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.

A paper food boat with a pulled pork sandwich and potato chips.


Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

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Bacon wrapped pork tenderloin surrounded by roasted fennel and onions.


Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

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.
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A Dr. Pepper ham on a serving platter.


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.
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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.

A bowl of hoppin' john.


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.
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Cowboy caviar in a bowl on a white plate with tortilla chips.


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!
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Farro salad with peas and feta on a white plate.


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! 
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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.

A bowl with collard greens in it.


Collard Greens

Loaded with bacon and finished with apple cider vinegar, this easy Collard Greens recipe makes a quick and tasty side dish.
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A white bowl filled with kale salad.


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.
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Minestrone soup in a teal bowl.


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.
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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.

Four pieces of cornbread on a cooling rack.



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.
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3 jars of homemade orange marmalade.


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.
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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 on a white plate.


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.
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Fruit salad in a small white bowl.


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.
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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 cooling rack surrounded by strawberries.


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. 
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Lemon cake with limoncello cream and berries on top on a marble cake stand.


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.
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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 on a foil lined baking sheet after being baked,


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!
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Taliapa ceviche in a pink bowl on a white platter with tortilla chips.


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.
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A tuna salad sandwich on a plate with a pickle spear and potato 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.
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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 on white plates.


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


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

A table filled with lucky New Year's food.
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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