Cherry Char Siu Chicken

July 26, 2016
4 Ratings
Photo by Leith Devine
  • Prep time 12 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

I love char siu in Chinese takeout food, but I don't like the red food coloring used in the sauce. I thought cherries might work instead, so I replaced the food coloring and much of the sugar with fresh cherries.
Char siu can be made with pork or chicken. This char siu sauce is not as red as some bottled sauces, and it tastes fruity and spicy.
Make sure to baste the chicken as it cooks, this gives you a glossy and delicious chicken! Prep time includes marinating.
Leith Devine

Test Kitchen Notes

Wow. This was really good. The cherries shine in this sauce, even though there are a lot of other flavors. I mean cherries with soy sauce, Sriracha, and Chinese five-spice? I was intrigued, and it definitely paid off. This is another recipe that only requires blending, marinating, and grilling. All comes together with minimal effort, but the flavors are really quite impressive. I loved basting the chicken while it grilled and it gave it a nice sticky exterior. (Caveat: I have never made char siu, so I can't really say how this compares to the original.) I would change one thing: I would boil the sauce as recommended, but then set aside 1 cup for basting and reduce the rest even further to use for serving. The sauce is really nice to have if serving with rice. —figgypudding

What You'll Need
  • 3 pounds skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen pitted cherries
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  1. Place chicken in a large zip-top bag.
  2. Mix together all the ingredients (except sesame oil) for the sauce in a food processor. Process until smooth.
  3. Pour sauce over chicken and mix well. Marinate overnight or up to 24 hours.
  4. Remove chicken from the bag, reserving the leftover marinade. Add sesame oil to the leftover marinade and boil until slightly thickened. Use this as the basting sauce. Reserve 1 cup for serving.
  5. Preheat grill to medium heat using indirect heat. Place marinated chicken on the grill. Brush with basting sauce and turn chicken every 10 minutes, basting each time, until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165° F. Don't let it burn like I did!
  6. Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve with brown rice and vegetables.
  7. To make in the oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook chicken on a foil lined pan until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, basting every 10 minutes. If you want a crispy exterior, turn to broil at the end and broil for 5 minutes until exterior is browned and crispy.

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    Kirk Andrews

4 Reviews

Kirk A. November 12, 2017
Does everyone else have a drawer in their kitchen full of gadgets that they never use? Well, now I know for what I’m going to use my cherry pitter. This recipe sounds delicious!
Leith D. November 12, 2017
I hope you like it!
sexyLAMBCHOPx July 26, 2016
Looks delicious!
Leith D. July 26, 2016
Thanks! It was!