20 Dishes to Celebrate Lunar New Year

Traditional and symbolic dishes for the ultimate new year feast

Chinese Dumplings (Jiaozi)

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

For Chinese families across the globe, Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the year, celebrated with gifts, firecrackers, and plenty of food. Chinese New Year is based on the ancient lunar calendar according to the solar solstices and equinoxes, including 12 Chinese zodiac animals. Like in many cultures, food plays an important role in the holiday with cooks using symbolic ingredients as well as preparing long standing family recipes. For example, many people enjoy a whole chicken eaten to symbolize family togetherness, while uncut noodles represent a long life. and round dumplings shaped like the full moon as a sign of the family unit. We've gathered a variety of popular dishes, from sweet and sour pork to Peking duck, to help you celebrate Lunar New Year with the ultimate feast.

  • 01 of 20

    Chinese Tea Eggs

    Chinese tea eggs recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Cha Ye Dan, or Tea eggs, are distinctive looking and easy to make, symbolizing wealth and gold. The eggs are first hard-boiled and lightly cracked, then steeped in an aromatic bath of black tea, soy sauce, star anise, and cinnamon.

  • 02 of 20

    Sweet and Sour Pork

    Sweet and Sour Pork With Pineapple

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    The word "sour" in the Chinese language sounds like "grandchild," so it is believed this dish will bring many grandchildren when served at family meals. This style of dish is popular in Cantonese cooking, and although the preparation may take some time, you will find that it is well worth the effort. Cubes of pork are marinated, then deep-fried in a batter to make it extra crispy, and stir-fried with pineapple in a sweet and sour sauce.

  • 03 of 20

    Cantonese Roast Duck

    Cantonese Roast Duck

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    You may have seen this duck with the shiny reddish skin hanging in the windows of Cantonese restaurants. This is truly a traditional recipe, calling for blanching, stuffing, and then hanging the duck to dry for several hours. It is red food coloring that gives this dish its signature color but feel free to leave it out.

  • 04 of 20

    Chinese Dumplings (Jiaozi)

    Chinese Dumplings (Jiaozi)

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Jiaozi are a popular dish during Lunar New Year to symbolize prosperity and family reunion. This recipe is a fun and delicious appetizer, including homemade dumpling dough and ground pork or a meat and vegetable filling. Serve them with a homemade dipping sauce.

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  • 05 of 20

    Salt and Pepper Shrimp

    Salt and pepper shrimp recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    This colorful Cantonese dish makes an eye-catching appetizer or main course as the deep-fried shrimp shells turn a wonderful orange color. The shells protect the shrimp meat during deep-frying so that it tastes extra tender and juicy. The deep-fried shrimp are then stir-fried in a salt and pepper mixture until coated nicely.

  • 06 of 20

    Kung Pao Tofu

    Vegan Chinese Kung Pao Tofu

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

    While many people traditionally eat kung pao chicken for Chinese New year, you don't have to miss out if you avoid meat. This tofu and vegetable-heavy recipe has a similar spicy flavor without any animal products. Serve over white rice.

  • 07 of 20

    Basic Fried Rice

    Basic Recipe for Fried Rice

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Savory fried rice makes a great Chinese New Year dish for both beginner cooks and kitchen experts because of its simple preparation and endless versatility. Add pork, chicken, and shrimp for a hearty main dish, or swap in tofu for a vegetarian version. Use leftover rice for the best texture.

  • 08 of 20

    Stir-Fried Beef with Three Vegetables

    Stir-Fry Beef With Three Vegetables

    The Spruce

    Three is a lucky number in Chinese culture, so this three-vegetable beef stir fry makes a great dish for the New Year. Tender flank steak, bok choy, mushrooms, and red onion has a lovely textural contrast and a rich umami sauce. You can also swap in other vegetables; lightly blanched broccoli or carrots work well too.

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  • 09 of 20

    Vegetable Stir Fry

    Simple Vegan Vegetable and Tofu Stir Fry With Ginger
    The Spruce.

    In the Buddhist religion, people enjoy vegetarian meals on Lunar New Year to avoid slaughtering animals. This vegetable stir fry uses tofu as the protein for a hearty dish that sticks to tradition. Swap out any veggies you like best and serve with white or fried rice.

  • 10 of 20

    Chinese Barbecued Pork

    Char Siu (Chinese-Style Barbecued Pork)

    The Spruce Eats

    Many people eat pork on Lunar New Year and this popular barbecued pork often shows up on holiday menus. Char siu, or "fork roasted" pork traditionally uses pork loin, but you can make it with pork butt, shoulder, or even pork belly for a super tender dish.

  • 11 of 20

    Lunar New Year Longevity Noodles: Misua Soup

    Lunar New Year Longevity Noodles: Misua Soup

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

    This easy and warming Misua soup makes an especially delicious Lunar New Year dish if you live in a cold climate. Misua noodles come in coiled bundles and will swell up significantly during cooking. One bundle will serve two people, so scale the recipe accordingly.

  • 12 of 20

    Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles

    Easy dan dan noodles recipe

    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

    For long life, serve unbroken noodles for Lunar New Year. Dan dan noodles have a tongue-tingling spicy sauce with sesame paste and chili oil. Many recipes also include ground pork or beef, but this recipe keeps things vegetarian. Feel free to toss in some meat if you prefer.

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  • 13 of 20

    Ginger-Soy Steamed Fish

    Ginger fish

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

    Whole fish often appears on Lunar New Year menus, and you can use this simple ginger-soy steaming technique on both whole fish and fillets. If you don't have a wok, the method also works with a rack in a deep pan or a steamer basket.

  • 14 of 20

    Moo Shu Pork

    Moo shu pork recipe

    ​The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

    A popular takeout favorite, you can make moo shu pork at home quickly and easily once you gather the ingredients. Because stir frying cooks the pork and veggies so quickly, get everything together before you start for a less stressful experience. Serve it with hoisin sauce and mandarin pancakes.

  • 15 of 20

    Steamed Whole Fish

    steamed whole fish with scallions

    Getty Images / xia yuan

    The word for fish in Chinese is "yu," which sounds like "abundance" and "wish." So, eating fish at the end of the meal represents a wish for abundance in the year to come. Serving the fish with the head and tail intact symbolizes a good beginning and ending to the new year. In this recipe, the whole fish is rubbed inside and out with a mixture of ginger, black beans, garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil and then steamed until tender and flaky.

  • 16 of 20

    Shanghai Stir-Fried Noodles with Chicken

    Shanghai Stir-Fried Noodles With Chicken on a plater

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

    Combine tender chicken and lucky long noodles in this hearty and flavorful noodle stir fry. If you can't find shanghai noodles, udon noodles or thick tagliatelle or linguini will also work. Add more hoisin and soy sauce for a

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  • 17 of 20

    Chinese Pan-Fried Dumplings

    Chinese Pan-Fried Dumplings

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

    Whether you call them wor tip (roughly translated from Cantonese as “pot stick”), guotie (the Mandarin word), or dumplings, these pan-fried dumplings are great as part of a dim sum spread, or on their own. Serve with a dipping saucehot chili oil, or soy sauce mixed with freshly chopped ginger and a few drops of sesame oil.

  • 18 of 20

    Yuanxiao Dumplings

    Yuanxiao Chinese dumplings recipe

    The Spruce / Nita West

    No celebration is complete without the special dishes that mark the season. Yuanxiao (Lantern Festival) dumplings—or tangyuan as they are also known—are a traditional treat during the New Year season, specifically Lantern Festival, the last day of the traditional Lunar New Year celebrations. These sweet glutinous rice balls are typically filled with a sweet red bean paste, sesame paste, or even peanut butter.

  • 19 of 20

    Sesame Seed Dessert Balls (Jian Dui)

    Sesame Seed Dessert Balls (Jian Dui) on a platter and on a plate

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

    Sesame seed balls are one of the most popular desserts in China and Taiwan, offered at dim sum restaurants and sold by street vendors. They have a crispy exterior with a chewy interior, and a toasty, nutty, sweet taste. This dessert is best served while still hot so, ideally, eat them as soon as possible for the best taste.

  • 20 of 20

    Baked Lunar New Year Cake (Nian Gao)

    Glutinous rice flour cake
    Glutinous rice flour cake (Nian Gao). Getty Images/MelindaChan

    Nian Gao is made for the Lunar New Year celebration in hopes of a good year ahead. The cake symbolizes growth, progress, and advancement. It is often given as a gift when visiting friends and family during the holiday. This recipe is adapted to finish in the oven rather than steamed, but it is sure to deliver the traditional taste and texture of Nian Gao.