7 Chinese New Year Foods that will Bring You Good Luck

Mention Chinese New Year food, dumplings, fish, glutinous rice balls, and niangao may come into mind. Food plays an important role in Chinese New Year and certain foods which have symbolic meanings of luck and auspiciousness are especially popular and essential during the festival. Here are 7 Chinese New Year Foods that will bring you good luck. Every dish has its symbolism deeply rooted in Chinese culture, and expresses people's good wishes for a new year.

7 Chinese New Year Foods that will Bring You Good Luck  

Chinese New Year Dumplings – Wealth

DumplingsThe dumpling is a traditional lucky food in China and enjoys worldwide popularity now. With a history of 1,800 years, it is not only a staple food of people in Northern China, but also an essential dish in various festivals, especially in Chinese New Year.

Dumplings are often eaten on the New Year’s Eve for its Chinese name ‘jiaozi’ has a meaning of changing of years.

 Flavor: salty

Cooking Methods: boil or steam

– symbol of wealth for its shape like an ancient Chinese gold ingot.
– Lucky coins will be hidden in dumplings and someone who discovers them can get the best of luck and great wealth in the coming year.

 Different fillings of dumplings have different meanings:
– Celery, qincai in Chinese, means hardworking leads to wealthy life.
– Leek, jiucai in Chinese, means everlasting affluence.
– Cabbage, baicai in Chinese, refers to a hundred ways of making a fortune.


Chinese New Year Fish – Surplus & Fortune

Fish on Reunion DinnerReferring to the Chinese New Year food ideas, fish is an indispensable dish on the reunion dinner.

Fish has its Chinese pronunciation as ‘Yu’, which means surplus and fortune. So there is a blessing speech as ‘Nian Nian You Yu’ in Chinese which means that ‘May you have surpluses and bountiful harvests every year.’ What’s more, in ancient China, fish was also regarded having a function of exorcising.

 Flavor: salty

 Cooking Methods: steam or braise

 Different kinds of fish represent different meanings:
– Chinese mud carp: Its Chinese name ‘li’ means gifts, so eating it can bring people good luck and blessing.
– Crucian carp: Its Chinese name ‘ji’ means very good fortune.
– Catfish: The Chinese name is ‘nianyu’, literally meaning 'year surplus' and standing for a rich life.

 Some rules of eating fish in Chinese New Year:
1. Don’t turn over the fish after you have finished eating one side. In Chinese culture, it means unlucky.
2. To show respect, the head of fish needs to be placed toward elders or distinguished guests.
3. In southern China, some people just eat the middle part of the fish on the New Year Eve, leaving the head and tail to the next day to symbolize completeness.

 Learn to Make:
Steamed Perch
Braised Pomfret
West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy


Glutinous Rice Balls (Tangyuan or Yuanxiao) – Family Reunion

Rice DumlpingsGlutinous Rice Balls, aka Tangyuan and Yuanxiao, is a lucky food during the Lantern Festival (Yuanxiao Festival). However, in many places of Southern China, it is also a Chinese New Year food. Unlike dumplings, the dough of Tangyuan is made by glutinous rice powder with the stuffing such as bean paste, brown sugar and all kinds of fruits and nuts.

 There are two kinds of Glutinous Rice Balls:
– Tangyuan in south China: Make the wrappers first, fill in the stuffing, and then knead them into balls.
– Yuanxiao in north China: Filling is divided into small balls first, and put into a sifter with flour. Shake the sifter to let the flour stick onto the balls.

 Flavor: sweet

 Cooking Method: boil

 Meaning: The round shape represents completeness and family reunion.

Chinese New Year Noodles – Longevity

New Year NoodlesThere is no doubt that Longevity noodles are a special food for Chinese New Year. They are usually eaten on important festivals or one’s birthday, especially for old people. Eating longevity noodles in the New Year symbolizes that everything is going to be smooth in the coming year.

 Flavor: salty; some sour and spicy

 Cooking Method: boil

 Tip: The longevity noodle is made by one single and continuous noodle. You must eat it from the beginning to the end and don’t break it while eating, or the good wish will be broken.

 Learn to Make:
Hand-made Noodles
Noodles with Tomato Egg Sauce

Wontons – Wealth and Treasure

Chinese WontonsWonton is also a kind of lucky dish you can find in the Chinese New Year food list. Like dumplings, Wontons are popular during the Chinese New Year because of the shape, which is like a Chinese silver ingot.

 Flavor: salty

 Cooking Method: boil

 Meaning: People believe that eating wontons can bring wealth and treasure. On the other hand, Wonton in Chinese has similar pronunciation with “Hundun”, which means the beginning. Eating Wontons in the New Year symbolize a wish of a good start.

Spring Rolls – Wealth and Fresh Start

Spring RollsIt is obvious to see from the name Spring Rolls that it is a food to welcome the spring so it’s very common to enjoy them during the Spring Festival.

Fresh vegetables or ingredients in spring time are wrapped inside and people eat it to welcome a new spring. Now it has also become a dessert in some places in the reunion dinner.

 Flavor: both sweet and salty

 Cooking Method: fry

 Meaning: The golden appearance shows the wealth and treasure, which also means a fresh start.


Glutinous Rice Cake (Niangao)– Rise in Career and Salary

Niangao - Glutinous Rice CakeAs one of the traditional Chinese New Year foods, Glutinous Rice Cake with a history of 1,500 years was originally used to worship the gods and ancestors.

Widely eaten in different parts of China, it is made of glutinous rice powder but varies in ingredients and flavors – jujube Niangao and white Niangao in Beijing, yellow rice cake in Shanxi, water mill rice cake in Ningbo, Guangdong Niangao with brown sugar, and fried Niangao with ribs in Shanghai.

 Flavor: both sweet and salty

Cooking Method: steam, fry, boil for soup

Meaning: The Chinese pronunciation of the Cake, Niangao, has a homophonous meaning of ‘increasing prosperity year after year’, which gives people new hope of a rising performance in career and study.
- Last updated on Jan. 27, 2023 -
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