Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu Pork)

A delicious and simple recipe with step-by-step photos for Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu Pork) which you can make at home with everyday pantry ingredients in just 10 minutes!

char siu pork on metal tray with bok choy and knife and fork

Char Siu Pork

One thing I miss about living in Australia is being able to visit the local Chinatown, whether it be for a traditional Dim Sum breakfast, a browse through the colourful aisles of the Vietnamese grocer, or a visit to the Chinese bakery for their light and fluffy cakes.

Something I deeply miss are the restaurants where you can buy one of the Chinese roast ducks on display, as well as their crispy pork belly, or the ever popular Chinese barbecue pork (also known as char siu pork).

There is no Chinatown in Zurich. In fact, the Asian population here is very scant, but we are lucky to have a few amazing Chinese and Vietnamese grocers, as well as a growing number of south-east Asian restaurants.

char siu pork sliced on metal tray with green vegetables and cutlery

That said, I still miss being able to pop into Chinatown to pick up something for a quick dinner. I miss being able to rely on good Chinese takeaway food, and I miss, quite simply, good Chinese takeaway food.

I have always felt that moving to Switzerland made me a better cook. In the absence of being able to buy many food items which I used to enjoy back in Australia, I have had to slowly learn how to recreate most of those dishes at home. Chinese barbecue pork, or char siu pork, is one of those dishes.

And like so many other things which I have re-created at home, making your own Chinese barbecue pork is incredibly easy, and the results are so delicious that this will become a regular dish in your home!

slices of chinese barbecue pork on metal tray with vegetables

What is Char Siu Sauce?

A char siu sauce is a mix of various Asian pantry ingredients, including soy sauce, oyster sauce, honey, and Chinese five-spice powder. I like to add grated fresh ginger to my marinade for a bit of warm heat.

The Chinese barbecue pork that you find in most Chinese restaurants often has a tinge of red in the meat, either from using red fermented tofu in the marinade, or from red food colouring.

Red fermented tofu can be tricky to find, depending on where you live, so my recipe below uses ingredients which are more readily available in most mainstream supermarkets, thus saving you a trip to a specialist Asian grocery store.

Although, if you have easy access to the latter, I highly recommend buying your Asian pantry ingredients there as the brands which they stock are more authentic in taste.

What Cut of Meat to Use for Char Siu Pork

The cut of meat I like to use for Chinese barbecue pork is pork tenderloin, simply because it is easy for the children to eat, and also because we love the succulence and tenderness of the cut.

How to Make Char Siu Pork

This char siu pork recipe is so easy that I frequently make this for dinner during the busy week.

Step 1

Simply mix together all of the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl.

white bowl with marinade for char siu pork with grated ginger on the side

Step 2

Place the pork tenderloin pieces in a large zip-lock freezer bag, and pour over the marinade. I generally prefer to marinate meat in zip-lock freezer bags as it ensures that the meat will be evenly coated.

For this char siu recipe, it is best the marinate the meat overnight for maximum flavour. But I have made this recipe several times in a pinch, and even one hour of marinating will still give good results.

plastic bag with pork tenderloin and marinade for char siu pork

Step 3

To cook the char siu pork, I like to roast it in the oven over a pan of boiling water. The water helps to create steam in the oven, which helps to keep the pork moist while it is roasting.

To do this, simply place a wire rack over a roasting tray, and half fill the tray with boiling water.

But if you don’t have a wire rack to use like in the photos below, you can also simply roast the meat directly on the tray. In which case, you should first line the tray with aluminium foil to allow for easier cleaning later (the sugars in the marinade will burn easily).

metal roasting tray with wire rack on top

Step 4

The meat should sit on the wire rack above the tray, and it should not be in contact with the water below.

raw chinese barbecue pork on wire rack over roasting tray

Step 5

Pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan, together with 2 tablespoons of honey. Simmer the sauce for a few minutes until it is thick and syrupy.

small saucepan with char siu sauce with white silicon brush

Step 6

Use the sauce to baste the pork every 10 minutes or so. I like to apply a thick layer of sauce each time to give extra flavour, and to help with the caramelisation.

chinese barbecue pork on wire rack over roasting tray with saucepan of sauce

Step 7

Once you have roasted the pork for about 30 minutes (and you should have basted the pork about 3 times during this period), turn the oven onto broil (or grill).

Position the meat as close as possible to the grill, and let it caramelise until it is lovely and golden brown. Baste generously every 3 to 5 minutes, and watch the meat carefully so that it doesn’t burn.

char siu pork on wire rack over metal roasting tray

What to Serve with Char Siu Pork

My family love this Chinese barbecue pork served simply with steamed Jasmine rice and some steamed Chinese greens on the side (pak choi or Chinese broccoli work really well here).

At other times, we love to fill steamed bao buns with slices of Chinese barbecue pork with some quick pickled carrots and quick pickled cucumbers. Please see my recipe for Sticky Pork Bao Buns for full details.

To make your own homemade bao buns, please see my easy recipe for bao buns with step-by-step photos.

More Chinese Recipes

If you love Chinese food, you might also enjoy the following Chinese recipes:

Chinese Almond Cookies

Chinese Chicken and Corn Soup

Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

Chinese Turnip Cake

Sweet and Sour Chicken

sliced char siu pork on metal roasting tray with blue napkin
Print

Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu Pork)

chinese barbecue pork char siu pork

5 from 15 reviews

A delicious and simple recipe for Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu Pork) which you can make at home with everyday pantry ingredients in just 10 minutes!

  • Author: eatlittlebird.com
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Asian

Ingredients

For the marinade

For the Chinese Barbecue Pork

  • 2 tablespoons runny honey (extra for the glaze)
  • 2 pieces of pork tenderloin, approx 1 lb (500 g) each

Instructions

  1. Place all of the ingredients for the marinade into a bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Place the pork into a large ziplock freezer bag and pour the marinade inside. Make sure the pork is well-coated in the marinade.
  3. Place the bag into the fridge and leave it to marinate for at least 2-3 hours, or overnight.
  4. When you are ready to roast the pork, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature in the marinade (this will take about 30 minutes).
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) (without fan).
  6. Place a wire rack over a large roasting tray and half fill the tray with boiling water. The rack needs to be high enough so that, when the meat is sitting on top of the rack, the meat should not touch the water. The water helps to create a steam in the oven to cook the pork and to keep it moist.
  7. Place the pork on the wire rack.
  8. Do not discard the marinade in the freezer bag.
  9. Roast the pork for about 30 minutes, basting every 10 minutes or so (see next step).
  10. Meanwhile, pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan and add the extra 2 tablespoons of honey. Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer gently for a few minutes until the sauce is thick and syrupy. Use this sauce to baste the pork.
  11. After 30 minutes, turn the oven to grill (or broil) mode on high heat. If possible, place the tray as high as possible in the oven under the grill. Baste the pork generously every 3-5 minutes, making sure that it is browning nicely and doesn’t burn. Once the pork has caramelised nicely, remove the tray from the oven.
  12. Let the pork rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.

Kitchen Notes

COOKING WITH PORK
The size and thickness of pork tenderloin can vary greatly, so you may need to adjust your cooking times accordingly.

COOKING MEAT PERFECTLY
The best way to check if the meat is perfectly cooked is to use a digital meat thermometer. Simply insert the needle into the thickest part of the meat, and the temperature should read between 145-160°F (60-70°C) for well-cooked pork.

WIRE RACK
If you don’t have a wire rack, simply roast the pork directly on the roasting tray, but line it with aluminium foil for easier cleaning later.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS
You can marinate the meat ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.

OVEN TEMPERATURES
All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4
  • Calories: 337
  • Sugar: 31.9g
  • Sodium: 543.3mg
  • Fat: 10.8g
  • Carbohydrates: 36.2g
  • Fiber: 0.6g
  • Protein: 24.9g
  • Cholesterol: 74.1mg

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment below and share your photos by tagging @eatlittlebird on Instagram and using #eatlittlebird

Update

This post was originally published on 23 March 2017. It has been updated with new photos and more comprehensive recipe notes.

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58 comments

  1. Gillian Thompson 23 March 2017

    If you can’t get to Chinatown then bring Chinatown to you – your Charsiu Pork looks amazing.

    Reply
  2. This pork looks so juicy and flavorful! Yum!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 23 March 2017

      Thanks, Sarah! That’s what I love about using tenderloin – the meat is always so lovely and succulent 🙂

      Reply
  3. A wonderful way to cook pork, the chinese flavours are amazing. A great recipe to be able to make this at home.

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 23 March 2017

      Thanks, Helen 🙂 Indeed, it’s great to be able to make this at home, especially since it is relatively easy to make and always a family favourite.

      Reply
  4. Brandi Crawford 23 March 2017

    WOW! This looks fabulous and soooooo juicy!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 23 March 2017

      Thanks, Brandi! It’s definitely a family favourite, and the children probably love it so much because the meat is so juicy and tender 🙂

      Reply
  5. Christine 23 March 2017

    My husband has been talking about trying to make this at home. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply
  6. Eloise 24 March 2017

    Hi Thanh, I love your blog! I am wondering, are your recipes based on using a fan forced or convectional oven? Thanking you.

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 24 March 2017

      Thanks, Eloise!! I almost always use the oven in regular mode, i.e. as a conventional oven. I only recently learnt how to use the fan settings (i.e. convection oven) – something Mimi Thorisson showed me at her workshop 🙂 So for my recipes, you can assume that it is a regular oven with NO fan.

      Reply
  7. KR 24 March 2017

    Mmm.. II am waiting for Summer and grill and chill 🙂 Amazing and mouthwatering photos. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  8. The-FoodTrotter 5 April 2017

    This tenderloin is gorgeously glazed and cooked to perfection! I’m litteraly drooling! I need to try it as soon as I can 🙂

    Reply
  9. Leo Tat 20 April 2017

    My first impression when I saw your photo is that your pork dish looks so much like Char Siu 叉燒. And it actually is lol. Char Siu is popular in Cantonese restaurants, but for home cooking, we only make it once or twice a year.

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 22 April 2017

      My mother is part-Chinese and she made this quite often when I was growing up. Well, more than once or twice a year 😉 But I agree that it is a special dish, but as it is relatively easy to make, I like to make it when we have guests.

      Reply
  10. Helen Powell 21 April 2017

    I made this for my family in Easter Sunday. It is absolutely delicious and has become a favorite. Very simple to make and quick to cook. Couldn’t get any better than that

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 22 April 2017

      Thanks, Helen! I’m so happy to hear that your family enjoyed this dish 🙂 And how wonderful that you made it for Easter Sunday. I love that the recipe works for both special occasions and everyday cooking. Thanks for leaving your feedback 🙂

      Reply
  11. Buffy Shaw 10 December 2017

    This looks so amazing I am making it this year as an alternative to Turkey for Christmas!

    Reply
  12. Cherie Byrne 28 January 2018

    delicious! I’ve made it twice in 3 weeks already. Thank you

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 30 January 2018

      Oh that’s great to hear!! So glad you have enjoyed this recipe – it’s one of my all time favourites 🙂

      Reply
  13. Billy williams 13 February 2018

    Just made this and it was the best char Sui I’ve made. I’ll be making it again and again and again!!!!!

    Reply
  14. Andy Pope 14 March 2018

    Made this recipe last night and wow never cook anything Chinese before so a real beginner here all was spot on will be doing it again many times thank you for sharing. I had with sweet broccoli snap peas and rice

    Reply
  15. Andy Pope 14 March 2018

    Forgot to put stars on 5 outta 5

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 16 March 2018

      Thanks so much for your feedback! So glad to hear that you enjoyed this recipe 🙂

      Reply
  16. Donna 17 March 2018

    This is amazing, taste beautiful. Would definitely recommend it

    Reply
  17. Julia 16 April 2018

    I️ just drooled!!! This looks heaven! I want some! YUM!

    Reply
  18. John Markos 6 June 2018

    It looks delicious. It try it.

    Reply
  19. Maureen 31 July 2018

    Just took it out of the oven and it looks and smells great. Do you use the leftover marinade as a sauce on rice (since it has been boiled and simmered a while)? If not, what would you recommend?

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 20 September 2018

      Yes, you could definitely use the leftover marinade as a sauce on the rice or vegetables, but only if you have simmered it beforehand and used it as a glaze as per the recipe. As the marinade has been used for raw meat, you need to simmer the sauce to cook off any raw meat that might be in the marinade. I think having some extra sauce to drizzle on the rice is a must 😉

      Reply
  20. Sylvain 12 August 2018

    Wow, just found this recipe! I will adapt it to BBQ since I don’t use oven during summer.

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 24 August 2018

      Hello,
      I know what you mean about not using the oven during summer – way too hot! I’ve made this a few times using the BBQ too and the results are delicious. You just have to be careful about the glaze catching as it can burn easily. Good luck!

      Reply
  21. Christina 24 September 2018

    Hey! Do you have any suggestions for how to cook the pork if I don’t have a roasting rack?

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 26 September 2018

      If you don’t have a roasting rack, you could place the meat directly on a roasting tray and baste it every so often as per the recipe. Cooking the pork on a roasting rack over a tray of water helps to keep the meat tender because the water creates steam in the oven. However, if you roast the meat instead by cooking it directly on a roasting tray, so long as you don’t over-cook the meat, it should still taste great 🙂 You could also cook the meat on a barbecue!

      Reply
  22. Colleen Lines 18 December 2018

    Wow! This is the best recipe for Char-siu. I prepared it as directed and it is super moist and oh, so flavorful. I sliced it and arranged on a tray with hot mustard for dipping as an Hors D’oeuvres. The guests all raved about how wonderful it was. Not one slice was left!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 18 December 2018

      That’s so wonderful to hear! I’m so glad you and your guests enjoyed this recipe 🙂

      Reply
  23. Shannon 4 February 2019

    Tried this recipe a few nights ago – amazing!! I didn’t have a wire rack so I roasted it in the pan lined with aluminum foil as suggested. It was easily the best pork I’ve ever had. I would just suggest making a little more marinade – I ran out while basting. Can’t wait to make this again!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 6 February 2019

      Hi Shannon,
      Oh that’s great to hear! So glad you enjoyed this recipe. If you have extra marinade for the glaze, that also makes a lovely sauce when served with rice 🙂

      Reply
  24. Mimi 5 February 2019

    This is so lovely! My mother used to make this. I remember the rack in the roasting pan. Such wonderful ingredients. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 6 February 2019

      Hi Mimi! Yes, the ingredients are fairly simple and make for a really delicious dish 🙂

      Reply
  25. Kitty Koniali 5 February 2019

    Beautiful photos and presentation as always…this sounds like one of the recipes I will enjoy: it has all of my fave ingredients. Thank you!

    Reply
  26. Justin 19 March 2019

    I just made this char siu pork did the quick 3 hour marinade and it was spectacular! I will be trying it again with a 24 hr marinade to try the enhanced flavour version… so good definitely reminds me of the authentic china town vendors I love. Thanks a bunch!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 21 March 2019

      Hi Justin,
      Great to hear that you enjoyed this recipe! Marinating the meat overnight will definitely give a bit more flavour, but sometimes it’s just nice to get a head start the night before so you have less to do on the day of serving. Thanks for popping by!

      Reply
  27. Pattie F 22 March 2019

    Excellent! Just like in a restaurant. I will broil/ grill it a little longer next time to really get a nice char on it. I will also make a little extra sauce because that was really delicious. One recipe that really came out great!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 30 March 2019

      Hi Pattie,
      So glad to hear that you enjoyed this recipe! I also like to have a nice char on the pork too 🙂 Thanks for leaving your feedback!

      Reply
  28. Jessica 8 April 2019

    What else can i say, except wow oh wow! This was so good. Couldn’t find my wire racks so roasted on aluminum foil. Made it with plain white rice and drizzled the extra marinade on the rice and my goodness…. making it again this week!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 8 April 2019

      Hi Jessica,
      I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed this recipe! It’s a favourite with my friends and family too 🙂

      Reply
  29. […] Chinese Barbecue Pork from Eat Little Bird […]

    Reply
  30. Rona 14 June 2019

    I make Chinese roast pork frequently with bottled lee kum kee rib or char sui sauce and Ah-So sauce but today I used your recipe and added a little Ah-so sauce to the marinade for the red coloring…cant wait to taste it. Note: leftovers good for making lo mein or fried rice or even as a side for this dish.

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 19 July 2019

      Hi Rona,
      I hope you enjoyed this recipe for char siu pork! I always love when we have leftovers of this dish 🙂

      Reply