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Top Chinese New Year Recipes

by 9999biz.com
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A list of the most popular and symbolic Chinese New Year recipes for hosting your dinner party and enjoying great food with family and friends. The recipes range from regional specialties to popular takeout, from appetizers and main dishes to dessert. You’ll be sure to find something for everyone!

Chinese New Year traditions can vary greatly across the different parts of China. The landmass of China is almost as large as the US, but its cultural diversity is as dense as in Europe.

It’s the same idea when it comes to food, especially at Chinese New Year.

Every time I browse a web page or chat with friends about Chinese New Year, it consistently amazes me how the traditions around the most important festival in China can be so different between families.

I’m sharing this delicious roundup today, to give you some cooking inspiration based on my understanding of Chinese New Year. You might find some of the dishes unfamiliar or very different from the ones you know. I believe there is no right or wrong. It’s merely the manifestation of the different backgrounds, traditions, and habits of individual families. And these differences make the topic of Chinese New Year recipes even more interesting.

Chinese steamed whole fish

My favorite Chinese New Year recipes

I am changing it up from the standard menu ordering and will go into the main dishes first. Because the main dishes are the only ones that matter the most. To nail down a New Year’s menu for the whole family, the host will choose the main dishes first and plan out the rest of the dishes around them.

To cook a proper feast for the whole family to celebrate the beginning of the year, we always include chicken, duck, fish, and a few types of meat.

Traditional Chinese food culture is not protein-based when it comes to daily meals (we cook with rice, flour, and vegetables most of the time). Up until just 20 years ago, meat and fish were considered luxury items and couldn’t be served on a regular basis. It is for this exact reason that we serve every single type of meat for the New Year’s feast, no matter how much it costs. Because it represents that the coming year will be one of abundance and wealth for the family.


The list of main dishes is largely based on the food my grandma used to serve on the first day of the New Year. You will find a lot of braised meat because it can be prepared ahead of time and reheated right before serving.

I’ve mentioned in my previous posts that an oven is not standard equipment in the average Chinese kitchen, so we generally don’t consider roasting meat at home. But I did include a few dishes that I enjoy making now that I live in the US.

Fish is a must-have for Chinese New Year because it symbolizes good fortune. Seafood and tofu dishes are also often seen for added variety and abundance.

Chinese Lion’s Head Pork Meatballs (狮子头)

Chinese Beef Stew with Potatoes (土豆炖牛肉)

Steamed lion’s head meatballs
Chinese beef stew

Hong Shao Rou (Red Braised Pork, 红烧肉)

Braised Chestnut Chicken (板栗炖鸡)

Hong shao rou served on steamed rice
Braised chicken with chestnut and shiitake mushrooms

Chinese Steamed Fish (清蒸鱼)

Buddha’s Delight (Jai, Chinese Vegetarian Stew)

Chinese steamed whole fish close up
Buddha’s delight in a skillet

The Best Cantonese Roast Chicken (广式烧鸡)

Air Fryer Char Siu Pork (空气炸锅叉烧肉)

Cantonese Roast Chicken | 23 Best Chinese Chicken Recipes
Carved air fryer char siu pork in a platter close up

Walnut Shrimp

Sweet and Sour Fish (糖醋鱼)

Walnut shrimp in a plate
Fried fish with sweet and sour sauce

Crispy Chinese Duck Breast

Real-Deal Xinjiang Cumin Lamb (孜然羊肉)

Crispy Chinese Duck Breast | Peking | Roast | Crispy | How to Cook | Recipes | Fine Dining | Seared | Roasted | Dinner | Party | Marinade | Baked | Easy | Asian | Chinese | Thanksgiving | Christmas | Easter | Holiday
Homemade cumin lamb with onion and chili pepper

Easy Salt Baked Chicken (简易盐焗鸡)

Chinese BBQ Ribs

Salt baked chicken over rice with Chinese broccoli
Chinese BBQ ribs close-up

Crispy Marinated Tofu

Crab Roe Tofu with Salted Duck Eggs (蟹黄豆腐)

Crispy marinated tofu in a plate
Homemade crab roe tofu using salted duck eggs

Appetizers & Sides

Appetizers and sides are less important than the mains on the Chinese New Year dinner table, but they are fun to eat and they add great texture and color to the table.

Dishes like egg rolls and pancakes are classic and popular. They take some time to prepare, but you can make them ahead of time and heat them up before serving them.

Cold dishes and vegetable stir fries are a must, to add color and balance the meal. Especially because the main dishes are meat / protein heavy, the greens will help you reset your palate and ease your stomach from feeling too heavy.

Cantonese Chicken Egg Roll (广式鸡肉春卷)

Chinese Scallion Pancakes (葱油饼)

Cantonese style chicken egg roll with dipping sauce
Cong You Bing close up

Chinese Turnip Cake (Lo Bak Go, 萝卜糕)

Old-Beijing Fried Carrot Fritters (炸素丸子)

Chinese turnip cakes with dipping sauces
Fried carrot fritters close up

Chinese Sliced Tofu Salad (凉拌豆腐丝)

Chinese Spinach Salad with Peanuts (老醋菠菜花生)

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Lao Cu Bo Cai Hua Sheng (老醋菠菜花生)

Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir Fry

Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce (蚝油芥蓝, Gai Lan)

Baby bok choy and mushroom stir fry
Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce close up

Dumplings, Noodles & Rice

These are some of the dishes we serve at the end of the meal and we call them staples (主食, Zhu Shi).

For my family, boiled dumplings do not belong on this list, because they’re the main dish (and the only dish) we serve on New Year’s Eve (you can read a bit more about it here). I added it here because it’s a very important part of the Chinese New Year food culture and many families do serve them on New Year’s day with other dishes. Also, we do freeze the leftover dumplings from New Year’s eve and enjoy them over the following days.

A noodle dish is a must because it represents longevity. We eat long noodles to pray for a long, happy life for a family. The first two noodle dishes below are classic Northern style. My family always chooses one or the other. But it’s also quite popular to serve a small bowl of noodle soup just for the symbolism.

White rice is often served alongside the meal, but you can also make a more sophisticated rice dish to spice things up.

Pork and Chive Dumplings (猪肉韭菜水饺)

Mom’s Best Lamb Dumplings

Jiu cai sui jiao
Homemade lamb dumplings

Northern Chinese Gravy Noodle (Da Lu Mian, 打卤面)

Mom’s Best Zha Jiang Mian (炸酱面) – Fried Sauce Noodles

Homemade zha jiang mian topped with cucumber

Easy Hand-Pulled Noodles

Easy Soy Sauce Noodles (阳春面)

Boiled flat noodles
Soy sauce noodles topped with bok choy and egg

Chinese Beef Meat Pie (牛肉馅饼)

Chinese Chive Pockets (韭菜盒子, Chinese Chive Dumplings)

Northern Chinese beef pockets
Chinese chive pockets cut open revealing the filling

Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage

Yang Zhou Fried Rice (扬州炒饭)

Sticky rice stuffing close-up
Yang zhou chao fan with shrimp and char siu

Sweets & Dessert

Sweets and dessert play a minor role in the Chinese New Year meal. And sliced fruits are usually served at the end of the meal as a dessert course. That being said, we do like to have candied nuts and Chinese cookies around and during the Chinese New Year time. My family also enjoys making traditional dishes such as pumpkin cake and prosperity cake to snack on during the day.

Here are some of my favorite Chinese sweets.

Chinese Pumpkin Cake (南瓜饼)

Chinese Walnut Cookies (核桃酥)

Breaking apart a Chinese pumpkin cake
Chinese walnut cookies served with tea

Fa Gao (Chinese Prosperity Cake, 发糕)

Easy Candied Walnuts with Spice

Sliced Fa Gao served with tea
Candied walnuts with spice

Eight Treasure Rice (八宝饭, Chinese Rice Pudding)

Chinese Almond Cookies

Sliced eight treasure rice with red bean paste
Chinese almond cookies close up

What dishes do you serve on Chinese New Year’s day? Leave a comment below to share your story 🙂

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