Chinese Barbecue Sauce (Char Siu)

Char siu Chinese barbecue sauce

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Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 24 servings

Unlike American-style barbecue sauces, traditional Chinese barbecue sauce (called char siu) doesn't contain tomatoes. It does, however, feature a lot of flavorful ingredients, including hoisin sauce, soy sauce, black bean paste, and Chinese five spice powder. This thick Cantonese sauce works perfectly on any grilled or smoked foods like pork tenderloin, pork spareribs, chicken, and turkey breast. Like most barbecue sauces, char siu can burn easily because of the sugar content, so use it only at the end of cooking.

Char siu is translated to mean "fork roasted" referring to how this dish was originally prepared—boneless strips of pork, seasoned and skewered on long forks and placed over a fire to cook. The barbecued meat, which is usually pork shoulder, is typically served as fast-food with a starch, such as noodles, rice, or inside a bun, or as the main dish in more formal restaurants.


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a double boiler and mix well.

  3. Simmer over medium to medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken.

  4. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.


  • If making ahead of time, let the sauce cool completely and place into an airtight container.
  • You can store the sauce in the refrigerator for up to 1 week after preparation.
  • Reheat the sauce in the microwave for 1 minute or so before using.​
  • Use on all types of pork and poultry toward the last 5 to 15 minutes of cook time, depending on size and cut of meat. Watch for burning.
  • The sauce can also be served on the side.