Keto Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)

Some of our recipes and articles contain affiliate links. This helps keep our content free. Read our disclaimer.

Traditional char siu is delicious. It’s also traditionally full of sugar and inflammatory oils. After a bit of trial and error, here’s my version of keto char siu that tastes as good as the traditional recipe but without the sugar and inflammatory oils.

What makes it pork red?

Traditionally the red colouring comes from a fermented red bean curd. Red bean curd has a mild and slightly nutty flavour which does add a little to the dish. I’ve made it with and without depending what’s in my fridge at the time. It also adds a tiny bit to the carb macros. The other catch is that this is an ingredient that you tend to only find in Asian supermarkets.

If you’re wanting to keep it keto and aesthetically traditional, you can add 1 teaspoon of red food colouring. However it does nothing for the flavour and the colouring contains additives that you may want to avoid.

Substituting honey

I’ve made this with keto honey substitute and the real deal. Keto honey substitutes behave a like natural honey when you’re cooking with it, so you will get that lovely caramalisation that comes from using honey in marinates. I talk more about the pros and cons of natural honey verses keto substitutes here. Ultimately is comes down to a personal choice and why you’re living a keto lifestyle. Personally, I tend to cook with natural honey and work around my macros. Also consider that high cooking temperatures used for grilling do breakdown some of the nutritional benefits.

Which cut of pork to use

I use tenderloin. You can also use pork neck. For me the trick is how long you marinate it for. Preferably it’s best overnight, but I’ve marinated in the morning and cooked that night and it’s been lovely. If I cook it on the same day, I tend to reduce the rest of the marinade, baste it part way through the cook and again while it’s resting.

Which hoisin sauce to buy

This is kinda important because some hoisin brands are extremely sugary making them very high carb.

The Chang’s Hoisin Sauce brand at Coles and Woolies is the cleanest of the selection and is by far the lowest carb at 10.7g per 100g (you’re using about 50g in the marinade).

Please don’t confuse this with Mr Chen’s Hoisin because this brand is has sugar fructose syrup and hits 25.3g/100g making it more than twice the carb count!

Soy substitutes

So there isn’t any strict substitute for the hoisin that totally works in my opinion… but you could try the same amount of plum sauce or keto BBQ sauce and reduce 1 tbsp of the monkfruit so it’s not overly sweet.

But if you’re wanting to substitute out the soy sauce to reduce the soy content, Coconut Aminos is a common keto soy sauce substitute. If you’re concerned about the gluten in some soy sauces, tamari is a Japanese soy sauce without the gluten.

But rice isn’t keto! Now what?!

Rice sure isn’t keto. And I’m not going to tell you that the various keto rice substitutes taste like rice either.

White rice, like jasmine rice, has around 45-50g of carbohydrates per 100g which is a small rice bowl worth. These days, I tend to take the carb hit because I love rice. Rice is not particularly rich in vitamins but does have small amounts of B vitamins. It is however a good source of manganese and contains small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium.

Early on my keto journey when I was still focused on budging weight, I dry-fried konjac rice which kills off that gnarly taste it can have in rice form (but my Chinese partner refused to eat it).

You can also stir fry some veggies like choy sum, pak choy or gai lan with some avo oil, garlic and finish with a splash of sesame oil. Gai lan is one of those veggies you tend to need to buy from an Asian grocer but Coles and Woolies have a reasonable stock of other Asian veggies like bok choy, choy sum and pak choy. These are all keto friendly veggies and packed with nutrients.

It’s also a delicious protein to have with kaleslaw or other salad mixes.

No ratings yet

Keto Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)

Delicious Chinese BBQ Pork ketofied!
Servings 6
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Marinating 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 40 minutes




Marinate Pork

  • Mix marinade ingredients in a large zip lock bag and smoosh gently to mix.
  • Place the pork in the baggy with marinade. Marinate 24 to 48 hours in the fridge (3 hours is the bare minimum).

Roast Pork (Oven)

  • Preheat oven to 170℃
  • Line a tray with foil and place a rack on top (recommended but not critical).
  • Remove pork from the marinade, save Marinade. Place pork on rack.
  • Roast for 30 minutes.
  • Remove pork from oven. Dab marinade all over, then turn. Baste and return to oven for another 30 minutes.
  • Remove pork from oven. Brush with marinade again, then turn, brush with marinade and roast for a further 20 minutes. If it's charring a bit too quickly, cover with foil.
  • Baste again on surface then bake for a further 10 minutes until caramelised and sticky.
  • Rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. This stops it from drying out making.

Reduce Marinade for Basting

  • Meanwhile, pour reserved marinade in a saucepan. Mix Extra Honey into marinade. Bring to simmer over medium high and cook for 2 minutes until syrupy. Remove from heat.

Roast Pork (Air Fryer)

  • Remove pork from the marinade, save Marinade. Place pork on rack.
  • Cook at 160℃ for 10 minutes.
  • Baste the pork and cook for another 10 minutes.
  • Baste again on surface then cook for a further 10 minutes until caramelised and sticky.
  • Rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. This stops it from drying out making.
Calories: 379kcal


Calories: 379kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 53g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 163mg | Sodium: 818mg | Potassium: 1027mg | Fiber: 1g | Vitamin A: 8IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 3mg
Disclaimer: No Spoons to Cook is based on our own experience and research, and what we know works best for us. It is not medical advice. Our recipes focus on low inflammatory ingredients, whole foods and are founded in ketogenic and low carb ways of eating. We encourage spoonies to stay curious, ask questions, do your own research, listen to your body and to work with a Registered Dietitian or Medical Professional when appropriate to tailor your nutritional needs to support your care plan and goals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

Your custom text © Copyright 2024. All rights reserved.