Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)

Author: Marthinus Strydom
Category: Pork

Char siu, or Chinese BBQ Pork, is a delicious Cantonese roast meat. Make authentic Chinatown char siu at home with our restaurant-quality recipe!


  1. Cut the pork into long strips or chunks about 2 to 3 inches thick. Don’t trim any excess fat, as it will render off and add flavor.
  2. Combine the sugar, salt, five spice powder, white pepper, sesame oil, wine, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, molasses, food coloring (if using), and garlic in a bowl to make the marinade (i.e. the BBQ sauce).
  3. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of marinade and set it aside. Rub the pork with the rest of the marinade in a large bowl or baking dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours. Cover and store the reserved marinade in the fridge as well.
  4. Preheat your oven to bake at 250 C  /230 fan assisted (475 F) with a rack positioned in the upper third of the oven.
  5. Line a sheet pan with foil and place a metal rack on top. Using the metal rack keeps the pork off of the pan and allows it to roast more evenly, like it does in commercial ovens described above. Place the pork on the rack, leaving as much space as possible between pieces. Pour 1 ½ cups water into the pan below the rack. This prevents any drippings from burning or smoking.
  6. Transfer the pork to your preheated oven. Roast for 25 minutes, and then reduce your oven temperature to 190 C (375 F).
    After 25 minutes, flip the pork. If the bottom of the pan is dry, add another cup of water. Turn the pan 180 degrees to ensure even roasting. Roast another 15 minutes. Throughout the roasting time, check your char siu often (every 10 minutes) and reduce the oven temperature if it looks like it is burning!
  7. Meanwhile, combine the reserved marinade with the honey  and 1 tablespoon hot water. This will be the sauce you’ll use for basting the pork.
  8. After 40 minutes of total roasting time, baste the pork, flip it, and baste the other side as well. Roast for a final 10 minutes.
  9. By now, the pork has cooked for 50 minutes total. It should be cooked through and caramelised on top. If it’s not caramelised to your liking, you can turn the broiler on for a couple minutes to crisp the outside and add some colour. Be sure not to walk away during this process, since the sweet char siu BBQ sauce can burn if left unattended.
  10. Remove from the oven and baste with the last bit of reserved BBQ sauce. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing, and enjoy!

1 kg boneless pork shoulder/pork butt
0.25 cup (12 Teaspoons) granulated white sugar
2 tsp salt
0.50 tsp five spice powder
0.25 tsp white pepper
0.50 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp (3 Teaspoons) shaoxinrice wine
1 tbsp (3 Teaspoons) soy sauce
1 tbsp (3 Teaspoons) hoisin sauce
2 tsp molasses
0.13 tsp red food colouring (optional)
3 cloves finely minced garlic
2 tbsp (6 Teaspoons) honey
1 tbsp (3 Teaspoons) hot water