Grilled Sichuan Chicken Wings

By Published On: 11 Oct '21Last Updated: 14 Apr '24

Delicious grilled Sichuan chicken wings that incorporate flavours of India and Sichuan. A moreish dish that, quite simply, everyone wants to eat.

Grilled Sichuan Chicken Wings

would you love some Grilled Sichuan numbing Chicken Wings?

The second largest of the Chinese provinces is Sichuan (formerly Szechuan or Szechwan) and it is located in the south-west of China. Chengdu is the capital city of the Sichuan province of China. Sichuan is famous for extremely spicy food or a sensation that the Chinese call Málà – “numbing-hot” experience and oh also giant pandas! Sichuan translates to "four rivers" namely, the Jialing, Jinsha, Min and Tuo. These rivers run through the many valleys and gorges of the Sichuan province.

Sichuan food is famous for its bold, spicy and a bit tongue-numbing flavours and I am totally addicted to it. These grilled chicken wings incorporate some of the flavours of Sichuan – especially Sichuan peppercorns, which contain a molecule that causes a tingling numbing sensation on your tongue and lips. In this recipe, the wings are first marinated in a sweet, savoury Indian/Asian style marinade and then grilled rather than deep-fried which makes them a healthier alternative.

  • Sichuan Chicken is usually made with chicken on the bone, chopped into small pieces. Being a fan of meat with bones, I have no trouble navigating tiny bones. I have therefore used my most favourite part of the chicken, the chicken wings for this recipe in place of the chicken pieces.
  • Further, authentic Sichuan chicken is first marinated and then deep fried to become golden and crispy. In my opinion, it is not necessary to deep fry the chicken. It is just as tasty, if the chicken is grilled or pan fried. I have therefore, adjusted my recipe by grilling the chicken wings while still (hopefully) achieving the dramatic look this dish deserves.
  • Sichuan Chicken is almost always garnished with fried dried red chillies and Sichuan peppercorns for that ultimate Málà ( is for numbing hot comes from Sichuan peppercorns and lá is spicy usually comes from adding spicy dried red chillies to the dish) experience. Use the hot dried long red chillies if you already have them in your pantry as a garnish instead of buying them especially for this dish.

What are sichuan peppercorns?

Sichuan peppercorns (aka Chinese pepper) are dried reddish-brown berries that add a woody fragrance and leave a pleasantly numbing feeling in the mouth. The zingy split open reddish-brown husks are used throughout South-Western China and this spice is called ‘Huā Jiāo’ (“flower pepper”). In Japanese cuisine they use the milder berries of these pods, known as ‘sansho’. They belong to the citrus family and grow on deciduous prickly ash shrubs in rural south-western province of China. With a floral flavour and citrus tang, these peppercorns are spicy in a different way. They bring a numbness sensation that tingles and numbs the lips and tongue rather than a mouth-on-fire sensation. Despite their name, these reddish-brown pods are not related to black pepper corns in any way and should never be treated like black pepper corns. Black or white peppercorns cannot be substituted for Sichuan Peppercorns because they have very different flavour and taste and thus, are not interchangeable.

50g pack of PREMIUM pink Sichuan peppercorns

Pink Sichuan peppercorn husks without the gritty seeds

Pink Sichuan peppercorns with the black gritty seeds

Sichuan Peppercorns and Chinese Five-Spice powder

Sichuan Peppercorns make one of the key ingredients that form the Chinese five-spice powder, the other ingredients being cinnamon, cloves, fennel and star anise.

Where to buy Sichuan Peppercorns or GROUND sichuan pepper?

Sichuan Peppercorns are not generally sold in a typical local supermarket. I buy them whole or ground from my local Asian grocer. The whole peppercorns come in packets of 50g each. I buy the PREMIUM (as shown in the left most picture) brand because this is a good brand with little or no black gritty seeds.

The ground pepper comes in small packs of 10g made by McCormick, also sold only at your local Asian grocer. Different distributors may sell different brands. You can buy them online also.

Whole Pink Sichuan peppercorns husks

Home ground Sichuan peppercorns in a pestle and mortar with husks

McCormick's ground Sichuan pepper (10g) bought from my local Asian supermarket

Teppal or Tirphal

What is the best substitute for Sichuan Peppercorns?

I left India several years ago and I have never eaten a Chinese dish with Sichuan Peppercorns in India. Here’s some news – it appears you can buy a variant of Sichuan pepper in some states of India and the name of that spice is ‘Teppal’ in Konkani or ‘Tirphal’ in Marathi. This spice is a relatively less known spice and being a South Indian, it was never used in my home even when I was growing up. I checked with my local Indian supermarket here in Sydney and unfortunately, they do not stock this spice. I am not exactly sure how it tastes, but I have read that it is not normally combined with other spices because of its delicate flavour, for fear that the flavour could get lost among other spices. I must confess I do not know if Teppal is a good substitute to Sichuan Peppercorns. If you have tasted this spice and feel comfortable to use it, then please go ahead and use this spice in place of Sichuan Peppercorns. Try with half the quantity as recommended in the recipe for the first time.

Always go slow when you are in doubt!!

Can you prepare these Grilled Chicken Wings without Sichuan Peppercorns?


These wings are delicious even without the use of Sichuan peppercorns. Just omit this spice in the marinade and in the garnish. They will then be just Sweet and Spicy Grilled Chicken Wings and taste totally awesome. In fact, I have always prepared them without the peppercorns. I was so keen to introduce this ultimate Málà experience to my readers out there and that’s why I decided to add the Sichuan peppercorns. Below are images of the wings without the peppercorns.

Without Sichuan peppercorns

Without Sichuan peppercorns

Without Sichuan peppercorns

Why use Birds Eye or Bullet chillies?

I use either fresh Birds Eye chillies or Bullet chillies to pack a punch to this chicken. You may increase or decrease the number of chillies as per your taste or you can omit them if you do not like the chilli kick. I normally use 2 or 3 chillies which give a little punch but not a tongue burning heat by any count. I buy my Birds Eye/Bullet chillies at my local Woolworths Supermarket. They are fresh red chillies with medium level heat. They come in small packs and are available very close to the herb shelf. You may substitute with 2-3 fresh Cayenne peppers, but the level of spiciness is lesser in Cayenne Peppers.

Store your remaining fresh chillies in the freezer up to six months and use as and when required.

Below are the images of both types of chillies. Any of the two varieties work well for this recipe.

Birds Eye Chillies

Bullet Chillies


  • Use only the open husks of Sichuan peppercorns as shown in the centre image under the heading 'What are Sichuan peppercorns'.
  • To bring out their distinctive aroma and flavour, Sichuan peppercorns must be first toasted before they are added to the dish.
  • To toast the Sichuan peppercorns, place them into a small unoiled room temperature frying pan or skillet and dry roast (without oil) over a low flame, moving them around constantly till they are just fragrant (about 2-3 minutes). You will know they are ready when the seeds start to pop and release a fragrant smoke.
  • Remove immediately from the hot pan into a small bowl then cool to room temperature (approx. 7-10 minutes). If you see any black seeds (see limage below), then discard the black seeds inside the husks as they are tasteless, hard and gritty. Many of these black seeds will pop out during toasting. In fact, the PREMIUM brand as suggested by me does not have too many gritty seeds in it. If you cannot find the PREMIUM brand, buy a slightly expensive brand, it's worth the price! Do not buy a very cheap brand as you will find too many gritty seeds in the packet.
  • Powder them as fine as possible in your spice grinder or any such appliance or use a pestle and mortar.
  • Sift the ground peppercorns through a fine mesh to remove the gritty bits (husks) and use only the fine powder for recipes as asked for in the recipe. As I have removed the dark seeds from the husks, the gritty bits get softened in the marinade and are hardly noticeable. Besides, they add some texture to the dish (I like to add the gritty bits (husk) for some texture but please do not add the bits of the husk if you are not a fan of such textures). In the recipe below I have added ¾ tsp. of the crushed peppercorns (with the husks) to the marinade and the rest I used whole as a garnish at the end just before serving.
  • If you are using the store bought ground Sichuan pepper, then use only ½ tsp. in the marinade and sprinkle ¼ tsp. as a garnish just before serving the chicken.
  • For optimal taste, I like to toast and powder my peppercorns and use them immediately. Make a small batch and use the powder freshly ground as Sichuan peppercorns lose their numbing effect and aroma quickly. However, if you happen to have any leftovers, place the powder in a small airtight container in a cool place or place the remaining Sichuan pepper powder in a glass jar and add a little oil. Stir well and use within a week or two in your next recipe that calls for Sichuan peppercorns.
  • Finally, for that ultimate Málà (numbing hot) experience, gently fry the whole long dried red chillies (see image below) and the peppercorns in hot oil and garnish the chicken with this oil along with peppercorns and chillies just before serving. Use only whole red chillies as they add only flavour and not spice. If you want the spice, then cut 2 or 3 chillies into two bits and leave the rest whole. You may toss the wings lightly for the oil to penetrate into the chicken, if you wish. If you want a stronger numbing experience, you may increase the quantity of Sichuan peppercorns in the garnish to 2 teaspoons.

This is a family recipe for Grilled Sichuan Chicken Wings that has been perfected over the years with input from everyone (husband, son, family and me). I have tweaked my original marinade a little to give it a touch of Sichuan by adding roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns and the Sichuan style finishing touches of fried red chillies along with whole Sichuan peppercorns.

If you are unsure of this spice and you cannot purchase Sichuan peppercorns, then by all means prepare this dish without this spice. Go ahead, give it a try and enjoy these Grilled Chicken Wings with or without Sichuan peppercorns!!!

With all these tips, Grilled Sichuan style Chicken Wings are now at your fingertips. Enjoy!

Just remember to have a whole stack of tissues as you will really need them!!!!!

Black gritty seeds inside blue circles - discard these seeds from the husks after you have roasted the peppercorns

Dried Hot Chillies used for garnish bought from my local Asian supermarket

If you have tried this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback. Please be sure to rate the recipe and/or leave a comment below. If you want to see more recipe inspirations, you can follow me on Instagram @lavina_mendonsa.

Grilled Sichuan Chicken Wings

Catherine Lavina Mendonsa
The recipe for Grilled Sichuan Chicken Wings really elevates the humble chicken wings. The wings are first marinated with classic Sichuan flavours of ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, chilli and Sichuan peppercorns and then grilled resulting in a flavour packed fabulous finger food starter or served at a casual grazing-platter style gathering.  A bit of tongue and lip numbing tingling sensation makes them quite simply irresistible. They also make a great family meal for four served with hot steamed rice. 
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 23 minutes
Resting time + bringing the chicken to room temperature 2 hours 45 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 28 minutes
Course Appetizer, Grazing platter, Main Course, Sharing platter, Side Dish
Cuisine Fusion, Indo-Chinese
Servings 4 people


  • 1.5 kg chicken wings with skin each wing separated at the joint into 2 pieces
  • tbsp. (3g) whole pink Sichuan peppercorn husks, black seeds removed
  • tbsp. (40g) garlic cloves finely chopped
  • tbsp. (30g) ginger finely chopped
  • 2-3 fresh Birds Eye or Bullet chillies cut into 1 cm rounds or to taste
  • tsp. (10g) Kashmiri chilli powder or to taste
  • 4 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 4 tbsp. good quality sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp. white vinegar or rice wine vinegar
  • tsp. salt or to taste
  • Oil to spray

For the garnish

  • 4 tbsp. oil
  • 15 long whole dried good quality red chillies
  • 4 green onions diagonally cut into 2cm lengths
  • tsp. Sichuan peppercorns
  • Finely sliced red and green chilli for garnish optional
  • 2 tbsp. white sesame seeds roasted for garnish (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. black sesame seeds roasted for garnish (optional)


  • Separate the open husks of the Sichuan peppercorns from the black seeds. Discard the black seeds as they are hard, gritty and tasteless. You should have 1½ tbsp. of peppercorns without the black seeds.
  • Place half the husks of the Sichuan peppercorns in a dry room temperature small frying pan and dry roast for 1½-2 minutes or until fragrant, reserving the rest for the garnish. Remove immediately from the pan and place in a bowl to cool off to room temperature. Once cool, place only the roasted peppercorns in a small spice grinder, coffee grinder or similar appliance or pestle and mortar. Powder it as fine as possible.
  • Sift through a fine mesh to remove the gritty bits (husks) and use only the fine powder when called in the recipes. (Note 1: I add my powder along the bits of the husk as I like some texture in my chicken - see image above of the ground peppercorns)
  • Combine the powdered peppercorns, garlic, ginger, Birds eye/Bullet chillies, chilli powder, soy sauce, honey, chilli sauce, sesame oil, olive oil, vinegar and salt in a deep glass bowl enough to hold the chicken wings.
  • Add the wings to the glass bowl, combine till the wings are well coated with the marinade. Refrigerate for 2 hours minimum or overnight for deep flavour and best results.
  • Bring the chicken to room temperature (approx. 45 mins.).
  • Preheat grill to 220°C. Line the base of a large baking tray with 2 layers of aluminium foil or baking paper and spray with oil. Arrange chicken wings in one layer. Spray the chicken liberally with oil. Grill for 15 minutes on one side or until they are golden brown. Flip them over and baste wings with tray juices and grill for a further 5-6 minutes or until they are golden and cooked through.
  • For the garnish, while the wings are cooking, heat a small non-stick frying pan with 4 tbsp. oil on low to medium. Add the dried red chillies and stir-fry for a few seconds stirring constantly (do not burn the chillies). Add the spring onions and stir-fry for 2 seconds. Add the reserved whole Sichuan peppercorns (you should have approximately 1½ tsp.) and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and transfer to a large serving platter. For that ultimate Málà (numbing hot) experience, drizzle this oil along with the fried red chillies, spring onion and the peppercorns over the chicken and serve immediately garnished with toasted white and black sesame seeds as a fabulous finger food for sharing as a starter or serve at a casual grazing-platter style gathering. They also make a great meal served with steamed rice and a fresh salad or stir-fried vegetables. They are equally delicious served with Coconut Dhal.


  1. I add the ground peppercorns to my marinade with the bits of the husks as I like some texture to my dish.  You may sift the peppercorns and add only the fine powder, if you are not a fan of this texture.  
  2. The dried long red chillies add good flavour to the dish without adding any chilli kick.  If you want the chilli kick, you may cut three chillies into two pieces each and add them to the frying pan along with the rest of the chillies.  I prefer not to have this chilli kick in the garnish as the marinade has enough spice to make this dish pleasantly spicy.  Use your own discretion how you would like to garnish your chicken wings.  
Keyword Baked chicken, Grilled Chicken, Indian Chinese Fusion Chicken, Numbing Chicken, Sichuan Style Chicken, Szechuan Chicken, Szechwan Chicken