Lucky Foods for New Year’s Day

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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 spread of lucky New Year's food.

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.

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 fancy enough for "company" and ready in an hour.
Bacon wrapped pork tenderloin surrounded by roasted fennel and onions.
Dr. Pepper Ham
Your search for the best baked ham recipe ends here. A Dr. Pepper glaze and an oven bag (trust me!) make this the ultimate holiday ham recipe.
A Dr. Pepper ham on a serving platter.

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

Cowboy Caviar
This easy recipe for Cowboy Caviar is fun, fresh, colorful, and endlessly adaptable. It makes a great dip, salad, side dish, or even a topping for grilled meats. Always a potluck favorite!
Cowboy caviar in a bowl on a white plate with tortilla chips.
Farro Salad with Peas and Feta
This delicious Farro salad has peas, arugula, feta, and a juicy lemon dressing. It's light, fresh, and ready in 30 minutes or less! 
Farro salad with peas and feta on a white plate.

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

Kale Salad
You're one bite away from craving this delicious, colorful Kale Salad. With a fresh strawberry vinaigrette and a plethora of complimentary toppings, it's an ode to the spectacular cuisine of California.
A white bowl filled with kale salad.
Minestrone Soup
Italian Minestrone Soup is hearty and comforting, packed full of greens, chickpeas, and vegetables in a delicious and bright tomato broth. You can customize this recipe to use up pantry staples and clean out your crisper drawer, too.
Minestrone soup in a teal bowl.

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.

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.
Fruit Salad
Freshen up your menu with an easy, make-ahead Fruit Salad that's tossed in a zippy honey and citrus dressing. Toss it together, then allow this crowd-pleasing Fruit Salad to chill for an hour (or more) for a simple and healthy side dish recipe.
Fruit salad in a small white 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?

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

Lemon Cake with Limoncello Cream
The ultimate spring dessert recipe has arrived! Topped with a sweet lemony glaze, Limoncello whipped cream, and plenty of fresh berries, this lemon yogurt cake is a bakery-quality dessert recipe that you'll turn to time and time again.
Lemon cake with limoncello cream and berries on top on a marble cake stand.

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

Tilapia Ceviche
Tilapia Ceviche is a light and refreshing salad made with citrusy fish and fresh vegetables. Serve it with chips or crackers, avocado, and plenty of hot sauce.
Taliapa ceviche in a pink bowl on a white platter with tortilla chips.
The Best Tuna Salad
I never get tired of an excellent tuna salad recipe, and of the hundreds of versions I’ve made, this version is the best. Serve on toast, crackers, a bed of greens, or grilled as a very delicious tuna melt.
A tuna salad sandwich on a plate with a pickle spear and potato chips.

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.
Someone rolling spaghetti noodles on a fork over a plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

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

A table filled with lucky New Year's food.
Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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