How To Make Char Siu Pork at Home: A Step-by-Step Guide

by Ella
How To Make Char Siu Pork: Step-by-Step Tutorial

Understanding Char Siu:

Char siu, also known as Chinese barbecued pork, originates from Cantonese cuisine and has a long history in Chinese culinary traditions. The name “char siu” translates to “fork-roasted” in Cantonese, referring to the traditional method of cooking the meat on long forks over an open fire. Today, it is more commonly prepared by roasting or grilling.

The hallmark of char siu pork is its flavorful marinade, which infuses the meat with a harmonious blend of sweet, savory, and aromatic notes. The marinade typically includes ingredients like soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey or sugar, Chinese five-spice powder, garlic, and sometimes red fermented bean curd. These ingredients combine to create the signature flavors and reddish-brown glaze that char siu is known for.


How To Make Char Siu Pork

Char siu pork, with its irresistible smoky and sweet flavors, is a beloved dish in Chinese cuisine. This succulent roasted pork is characterized by its tender texture and shiny, caramelized glaze. While char siu can be found in restaurants and markets, creating this delectable dish at home allows you to customize the flavors and experience the joy of preparing an authentic Chinese delicacy. In this article, we will guide you through the process of making char siu pork, from selecting the right cut of meat to marinating, roasting, and serving a mouthwatering dish that will impress your family and friends.


  • 1 Sharp knife
  • 1 Cutting Board
  • 1 Large baking dish or gallon zip top bag for marinating
  • 1 Roasting pan or baking sheet
  • 1 Instant read thermometer
  • 1 Basting brush
  • 1 Aluminum foil or parchment paper
  • 1 Cooling Rack
  • 1 Carving knife
  • 1 Tongs, spatula, spoon for serving
  • 1 Standard oven preheated to 275°F
  • 1 Slow cooker


  • 3-4 lbs boneless pork shoulder or pork butt roast
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger minced
  • 1/3 cup honey or sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup or tomato paste
  • 1-2 teaspoons five spice powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons red food coloring (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • some Cornstarch wash (optional)


Choosing the Right Cut of Pork:

Selecting the right cut of pork is crucial to achieving tender and juicy char siu. Here are some options to consider:
Pork Shoulder: Also known as pork butt or Boston butt, this cut is marbled with fat, which helps keep the meat moist during cooking. The higher fat content contributes to a rich and succulent texture. Pork shoulder is a popular choice for making char siu due to its excellent flavor and tenderness.
Pork Tenderloin: This leaner cut of pork is known for its tenderness. While it lacks the marbling of pork shoulder, it can still be used to make char siu. However, it is important to monitor the cooking time closely to prevent it from drying out.
Pork Belly: Pork belly is another option for making char siu, especially if you prefer a fattier and more indulgent dish. The layers of fat in pork belly contribute to a melt-in-your-mouth texture and add richness to the final result. Keep in mind that pork belly may require slightly longer cooking times due to its thickness.

Preparing the Char Siu Marinade:

1. In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey or brown sugar, oyster sauce, Chinese rice wine or dry sherry, Chinese five-spice powder, minced garlic, sesame oil, and red food coloring (if using).
2. Stir the marinade until well combined and the sugar has dissolved.

Marinating the Pork:

Marinating the pork is a crucial step that allows the flavors to penetrate the meat and tenderize it. Follow these steps for optimal results:
1. Place the pork in a shallow dish or a large zip-top bag.
2. Pour the prepared char siu marinade over the pork, ensuring that all sides are coated. Massage the marinade into the meat, making sure it is evenly distributed.
3. Cover the dish or seal the bag, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight. Marinating overnight allows the flavors to intensify and the meat to become more tender.

Roasting the Char Siu Pork:

After marinating, it's time to roast the pork to achieve that beautiful caramelized glaze and tender texture. Follow these steps:
1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
2. Remove the marinated pork from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to take the chill off.
3. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper to facilitate cleanup.
4. Place a wire rack on top of the lined baking pan. This elevates the pork, allowing the excess marinade to drip off and promoting even browning.
5. Transfer the marinated pork to the wire rack, reserving any remaining marinade.
6. Roast the pork in the preheated oven for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F (63°C). Use a meat thermometer to ensure accuracy. Cooking times may vary depending on the thickness of the pork and the desired level of doneness.
7. While the pork is roasting, baste it with the reserved marinade every 10-15 minutes to build up the glaze and enhance the flavors. Ensure that the
8. pork is evenly coated with the marinade during the basting process.
9. In the final minutes of cooking, you can switch the oven to broil mode to give the pork a final caramelization and charred appearance. Keep a close eye on it to prevent burning.
11. Once cooked, remove the pork from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. This step helps retain the moisture and ensures a juicy result.

Serving Suggestions and Culinary Applications:

Now that your char siu pork is ready, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Here are some serving suggestions and culinary applications for this delightful dish:


Char Siu Buns: Use the char siu pork as a filling for steamed or baked buns, known as char siu bao. The combination of the tender pork and fluffy buns creates a satisfying and delicious treat.


Noodle or Rice Bowls: Slice the char siu pork and serve it over steamed rice or noodles. Drizzle with some of the leftover marinade or a savory sauce, and garnish with fresh scallions or cilantro for added freshness.


Stir-Fries and Fried Rice: Add sliced or diced char siu pork to stir-fries or fried rice for a burst of flavor. The caramelized glaze and tender texture of the pork pair well with vegetables and rice, creating a satisfying one-dish meal.

Appetizers and Snacks: Slice the char siu pork into thin strips and serve it as an appetizer or snack. It can be enjoyed on its own or paired with crackers, sliced baguette, or Asian-style pickles for added texture and contrast.

Char Siu Sauce: Strain and simmer the leftover marinade in a saucepan to thicken it into a glaze. This glaze can be used as a dipping sauce or brushed over grilled meats, vegetables, or tofu for a delightful char siu-inspired flavor.

Experimentation and Customization:

While the classic char siu recipe provides a tried-and-true foundation, don’t be afraid to experiment and customize it to suit your preferences. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Spice it Up: Add a kick to your marinade by incorporating chili flakes, chili paste, or Sriracha for a spicier version of char siu.

Citrus Zest: Enhance the flavors by adding grated orange or lemon zest to the marinade. This imparts a citrusy note that pairs well with the sweet and savory elements.

Herb Infusion: Experiment with herbs like thyme, rosemary, or star anise to infuse additional aromatic flavors into your char siu marinade.

Smoky Notes: If you have access to a grill or a smoker, consider cooking the marinated pork over low heat for an added smoky dimension.

Vegetarian/Vegan Options: Substitute the pork with tofu, seitan, or tempeh for a vegetarian or vegan version of char siu. Adjust the marinade ingredients and cooking times accordingly.


Making char siu pork at home allows you to experience the joy of preparing an iconic Chinese dish and tailor it to your taste preferences. From selecting the right cut of pork to marinating, roasting, and serving, each step contributes to creating a succulent and flavorsome result. Whether enjoyed in buns, stir-fries, noodle bowls, or as an appetizer, char siu pork brings a touch of authentic Chinese cuisine to your table. So, roll up your sleeves, embrace the aromas, and embark on a culinary adventure as you master the art of making char siu pork.



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