Chinese BBQ Char Siu (叉烧肉)

Chinese BBQ Char Siu - The perfect main dish to serve at a party. It’s also a great staple to have in your fridge because it’s so versatile and can be used in a variety of other dishes. |

Chinese BBQ Char Siu is the perfect main dish to serve at a party. It’s also a great staple to have in your fridge because it’s so versatile and can be used in a variety of other dishes.

It’s getting time to pick out the main dish for your Chinese New Year dinner party!

The Spring Festival golden week starts on February 7th this year. If you’re not familiar with Chinese New Year, we determine New Year’s Day based on the lunisolar calendar, so it falls on a different date each year. The holiday is also known as Lunar New Year.

Chinese New Year is about praying for a great start to the year and driving away bad luck. It’s the day that all the family members get together to celebrate a fresh start with a big feast (a bit like Thanksgiving). The celebration starts on New Year’s eve (we call it da nian san shi, which literally means the 30th of the year). It’s the night that we northerners make and eat boiled dumplings while watching the national New Year’s gala.

The New Year of 2016 will be a special one for me. After getting married and moving to the US, this will be the first New Year I spend in my new home in Texas.

Combining the local BBQ culture with my Chinese culture, I chose to share this Chinese BBQ char siu recipe with you today, to celebrate Chinese New Year!

Chinese BBQ Char Siu - The perfect main dish to serve at a party. It’s also a great staple to have in your fridge because it’s so versatile and can be used in a variety of other dishes. |

How to create the perfect Char Siu pork in three steps

A glorious piece of BBQ pork might look daunting to cook, but once you look at the process, you’ll realize that it is surprisingly easy.

To create a great char siu pork, there are two important steps.

1. Choose the right cut of pork

I chose pork loin for my char siu, because it’s economical, produces good results, and is not too fatty. If you’re cooking for a crowd, you can get a whole boneless pork loin from Costco. It cost me just 17 dollars for a 7-pound piece, which is enough for 12 servings.

2. Create a marinade that is rich and well-balanced in flavor

There are many ways to make a char siu marinade. But you need to remember, the foundation of a good char siu marinade is a high quality soy sauce. In this recipe, I chose Kikkoman all-purpose soy sauce. Kikkoman soy sauce is traditionally brewed and a versatile flavor enhancer. Like a fine wine, Kikkoman Soy Sauce is aged for several months to develop its characteristic rich, yet mellow flavor, appetizing aroma, and distinctive reddish-brown color. It’s the perfect soy sauce to use in the char siu recipe.

You can easily find Kikkoman soy sauce at lots of supermarkets, such as Walmart and Target. If you are not sure whether there is a supermarket that carries the soy sauce, you can use this product locator to find the closest store.

3. Roast the pork properly

You need to roast the pork at high heat and constantly baste it with marinade to create the glossy look, crispy crust, and juicy texture.

A reliable roasting method will create a sticky and perfectly charred surface without overcooking the pork. After many trials and experiments, I found that roasting the pork under boiler creates the best results (it’s very close to that of char siu pork cooked on the grill).

It requires a bit more flipping and supervision, but generates a stickier surface while keeping the pork moist inside. The total roasting time is only 20 to 25 minutes.

Chinese BBQ Char Siu - The perfect main dish to serve at a party. It’s also a great staple to have in your fridge because it’s so versatile and can be used in a variety of other dishes. |

How to serve char siu

Chinese BBQ char siu can be served warm or cold. The just-out-of-the-oven char siu will be tender and moist. It will be a great main course to serve over some steamed rice with simple veggie dishes. On the other hand, the pork will become even more flavorful if you let it sit overnight. The texture will toughen up, and create this nice crunchy mouthfeel with a sticky coating.

Char Siu Pork Lo Mein uses plenty of fresh herbs and a rich sauce to bring you the best lo mein in 20 minutes. It’s even faster than takeout! |

Char Siu Pork Lo Mein

I like to roast a big batch of char siu on the weekend and use it to cook all sorts of dishes during the week. You can serve cold sliced char siu as an appetizer. You can also use it as a topping for ramen noodles. Or use it as filling in dim sum. Or use it as an ingredient in lo meinfried rice and fried noodles.

This marinade can be used with chicken, too. You can use the same method to marinate and cook bone-in skin-on chicken thighs. To do this, bake at 300 F, skin side down for 40 minutes. Flip and continue to bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the thickest part of the biggest thigh registers 165 degrees F (74 C). Turn on broiler. Cook until the surface turns crispy.

Ready to cook char siu pork to celebrate Chinese New Year? Let’s start cooking!

Chinese BBQ Char Siu - The perfect main dish to serve at a party. It’s also a great staple to have in your fridge because it’s so versatile and can be used in a variety of other dishes. |

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Chinese BBQ Char Siu

Chinese BBQ Char Siu is the perfect main dish to serve at a party. It’s also a great staple to have in your fridge because it’s so versatile and can be used in a variety of other dishes.
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 381kcal
Author: Maggie Zhu


  • 2 pounds boneless pork loin


  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry (or Japanese sake, or Shaoxing wine)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic , grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 10 drops red food coloring (Optional)


  • Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a sauce pan. Heat over medium low heat. Cook and stir occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove the pan from the stove to cool off.
    Chinese BBQ Char Siu Cooking Process |
  • Chinese BBQ Char Siu Cooking Process |
  • Cut the pork along the grain, into 2 strips about 2 inches wide and 1 inch thick.
  • Transfer the pork to a gallon-sized ziplock bag. Pour half of the marinade onto the pork and save the rest in an airtight container in the fridge (for later use). Seal the bag and press as much as air out as possible. Rub the bag so that the pork is covered well with the marinade. Let marinate at room temperature for 3 hours, or in the fridge overnight.
    Chinese BBQ Char Siu Cooking Process |
  • Chinese BBQ Char Siu Cooking Process |
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. After the oven is preheated, turn on broiler.
  • Place oven rack in the lower third of the oven, about 10 inches from the broiler element.
  • Add the red food coloring into the remaining marinade.
  • Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and add 1/4-inch of water. Place a baking rack on top. Drain pork loin and discard the marinating liquid. Transfer pork onto baking rack.
    Chinese BBQ Char Siu Cooking Process |
  • Chinese BBQ Char Siu Cooking Process |
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in total, until the internal temperature registers 140 to 150 degrees F (60 to 70 C). Flip pork every 4 to 5 minutes, 3 times, until the surface is cooked.
    Chinese BBQ Char Siu Cooking Process |
  • Chinese BBQ Char Siu Cooking Process |
  • In the last 5 to 6 minutes, flip the pork every 1 to 2 minutes, and generously brush marinade onto the pork using the remaining marinade we saved earlier.
    Chinese BBQ Char Siu Cooking Process |
  • Chinese BBQ Char Siu Cooking Process |
  • When it’s finishing up, the pork should be covered with a thick coat of marinade, slightly charred/caramelized, with the inside is still a bit pink (or just cooked through).
    Chinese BBQ Char Siu Cooking Process |
  • Chinese BBQ Char Siu Cooking Process |
  • Remove the pan from the oven. Tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Slice and serve warm or cold. You can serve the char siu by itself over steamed rice, atop noodles, or in other dishes.


Serving: 256g | Calories: 381kcal | Carbohydrates: 13.8g | Protein: 59.9g | Fat: 8.2g | Saturated Fat: 2.8g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 166mg | Sodium: 604mg | Potassium: 977mg | Sugar: 10.3g | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 2.7mg

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Chinese BBQ Char Siu - The perfect main dish to serve at a party. It’s also a great staple to have in your fridge because it’s so versatile and can be used in a variety of other dishes. |


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Meet Maggie

Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my New York kitchen.

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44 thoughts on “Chinese BBQ Char Siu (叉烧肉)

  1. simon

    Thanks for sharing your recipe! Char Siu is simply amazing! One of my favorite marinades! IT’s perfectly suitable for BBQ so you made a good decision 😉

    1. Tom Andersen

      Thanks Maggie. I just printed this one to save.
      Made a BIG note at the bottom to Refer to Bookmarks: Chinese BBQ Char Siu Maggie to view pictures!
      Thanks for another Mouth watering Experience!!!!

  2. Tamara

    5 stars
    I was excited to see this recipe Maggie! I make Char Siu Bao (only for special occasions like birthdays) as it is a family favorite. I think the Char Siu recipe I’ve used took longer, though, so I’m pinning yours, and will give it a try next time!

  3. Kevin | Keviniscooking

    5 stars
    Love this line you wrote, “Combining the local BBQ culture with my Chinese culture, I chose to share this Chinese BBQ char siu recipe with you today, to celebrate Chinese New Year!” So apropos!
    This looks so good I want to lick my laptop screen and agree, this is so versatile. Happy New Year and thanks Maggie!

  4. Caroline from Portland

    Maggie – Your Char Siu Recipe is the Bomb Diggity. Even my Chinese parents LOVED it. It’s a keeper. Thanks!

  5. circe801

    5 stars
    made this tonight. easier (and better) than my previous method. i think the marinade’s a little better as well. made some veg llo mian to go with it. thanks, maggie!!

    1. Maggie Post author

      Glad to hear your dish turned out well! These char siu will go great on the lo mian. Good choice 🙂
      You’re the most welcome and have a fantastic day!

  6. Sarah

    So we should use the broiler, but the pork is not being placed right under the broiler element since it says “Place oven rack in the lower third of the oven,….”? Or is the broiler element in your oven in the bottom of the oven? Thank you!

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Sarah, the broiler element in my oven is on the top. I turned on the broiler but keep the oven rack very low, because I want the sauce to caramelize during the whole process, while cooking through the pork, and not to burn the surface. I’ve tried several methods for this recipe. I found out if you bake the pork and turn on the broiler at the end, the result wasn’t good enough, since you can only apply the sauce one or two times before it burn the surface. The key is to apply sauce as many times as possible during the roasting, so it forms the coating outside the pork. I hope this is not too confusing!

  7. Marilyn Jacobs

    5 stars
    Hi –
    Loved this dish. I have tried different recipes for Char Siu and this is my favorite for the flavor marindade and techniqe of cooking at high temperature. I got a large pork loin on sale and made this in 2 batches. Is it possible to freeze this after it is cooked?
    Thanks so much.
    Marilyn Jacobs
    Indianapolis, IN

  8. RossC

    5 stars
    How wonderful to run across this recipe…
    Back at the end of the 1970’s when I was a young 40 years old, my wife and my mother thought I should learn to do more than grill beef and stuff..
    They gifted me a wok, some basic tools and a book…
    The book, “The Gourmet Chinese Regional Cookbook” by Calvin and Audrey Lee became my introduction to Chinese cooking..
    From the South China section of that book , the very first thing I made was a dish we ordered constantly in our favorite Chinese restaurant.. “Chinese Roast Pork”… I made that recipe and others from that book for many years..
    As the years went by I moved on to cooking ‘regular American’ dishes but I remember how wonderful that roasted pork was and how much fun and pride I felt with making the perfect Chinese Roast Pork for family and friends ..
    When I read your recipe I dug out that first cook book I ever received and looked up the pork recipe.. To my great joy I find that that recipe only differs from yours in a few small ways..
    It calls for brown bean sauce (which was very hard to find at the time) instead of hoisin and oyster sauce.. It calls for light brown sugar instead of granulated sugar and I oven roasted it by hanging the pork from the oven rack over a pan of water… Other than that, its like reading that wonderful book all over again, 37 years later..
    How wonderful to be reconnected to recipes which connected me to cooking in general and to Chinese cooking in particular…
    Thank you… :o)

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Ross, thanks for leaving such a detailed comment and share your Chinese food experience! The cookbook sounds amazing. I never expected there was a detailed book on Chinese regional cuisine back then. I just ordered a copy from Amazon and can’t wait to read it!
      Re hanging the pork in the oven: how you managed to do that? It is actually the proper way that Cantonese restaurants use, with a hook. I can’t find a way to do it so I need to place the pork on the roasting pan.
      Hopefully you’ll find more Chinese recipes to try out from my blog 😉 Happy cooking and have a great holiday!

      1. RossC

        I’m happy you found a copy of the Lee’s book…The Chinese Roast recipe is on page 203, in my edition..Its been bookmarked for over 30 years.. It would be good to know if the book fits in with what you do…
        I was given small hooks by a butcher friend.. You can find them now on in a restaurant supple store or on by searching for ‘small meat hanging hooks’ on Amazon..
        And yes, I am finding many wonderful Chinese recipes on your blog… :O)

      2. Maggie Post author

        Hi Ross, thanks for sharing the tip on how to hang the pork in the oven!
        The book just arrived a few days ago and I love it! It’s nice to see a Chinese cookbook that covers Chinese cuisine by regions, because each region has so many different cooking habits and signature dishes.
        Happy New Year!

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Lila, sorry I just saw your question! Yes you can use a tenderloin for this recipe. It is a tender lean cut, so it will turn out well as long as you don’t over cook it.

  9. Atia

    This recipe looks amazing! I’m doing it right now! One question, do you know if it’s possible to freeze some of the leftovers?

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Atia, yes, you can freeze the leftovers without problem! If you have more glaze left, save them as well you can pour them over the char siu while reheat.
      Happy cooking and hope the dish turns out well!

  10. Kimmy

    Greetings from Singapore,

    Having chanced upon your site, I was able to cook up a number of selected dishes from your recipes including this BBQ Char Siu.

    I have stayed and worked in Hong Kong for more than 12 years and are familiar with authentic and aromatic as well as typical and traditional dishes there having had most of my meals in restaurants, tea houses, dim sums and street hawker fares. I loved them all.
    My favorites are the roasted goose, char siu, cheongfun , tarts, naiwong pao, and braised beef briskets ( gao lum) , etc.
    I am very impressed with your detailed description and guides on each of your recipe including accompanying sauces and dips, etc.

    I have also improved my making of dumplings as a result of your guidance on your site. Thank you.

    May I sign off wishing you and your loved ones, good health, happiness and prosperous year ahead.


    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Kimmy, thanks so much for taking time and leaving a comment! I’ve only been to Hong Kong twice, but me too, I really love the roasted goose and duck, cheongfun, tarts, and beef briskets. I am still trying to learn more about Cantonese cuisine and challenge these dishes at home. Some of the recipes do take some time and effort to make!
      I’m glad to hear you find my posts helpful and it always brighten by day when I hear someone tried out my recipes 🙂
      You too, hope you have happy and prosperous year ahead! Take care and have a great day 🙂

  11. Rik

    Char siu is probably one my absolute favorite things. I put a little spin on the recipe though. Pork tenderloin was on sale so I used that, and rather than the red food coloring, I used a splash of grenadine with some red pepper flakes which made for a nice red/pink halo in each cut. Also threw in a splash of bourbon over the wine, because it was all I had hanging around (next time I’ll make sure I have some proper wine on hand – whether it be sherry or shaoxing), as well as a nice tbsp or so of molasses for good measure. Turned out phenomenal! Will definitely be a staple of my grill from this point forward!

    1. Maggie Post author

      I’m glad to hear you like this recipe Rik! Thanks for sharing your knowledge of replacing red food coloring. Me too, I’m not a big fan of using too many chemicals in my food, so I prefer the natural food coloring you said. I think adding bourbon works just as well. I use it too, sometimes vodka, when I ran out of Shaoxing wine.
      We’ll be grilling some baby back ribs soon and I’ll be trying out some of the tips you shared. Looking forward to it 🙂

  12. Betty G

    I am making this now. It smells really authentic! What degree range do you recommend cooking this to? I saw that you used a digital meat thermometer. Thank you for all the beautiful and inspiring pictures.

    1. Betty G

      Hi Maggie,
      Reading through the recipe again, I found the degrees 140 to 150. Then baste for another 5 minutes. I will try to do this. Thank you!

    2. Maggie Post author

      Hi Betty, thanks for trying out this recipe and I’m glad to hear you’ve found the answer of the cooking temperature. Did the char siu pork come out well? I hope you enjoyed the dish 🙂

      1. Betty G

        Hi Maggie,
        The char siu was , wow. I can’t believe it was that quick to cook that. It was messy, but worth making. I made it once as stated in the post. The next time I cheated and added a slathering of the thick commercial Lee Kum Kee Char Siu Sauce in the last 5 minutes. I was wanting that thick sweet sauce you get at chinese bbqs. My oven was not as powerful as yours I think. I could not get that blackened char that I saw in your post. I raised the meat up the second time to 8 inches away from the flame and made sure I selected high broil. Some ovens have low and high. It had more sizzling this time. The family of 6 ate 3 lbs. of that for dinner. Yum. and thank you for sharing!

      2. Maggie Post author

        Hi Betty, thanks for letting me know your cooking result! Yes, I admit the cooking requires quite some effort and is messy. That’s the downside of the home oven.
        If you want the thick sweet sauce texture, try to find maltose if you go to an Asian market the next time and use it instead of sugar. You can double the amount of maltose too, to make the sauce sweeter. Maltose has a better adhesive effect and will produce a beautiful shiny glaze. I just recently found it and can’t wait to try it again in this recipe, so I can get a better sauce 🙂

  13. L. Ness

    I have found that good, quite sweet char siu (aka Chinese BBQ pork) does not need much soy sauce, if any.
    Nor is 5 spice required. Too many odd flavors….
    For 1.5 pounds of pork (preferably shoulder), about 5 tbsp of honey, 4 tbsp of sugar, and a tsp of salt (with a sprinkling
    of ground ginger and also garlic) makes a fine marinade. 2 tbsp of Shaoxing rice cooking wine and a little water to thin just a bit completes the mix. I make enough marinade to nearly cover the meat as it sits fairly crowded into a 6×6 container + lid.
    I have had great success first slicing the meat in a semi-frozen state (cuts easily and retains its shape) and then holding it together on thin bamboo skewers. That allows the marinade to actually provide great color throughout (using 1/3 – 1/2 tsp of red coloring). Then it’s into the fridge for 20-24 hours! I cut the skewers to length so the assemblies fit into the container.
    40 minutes baked (flipped once so 20 minutes each side @350) and then broiled both sides to develop the char/glaze, and the
    finished product is very tasty; restaurant style, if you will, which is what MOST folks seem to be searching for.
    Soy sauce just doesn’t do it here, at least not much of it; perhaps a tbsp if any. Pork when cooked has a good flavor all on its own, and this famous appetizer is no good if not sweet; honey and sugar are the keys, otherwise one is just making spicy, dull tasting pork.
    Try it, you’ll like it….I have photos if you wish to see….

    1. L. Ness

      I made this again, but used a pork tenderloin. Everything else I did about the same,
      and it turned out well.
      Do you think restaurants or wholesale outlets color their product after it is cooked and
      sliced? I have to wonder, because even 36-48 hours in the fridge does not allow the color
      from the marinade to penetrate whole chunks of pork….
      They are holding back, not telling the entire story I fear….
      So I pre-slice and go from there, though I just might try coloring lightly after cooking a
      bunch; not bright red, but probably a few drops of red and a drop of blue.
      It could work!

      1. Maggie Post author

        Yes, I believe Chinese restaurant uses food coloring. Also, they use maltose instead of honey or sugar, which allows the marinade to coat the meat better. If you really want the color, I would highly recommend to get some maltose from an Asian market and go from there 🙂

  14. Phyllis Lenkowsky

    5 stars
    This came out sooo delicious- tasted just like in Chinese restaurant! it was my second time making it! I buy pork tenderloins when I can find about a 2 -3 pound package (which conains 2 tenderloins) . The first night we (my husband and I) have it sliced with rice and vegeables (napa and bean sprout stir fry) on the side. The second night I slice the remaining half of the first tenderloin into strips and make pork lo mein or stir fry with vegetables. So I’m going to experiment and cut up the remaining tenderloin into strips and freeze it in 2 or 3 portion baggies and use for other stir fry dishes.! Will see how that works because it’s just too much to use all at once (unless you have more than 2 to feed!)
    Also, I have the book mentioned in another comment “The Gourmet Chinese Regional Cookbook” by Calvin and Audrey Lee, copyright 1976, given to me by my Mom! I’ve used many of the stir fry recipes over the years and earned how to do Chinese stir fry from these recipes! Also enjoyed the informative history about the various regions and cooking styles. About 2 or 3 years ago I started rereading it since my son is living in Shanghai and wanted to learn about cooking there. It’s amazing how so much of the book is still so current! The only thing changed is that Chinese products are so much more available! Thank you for all the information and recipes on your website! Looking forward to trying new things and learning!

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Phyllis, thanks so much for leaving such a thoughtful comment and I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the dish! It’s really smart of you to cook a big batch. I believe the meat freezes well so no worries there. I love to add them into fried rice, noodles and stir fried veggies. It is just a great way to make a fast meal with lots of veggies.
      I actually located the “The Gourmet Chinese Regional Cookbook” later and now I have a copy. You’re totally right that the book is still so current and the recipes are classic 🙂
      Hope you have a great week ahead and can’t wait to hear what you’ll cook the next!

  15. Phyllis

    Just a follow-up to my Feb 1, 2018 post… After making 2 port tenderloins (1 lb. each) I cut up the second one into strips (as in pork lo mein) and froze in 3 portion separate baggies. The next couple of times I made lo mein, and stir fried veggies, I took a baggie out of freezer and let it defrost a bit, then threw in towards the end of stir frying to warm up with rest of dish. It was perfect!! It’s great to know you have something handy like this in the freezer, so I’ll do the same thing next time I make this recipe!

  16. Tony Gabud

    Tried recipe word for word,the taste was fantastic the pork tender and the wife loved it,quick stir fry of vegetables along with some udon noodles made this meal complete,loving how easy this was from start to finish

  17. Linda Douglas

    Maggie, thank you for your description of making char suit. I am making some today. I live near El Paso and there are NO decent Chinese restauranfs here.

    A transplanted Kentuckian in Tests,
    Linda Douglas

  18. maureen denney

    My niece just made your Char Siu for me, and I loved it! I will make it for my family this weekend, and I anticipate their delight. Thank you for sharing your recipes with the world.

  19. Sandi

    Could you tell me what type of soup is in the last picture before the recipe? Do you already have a recipe somewhere? I am going to try this pork recipe tonight – it looks so delicious! I just found your website today, and can’t wait to try some new dishes!

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Sandi, sorry for the slow reply. I made the noodle soup long time ago and cannot remember clearly. But I’m pretty sure it’s a very simple chicken broth-based soup with some ginger and soy sauce added in. It was extra rich because I used homemade broth at the time. If you’re interested in making it, you can either use my soy sauce noodle base ( or wonton soup ( base. Both will work with. Just top the char siu on it!