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Char Siu (Chinese Roast Pork) recipe

Char Siu (Chinese Roast Pork) recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Pork
  • Roast pork
  • Pork shoulder

Also known as Chinese barbecued pork. If you want a more authentic red colour, add a few drops of red food colouring.

10 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 1 (675g) pork shoulder joint, excess fat removed and cut into 4x4cm thick strips
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
  • 4 tablespoons dark brown soft sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine
  • 2 teaspoon fermented red bean curd (nam yiu)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 petals star anise

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:50min ›Extra time:8hr marinating › Ready in:9hr10min

  1. Make the marinade by mixing together the garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, shaoxing wine, fermented red bean curd, sesame oil and star anise.
  2. Place the pork into a large flat dish and pour over the marinade. Gently massage the meat with the marinade for about 1 minute, cover with cling film and chill for overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 140 C / Gas 1.
  4. Place a wire rack on top of a baking tray and lay the marinated pork on top. Bake for 30 minutes, turning half way.
  5. Turn up the temperature to 200 C / Gas 6 and continue to cook for an additional 20-25 minutes or until the pork is cooked all the way through and juices run clear or the internal temperature is 71 degrees C.
  6. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. Serve over a bowl of steaming rice with the juices poured over the top. Enjoy!

Cook's note

When you're trimming the fat off the pork, don't go overboard. You need to leave a significant amount of fat on to keep the meat juicy.


Shaoxing wine and fermented red bean curd can be purchased in Oriental speciality stores.

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Oven-Roasted Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork) Recipe using Pork Tenderloin

I have been craving for the warm, comfort of good Chinese take-out … the sinfully delicious flavor of oven roasted char siu – or Chinese BBQ Pork. This dish is served at many Chinese restaurants and dim sum places. It’s delicious.

Char Siu has the flavor of home and is absolutely comforting for winter. Warm, juicy, and tender pork that’s bursting with flavor and enjoyed over a warm plate of white rice. It just reminds me of home, and I’ve been missing my sweet mama so much!

With tax season coming up (and it’s my slow season in my photography business), our family has been pinching pennies everywhere we can. So I decided to make this delicious meal in the comfort of my kitchen using the ingredients that I had in my pantry and my freezer.

Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork) can be made with any type of pork, but traditionally it’s made with pork shoulder or pork butt and grilled outside. I don’t grill (that’s my husband’s job in the summer), so I roasted my version of Char Siu in the oven using pork tenderloin (which is a cut of pork that I always keep on hand.) A nice pork tenderloin is often enough to feed a small family. I’m only feeding 3 adults, so a 1.5 lb tenderloin was perfect.

Char Siu is also traditionally red in color, which you can achieve by using red food dye, but I don’t like adding non-essential ingredients into my food, especially when it doesn’t affect the taste. I omitted the red food dye in this recipe.

What I love most about this recipe is that you can start it in advance. You could start marinating 1-2 days before you cook it. You could also marinate in the morning, then roast it in the oven in the evening for dinner.

This would also be a good recipe for food prepping in the freezer. You could marinate the pork, put it in a freezer-safe container or plastic bag and then freeze it until you’re ready to cook it.

Making Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork) is a two step process. It’s super simple though. 1) Gather the ingredients and creating the marinade for the pork, and 2) Roasting in the oven when you’re ready for dinner.

The marinade does involve a lot of different spices and seasonings, any well-stocked Asian kitchen will have many of these on hand. I didn’t have to go to the store to make this recipe. (* You could also purchase a seasoning package for Char Siu at your local Asian store.*)

Chinese BBQ Pork tastes wonderful over a bowl of rice. You could also use it to make sandwiches (such as Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches) or even as the protein in a Spring Roll. So many options, and oh so yummy!

A Childhood Favorite Treat

When choices were easy (Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network?) and you saw the entire world from two feet lower to the ground. When your biggest concerns were in the vein of running home fast enough from school to catch the ice cream truck.

My particular version of childhood involved a lot of sinking Titanic reenactments in my friend Reema’s above-ground pool (we were very melodramatic children), reading at recess, strong lobbying for a family puppy acquisition, the collected cinematic works of John Hughes, and my see-through purple Gameboy Color.

It also involved Saturday morning car rides into Manhattan and Flushing Chinatowns, when we would visit my grandparents or cousins, grab dim sum, and inevitably stop by a Chinese bakery for some warm bread.

There were always the usual suspects…

  • pillowy soft butter buns arranged in round pans
  • sweet, crumbly pineapple buns
  • the hot dog buns (another one we prefer to make at home with our Chinese hot dog bun recipe)
  • and of course, the “char siu bao,” or baked BBQ pork buns, which are filled with a savory, slightly sweet filling of Cantonese roast pork.

You can find baked versions of these buns at such bakeries, as well as steamed versions at dim sum restaurants.

(If you would rather have a steamed bun, head to our recipe for Steamed Char Siu Bao pork buns. It’s the real deal!)

Also try our mash-up of char siu bao and bolo bao, or pineapple buns. It’s roast pork filling, with a crackly pineapple bun top!

What is Char Siu Sauce Made of?

Before you marinate the pork belly, you will need to make the Char Siu Sauce.

Here are the list of ingredients:

  • &ldquoNam yue&rdquo or fermented red bean curd. This ingredient is optional if you don&rsquot have it, but it adds the iconic nuance and aromas to the pork.
  • Maltose (preferred) or honey.
  • Soy sauce.
  • Oyster sauce.
  • Five spice powder.
  • Ground white pepper.

These ingredients mingle together to produce the most amazing, sweet, savory, sticky sauce that marinates the pork belly before roasting in the oven. You can make a few servings and keep them in the fridge.

This char siu sauce recipe uses ingredients that are easily found in the grocery. That makes it even easier to prep, on top of its process which is literally just mixing everything together.

To make char siu sauce, stir together hoisin, honey, soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, and five-spice. Keep mixing until you get a smooth, homogenous sauce. And really, that’s it!

On five spice powder

The last ingredient to highlight is our five spice powder, or ńgh hēung fán 五香粉 in Cantonese, which is an umbrella for the popular Chinese blends of spices that usually consist of cinnamon, fennel seeds, star anise, cloves, and peppers.

The number 5 doesn’t necessarily literally mean that it has 5 ingredients, as some blends use less spices, and some blends use way more than 5 ingredients.

Five spice powder is actually a nod to the 5 traditional Chinese elements (earth, fire, water, wood, metal) and a balancing act of the 5 traditional flavors of Chinese cuisine (salty, spicy, sour, sweet, and bitter).

Reviews ( 119 )

@msk6261To answer your question, this is NOT a Chinese dish. True Chinese Char Sui is made from strips of Pork Belly or strips of Pork Butt, both with pieces of fat still remaining. They are well marinated and then grilled or roasted in a hot oven, hanging from the racks. True Char Sui is NEVER braised in a liquid like this. It is also NEVER shredded. This is a middle-American crock pot dish with inauthentic Asian flavoring. It may taste good to some who like soggy meat cooked in a crock pot, but it definitely is NOT Char Sui.

This recipe is meant to produce shredded pork cooked in a slow cooker but you're right, traditional Char Siu is a whole piece of meat that is usually barbecued/grilled or roasted and then served sliced. This recipe is just a variation that makes it easy to do on a weeknight where you can dump it into the slow cooker on your way out the door (the marinating really isn't necessary) and come home to a cooked dinner. Changing the cut of meat won't change the style produced, it's all about the cooking method. A pork loin cooked 8 hours in a slow cooker will fall apart and therefore lend itself to shredding but if you cooked that same pork loin on a grill for an hour it would stay intact and be perfect for slicing. Folks changing the cut of meat in these reviews don't change the product (shredded), the swap is more likely done to account for what's available to them at their store or their preferences. I personally use a pork roast cut for this recipe because it's easier to find in a 2 lb size (pork butt is usually sold about 8 lbs) and it's a lot less fat but you could use pretty much any cut of pork for this. If you cook any piece of meat for 8 hours it's going to fall apart and practically shred itself!

How Do You Make Char Siu Sauce from Scratch?

Making Chinese BBQ Pork isn’t as difficult as you may think. Let’s first talk about the different ingredients of this Char Siu recipe.

What is Char Siu Sauce Made Of?

Char Siu consists of a combination of Asian condiments that gives it its sweet and salty flavor.

  • Ginger & Garlic: The ginger helps to add a citric taste while the garlic gives a pungent flavor.
  • Hoisin sauce: The Hoisin sauce has a thicker consistency which, of course, thickens the sauce as well. The taste is both sweet and savory with a hint of Chinese five-spice.
  • Oyster sauce: This ingredient is what makes this recipe the best Char Siu recipe ever. While traditional recipes won’t often call for Oyster sauce, I do think it’s what gives this dish the umami flavor. It’s salty but more like seawater saltiness. It has only a hunch of sweetness to counterbalance. And, even though it’s a fish-based sauce, it barely has a fishy taste.
  • (Dark) soy sauce: Many recipes will only ask for light soy sauce because dark soy sauce tends to be much stronger and will color the meat. However, that added saltiness is amazing and it helps with the caramelization.
  • Sesame oil: Using sesame oil, specifically, is not a must but it does provide the dish with a bit of nutty flavor.
  • Chinese five-spice powder: It’s a typical Chinese spice blend that can be found in most supermarkets. Making it yourself is hard since Szechuan peppercorns can be hard to find.

Roasting Process

You want to marinate your pork and let it sit for at least 12 hours before roasting it. This will guarantee that as much flavor gets absorbed into the meat.

To roast, you’ll need a roasting pan. If by any chance you don’t have one you can always place the meat on the middle rack and slide a drip tray or baking sheet on the lower rack. It’s messier, but it gets the job done.

For optimal roasting, make sure to continuously (every 10 minutes) baste your pork with the sauce. And, most importantly, you want perfect medium-well doneness. Otherwise, the pork will be too dry and stale instead of juicy and tender. Use an instant thermometer for more preciseness. The internal temperature needs to be 150°F/65°C.



For this recipe, I recommend using pork shoulder because it’s not overly fatty and not too lean (see photo below). You need some fat in the pork to ensure that the cha siu won’t be too dry once cooked. When you select the piece of pork at the store, make sure you can see marbling (streaks of fat) throughout the meat.

At the butcher counter of Chinese or Asian supermarkets, you can easily find boneless pork shoulder that’s sold in 1 to 2-pound pieces. Ask the butcher for about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of pork shoulder.

However, at your typical grocery store, you’ll usually find pork shoulder (also called pork shoulder roast, pork butt, or butt roast) sold bone-in. Find a piece that is between 2 to 2 1/2 pounds. Once you cut off the bone and the thick piece of fat that’s often on the edge of the meat, you’ll have the right amount of meat for this recipe.

You can often find boneless pork shoulder at the grocery store, but they’re often sold in 3 to 4 pounds pieces. You can buy a piece, cut it in half for this recipe, and save the rest for something else.

Some people like more indulgence and use pork belly to make cha siu. I prefer leaner cha siu, which is why I recommend using pork shoulder.


If there is a thick strip fat on the outside side of the piece of pork shoulder, slice that off (see photo below).

Next, if your piece of pork shoulder comes on the bone, you’ll need to slice the meat from the bone because cha siu is not traditionally made bone-in. You’ll likely end up with several pieces of pork that are not uniform in shape (see photo below).

I usually end up with a larger strip of meat along with 2 smaller pieces. I often slice the large strip in half so that all the meat has roughly the same cooking time. My mom would say to leave the large piece in tact and just cook that piece for longer.

If you started with boneless pork shoulder, cut the meat into strips of about 2 1/2 inches wide. Make sure the meat isn’t much thicker than 1 1/2 inches.


For the marinade, mix together soy sauce, dark soy sauce (老抽), sugar, rice cooking wine, hoisin sauce (or oyster sauce), paprika, and kosher salt. Paprika is not a traditional ingredient in cha siu, but I use it to give the pork natural red color.

Traditionally, cha siu gets its red color from red fermented bean curd (南乳), which can be difficult to find unless you go to an Asian supermarket. Many Chinese BBQ shops nowadays use red food coloring to give the cha siu the bright red color. I don’t keep food coloring in my pantry, so I had to figure out a substitute. By luck, the red color of paprika in my pantry drew my attention. I tweaked my mom’s recipe by using paprika and was surprised by how well the color of the Chinese BBQ pork turned out. Plus, the flavor of paprika complemented the other ingredients of the marinade.

Transfer all the pieces of pork into a bowl. Pour the marinade over the pork. Then, add the sliced ginger, scallions, and garlic to the bowl and mix everything.

Cover the bowl, and let the pork marinate for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. If you are making this during the day, toss the meat every few hours to ensure that all the pieces are evenly coated with the marinade. If you marinate the pork overnight, toss the meat once in the morning. Then, toss the meat again right before you roast it.


Preheat the oven to 350ºF and position an oven rack to the center position.

Get a half sheet baking pan (13” x 18”) or larger. Line the pan with aluminum foil. The marinade is going to drip down into the pan and burn during the roasting process. To ensure a swift cleanup, make sure to line the pan with foil.

Then, place 2 tall stainless steel steaming racks on top. Then, place a stainless steel cooling rack (12”x17”) on top (see photo below). Why the funny setup, you ask? You don’t want to place the pieces of pork directly onto the pan because the bottoms of the pork will steam instead of roast. My mom suggested this setup to elevate the meat while it roasts.

Carefully lay the marinated pieces of pork on the cooling rack. Make sure that there aren’t any pieces of scallions or garlic stuck onto the pork. Also, make sure there’s at least an inch of space between each piece of meat.

Carefully transfer the sheet pan into the oven and roast the meat for 20 minutes.

While the pork is roasting, pour the leftover marinade (including the scallions, ginger, and garlic) into a saucepan. Cover the saucepan and bring the marinade to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the marinade for another 2 minutes. Pour the leftover liquid marinade into a bowl. You’ll likely have about 3 tablespoons total.

Measure 1 tablespoon of the marinade and pour it into a separate bowl. Mix it with 2 tablespoons of honey.

Using oven mitts, remove the sheet pan from the oven. Brush the tops of the meat with the marinade (not the honey marinade mixture). Return the meat to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes.

Take the sheet pan out of the oven and flip all the pieces of pork over. This time, brush the honey marinade mixture over the meat. Return the meat to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes.

Take the cha siu out of the oven and check the temperature of the pork. You want the pork to be somewhere between 155ºF to 160ºF. If your pieces of pork are thicker, you’ll probably need to roast the meat for another 5 to 8 minutes.

Once the cha siu reaches the appropriate internal temperature, turn off the oven. Flip over the pieces of cha siu and let the meat rest for a few minutes. Brush any remaining honey marinade mixture over the meat.


The steaming racks and cooling rack will have a lot of dark marinade stuck onto it. To clean them, I fill a large jelly roll pan with hot soapy water. Then, I lay the cooling rack and steaming racks upside down so that the feet face upwards (see photo above). Let them soak for about an hour before scrubbing them with a stainless steel scrubber. Steel wool works as well.

Notes about this recipe

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