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Char Siu Pork Recipe (Chinese BBQ Pork)

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Easily recognized by its distinctive red color and famous for it’s sweet and salty flavor with a hint of spice, char siu pork, also known as Chinese BBQ pork, is a much-loved dish that’s easier to make than you might think! Trust me, the hardest part about this recipe is waiting for it to roast in the oven!

sliced char siu pork on a cutting board

Even though it’s called Chinese BBQ pork, you don’t actually need a barbecue for this Chinese pork recipe. It’s all made in your oven, and the oh-so-tasty caramelization comes from spending a few minutes under the broiler.

This recipe is a labor of love. For best results, start it the day before so that the pork has plenty of time to sit and absorb all the amazing flavors in the marinade. 

Once it’s in the oven, you’ll need to baste it a few times, so don’t just set-it-and-forget-it. The results are so worth it! Tender pork, a rich sweet/salty/spicy glaze, and plenty of flavor through and through makes this much-loved char siu pork recipe a favorite all over the world.

char siu pork in a baking pan

What You Need To Make Homemade Char Siu Pork 

This is one of those Chinese recipes that’s truly better when made at home. Grab your ingredients and let’s get cooking!

(Full recipe instructions and ingredient amounts are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post)

  • Garlic – Fresh minced garlic. Skip the store bought stuff if possible.
  • Brown sugar – I like golden brown, but you can use light or dark as well.
  • Shoyu – Shoyu is Japanese-style soy sauce that can be found in the Asian aisle at most grocery stores.
  • Hoisin sauce – Hoisin is a thick glaze sauce that also can be found in the Asian aisle.
  • Sherry – A little goes a long way! Can’t find sherry? You can use ½ the amount of apple cider vinegar.
  • Red food coloring – You can skip this but it is what gives this Chinese pork recipe its distinctive color. Natural coloring can be reached using red fermented bean curd.
  • Sesame oil – This is a strong flavor. No need for a lot here.
  • Chinese five spice powder – This is a powder made up of ground Chinese cinnamon, fennel seed, star anise, cloves, and ginger. Make you own or grab yourself a store bought option.
  • Pork butt – Look for a 2-pound (or so) boneless pork butt roast. Pork shoulder will also work.
char siu pork ingredients

What is the Best Pork For Char Siu?

I love using pork butt (or pork shoulder) for this Chinese BBQ pork recipe. I find it has the most flavor, and the fat keeps the meat so nice and moist. You could, however, also use skinless pork belly, pork collar, or pork tenderloin, but you’d need to adjust the cooking times for those options.

How To Make This Char Siu Pork Recipe

To make the char siu sauce (marinade ingredients):

  1. Add the garlic, brown sugar, shoyu, hoisin sauce, sherry, food coloring, sesame oil, and Chinese five spice to a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
char siu pork sauce

For the Chinese barbecue pork:

  1. Trim away any large chunks of fat and cut the pork into about 1-inch long strips.
  2. Place the pork into a large zipper-top bag and pour the char siu marinade over the top and gently massage the meat and sauce until they’re combined. Refrigerate and marinate overnight.
  3. Bring the pork to room temperature before cooking.
  4. Preheat your oven to 425-F. 
  5. Place an oven-safe wire rack over the top of a baking sheet. Remove the pork from the marinade, letting the excess drip off. Put the pork onto the rack. Add about ¼ cup of water to the baking sheet, which will help create steam and will prevent the pork drippings from burning.
  6. Baste with the extra marinade every 15-20 minutes. A silicone brush works wonders for this, or you can just spoon it over the top.
  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the pork has an internal temperature of 145-F.
  8. If you’d like more caramelization, put the broiler on low, and broil the pork for about 5 minutes at the end of cooking, but don’t walk away or it could burn.
  9. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes, slice horizontally into thin strips, and enjoy!
pork butt for char siu pork

 Tips to make this char siu pork recipe amazing

  • Allowing the pork to marinate for at least 8 hours will allow optimal time for the pork to soak in all the delicious flavors. I would not recommend letting the pork marinate for longer than 24 hours. This can cause the pork to get tough.
  • Adding water to the pan when baking will create steam to help keep the pork moist as well as prevent the drippings from burning and putting off a bad taste.
  • Basting while baking helps create a thick, outer glaze on the pork.
  • If you want a little more caramelization, place the pork under the broiler set to low for the last 5 minutes of cook time.
char siu pork marinating in a bag

What To Serve With This Easy Char Siu Chinese BBQ Pork Recipe

Traditionally, char siu pork is served thinly sliced over rice and drizzled with sauce. Steamed or stir-fried greens are often served on the side. You can certainly enjoy it like this, or even with edamame rice or sticky white  rice. You can also use char siu pork in recipes like:

  • Steamed pork buns – Filled with thin slices of char siu and sauce.
  • Dry mein noodles – This is one of my favorite ways to eat it. Toss it in a delicious noodle spread.
  • Fried rice – Dice the pork small and add it to your next batch of char siu fried rice.
  • Top soups – Top your favorite Asian noodle soup with a few slices of char siu pork.
  • Salads – Char siu is delicious on salads!
  • Wontons – Wontons with char siu pork in them are delicious!
char siu pork marinating in a bag

How To Store Leftover Char Siu

Store your leftover char siu pork in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. Keep the leftover marinade in the fridge, too. You can also freeze it. To freeze char siu, wrap it in a freezer-safe zipper-top bag and freeze for up to 3 months. If freezing the pork marinade, freeze it separately.

sliced char siu pork on a cutting board

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Char Siu Pork spicy?

No, not in the hot-spicy kind of way. If you want to up the heat level, you can add some ground Szechaun pepper to the marinade. But typically, char siu isn’t a spicy dish. That being said, it is far from bland. It is loaded with flavor!

Is this authentic char siu pork?

Authentic char siu is slowly roasted over an open flame. Since most home kitchens don’t have that kind of equipment, this recipe has been adapted for the everyday cook. It has authentic flavors, but a more user-friendly cooking technique.

Can you reheat Char Siu Pork?

You sure can. Wrap it in foil and heat it in a low oven (about 325-F) until heated through, or pop a few slices into a skillet and heat them over medium heat until hot. Honestly though, it’s just as good cold!

Other great Chinese recipes

sliced char siu pork on a cutting board

Char Siu Pork

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Easily recognized by its distinctive red color and famous for it's sweet and salty flavor with a hint of spice, Char Siu Pork, also known as Chinese BBQ Pork, is a much-loved dish that's easier to make than you might think! Trust me, the hardest part about this recipe is waiting for it to roast in the oven!

Ingredients

For the char siu sauce

  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup shoyu
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sherry
  • ½ teaspoon red food coloring
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon Chinese five spice

For the pork

  • 2 pounds pork butt

Instructions

  1. For the char siu sauce: Add ingredients to a medium sized bow. Mix until well combined and set aside.
  2. For the pork: Trim away any large chunks of fat and cut the pork into long strips, about 1-2 inches wide..
  3. Place the pork into a large zipper-top bag and pour the char siu marinade over the top and gently massage the meat and sauce until they’re combined. Refrigerate and marinate overnight.
  4. Bring the pork to room temperature before cooking.
  5. Preheat your oven to 425F. 
  6. Place an oven-safe wire rack over the top of a baking sheet. Remove the pork from the marinade, letting the excess drip off. Put the pork onto the rack. Add about ¼ cup of water to the baking sheet, which will help create steam and will prevent the pork drippings from burning.
  7. Baste with the extra marinade every 15-20 minutes. A silicone brush works wonders for this, or you can just spoon it over the top.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the pork has an internal temperature of 145F.
  9. If you’d like more caramelization, put the broiler on low, and broil the pork for about 5 minutes at the end of cooking, but don’t walk away or it could burn.
  10. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes, slice horizontally into thin strips, and enjoy!

Notes

  • Allowing the pork to marinate for at least 8 hours will allow optimal time for the pork to soak in all the delicious flavors. I would not recommend letting the pork marinate for longer than 24 hours. This can cause the pork to get tough.
  • Adding water to the pan when baking will create steam to help keep the pork moist as well as prevent the drippings from burning and putting off a bad taste.
  • Basting while baking helps create a thick, outer glaze on the pork.
  • If you want a little more caramelization, place the pork under the broiler set to low for the last 5 minutes of cook time.
  • Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 476Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 130mgSodium: 159mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 0gSugar: 16gProtein: 35g

    Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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    By on February 11th, 2022

    About Relle

    Aloha, my name is Relle and welcome to my little home on the internet where I like to share all my favorite Hawaiian recipes (and local ones too).

    I am a wife, mom of two, and nurse practitioner here in the beautiful state of Hawai’i. I was born and raised in Hawai’i and I am of native Hawaiian descent. In my spare time I love to cook and bake and I have compiled many of my favorite recipes here for you to enjoy.

    More posts by this author.

    4 thoughts on “Char Siu Pork Recipe (Chinese BBQ Pork)”

    1. I tend to use the so-called country-style ribs for this. I’m usually going to do a stir fry over rice or pork buns, so the smaller diameter isn’t a problem. Also, the smaller diameter means it cooks faster!

      I love your marinade ingredients. They’re the closest to the original I’ve been able to find. Thanks!

      Reply

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