Chinese New Year
Traditional Food

Make Your Party the Real Deal

Happily, you're going to need numerous Chinese New Year traditional food dishes to do this holiday properly. Dinner on New Year's Eve is the most important meal of the celebration.

Start with these traditional foods, and then add a special touch that will make it your own. Remember, a typical Chinese New Year meal can go all day, incorporating multiple meals, so pace yourself!

Appetizer: Dumplings

chinese dumplings in bamboo steamers

Having had a dumpling feast in Xi'an, I can honestly tell you there are more varieties of dumplings than you could ever eat at one meal. They vary in size, texture, color, and yummy interiors.

Perfect as appetizers, start the party with dumpling stations. Ranging from savory to sweet, mix and match the ingredients below. Serving them in bamboo steamers just adds to the great Chinese New Year party ideas and will be the perfect finishing touch on the Chinese New Year traditional food theme.

• Shrimp • Sweet Potato • Cucumber • Pork
• Cabbage • Mutton • Scallion • Ginger
• Pumpkin • Chicken • Fish • Crab
• Tofu • Beef • Beets • Lobster
• Beans • Pineapple • Lotus Root • Mushrooms
• Shark • Rice • Bamboo Shoots • Oysters

As if the variety of fillings aren't enough to make your mouth water, like a lot of Chinese New Year foods, dumplings can be cooked in a variety of ways as well.

  • Boiled Dumplings: Shuijiao, which means water dumpling.
  • Steamed Dumplings: Zhengjiao, which means steam dumpling.
  • Shallow Fried Dumplings: Guotie, which means pan stick. We know them as potstickers or dry-fried dumplings.

Now on to the part that punches up the flavor of your dishes. Season your Chinese New Year traditional food with the following:

• Salt • Soy Sauce • Cooking Wine • Cilantro
• Red Chili Oil • Chicken Stock • White Vinegar • Sesame Oil

And finally, there's the dipping sauces. It's perfectly fine to buy them in a bottle...really much easier and you can serve a variety in cute little bowls. You'll find that they come in two varieties:

  • Hoisin-based dipping sauces
  • Soy sauce-based dipping sauces

Main Course: Fish & Noodles

chinese noodles held with chopsticks

For me, noodles are the best part of any holiday. And a Chinese New Year traditional food that you absolutely must have is noodles, which is oh-so-good by me. Noodles symbolize long life and should most definitely not be cut.

  • Wheat Flour Noodles: The most common, they can be made with or without eggs.
  • Rice Noodles: These can be made really thick or thin.
  • Hand-Pulled Noodles: Made by stretching out pasta, these are long thin noodles.

Like the Chinese New Year traditional food, the dumpling, noodles can be eaten and prepared in a variety of ways.

• Cold • Hot
• Stir-Fried • Boiled
• Steamed • Deep-Fried

A Chinese New Year traditional food for your main course should be fish. Serving an entire fish is a sign of prosperity. The fish is usually served last with the head pointed towards the guest of honor. Eating fish as one of your Chinese New Year foods will bring you good luck and help to make all of your wishes come true this year. Can't argue with that sentiment!

Types of fish to consider:

• Salmon • Tilapia • Sole • Perch
• Flathead • Paddlefish • Black Cod • Haddock
• Hake • Sea Bass • Perch • Tuna

Dessert: Rice Balls

red, gold, and white chinese rice balls in sweet broth

No Chinese New Year traditional food would be complete without sweet rice balls. Similar to a dumpling in that it may have a filling, yuanxiao is a ball made of sticky rice (glutinous rice flour).

An essential part of the Festival of the Lanterns, rice balls can be boiled, fried, or steamed, and each gives you a different feel and taste. Since they are round, all good meanings are associated with them: reunion, harmony, and happiness. And don't forget that a white round ball of rice looks like the full moon, just like the night of the Festival of the Lights.

Making a simple rice ball for a sweet treat is easy. Read on and be amazed at the simplicity.


  • 2 cups glutinous rice flour
  • 1 Tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • red and gold food coloring
  1. Mix the rice flour and sugar. Add water.
  2. Knead until it gets to be the consistency of PlayDoh. It shouldn't stick to your hands; it will be very sticky to start.
  3. Divide dough in thirds. Add a couple of drops of red food coloring to bowl A, a couple of drops of gold to bowl B, and leave bowl C white.
  4. Roll dough into 1" balls.
  5. Drop the balls into a pot of boiling water. They will rise to the top when they are cooked. Transfer cooked rice balls to sweet broth (see below).


  • 5 cups water
  • 2 pandan leaves, knotted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 inches of ginger
  1. Boil water. When it boils, add pandan leaves and ginger. Boil for 5 minutes.
  2. Add sugar and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Serve your bowls of rice balls in broth on a tray surrounded by tangerine or orange slices to symbolize a sweet life.

Return from Chinese New Year Traditional Food
to Chinese New Year Party Ideas

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