Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)

There’s a lot of foods that I always had around the house growing up that I took for granted. Char Siu is definitely one of them. Char Siu is a bbq pork. The pork is marinated with a sauce made up of five spice powder, hoisin sauce and honey. There is usually some red food coloring added as well, giving the outside edge of the meat a reddish/pink tinge.  The pork is typically skewered or roasted on high heat creating a crispy charred exterior. The sauce is sweet and salty and creates a sticky glaze.

The meat can be eaten on its own, or is also often used in fried rice, or wrapped inside a steamed bun for char siu bao.

Growing up, it seemed like char siu was always readily available in my house, to the point where I didn’t really even care for it anymore. But now that I’m on my own, it’s definitely something I miss having.

For a while now I’ve thought about making it myself. The ones I buy are always really salty and it’s been a long time since my mom has made it. I looked at some recipes and it didn’t look too hard. It’s actually quite easy. You mix a few ingredients together to create a marinade and then you marinate the pork for a few hours and then roast it in the oven. Easy peasy.


You can use any pork potion. I like pork loin since it is leaner. For this one I used pork butt because it was on sale. It is a fatter piece of meat but very moist and tender. If you aren’t a fan of pork, you can even substitute for chicken.

I used a recipe I found on My Asian Kitchen with some modifications. Traditionally you are supposed to add maltose to create the sticky shiny glaze but I don’t know what maltose is supposed to look like so I wasn’t able to get any. So I used honey instead, which was recommended.

Char Siu

2 lbs pork
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp cooking Chinese wine
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp 5 spice powder
3 drops red food color
honey for brushing

1. Combine all seasoning together to form a thick sauce. Then put with pork in a large container. (You may want to cut pork to smaller pieces first to make it easier to cook with. I cut mine into 4 pieces.) Marinate pork for a few hours or overnight in fridge. I marinated overnight.
2. Heat oven to 375 F.Prepare a baking tray with aluminum foil over it.Place marinated pork on the baking tray, bake pork for 30 minutes,then turn the other side,bake for another 30 minutes. Pork should be just about done.
3. Change setting to broil at 400F, roast the pork for another 10-15 minutes or until the top develops a slightly charred look.
4. Remove roast pork from oven,brush with honey to give a glossy shine look. Cut and serve as appetizer or main dish.

6 comments on “Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)”

  1. wow! this looks so easy to make! I thought it’d be much more complicated. This looks like it’d go nicely with some rice, or in a bun.

  2. Hey Kirbie,

    Char Siu is also a staple at my house, very impressive you make your own marinade since you can buy the Lee Kum Kee brand one. Obviously, you dont have control of the bad ingredients that are in the store bought marinade. Will have to try this home made recipe out! I know its bad for you, but the “fattier” pork cuts come out the best in my opinion.


  3. Usually maltose is sold in little plastic bowls; the consistency is really thick and has a similar color to honey. It’s available in asian supermarkets- just be careful not to make a mess as it is quite hard to clean up since it is so thick and sticky!

  4. I grew up with char siu meat too! Though, I’ve never tried to make it. Kudos to you 🙂

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