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Char Siu or Chinese BBQ Roast Pork

Char Siu or Chinese BBQ Roast Pork

Char siu (Chinese BBQ Pork or roasted pork) is delicious on its own and makes a great filling for Chinese steamed buns. This Instant Pot version uses a combination of the pressure cooker and oven to make the pork tender and give it that trademark sticky-sweet glaze.

char siu pork sliced on a cutting board with leafy greens

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Take a walk through Chinatown and you’ll see this type of pork—bright red and glistening with fatty goodness–hanging in the windows of all the barbecue places. With its bright red color, you can’t miss it.

It is succulent, tender, sweet, and savory and can be made with pork belly, pork shoulder or butt, or pork loin. Whichever cut you use, it can be thinly sliced and served over rice. Or toss it in a sweet-savory hoisin-based sauce and use it as a filling for steamed buns or Char Siu Bao.

Traditionally, the red color of the pork comes from red fermented bean curd or tofu, but many cooks use red food coloring instead. Fermented tofu is sold in jars and you can find it in Chinese or Asian markets or order it online.

The fermented tofu can be tricky to find unless you have a Chinese or Asian market, so I’ve included both options in my recipe.

Cantonese cuisine Char siu literally “fork-roast” on a cutting board

How to make char siu pork

This char siu recipe is easy to make. Most of the time required is just marinating time.

  1. Mix up the marinade ingredients (or use char siu sauce) and marinate the pork, ideally overnight.
  2. Pressure cook the pork using the reserved marinade as the liquid until it is tender. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can braise the meat on the stovetop.
  3. Brush a soy sauce and honey glaze on the pork and bake it in the oven until the glaze is sticky and blackened in places.
  4. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later use.

What is char siu sauce?

Char siu sauce is used to marinate the pork. It is a savory-sweet Cantonese barbecue sauce that is usually made by combining hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine (or another cooking wine), five-spice powder, and often molasses and/or maltose.

The red color of the barbecued pork usually comes from red food coloring or from the ingredients in the marinade, especially red fermented bean curd. Note that the pork in the photos was cooked with red food coloring. If you use fermented bean curd, you will get more of a reddish-brown color.

How to serve this bbq pork

For a simple meal, serve it sliced over steamed white rice with sautéed or steamed vegetables like broccoli, gai lan (Chinese broccoli), or bok choy.

You can also use it to fill Chinese steamed buns or char siu bao, toss it with stir-fried noodles, or use it to make pork fried rice.

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Yield: Serves 6

Char Siu or Chinese BBQ / Roast Pork

Char Siu or Chinese BBQ / Roast Pork

Serve this sweet, succulent pork thinly sliced over white rice or use it to fill steamed buns or make pork fried rice.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 55 minutes


For the pork

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cubes red fermented tofu, mashed, plus 2 tablespoons of the liquid from the jar (optional, see note)
  • ¾ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 2 ½ pounds boneless pork butt

For the glaze

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup honey


  1. In a large bowl, combine the honey, soy sauce, hoisin sauce,
    sesame oil, garlic, fermented tofu, if using, and five-spice and stir to mix.
  2. Add the pork and turn a few times to coat all sides well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
  3. Pour the marinade into the Instant Pot and then put the trivet in. Place the pork on top of the trivet.
  4. Close the pot and turn the valve to the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 35 minutes.
  5. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and then quick release the remaining pressure.
  6. Remove the pork from the pressure cooker.
  7. Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
  8. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a rack on top. Put the pork on top of the rack.
  9. To make the glaze, in a small bowl, stir together the soy
    sauce and honey. Brush the mixture on the pork.
  10. Cook the pork in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes. Turn the pork over, brush more of the glaze on it, and cook for another 4 minutes or so.
  11. Remove from the oven and let stand for a few minutes before slicing.


If you don't want to use fermented tofu, you can color the marinade with a few drops of red gel food coloring. Or you can try using other more natural coloring methods like adding cherry or beet juice.

pinterest pin for char siu

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Thursday 27th of August 2020

I don’t see how much five spice to use in the ingredients but directions has it.

All Ways Delicious

Thursday 27th of August 2020

Hi Ellie. Thanks for your comment. The ingredients list says "¾ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder."


Wednesday 26th of August 2020

Could I use some red miso instead of the tofu?

All Ways Delicious

Wednesday 26th of August 2020

Sure! That would probably work really well. I would cut down on or eliminate the soy sauce, though, since both soy sauce and red miso paste are salty.

The Perfect Pork Fried Rice Recipe | All Ways Delicious

Monday 3rd of August 2020

[…] cooked pork is one of my favorite quick and easy meals. I especially love to make it using leftover Char Siu or Chinese BBQ Pork, either homemade or purchased pre-cooked at my local Chinese […]


Friday 17th of July 2020

What kind of pork roast is used?

All Ways Delicious

Friday 17th of July 2020

Pork shoulder or pork butt.


Friday 19th of June 2020

So if you put it over the trivet.. is it something like steaming in the pressure cooker? Never done it. I thought when you use pressure cooker it has to be soaked with water/broth.

All Ways Delicious

Friday 19th of June 2020

Hi Paula! Thank you for asking. No, you do not need to cover the meat in liquid. The liquid is there to create steam, which is what creates the pressure for pressure cooking. You only need 1 to 1 1/2 cups of liquid in a pressure cooker.

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