20 Lucky Recipes for a Traditional New Year's Dinner

For a Delicious and Auspicious Start

Southern crockpot black eyed peas recipe

The Spruce / Nita West

Many countries have lucky ways to kickstart a new year. In the American South, black-eyed peas, greens, pork, and cornbread are just some of the typical symbolic foods, while other cultures believe in longevity noodles, dumplings, or grapes to your menu. For luck and prosperity in the year ahead, here are some delicious things to eat—and some to steer clear of.

What to Eat on New Year's Day

According to popular folklore, if these foods are eaten on New Year's Day, they guarantee good luck throughout the year.

  • Peas or beans are said to symbolize coins or wealth. Choose traditional black-eyed peas, lentils, or beans to make a dish seasoned with pork, ham or sausage.
  • Greens resemble money, specifically folding money. Make dishes using boiled cabbage or sauerkraut, collard greens, kale, chard, mustard greens, turnip greens, or other green, leafy vegetables to ensure good fortune for the coming year.
  • Pork is considered a sign of prosperity in some cultures because pigs root forward. Many Southern New Year's Day dishes contain pork or ham, but feel free to serve a pork roast or baked ham as an entrée.
  • Cornbread might symbolize gold, and besides, it is essential with black-eyed peas and greens.
  • In other cultures, fish, grapes, and ring-shaped cakes or doughnuts, or cakes with special treats inside symbolize luck.

What Not to Eat on New Year's Day

  • Some believe that lobster could cause bad luck in the coming year because it moves in a backward direction and could mean setbacks in the year ahead.
  • For the same reason, some believe chicken dishes should be avoided New Years Day. Chickens scratch backward, plus they are winged so your luck could fly away. 
  • 01 of 20

    Spicy Southern Black-Eyed Peas

    black eyed peas with ham

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    In the South, a dish of black-eyed peas is thought to guarantee prosperity when eaten on New Year's Day. This Cajun-spiced version starts with dried black-eyed peas and salt pork. Ham, vegetables, and Cajun seasonings flavor the peas.

  • 02 of 20

    Tsukimi Soba

    soba noodles with egg
    lenazap / Getty Images

    In Japan, a bowl of soba is typically eaten as the final meal on New Year's Eve. The buckwheat noodles have long symbolized good fortune in Japanese culture. Toshikoshi soba is the traditional name for the "year-passing" noodle soup.

  • 03 of 20

    Slow Cooker Hoppin' John

    Hoppin John
    iStock / Getty Images

    This slow cooker hoppin' John is another great way to fix your lucky black-eyed peas. The earliest printed recipe for hoppin' John is from an 1847 cookbook, The Carolina Housewife by Sarah Rutledge. This version of the famous dish includes a ham hock and chicken stock. Still, it can easily be a vegetarian dish by omitting the ham hock and using vegetable broth.

  • 04 of 20

    Chinese Pan-Fried Dumplings

    chinese dumplings
    The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska

    In Chinese culture, dumplings symbolize wealth, so they are often eaten as part of a Chinese New Year's meal. That usually occurs in January or February according to the lunar calendar, but dumplings make for a delicious start to the regular new year as well. These pan-fried pockets are filled with a tasty mixture of ground pork, cabbage, and green onion.

    Continue to 5 of 20 below.
  • 05 of 20

    Pomegranates

    pomegranate seeds on a salad
    ​The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

    In Greece, the pomegranate is considered a symbol of prosperity and regeneration. Their New Year's tradition involving the pomegranate is unique and somewhat complicated. A pomegranate is hung in the doorway of a family home. Just before midnight, the family turns out the lights and steps out the door. Just after the stroke of midnight, the first member of the family steps in, right foot first. The second member takes the pomegranate in their right hand and smashes it against the door, revealing the seeds. The amount of luck depends on the number of seeds scattered. 

  • 06 of 20

    Classic Southern Buttermilk Cornbread

    classic buttermilk cornbread in an iron skillet
    The Spruce

    Aside from the fact that the bright yellow color resembles gold, buttermilk cornbread is essential with greens, peas, or beans in the South. Southern cornbread contains little or no sugar, but feel free to add some if you like a sweeter version.

  • 07 of 20

    Boiled Cabbage With Bacon

    boiled cabbage with bacon

    The Spruce

    Cabbage is another excellent choice for the greens portion of a lucky New Year's meal. This boiled cabbage with bacon is a super easy preparation, using only four ingredients plus salt and pepper. For vegetarians and vegans, omit the bacon and replace the chicken stock with vegetable broth. Or use a meat-free bacon replacement.

  • 08 of 20

    Sauerkraut

    sauerkraut
    margouillatphotos / Getty Images

    In Germany, sauerkraut is thought to bring wealth and blessings in the new year. In fact, every strand of fermented cabbage symbolizes money. This recipe for sauerkraut makes one quart, the perfect size for a family New Year's celebration. Start making the sauerkraut about 8 days before the end of the year.

    Continue to 9 of 20 below.
  • 09 of 20

    Red Beans and Rice

    Red Beans and Rice With Sausage

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    If you aren't a fan of black-eyed peas, you might opt for classic Southern-style red beans and rice. Spicy Cajun andouille sausage and aromatic vegetables season the beans to perfection.

  • 10 of 20

    Skillet Mexican Cornbread

    Skillet Mexican Cornbread Wedges

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    You might like this spicy skillet Mexican cornbread instead of a more traditional variation. Sour cream, chili peppers, cheese, and cream-style corn add moistness and flavor to this bread. If you crave heat, add some jalapeño peppers or replace the cheddar cheese with pepper jack cheese.

  • 11 of 20

    Quick Hoppin' John

    easy hoppin john
    Debbi Smirnoff / Getty Images

    If you don't have time to cook dried black-eyed peas, you might like this quick and easy recipe for hoppin' John. Canned black-eyed peas make it a dish you can prepare in as little as 30 minutes.

  • 12 of 20

    Greek New Year's Cake (Vasilopita)

    greek new year's cake
    Athina Psoma/Getty Images

    This decorated Greek cake is similar in texture to a pound cake. The Vasilopita cake is usually baked with a coin or small medallion, which symbolizes an extra measure of good luck to whoever gets it.

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  • 13 of 20

    Herbed Lentils with Italian Sausage

    lentils with sausage
    Westend61 / Getty Images

    While black-eyed peas are traditional in the Southern states, other beans and lentils are eaten in other cultures. A New Year's meal in Italy might include a dish of lentils with sausage.

  • 14 of 20

    Carolina Slaw

    Carolina slaw recipe

    The Spruce / Debbie Wolfe

    Coleslaw is another excellent way to add greens to a New Year's Day menu. Tangy Carolina-style slaw boasts a sweet-sour vinegar-based dressing. This version is a nice change of pace from the typical mayonnaise dressing.

  • 15 of 20

    Misua Soup With Longevity Noodles

    longevity noodle soup
    Connie Veneracion

    Long noodles are thought to signify long life or longevity in many Asian countries. The noodles, traditionally eaten on New Year's Day, are never broken. This longevity noodle soup (misua) is an excellent choice.

  • 16 of 20

    Robert Burns Cocktail

    robert burns cocktail
    S&C Design Studios

    The Scots like to welcome the New Year with Scotch Whisky. This Robert Burns cocktail seems like the perfect drink to serve guests as they sing that Robbie Burns song, Auld Lang Syne.

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  • 17 of 20

    Southern-Style Turnip Greens

    collard greens

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Use fresh cleaned turnip greens or collard greens in this recipe for Southern-style greens. Salt pork or bacon and onions add flavor to the greens and the liquids left in the pot ("pot likker").

  • 18 of 20

    Frozen Grapes

    frozen grapes for New Year's luck
    Carmen Troesser / Getty Images

    In Spain, it's a tradition to eat 12 grapes at midnight—one for each stroke of the clock. These frozen grapes are a fun way to carry the tradition on, and they're so good you might want more than a dozen!

  • 19 of 20

    Instant Pot Pork Shoulder

    instant pot pork shoulder shredded

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Pork is another essential part of a Southern New Year's Day feast. While ham, bacon, and other cuts of pork are usually included in the peas and greens, you might also serve a pork entrée along with the meal. This Instant Pot pork shoulder is an excellent choice.

  • 20 of 20

    Champagne

    New Year's champagne toast
    NoSystem / Getty Images

    Many people enjoy a glass of bubbly on New Year's eve and other special occasions, but you might not know that the Russians consider champagne a symbol of good luck. The moment the clock strikes midnight, Russians traditionally toast the New Year with a glass of champagne. Make sure you have enough champagne for all of your guests.