This amazing char siu chicken recipe will satisfy your Chinese food cravings. It is super quick and easy to make – thanks to the air fryer, and it only requires minimal ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. You can have it on the table in no time at all!
The chicken is marinated in char siu sauce, which is a mixture of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, honey, five-spice powder, and sesame oil. It's then grilled or roasted to perfection until the skin is crisp and the meat is cooked through.
If you've never had char siu chicken before, you're in for a treat! This dish is popular in Chinese cuisine and is often served as an appetizer or main course. It's usually made with pork tenderloin or pork belly, but chicken makes a delicious alternative.
What is Char Siu Chicken aka Chinese BBQ Chicken?
Have you ever had Chinese bbq pork? It is called char siu pork. This Chinese chicken recipe has a very similar flavor to char siu pork.
The best part of this dish is that it doesn’t need to be marinated overnight. I personally do not have the time to marinate meat, so I like to use simple recipes like this Juicy Orange Chicken. I am a mom of 2, and I have an insanely busy schedule. However, if you want to marinate the night before, power to you. Marinated chicken thighs will always taste better!
In my experience, chicken thighs are the best protein to cook in the air fryer. They always come out juicy and full of flavor. I highly recommend using boneless skinless chicken thighs for this recipe. However, you could also use chicken breasts if that's what you prefer.
The key to this dish is the char siu marinade. It's what gives the chicken its signature bold flavor and helps to tenderize the meat. The leftover marinade can also be basted to create a beautiful, caramelized crust on the chicken. This recipe really deserves a 10 out of 10!
Char Siu Chicken Oven Instructions
No air fryer? No problem! Oven-roasted chicken char siu is equally good!
You must adjust the cooking time to 40-45 minutes at 375 degrees F, flipping halfway. Broil at the last 2 minutes to achieve the best result of a beautiful crust on the skin.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs – You can use any cut of chicken pieces for this recipe. If you wish to use chicken breasts, buy the bone-in with skin to prevent drying out your chicken. You can even use chicken drumsticks or chicken wings if that's all you have. Always pat your chicken with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
- Hoisin sauce – There are no substitutions for this. It's crucial for that sweet and salty flavor we want in any chicken or pork char siu recipe. For the best flavors, I recommend using a good quality hoisin sauce, which you can find in any Asian grocery store.
- Honey – You can use any sweetener you want, like brown sugar. My preference for all my recipes will always be honey.
- Ginger, garlic, and green onion – This is my holy trinity of aromatics. You will notice that this is pretty much my base.
- Sesame oil – Love this ingredient. It gives this dish a nutty taste. So delicious.
What do you eat Char Siu Chicken with?
You will love this with freshly made rice with some steamed leafy greens like bok choy or lo mein noodles.
Char Siu Chicken FAQs
Although char siu and hoisin sauce are both sweet and sticky, they are not the same. Hoisin sauce is molasses-thick sauce made from soybeans, sugar, garlic, vinegar, and spices. It's used as a dipping sauce or marinade in Chinese cuisine. On the other hand, char siu is a mixture of hoisin sauce, honey, and Chinese five spice powder. This gives it a more complex flavor that is perfect for grilling or roasting meats.
Char siu chicken is often eaten with rice and steamed vegetables. I like to serve it with a simple side of steamed edamame beans and white rice.
6-8 pieces of boneless chicken thighs
3 tbsp of hoisin sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp ginger
1 tbsp garlic
1 tbsp green onion (white and green separated)
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp Chinese 5-Spice powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
- Preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees – air fry
- In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients above.
- Mix in your chicken.
- Line it up in your tray. They will shrink a bit. You can line them up close to each other.
- Air fry for 25 minutes. Flipping halfway. Flip again and broil for the last 2 minutes to get that crispy skin and beautiful red color. Make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees.
- Serve and enjoy!
Cooking it in the oven is easy. You just have to adjust the cooking time to 40 -45 minutes at 375 degrees, flipping halfway. Broil at the last 2 minutes to achieve a beautiful crust on the skin.
*Internal temperature should be 165 degrees or over.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: mains
- Method: air fryer
- Cuisine: asian
Keywords: char siu chicken, air fryer chicken thighs, chinese bbq chicken, air fryer chicken thighs boneless, air fryer chicken thighs recipe