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22 December 2021

This Chinese BBQ pork recipe is called “char siu”, with chunks of pork shoulder marinated in a spicy Chinese BBQ sauce, then roasted until tender. Easy to make and delicious.

We’re cooking up some BBQ pork in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen today, my friends, only this isn’t your typical American treatment. Today we’re exploring Chinese cuisine, and I think you’re going to love this particular version.

It’s called “Char Siu”, or Chinese BBQ Pork, and it is extremely satisfying. 

What is Char Siu?

Char Siu is a Cantonese style barbecue pork dish. Strips of pork are seasoned in a flavorful marinade, then roasted until tender. The name “char siu” translates for “fork tender”, which lets you know what you’re in for.

You may have enjoyed this particular dish at American Chinese restaurants. It is know for its characteristic red color, which is remarkably, vibrant red. The color comes from fermented red bean curds when made traditionally, though the ingredient can be difficult to find.

Many cooks instead use red food coloring, which achieves the same results. 

Traditionally, char siu was made with wild boar strips that were marinated and roasted over an open flame. Today, pork shoulder is more common, though pork loin or belly are often used.

The pork can be enjoyed simply with noodles or rice, or cooked into a variety of Chinese dishes.

There are slight variations in how it is made, but the basics are the same – marinate, roast, baste – then slice and serve. We love this recipe.

Let’s talk about how to make char siu, shall we?

Slices of Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siu) on a platter

Char Siu Ingredients

  • Pork Shoulder. You can use other cuts of pork, like pork tenderloin or pork belly.
  • Sweet Factor. Brown Sugar, honey.
  • Liquids. Rice wine, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil. Oyster sauce is also a popular addition.
  • Seasonings. Fresh garlic, Chinese 5 spice, salt and black pepper.
  • Red Food Coloring. This is optional, to achieve the more traditional vibrant red color. Skip if desired. It does not affect the flavor of the pork.

Chinese Roasted Pork with BBQ marinade (Char Siu) on a platter

How to Make Char Siu – the Recipe Method

MARINATE THE PORK

Slice the Pork. Slice the pork into strips about 3-4 inches thick and set them into a large bowl.

Make the Marinade. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, honey, rice wine, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, garlic, Chinese 5 spice powder, salt and pepper, and red food coloring (if using). Mix well.

Char Siu Sauce in a bowl

Marinate. Pour the marinade over the sliced pork. Rub the pork and be sure to cover it all. Cover with plastic, or use a zip-top baggie to marinate. Marinate for at least 10 minutes, or overnight in the refrigerator. Longer is better for more flavor.

Marinating the chunks of pork in a bowl

ROAST THE PORK

Heat the Oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pour 1 inch of water into a roasting pan and set the roasting rack into the pan. Reserve the marinade.

Roast the Pork and Baste. Set the marinated bbq pork slices onto the roasting rack. Use aluminum foil to line the rack if needed. Roast for 90 minutes. Flip the pork and brush on some of the reserved marinade every 15 minutes to 20/30 minutes. Cook until the internal temperature of the pork measures 145 degrees F. The pork should be slightly caramelized from the bbq marinade. I like to do one final baste 2 minutes before removing from the oven.

Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siu) just out of the oven

Slice and Serve the Pork. Remove the pork from the oven. Rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve. The pork should be tender when ready to serve, but not pull apart like pulled pork.

Mike slicing the Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)

Boom! Done! Your Chinese BBQ pork (char siu) is ready to serve. Looks so good, doesn’t it? Nice and tender slices of pork with that deliciously sticky bbq glaze. So many ways to enjoy it!

Sliced Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siu) on a platter

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • The Pork. Pork shoulder or pork butt is more traditionally used to make char siu, but you can make this with pork loin or pork tenderloin. Either works great. Consider pork belly as well.
  • Extra Saucy. If you’d like to make your char siu extra sauce and moist, keep the reserved bbq marinade at the end of the cook. Add it to a sauce pan or pot with a few tablespoons of honey, then mix and heat through for 2-3 minutes. Use it as a final glaze or char siu sauce for your Chinese bbq pork. Delicious!

What Can You Make with Char Siu? Serving Suggestions

You can serve your Chinese BBQ pork as it is with some vegetables on the side, but I love to use it as a component in other dishes. Consider some of these recipes.

  • Pork Stir Fry. This is easy to make with tender cuts of pork stir fried with lots of vegetables and a homemade stir fry sauce with just the right amount of flavor and spice.
  • Fried Rice. I often make spicy fried rice with chicken, but it’s outstanding with Chinese BBQ pork.
  • Spicy Ramen Noodles. Use this to whip together a simple but massively satisfying bowl of noodles. Best you’ll ever have. Perfect for this recipe.

You’ll also find char siu bao, or Chinese BBQ pork roast meat served on bao buns. I love these!

Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siu) on a platter, ready to serve

That’s it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this char siu recipe. Let me know if you make it. I’d love to hear how you decided to serve it up. Keep it spicy!

Recommended Cookbooks

If you love Chinese recipes and cooking, I recommend these books for the American cook. They’re loaded with easy Chinese recipes that are full of flavor. I refer to them quite often.

Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes

Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siu) on a platter

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

Char Siu Recipe - Chinese BBQ Pork
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Char Siu Recipe (Chinese BBQ Pork)

This Chinese BBQ pork recipe is called "char siu", with chunks of pork shoulder marinated in a spicy Chinese BBQ sauce, then roasted until tender. Easy to make and delicious.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: bbq, Chinese 5 spice, pork shoulder
Servings: 6
Calories: 273kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2-3 drops red food coloring optional

Instructions

MARINATE THE PORK

  • Slice the pork into strips about 3-4 inches thick and set them into a large bowl.
  • Make the Marinade. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, honey, rice wine, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, garlic, Chinese 5 spice powder, salt and pepper, and red food coloring (if using). Mix well.
  • Pour the marinade over the sliced pork. Rub the pork and be sure to cover it all. Cover with plastic, or use a zip-top baggie to marinate. Marinate for at least 10 minutes, or overnight in the refrigerator. Longer is better for more flavor.

ROAST THE PORK

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pour 1 inch of water into a roasting pan and set the roasting rack into the pan. Reserve the marinade.
  • Set the marinated bbq pork slices onto the roasting rack. Use aluminum foil to line the rack if needed. Roast for 90 minutes. Flip the pork and brush on some of the reserved marinade every 20-30 minutes. Cook until the internal temperature of the pork measures 145 degrees F. The pork should be slightly caramelized from the bbq marinade. I like to do one final baste 2 minutes before removing from the oven.
  • Remove the pork from the oven. Rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

Notes

The pork should be tender when ready to serve, but not pull apart like pulled pork.
Extra Saucy. If you'd like to make your char siu extra sauce and moist, keep the reserved bbq marinade at the end of the cook. Add it to a sauce pan or pot with a few tablespoons of honey, then mix and heat through for 2-3 minutes. Use it as a final glaze or char siu sauce for your Chinese bbq pork. Delicious!

Nutrition

Calories: 273kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 91mg | Sodium: 681mg | Potassium: 611mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 2mg