »

Sichuan Noodles with Spicy Pork Sauce (Dan Dan Mian)

For this beloved dish of China’s Sichuan province, a tangle of wheat noodles is topped with a spicy, pungent pork sauce. This recipe is adapted from one in Fuschia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty (W.W. Norton & Company, 2003). Inspired by an article in SAVEUR No. 154 (March 2013), it first appeared in our Jan/Feb 2014 SAVEUR 100 issue with the article 20 Years of SAVEUR: Capital of Heat. Get the recipe for Sichuan Noodles with Spicy Pork Sauce »