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Learn how to plan your New Year’s Day menu around traditional lucky foods: the foods people have reached for, for thousands of years, for abundance, fertility, and prosperity.

A table set for New Year's Day. A plate with lucky foods like pulled pork, Hoppin' John, collard greens, and cornbread.

Even if you’re not superstitious, sometimes it’s fun to celebrate traditions. Eating “lucky foods” for a New Year has been almost universally celebrated for thousands of years, and there is a mix of unique ideas (smashing a pomegranate) and common themes (eating foods that look like coins, money, and gold).

There are so many easy ways to participate and plenty of recipes with great overlap. Now is a great time to make a plan and get ready for your luckiest year yet.

Table of Contents
  1. 1. Pork for progress
  2. 2. Beans and peas for wealth
  3. 3. Greens for money
  4. 4. Cornbread for gold
  5. 5. Fruit for fertility
  6. 6. Circle desserts for a year of luck
  7. 7. Fish for abundance
  8. 8. Long noodles for longevity

1. Pork for progress

Pigs always root (nudge/push with their snout) forward, a sign of “moving forward” or progression in the New Year. Their plump size and shape also mean health and abundance.

You’ll want to avoid chickens because they scratch backwards and have wings (your luck might fly away!). And steer clear of lobster because they move backwards, too.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
It doesn't get much simpler than this 2-ingredient Slow Cooker Pulled Pork recipe. Ideal for busy weeknights and party menus, my best pulled pork recipe also happens to be one of my easiest dinner ideas ever.
A paper food boat with a pulled pork sandwich and potato chips.

More delicious pork recipes

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Fennel

This fabulous Bacon-wrapped Pork Tenderloin with roasted fennel is the sheet pan dinner of your dreams. The pork is tender, the bacon is salty, and the fennel soaks up the juices from both! It’s also…

1 hour 5 minutes

2. Beans and peas for wealth

Beans, lentils, and peas symbolize pennies or coins, and people eat them for New Year’s to help bring wealth in the New Year.

Hoppin’ John, a classic Southern dish made with black-eyed peas, is a staple on New Year’s tables across the country. Made with pork (that progressive plump pig) and served with cooked rice (another lucky food), it’s hearty, delicious, and we hope, lucky.

Hoppin’ John
Ring in the New Year with a resolution to cook more, and cook better. Start with Hoppin’ John, a classic Southern recipe chock-full of thick cut bacon, rice, and black-eyed peas.
A bowl of hoppin' john.

More delicious bean recipes

Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup

This easy Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup recipe is an ultra-comforting and healthy dinner idea. Bonus: There’s no need to soak the beans in advance for this slow cooker soup! There are many reasons…

4 hours 40 minutes

3. Greens for money

Green leafy vegetables such as cabbage, kale, spinach, and collard greens symbolize green dollars and wealth. Eat them in conjunction with black-eyed peas and cornbread if possible for the trio of prosperity: coins, dollars, and gold.

Collard Greens
Loaded with bacon and finished with apple cider vinegar, this easy Collard Greens recipe makes a quick and tasty side dish.
A bowl with collard greens in it.

More leafy green recipes

Spinach Salad with Bacon Dressing

The perfect Spinach Salad has tender spinach leaves gently wilted with warm bacon dressing. A few pieces of hard-boiled egg complete this simple, satisfying side dish. This was always my favorite salad that my grandma…

15 minutes

4. Cornbread for gold

Not only is cornbread delicious with a piping hot bowl of Hoppin’ John, it’s lucky! Cornbread looks like gold, so bake a batch to ring in the new year.

In certain Asian cultures, oranges and honey are also considered good luck. So, maybe swipe that cornbread with a spoonful of orange marmalade.

This easy Cornbread recipe is made in the Northern style: Fluffy, cake-like, ultra moist, and with a hint of sweetness. It's perfect with the barbecue at your next picnic or on the side of a bowl of chili.
Four pieces of cornbread on a cooling rack.
Orange Marmalade
This Orange Marmalade recipe is made with ordinary oranges and lemons, and it’s as unfussy as it is delicious. It follows the "old fashioned" technique of sitting in a pot overnight, and every spoonful will make your morning toast sparkle.
3 jars of homemade orange marmalade.

5. Fruit for fertility

In Spain and Mexico, it is customary to eat 12 grapes at midnight and make 12 wishes for the 12 months of the upcoming year (in Spain, the grapes are frozen).

Champagne, made from grapes, is lucky for this same reason. Pop a bottle of bubbly or elevate it with a Champagne cocktail such as a Mimosa, a Bellini, or a Kir Royale.

In Greece, families might smash a whole pomegranate (blessed in church that morning, if possible) against the door. The luck for the family is determined by the number of seeds scattered.

A small platter with grapes and pomgeranates on it.
Citrus Salad
Citrus Salad with strawberries and pomegranate is healthful fruit salad elevated to a higher level, gorgeous enough for a special occasion yet easy to make.
Citrus salad on a white plate.
Easy Grape Salad
A recipe for easy Grape Salad. It’s sweet and creamy with loads of fresh grapes and crunchy nuts on top. Ready in just 5 minutes plus chilling time!
Easy grape salad in a clear bowl.

6. Circle desserts for a year of luck

Sweets in general are good luck, but round treats in particular symbolize the circle of life and a full year of good luck to the eater. Bundt cakes, donuts, and cookies all qualify.

For an extra boost of luck, choose desserts made with oranges and honey (they bring wealth and fortune according to certain Asian cultures). Or maybe spread some orange marmalade on your cornbread?

A lemon bundt cake on a platter garnished with fresh berries.
Lemon Bundt Cake
This amazing Lemon Bundt Cake uses two secret ingredients (cake mix and instant pudding!) to make it the easiest, most delicious lemon cake you’ve ever had. 
A slice of lemon bundt cake on a white plate with strawberries.

More lucky round desserts

Fresh Fruit Tart

Loaded with a lush assortment of seasonal berries and other fruit, there’s nothing quite as lovely as a Fresh Fruit Tart. You’ll also learn some baking basics, like a tart crust and pastry cream, along…

3 hours

7. Fish for abundance

Fish are considered abundant because their scales look like coins and they swim in schools (and they swim forward).

It’s especially popular in Asian cultures to eat a whole fish for New Year’s (and for the Lunar New Year). In European cultures, though, they focus on carp, cod, and herring.

Baked Salmon
This easy Baked Salmon recipe is flavored with fresh lemons and herbs, baked in foil, then broiled until crispy. And it's ready in 20 minutes or less!
Baked salmon on a bed of lemon slices with fresh herbs.

More delicious fish recipes

Smoked Salmon

Homemade Smoked Salmon is a treat all on its own, on a bagel, in a dip, or as part of an appetizer board. My Smoked Salmon recipe is tender, smoky, and yes, absolutely worth it…

1 day 6 hours

8. Long noodles for longevity

Long noodles lead to a long life, so boil some salted water and get cooking! Spaghetti Carbonara is great because it contains bacon (we love a rooting pig for the new year!).

Spaghetti Carbonara
Ready in just 15 minutes, Homemade Spaghetti Carbonara is so easy and so scrumptious, you’ll never order it at your favorite trattoria again. This creamy pasta is quick enough for weeknight menus but showy enough for dinner parties.
Spaghetti carbonara on white plates.

More recipes with long pasta

Spaghetti and Meatballs

This classic Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe is a hearty and comforting family dinner idea. One bite of this Italian-American dinner recipe will transport you to a Midwestern red sauce restaurant.

1 hour

Wishing you and yours the happiest, luckiest New Year of all!

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I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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