Char Siu (叉烧) is a very popular classic Chinese Cantonese-style barbecue of roasted pork. To make Char Siu, pork is marinated in a sweet BBQ sauce and then roasted. It has a rich blend of salty and sweet flavors with a hint of spice that compliments the pork and allows it to stand alone with just a simple mound of steamed rice, fried egg, and blanched choy sum.

yield: 8-10 servings 

prep time: 10 MINUTES 

cook time: 50 MINUTES 

total time: 1 HOUR


  • 3 pounds boneless pork should or pork butt (select a piece with some good fat on it)
  • 8 tablespoons Char Siu Chinese BBQ Sauce (see Picture 1)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon hot water


  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. Add 6 tablespoons BBQ sauce and rub the pork with the marinade in a large bowl or baking dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to ‘bake’ at 475 F (246 C) with a rack positioned in the upper third of the oven.
  4. 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. 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.
  5. Transfer the pork to the preheated oven. Roast for 25 minutes, keeping the oven setting at 475 F for the first 10 minutes of roasting, and then reduce the oven temperature to 375 F (190 C). 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 the Char Siu often (every 10 minutes) and reduce the oven temperature if it looks like it is burning!
  6. Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce with honey and hot water. This will be the sauce you’ll use for basting the pork.
  7. 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.
  8. The pork should be cooked through and caramelized on top. If it’s not caramelized to your liking, you can turn the broiler on for a couple minutes to crisp the outside and add some color/flavor. Be sure not to walk away during this process, since the sweet BBQ sauce can burn if left unattended. You can also use a meat thermometer to check if the internal temperature of the pork has reached 160 F. (Note: USDA recommends that pork should be cooked to 145 F with a 3 minute resting time)
  9. 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!

Picture 1

Tips and Notes:

Prep time does not include overnight marinating time.

If you only have a convention oven, keep in mind the oven not only heats more quickly, your char siu will roast faster than what we have described above. It’s amazing how oven temperatures can vary—from model to model, in different spots in the oven, and in how ovens pre-heat and maintain heat.  Using an oven thermometer to double-check the actual oven temperature is a great safeguard to monitor your food (I say double-check because even oven thermostat calibrations vary and can sometimes be incorrect).

You can make a big batch, freeze any unused roast pork, and then take it out to make many delicious recipes, like Pork Buns, Pork Fried Rice, and more.

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