How To Make Chinese BBQ Sauce
Homemade Chinese char siu sauce! It’s easy to whip up and comes together in just 5 minutes. This recipe is ultra-tasty and is very versatile too.
Char siu marinated in Chinese bbq sauce has always been my favourite takeaway meal… EVER! The sauce is sweet, sticky, salty and just finger-licking good.
It’s flavoured with Asian-inspired ingredients like garlic, ginger, Chinese 5 spice and light soy sauce and trust me, this beats any standard BBQ sauce hands down!
This sauce alone is the base to so many delicious dishes. Not only is it great as a dipping sauce, but it’s also perfect for marinades and glazes (like in this Chinese Char Siu Pork). Plus, with any leftovers you can make Char Siu Fried Rice or this Char Siu Chow Mein.
Why You’ll Like This Recipe
- Use it as a marinade for roasted meats or a glaze over crispy chicken
- This sauce stays fresh for up to a week
- This recipe tastes just like the takeaway!
- You don’t need to simmer this sauce, simply mix all the ingredients together
- You can make more Chinese takeaway recipes with the sauce ingredients!
Watch How To Make It
What Is Char Siu Sauce?
Char Siu sauce, also called Chinese barbecue sauce, is a popular Cantonese sauce used to make char siu (barbecued pork). It tastes sweet, salty, has umami notes and has a little hint of spice from the ginger and garlic.
Char Siu sauce is dark red brown in colour and is slightly thick in consistency. The name itself is based on the cooking method (fork roasted) rather than the sauce, even though it’s the key ingredient.
What Is Chinese BBQ Sauce Used For?
You can of course use this sauce to marinade meats and glaze roasted veggies, but it’s also great for sandwiches, wraps and to add a delicious twist to stir-fries and salads.
You can use this Asian bbq sauce for crispy duck rolls or make super sticky ribs. Honestly, there’s just so many things to make with just one tasty sauce!
Chinese BBQ Sauce Recipe Ingredients
Below are the few ingredients needed:
- Ginger And Garlic Paste: I like to use ginger and garlic paste, but you can also mince fresh garlic cloves and root ginger yourself. Alternatively, cut the ginger and garlic finely if you want chunks in your sauce.
- Hoisin Sauce: There are two types of hoisin sauce that you can get, hoisin sauce and sweet hoisin sauce. I like to use standard hoisin sauce (which is already slightly sweet), if you’re using sweet hoisin sauce, then you may want to omit adding sugar.
- Oyster Sauce: A dark brown sauce made from a mixture of oyster extract, sugar, salt, cornstarch and water.
- Shaoxing Wine: Adds a delicious flavour, if you don’t have this then you can use dry sherry or mirin.
- Brown Sugar: Dark brown sugar is best to aid a tasty caramelised flavour and appearance. You can use light-brown sugar or honey as an alternative.
- Light Soy Sauce: Light soy sauce is best to use but you can also use dark soy sauce too.
- Fermented Bean Curd or Red Food Colouring: To get that pink colour (when making char siu) Chinese takeaway shops use red food colouring, but more traditional recipes use fermented bean curd. If you don’t have fermented bean curd, then you can use red food colouring.
- Chinese 5 Spice: Adding this is a must! It gives the char siu sauce its distinctive flavour. Check out my post on the best Chinese 5 Spice Alternatives.
- Salt: Add salt to suit your personal preference; I add a teaspoon.
How To Make Char Siu Sauce (Chinese BBQ Sauce)
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to make Chinese takeaway bbq sauce perfect for char siu pork. Full recipe instructions are on the recipe card:
Pour all the Chinese barbecue sauce ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly until the brown sugar has dissolved into the mixture.
Continue to make char siu pork, use this sauce as a marinade or glaze.
Optional: Simmer the sauce in a pan over a low to medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Once the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool down for 5 to 10 minutes. This cooked sauce can be used as a dipping sauce or to coat meats.
How To Serve
If you’re making this Chinese bbq sauce recipe to use as a dipping sauce, here are a few recipes you might want to serve beside it:
- Crispy Panko Chicken
- Chinese Pork Balls
- Chinese Takeaway Chicken Balls
- Chinese Prawn Balls
- Salt And Pepper Chips
- Salt And Chilli Chicken
- Homemade KFC Popcorn Chicken
My Top Tips
If you plan on using this sauce as a dipping sauce, then I recommend you cook the sauce by simmering it in a pan over a low to medium heat for a few minutes. This helps to cook the raw ginger and garlic added to the sauce ingredients. Plus, cooking the sauce helps to intensify the flavour.
Creating the perfect balance of sweet and savoury is key when making Chinese bbq sauce, once you mix the ingredients together, have a taste and add more sugar or savoury sauces to get the perfect balance for you.
Traditional char siu sauce has a deep red colour due to the use of red fermented bean curd. If you want to achieve a bright red colour, add red food colouring (red food colouring does not affect the taste). I use a combination of fermented bean curd and red food colouring when I want a vibrant red colour when making char siu.
If you prefer a spicier char siu sauce, add a dash of chili flakes, sriracha sauce, or even a minced chilli pepper to add heat.
If you don’t have shaoxing wine, sherry or similar alternatives, you can use orange juice or peach juice instead, they also are alcohol-free alternatives.
Instead of fermented bean curd you can use red food colouring, a further option is to use red yeast powder.
How To Store Chinese BBQ Sauce
Store the sauce in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to one week. If you want to keep the sauce for later, then you can freeze it.
To freeze, keep the sauce in a freezer-safe and airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Simply defrost in the fridge when you’re ready to use it.
No, they are not the same. Char siu sauce is a barbecue sauce used to marinate and glaze meats, while hoisin sauce is a thick, dark and sweet sauce commonly used as a dipping sauce or in stir-fries.
Chinese bbq sauce (char siu) is red due to using fermented bean curd or red bean paste in traditional recipes. Chinese takeaway shops use red food colouring to create the red appearance.
More Sauce Recipes
Below are more tasty sauce recipes:
Chinese BBQ Sauce Recipe (Char Siu Sauce)
- 4 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
- 4 tbsp Brown Sugar
- 2 tbsp Ginger And Garlic Paste
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing Wine
- 2 tbsp Oyster Sauce
- 2 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
- 1 tbsp Fermented Bean Curd Or Red Food Colouring
- 1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
- 1 tsp Salt
- Pour all the Chinese barbecue sauce ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly until the brown sugar has dissolved into the mixture.(Continue to make char siu pork, use this sauce as a marinade or glaze.)4 tbsp Hoisin Sauce, 4 tbsp Brown Sugar, 2 tbsp Ginger And Garlic Paste, 2 tbsp Shaoxing Wine, 2 tbsp Oyster Sauce, 2 tbsp Light Soy Sauce, 1 tbsp Fermented Bean Curd, 1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice, 1 tsp Salt
Cooked Sauce (Optional)
- Simmer the sauce in a pan over a low to medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Once the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool down for 5 to 10 minutes. This cooked sauce can be used as a dipping sauce or to coat meats.
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