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Char Siu Chicken

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Andrea Nguyen’s savory-sweet char siu chicken is easy to make and hard to resist.

Char Siu Chicken

Photo by Aubrie Pick © 2019

This easy char siu chicken recipe comes from Vietnamese Food Any Day: Simple Recipes for True, Fresh Flavors by Andrea Nguyen. Nguyen writes, “Savory-sweet and garlicky Chinese barbecued pork, called char siu in Cantonese and xá xíu in Vietnamese, is hard to resist. Since the classic porky version requires a good hour (better yet, overnight) to marinate, my weeknight approach is to make it with chicken thighs and grill it for a wonderful old-school flavor…Enjoy char siu chicken for dinner with rice and a quick stir-fried vegetable or a salad. Use leftovers (or make a double batch) for banh mi, a noodle soup, or fried rice.” My only tweak to the recipe was to increase the quantities and double the sauce because it’s that good.

What You’ll Need To Make Char Siu Chicken

ingredients for char siu chicken

The nice thing about this recipe is that very little prep is required; most of the ingredients come out of bottles and jars. The most time-consuming part of the recipe is trimming the chicken thighs (I find it easiest to use sharp kitchen shears). If you don’t want to use dark meat, go ahead and use chicken tenderloins. Just keep in mind that they’ll cook in half the time and you’ll need slightly less since they don’t need to be trimmed.

How To Make Char Siu Chicken

In a large bowl, stir together the garlic, five-spice powder, honey, hoisin, soy sauce, ketchup, and sesame oil.
whisking the marinade and sauceRemove about half the marinade and set aside for glazing the chicken. Add the chicken to the bowl, coating the pieces well. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, or refrigerate up to 24 hours (return to room temperature before cooking).

tossing the chicken with the marinade

Lightly oil a cast-iron stove-top grill pan and set over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 6 to 10 minutes, turning several times. To test for doneness, pierce the flesh with the tip of a knife; the chicken is cooked when clear juices flow out. During the last 2 minutes, when the chicken feels firmish, baste with the reserved marinade to freshen flavor and add sheen.

Alternatively, prepare a medium charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium and cook the chicken for 10 to 12 minutes, basting during the last 3 minutes. Transfer to a platter and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

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Char Siu Chicken

Andrea Nguyen’s savory-sweet char siu chicken is easy to make and hard to resist.

Servings: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes, plus at least 30 minutes to marinate the chicken


  • 2.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (see note if you prefer white meat)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, put through a press or minced and mashed
  • ½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • ¼ cup honey, preferably amber colored
  • Brimming ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • Scant 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil


  1. Pat the chicken thighs with paper towels to remove excess moisture, then trim and discard any big fat pads. If the thighs are large or super-uneven in thickness, butterfly each one. Lay the thigh, smooth-side down, on your cutting board. Wielding your knife horizontally, slash the big mound of flesh to create a flap of meat, stopping just shy of cutting all the way through. Fold back the meat flap that you just created. The thigh should now be about 50 percent longer and relatively even in thickness. If the result seems awkwardly large, cut it crosswise into two smaller, square-ish pieces. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the garlic, five-spice powder, honey, hoisin, soy sauce, ketchup, and sesame oil. Remove about half the marinade and set aside for glazing the chicken. Add the chicken to the bowl, coating the pieces well. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, or refrigerate up to 24 hours (return to room temperature before cooking).
  3. Lightly oil a cast-iron stove-top grill pan and set over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 6 to 10 minutes, turning several times. To test for doneness, pierce the flesh with the tip of a knife; the chicken is cooked when clear juices flow out. During the last 2 minutes, when the chicken feels firmish, baste with the reserved marinade to freshen flavor and add sheen. (Alternatively, prepare a medium charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium and cook the chicken for 10 to 12 minutes, basting during the last 3 minutes.) Transfer to a platter and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
  4. Note: If you'd prefer to use white meat, use 2 pounds of chicken tenderloins. (The reason you'll need slightly less is because they don't need to be trimmed.) Keep in mind that they'll cook in about half the time.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 334
  • Fat: 11 g
  • Saturated fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 19 g
  • Sugar: 16 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 38 g
  • Sodium: 844 mg
  • Cholesterol: 178 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • Can’t wait to try. Would you mind linking your grill pan?

    • — Chad on May 31, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Chad, that picture is from the cookbook that the recipe came from but I see that it’s a Staub pan. This is the grill pan I have. Hope you enjoy the chicken!

      • — Jenn on May 31, 2023
      • Reply
  • Super easy! Super delicious!! Did not have 5-spice powder so subbed in Simply Baharat Seasoning. Also grilled on gas grill. Otherwise followed recipe as written!! Cannot wait to impress company with same dish!!

    • — Kathleen Jay on March 3, 2023
    • Reply
  • This is a wonderful recipe my family loves! However, my son just decided to become a pescatarian, and I’m struggling to adapt this recipe. Can you think of any fish or seafood that might work? I want to support him but I’m stumped. Thanks for your help!

    • — Meg on January 5, 2023
    • Reply
    • So glad you like it! I think shrimp would work nicely here. I’d love to hear what he thinks of it with shrimp!

      • — Jenn on January 6, 2023
      • Reply
  • New favorite chicken recipe! Wow, was this delicious. I made it for a family dinner party and everyone wanted the recipe. I loved how easy it was to make. It’s perfect for a large group. I can’t wait to make it again.

    • — Abbie on July 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • Delicious!! I’ve made this recipe with garam masala before and it was good. Tonight I’m following the full directions and it is delicious! It’s worth the $8 Chinese five spice powder in this dish. Amazing as always – thank you!

    • — Marci G on July 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can I use garam masala in place of 5 spice powder?

    • — Virginia Lehner on July 1, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Virginia, here’s a recipe for 5 spice powder. If you don’t feel like making it, I think you can get away with using garam masala. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on July 2, 2022
      • Reply
  • This was delicious. I made it exactly as written but I butterflied the chicken thighs and cut into approximately 2” squares. I will definitely make this again

    • — Linda on February 17, 2022
    • Reply
  • I didn’t have chicken but I had a pork tenderloin that had to be used. I did cut it into four, cut each piece in half, then butterflied each piece. We don’t like 5 spice but a little research indicated that garam masala could be used instead, so I used that. Marinated the meat for about 3 hours, then threw it on a preheated grill. BEAUTIFUL grill marks!! Served it with peas and carrots in basmati rice. Really wonderful flavour and so easy to make. I will definitely make it again, and will certainly try it with chicken. Thank-you for the wonderful recipe!!

    • — Pat K on October 18, 2021
    • Reply
  • Do you think I can marinate the chicken and freeze the whole thing until I am ready to bbq it?

    • Sure – hope you enjoy!

  • Simply Fabulous. Made this for dinner with my husband- quick prep in the afternoon and let marinate for about 3-4 hours. Grilled and served with corn on the cob and green salad. Perfect for an easy but delicious meal. Can’t wait to serve at a future dinner party- I love recipes that are so easy but taste “complicated”. 🙂

  • This recipe was delicious thank you! I only had chicken breasts, and had to substitute a few ingredients, but it was still very delicious. I did not have a grill so I did it directly on a cast iron pan, and enjoyed how the charred black bits were not bitter. Thanks for making an easy weeknight dinner.

  • Made as written with a splash of lime juice and mango chutney before serving…delicious. I had jasmine rice. Am going to try freezing some, do you think it will work? Jenn, could I make this earlier in the day, adding the peas when i reheat it and then the yogurt and cilantro? Love it when I can relax, not cook, before having guests for dinner.

    • — Carol Winkelman
    • Reply
    • Hi Carol, It sounds like you may be referring to a different recipe. Is that right?

  • Great way to have chicken thighs, even if you are not a lover of thighs. I made the Thai Crunch salad ( my fave) with this . Was awesome!

    • — Calley OHenley
    • Reply
  • I first has this style of chicken from a take-out restaurant and when I went back to order it again it had been taken off the menu. I searched high and low for a recipe that would bring back the memory of that meal and I found it with Jenn Segal’s dead simple but absolutely delicious recipe for Char Siu Chicken. Make sure you marinade it as directed and we baste frequently for a glossy, juicy crusty edge to our chicken pieces!
    It has become a family go to favourite served with jasmine rice, a sweet and sour cucumber salad and if in season green beans or grilled brocollini or grilled rapini. Delicious!

    • — alexandra bake
    • Reply
  • this rendition is fabulous! the ingredients are probably already in your pantry and, if not, are a worthwhile investment because you will be making this dish many times (and they are versatile). tasted better than any takeout!!!

  • Wonderful sweet and delicious, hardly anytime to make.

  • We made this tonight and it was delicious! Perfect balance of flavors and easy to prep in advance. On a side note, my husband was making a special drink for us to have as we trimmed our tree last night. It was amazing and then he told me it was your “Hot Buttered Cider with Rum” ! All this time he was listening about where I’m getting my recipes for so many meals we’ve enjoyed 😊 Highly recommend that as well!

  • Easy and absolutely delicious!

  • Hi Jenn,
    This recipe was fantastic. I am always impressed how well written and clear your instructions are. In the future I would like to make it for a party and cook it ahead of time. Can the chicken be cooked and frozen? And if so, how is it reheated? Thanks.

    • Glad you liked it, Jasmine! I haven’t frozen this before. I think it’s probably best when eaten right after being cooked but that you could get away with freezing it. I’d reheat it in the oven, covered with foil, just until heated through.

  • Tons of delicious flavor & easy! This mom thanks you!

  • Another winner! I was a bit nervous about making this as I thought it might be a little on the sweet side but the balance of savory and sweet was just perfect!! Thighs are the way to go too!
    Thanks Jen!

  • I used chicken tenderloins. Since they’re small pieces, I marinated them for just four hours, and they cooked in about 8 minutes, making this an easy recipe for someone working out of home during this shelter-in-place situation we’re going through. Everyone I’ve told about it has asked for the recipe. I’d like to try the marinade on boneless pork too…bet it would be delicious!

  • This marinade recipe was bursting with beautiful Asian flavor and it was delicious!
    I served both the jasmine rice and ketchup fried rice(would love to view your version of this!) alongside it with salad.
    I used a non-stick All-Clad double burner ridged grill pan…The question I have is if that is ok to use or should I switch to the Cast Iron grill pan for better results?—the glaze/sauce turned black and formed black crusts in the pan that stuck to the chicken which I had to remove where possible. How can I avoid this?

    • Hi JooJoo, glad you liked it! Next time you make this, I’d try turning the heat down a bit. If you have an outdoor grill, you could also try that.

      • So if grilling outdoor is not an option, the Cast Iron grill pan vs. not should not differentiate between this glaze turning black in pan and crusting?
        I thought maybe the Cast Iron conducts heat faster and cooks more thoroughly and maybe won’t have a chance to burn the sugars in the glaze/marinade.

        • Hi JooJoo, If grilling isn’t an option, I definitely think it would be worth giving the cast iron pan a try!

  • This dish was unbelievably good, according to my family. Great recipe!

  • Everyone should make this! 🙂

    WINNER WINNER ON YOUR CHICKEN DINNER! Another success! Thank you so much. Flavorful, gorgeous presentation, straightforward/easy to make. Allowed it to marinate about 8 hours.

    My alteration to your recipe on 2 things: I used whole chicken pieces on the bone (thigh & drumstick) and we ended up baking it. SUPER delicious!!!! Baked 375 and it was juicy, flavorful.

  • I made this with boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the oven, and it was delicious! I kept about a third of the marinade aside to glaze the chicken for the last 30 minutes of cooking. A definite repeat!

  • I just made this tonight for my family. It was easy and delicious. My 22-year old son who is visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday loved it and asked for the recipe. I forgot to add the honey and it was still wonderful. Have made many recipes from your blog and your cookbook and all have been great!

  • Fan-tas-tic.
    As with everything I have tried that bears your stamp.
    Turned out exactly like the picture (!) and, most importantly, delicious.
    Thank you so much, Jenn!

  • Hi Jenn,

    I plan on marinating your Char Siu Chicken tonight. I was trying to find the amber colored honey you mentioned. After some internet searching (https://ajarofhoneysanjose.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/honey-color-guide.jpg), amber colored honey is pretty dark.
    So, I went to the store and found Lowell Honey-Dew honey from Poland. It is quite dark, but isn’t made from blossoms at all. It is described as “Color: Dark to very dark, honey colored, sometimes with green fluorescence.
    Taste: Intensity: medium, woody and warm. Medium sweetness with weak acidity. No bitterness with a medium aroma. Medium persistence/aftertaste and sometimes astringent.
    Aroma: Woody and warm.”
    I have to agree that it looks very dark, closer to the dark amber on the link above.
    Do you think this would work or should I find something lighter in color made from blossoms?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Rhonda, Without having tried it, it’s hard for me to say how that honey would work. For the most predictable results, I’d probably stick with standard honey. Sorry about the extra effort you went to to find that! Hope you enjoy the chicken. 🙂

  • This is an amazing recipe for chicken! Question: I’ve got guests coming that are vegetarian/pescaterians, so I was thinking about trying this marinade with wild shrimp 16/20 count and grilling them on the BBQ. Do you think that would work? If not shrimp, do you think it would work with fish and if so what kind?

    PS: Love your website! Bought your book and really like the “tips”, but the constant stream of new recipes keeps me and my family happy.

    • — Lisette Cicconi
    • Reply
    • I do think it’d work well with shrimp, but I’d only marinate for 30 minutes. So glad you like the recipes, Lisette!

  • Could this be used in a slow cooker to make a pulled pork-type dish? Perhaps with a pork tenderloin?

    • Hi Michael, I don’t have a lot of wisdom to share because I don’t have experience with a slow cooker, so it’s hard to say for sure but I think this would be a great marinade for pork. You may want to consider pork shoulder though as I think you’ll get a more tender finished product. (I’m not a huge fan of pork tenderloin.) Here are some tips on converting recipes to slow cook versions that you may find helpful. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

  • Amazingly delicious and sooo easy to make! I actually had all the ingredients in the house already, so only had to buy chicken. Will definitely be making this again!

  • This chicken was so delicious! I used boneless thighs and boneless breasts and they both came out tender and moist. Definitely restaurant quality. Love your recipes, Jenn!

    • Not my favorite. I like the other similar but spicy one you have here with the balsamic and honey at the end.
      I think it might be that 5 spice powder that doesn’t agree with me. It has a very definite taste.

    • This meal was easy and tasted amazing! I was pleasantly surprised that even my kids loved it and they typically don’t like Chinese food. Thank you for all the quality recipes! You make my life so much easier! I hope you write second cookbook🤞

  • My kids loved it!!!!!!thank you Jenn! Because of your link to this recipe, I went and ordered this book. Great book with lots of notes and clear directions. I love reading cook books and this one will be in use a lot once my family calls for asian dinner.

  • Could I use chicken breasts sliced in half so that they’re thinner?

    • That should work, Veronica. Enjoy!

  • I’m excited to make this, but am looking for suggestions of what to serve along side. Thoughts?

  • Can you use with bone in chicken thighs?

    • Yes, Gail, bone-in thighs should work here. Cooking time will be longer; possibly up to double that of the current cooking time. You may want to lower the heat a bit though so that the skin doesn’t burn before the meat is cooked through. Please LMK how they turn out!

  • I made this chicken tonight and my 17 year old son inhaled it. I marinated it for about 24 hours. Thanks for all the great recipes. They show up on my dinner table often!

  • Made this tonight and it was amazing! Will definitely be making this again.

  • Made this last night on my grill pan. Absolutely melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

  • I would like to make this recipe. What is Chinese 5 spice powder? I don’t ever recall seeing this spice in the grocery store.

    • Hi Kathy, 5 spice powder is a seasoning mix that generally includes cloves, fennel, cinnamon, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns. It can be found in the spice section of most grocery stores. If you’re unable to find it, you can make your own — here’s a recipe. Hope that helps and that you enjoy the chicken if you make it!

  • I made this recipe this evening using a pork tenderloin cut into chunks. I made kabobs using the marinated pork, onion, mushroom, and zucchini. Served it with fried rice. It’s a do-over for sure!

  • Hi Jenn- would love to try this with Pork- what cut would you suggest? Also the marinating time please. Many thanks!

    • Hi Ash, This should work nicely with pork shoulder cut into pieces (and I’d marinate it overnight). I’d love to hear how it turns out with pork!

  • Hi, Jenn. This seems like a great recipe to make while we’re on vacation. We’ll be staying in an Airbnb and I don’t think we’ll have a grill. Do you think I could make it in the oven? Thanks.

    • Yes, Yolanda, this can be broiled in the oven. I’d use the cooking guidance from this recipe. Have a great vacation and please LMK how it turns out! 🙂

      • Thanks, Jenn, the chicken was fantastic! I carelessly bought skin-on, bone-in thighs, but they came out delicious after 45 minutes in a 350-degree oven. This recipe is a keeper!

        • Oh, I forgot, you were right about the broiler. I used it at the end to crisp up the skin.

  • Hi,
    How about using chicken thighs with bone in and skin on? The cooking time will be how much longer? And, can I omit the ketchup and substitute for something else? Want to avoid the onion it usually contains.


    • Hi Emilie, I’m guessing you’ll need to add about 10 minutes to the cook time, and turn the heat down a bit so the outside doesn’t burn before the inside is cooked. Tomato paste would be a great substitute for the ketchup. Hope that helps.

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