Cantonese Cuisine – Most Popular Chinese Cuisine around the World

Cantonese cuisine, also called Yue cuisine or Guangdong cuisine is one of the eight major cuisines with a long history of about 2,000 years. It is featured with widely use of materials and rich cooking methods. Cantonese dishes taste mild, fresh and natural. The most famous include White Cut Chicken, Cantonese Roasted Goose and Roasted Suckling Pig. 

Most of the Chinese restaurants abroad are Cantonese restaurants, making Cantonese cuisine the most popular Chinese cuisine around the world and the representative of Chinese cuisines in the world. It consists of three branches: Guangzhou dishes, Chaozhou dishes and Dongjiang dishes, and each has its own characteristics.

Chinese Name: 粤菜 yuè cài
English Names: Cantonese cuisine, Yue cuisine, Guangdong cuisine
Popular in: Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macau and overseas countries
Time of Origin: Han Dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD)
Flavors: mild, fresh, natural, and sweet
Famous Cantonese Dishes: White Cut Chicken, Cantonese Roasted Goose, Roasted Suckling Pig, Char Siu
Famous Snacks: Steamed Vermicelli Roll, Shrimp Dumpling, Water Chestnut Cake, Steamed Bun Stuffed with Char Siu, Siu Mai

Cantonese Cuisine

History of Cantonese Cuisine since 2,000 Years Ago

Cantonese cuisine has a long history and its origin can be traced back to 2,000 years ago in early Han Dynasty. Chefs at that time have been already good at cooking different materials by particular cooking methods. After the capital was moved from north to the south in Southern Song Dynasty (1127 - 1279 AD), many skillful chefs gathered in Guangzhou, contributing to the development of Cantonese cuisine and Cantonese cooking skills became mature and forms some of its own characteristics. In Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD) and Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 AD), Cantonese cuisine had become systematic and Guangzhou was full of tea houses, hotels, restaurants and snack shops. In early 19 century, a number of Guangdong people went to North America, they ran many Cantonese cuisine restaurants and gradually Cantonese food became the most popular Chinese food around the world. Now, it is also the most popular Chinese cuisine overseas.

Flavors of Cantonese Cuisine – Mild, Fresh, Natural

Cantonese chefs pay attention to the quality and natural taste of food materials. Most Cantonese food tastes fresh, natural, and mild. In order to show the original flavor of the main ingredient, Cantonese chefs are very cautious about seasonings. The seasonings are to bring out or highlight the original taste of the ingredient, not to make it. Less spicy ingredients such as peppers, chili, ginger and garlic are used. With the seasonal changes, dishes in summer and autumn are light, in winter and spring are a little bit heavier.

Rich Materials from Sky to Water

There is a stereotype in Chinese that Guangdong people eat everything and that is not groundless. Cantonese cuisine is famous for the rich food materials which include poultries, birds, sea food, woodland delicacies, various vegetables and fruits and often the best part of them are selected for cooking. Cantonese people prefer seasonal food. For instance, they eat perches in middle winter and shrimps in April when they are fattest and tasty. The rich seasonings are mild and mellow which contain aniseed, coriander leaves, rice vinegar, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, honey and sugar.

Special Cooking Techniques

Cantonese chefs prefer cooking techniques like stir-frying, boiling, steaming, baking, braising, sautéing, shallow frying, deep frying and roasting. Most of them can preserve the natural and original flavor of food materials. Cantonese chefs are especially good at controlling heat of fire and dish decorating, and dishes they cooked is not only tasty but appealing in both appearance and smell.

Notable Dishes in Cantonese Cuisine


White Cut Chicken

White Cut Chicken

The chicken is boiled in water  over low heat without seasonings. It is eaten with dipping sauce made of salt, sugar, ginger, sesame oil, and cooking wine. The chicken tastes tender, smooth and slightly sweet.


Cantonese Roasted Goose

Cantonese Roasted Goose

The cleaned goose is blow up, scald with boiled water, coated with seasonings and sugar water, and then roasted. It tastes salty and slightly sweet, crisp outside and tender inside.


Roasted Suckling Pig

Roasted Suckling Pig

The suckling pig is first marinated with the mixture of sesame paste, sugar, salt, cornstarch and various spices powder and then coated with syrup made of sugar, vinegar and liquor and then roasted wholly.


Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)

Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)

It is red outside and white inside and tastes a little sweet and sticky. It goes well with a bowl of chewy rice. The derivative snack is Steamed Bun Stuffed with Char Siu.


Poached Lobster in Soup

Poached Lobster in Soup

It is made of lobster and soup-stock. The cooked lobster is white and tender, with delicious taste, high protein content, low fat content and rich nutrition.


Slow-cooked Soup

Slow-cooked Soup

This Cantonese soup is slowly brewed over a low fire for a long time, which gives the soup rich nutrition and a tasty flavor. Many kinds of ingredients can be used, like squab, silkie, quail and oxtail.


Read More: 15 Best Cantonese Foods You Must Try

Cantonese Cuisine Menu

English Chinese Pinyin
White Cut Chicken          白切鸡           bái qiē jī  
Cantonese Roasted Goose 广式烧鹅 guǎng shì shāo é
Roasted Suckling Pig 烤乳猪 kǎo rǔ zhū
Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork) 蜜汁叉烧 mì zhī chā shāo
Poached Lobster in Soup 上汤焗龙虾 shàng tāng jú long xiā
Slow-cooked Soup 老火靓汤 lǎo huǒ liàng tāng
Beef Chow Fun (Beef Ho Fun) 干炒牛河 gàn chǎo niú hé
Clay Pot Rice 煲仔饭 bāo zaǐ fàn
Soy Sauce Chicken 豉油鸡 chǐ yóu jī
Congee with Lean Pork and Century Egg 皮蛋瘦肉粥 pí dàn shòu ròu zhōu
Steamed Spare Ribs in Black Bean Sauce 豉汁蒸排骨 chǐ zhī zhēng pái gǔ
Buddha’s Delight 罗汉斋 luó hàn zhāi
Chaozhou Beef Ball 潮州牛肉丸 cháo zhōu niú ròu wán
Wonton Noodles 云吞面 yún tūn miàn
Sweet and Sour Pork 糖醋咕噜肉 táng cù gū lū ròu

Best Cantonese Cuisine Restaurants in China

 Bingsheng Restaurant
Chinese name: 炳胜品味 bǐng shèng pǐn wèi
Address: No. 33, Dongxiao Road, Haizhu District, Guangzhou

 Guangzhou Restaurant
Chinese name: 广州酒家 guǎng zhōu jiǔ jiā
Address: No. 47, Gongyi Road, Huadu District, Guangzhou

 Fanlou Restaurant
Chinese name: 蘩楼 fán lóu
Address: No. 2078, Baoan South Road, Luohu District, Shenzhen

 Cuiyuan Restaurant
Chinese name: 翠园 Cuì yuán
Address: Wangfujing, Dongcheng District, Beijing
See more Cantonese Restaurants in Beijing

 Huishijia Restaurant
Chinese name: 惠食佳 Huì shí jiā
Address: No. 396, Yanan West Road, Jingan District, Shanghai
See more Cantonese Restaurants in Shanghai

Major Styles of Cantonese Cuisine

Yue cuisine contains three styles: Guangzhou style, Chaoshan style and Dongjiang style. Guangzhou cuisine tastes particularly fresh, tender and smooth; the chefs are good at stir-frying, controlling fire heat and some cooking methods from western countries. Chaoshan cuisine, or Teochew Cuisine dishes originate in Chaoshan, Guangdong and specialize in cooking sea food, soup, desert and vegetables. Dongjiang dishes actually belong to the Hakka cuisine and originate in Dongjiang, Guangdong; the chefs are especially skilled in cooking meat and casserole dishes.
- Last updated on Nov. 22, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Cantonese Cuisine – Most Popular Chinese Cuisine around the World
Asked by marz from SINGAPORE | Oct. 07, 2023 00:33Reply
what was the first cantonese dish made?
im making a ppt on cantonese and japanese cuisines so while looking out boths history i came across earlier food eaten in japan but for cantonese couldnt it was only showing noodles which was oldest food for china not cantonese cuisine x..x if anyone knows plz do let me know as earliest as possible
Answers (1)
Answered by Andrew | Oct. 07, 2023 18:14

I'm sorry, but it's also hard to find the earliest Cantonese dish in Chinese websites as it is so complicated to form its whole style of cooking.
Ask a Question
Question Summary (100 characters)
Details (optional) (2,000 characters)