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Sticky, tender, juicy pieces of flavor packed fatty pieces pork, this Chinese BBQ Pork, or Char Siu, is an incredibly popular Cantonese dish. And you can make it in just a few easy steps in your own kitchen!
This recipe was originally published in March 2017. It has been updated for photos and content. Scroll down below the recipe card to see what the old photos looked like!
Char Siu, AKA Chinese BBQ Pork, is a popular way to flavor and cook pork in Cantonese cuisine. Typically marinated in a combination of spices and sweet sauce for many hours, the pork is roasted in indirect heat until crisp and caramelized on the outside.
Incredibly easy to make, you can make this Cantonese specialty in the comfort of your own kitchen. Fatty cuts of pork marinaded in a sweet and savory bbq sauce make this Chinese BBQ Pork so deliciously addictive.
A little marinade, a little roasting, and you’re ready to experience restaurant quality Char Siu! For minimal at home effort – which is the best way.
Using a fattier cut of pork is important to ensure your pork doesn’t dry out and stays tender. Some recipes call for pork loin, but I much prefer to use pork shoulder for it’s fat content. You can also use a leaner cut of pork belly, but I find the pork shoulder to have the perfect mic of meat and fat. Buy Pork Shoulder.
I use hoisin sauce, soy sauce, molasses, honey and Chinese five spice in the recipe (among some other seasonings).
Chinese five spice is a blend of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel, and pepper. Traditionally made with Sichuan peppercorns, many versions found in the US use regular black pepper in the mix. Learn how to make Chinese five spice in this recipe from Feasting at Home. Buy Chinese Five Spice (affiliate link).
Why is Chinese BBQ Pork Red?
When made in the traditional fashion, red bean curd or red food coloring is used to give the meat that red flavor commonly seen in Chinese restaurants. I prefer to let the natural colors of the roasted meat come through. However, if you are looking for that red color, add a tbsp. of red food coloring or red bean curd (red fermented tofu).
Step By Step Instructions
Cut the pork shoulder into 2″ by 8″ strips. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add the pork strips and mix to evenly coat with the marinade. Place in the fridge for 24-48 hours for maximum flavor.
I do not recommend marinating for less than 24 hours as the flavor of the pork will be less intense.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove the pork from marinade and place on a rack over a baking sheet (line with foil or parchment paper for easier cleanup).
To prevent smoking add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan – make sure the water does not touch the pork. Reserve marinade for basting.
Heat the marinade in the microwave until simmering (about 2-3 minutes) to kill any bacteria and use it to baste the pork.
Cook for 20 minutes. Remove and flip the pork over. Baste with remaining sauce and cook for another 20 minutes. Remove and baste again. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until sizzling and caramelized on the outside.
I recommend using fans or opening a window because the sugar in the marinade has a tendency to smoke at higher temperatures (or use the water method I mentioned earlier….). It MAY be possible that I set off the fire alarm to our whole building when cooking this last time, however, I’ll never admit to anything!
The internal temperature of the pork should be 145 degrees. Remove from heat, baste one last time, and let rest for 10 minutes. Using a sharp knife or cleaver, cut the pork into pieces.
You can serve this Chinese BBQ Pork as an appetizer, main dish, in soups, fried rice, noodles or anything your heart desires!
– The meat will have the most flavor if marinated for at least 24 hours;
– Be sure to put water in the bottom of the pan when roasting to avoid the marinade burning;
– Pork shoulder is the best cut of pork to use for this recipe. However, a lean cut of pork belly can also work. I don’t recommend pork loin as I find it comes out too dry;
– Cutting the pork shoulder into smaller pieces allows the pork to cook faster and provides more surface for the marinade/sauce.
How to Use Leftover BBQ Pork (or Freeze it for Later!)
Use it in the Wonton Noodle Soup;
Freeze the pieces in an airtight container for up t 6 months and enjoy at your own leisure. Thaw in the fridge overnight, and heat in a 400 degree oven for about 3-5 minutes (until warmed through);
Chop it up and use it in these Steamed BBQ Pork Buns from the Woks of Life;
Use it in place of the shrimp in this Lo Mein recipe;
Add it to this Fried Rice recipe.
Seriously, just eat it. Right off the pan. With your fingers.
More Favorite Chinese Recipes
- Twice Cooked Pork;
- Mapo Tofu;
- Stir Fried Bok Choy;
- Braised Chicken Feet;
- Sichuan Green Beans;
- Browse all the Chinese Recipes.
Did you make this recipe? Rate the recipe and leave a comment to let me know what you think!
Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siu)
- Cut the pork shoulder into 2-3" by 8" strips.
- Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add the pork strips and mix to coat the pork with the marinade. Place in the fridge for 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Place pork on a rack over a baking sheet (line with aluminum for easier cleanup). Pour enough water in the bottom of the baking sheet to cover the surface, but not enough that it touches the pork.
- Microwave the marinade for about 2 minutes (until simmering) to kill any bacteria. Use to baste the pork (see below).
- Cook for 20 minutes. Remove and flip the pork over. Baste with sauce and cook for another 20 minutes.
- Baste again and cook for about 5 minutes, or until sizzling and caramelized on the outside.
- Remove from heat, baste one last time, and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice with a cleaver or sharp knife and serve.
- The meat will have the most flavor if marinated for at least 24 hours;
- Be sure to put water in the bottom of the pan when roasting to avoid the marinade burning;
- Pork shoulder is the best cut of pork to use for this recipe. However, a lean cut of pork belly can also work. I don't recommend pork loin as I find it comes out too dry;
- Cutting the pork shoulder into smaller pieces allows the pork to cook faster and provides more surface for the marinade/sauce.
Check out this old photo! Definitely does not make that pork look appetizing!