Enjoy These Dessert Recipes for Chinese New Year or Any Time of Year

Traditional and Symbolic Sweets to Celebrate the New Year

Sesame Seed Dessert Balls Recipe

 The Spruce

A New Year's celebration wouldn't be complete without sweet treats. Here are some Chinese desserts that are traditionally served during the New Year season–which typically falls between January and February–as well as fun recipes featuring symbolic Chinese foods.

Perfect for guests with a sweet tooth, sticky cake is a classic Chinese dessert that is full of authentic flavors. However, for guests who want something a bit lighter, you can serve oranges, which symbolize wealth in Chinese culture.

If you don't feel up to cooking, some of these items should be available at Asian bakeries, particularly during the Lunar New Year season.

  • 01 of 08

    Almond Cookies

    Chinese almond cookies recipe

     The Spruce

    No Lunar New Year celebration would be complete without cookies! These almond cookies have a light, delicate flavor that is not too overpowering. An almond is placed in each ball of cookie dough that is accented with a bit of almond extract.

  • 02 of 08

    Sticky Cake (Nian Gao)

    Directly Above Shot Of Nian Gao Cake In Plate On Table
    Olive Loei / EyeEm / Getty Images

    This sticky cake is China's most famous cake, traditionally fed to the Chinese Kitchen God so he will report favorably on a family's behavior when he returns to heaven before the start of the New Year season. In Chinese culture, cakes symbolize togetherness and a rich life. The main ingredient in nian gao is glutinous rice flour, available in Asian grocery stores.

    The cake is filled with dried fruit and steamed. If you're not comfortable with the idea of steaming a cake, you can try baked nian gao. The cake is filled with red azuki beans, used in many Chinese festive dishes. 

  • 03 of 08

    Sesame Seed Balls (Zeen Doy)

    Sesame Seed Dessert Balls Recipe

     The Spruce

    These sesame seed balls (zeen doy) are tasty balls of glutinous rice flour that are filled with red bean paste, rolled in sesame seeds, and fried. While sesame seed balls are available at Asian bakeries throughout the year, they are especially popular during the Lunar New Year season.

  • 04 of 08

    Five-Spice Peanuts

    Spiced peanuts on tray

     Steven Krug / Getty Images

    Peanuts symbolize longevity in Chinese culture. In this easy five-spice peanuts recipe, the peanuts are coated in a syrupy mixture with brown sugar, corn syrup, and five-spice powder creating a sweet and savory dessert treat.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Sweet Red Bean Soup

    Red Bean Soup

    ThamKC / Getty Images

    At any Lunar New Year celebration, you'll see red everywhere, as the color red is a powerful symbol of happiness and joy in Chinese culture. Made with red adzuki (azuki) beans, this popular sweet red bean soup is perfect for Lunar New Year. Lotus seeds and dried tangerine peel give the soup an interesting variety of textures and flavor.

  • 06 of 08

    Fortune Cookies

    fortune cookies on a plate

    Getty Images / funkybg 

    Although they're actually an American creation, fortune cookies are a fun way to end a festive meal. Homemade fortune cookies taste so much better than store-bought, and you can write your own fortunes to put inside the cookies.

  • 07 of 08

    Preserved Kumquats

    Candied kumquat

     karinsaski/Getty Images

    Kumquats are a tiny citrus fruit shaped like an oblong orange and are a symbol of prosperity for the coming year. They are a popular treat during the Lunar New Year season, and this recipe for preserved kumquats is a delicious way to bring the fruit to the holiday table.

  • 08 of 08

    Eight Treasure Rice Pudding

    Eight Treasure Rice Pudding

    Liv Wan

    The number eight is a magic number in the Chinese culture, representing wealth and prosperity. This eight treasure rice pudding dessert traditionally features eight different fruits decoratively set atop a mold of rice pudding that has a center of red bean paste. It will be interesting if you use Chinese fruits you find at an Asian market, but you can also use other dried fruits.