8 Traditional New Year Dishes Around the World

Christmas dinner

It's no secret that each culture has traditional Christmas recipes. What about New Year, though? Check out the dishes from around the globe and their easy recipes.

Lentils and sausage (Italy)

Lentils and sausageEating lentils is perhaps one of the most well-spread New Year traditions in Italy. Lentils are usually served with pork sausages like cotechino or zampone and symbolize prosperity due to their round shape that reminds many of coins. The meal is typically eaten closer to midnight on December 31 to bring good fortune. With this recipe from Academia Barilla you can prepare Cotechino with lentils in about 2 hours.


  • 1 Cotechino sausage, about 14 oz
  • 2 tablespoons Toscano Extra Virgin Olive Oil IGP
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 12 oz dried lentils or 24 oz jarred lentils
  • 3 tablespoons canned tomatoes
  • 1 cup broth
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Rinse the lentils, then soak them in a bowl full of cold water for 12 hours. If you prefer, you can use jarred lentils.
  2. Using the tip of a skewer or a fork, poke holes in the cotechino. Place it in a pot of cold, unsalted water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook over low heat for 2 hours.
  3. In the meantime, peel and dice the onion. Place a frying pan over medium heat. Add a little olive oil and, once hot, add the onion, bay leaf and cloves. Once the onion is translucent, but not yet brown, add the lentils, drained of their soaking water and rinsed. Saute for 30 seconds, then add the tomato. Mix well and cover with broth. 
  4. Bring to a boil, then cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft, but aren’t falling apart. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Once done cooking, remove the cotechino and cut off any kitchen twine. Cut into ½ to 1-inch slices. Remove the casing and serve with the lentils. If you like, you can grind extra pepper on top.

Black-eyed peas (Southern US)

Black-eyed peas and Hoppin' JohnWhile it is customary to drink sparkling wine on New Year's Eve in the whole entity of the United States, the American South has a traditional dish. Black-eyed peas or Hoppin' John, like many dishes around the world, are thought to bring luck and prosperity as peas symbolize pennies. This recipe was created by a famous Southern cook Eula Mae Dore and popularized by Eula Mae's Cajun Kitchen cookbook.


  • 1 lb. fresh or dried black-eyed peas, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 quart or more water, as needed
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Tabasco
  • 1/2 lb. smoked sausage or smoked ham, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions (green and white parts)
  • Hot cooked long-grain white rice


  1. Combine the peas, onion, garlic, water, salt, black pepper, Tabasco, and sausage in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the peas are tender and creamy, 45 minutes for fresh peas and about 2 hours for dried peas.
  2. Stir in the parsley and green onions and cook for about 2 minutes longer. Serve either over hot cooked rice or mixed together with it.

Boiled cod with mustard sauce (Denmark)

Kogt TorskKogt Torsk or boiled cod is one of the most popular New Year's Eve meals in Denmark. The dish is often served with a homemade mustard sauce to highlight the taste of fish. Various sides like boiled potatoes are a popular match to this Scandinavian classic. The recipe from Cooked is enough to serve 6-8 people.


  • 1 whole cod, rinsed salt pepper
  • 1kg fingerling potatoes
  • 8 organic eggs
  • 200g bacon, diced
  • 300g pickled beetroot with star anise, diced

For mustard sauce:

  • 30g butter
  • 2 tablespoons plain wheat flour
  • 400ml fish broth
  • 4 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
  • 100ml double cream


  1. Put the whole cod in a large pot or fish kettle with some salt and freshly ground pepper. Add enough water to half cover the cod. Cover the pan with a lid and bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer slowly for 20 minutes. Keep the fish warm in the pot with the lid on.
  2. Boil the fingerling potatoes in a large pan of salted water until tender and keep them warm. Boil the eggs for 8–10 minutes, until hard, then peel them and cut each one in half. Fry the diced bacon until crisp.
  3. Now prepare the sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat, then add the flour and stir until it forms a smooth paste that comes away from the sides of the pan. Strain 400 ml of the cooking liquid from the cod, then add gradually to the pan, stirring well after each addition so that no lumps form as the sauce thickens. Add the mustard and cream and stir again until the sauce is smooth and is just coming to the boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
  4. Lift the cod out of the pot and place on a serving dish ready to carve at the table. Put the potatoes, eggs, bacon, beetroot and mustard sauce in dishes ready for people to add to their plates as desired.

Pavlova (New Zealand, Australia)

PavlovaThe meringue cake Pavlova named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova is considered the sweet classic of Australia and New Zealand. The dessert is especially popular during winter holidays, including the New Year, thanks to its simple way of cooking. The recipe from Allrecipes takes about 1 hour of cooking. Here Pavlova is decorated with kiwi.


  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 6 kiwi, peeled and sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw a 9-inch circle on the parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gradually add in the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until thick and glossy. Gently fold in vanilla extract, lemon juice, and cornstarch.
  3. Spoon mixture inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper. Working from the center, spread mixture toward the outside edge, building edge slightly. This should leave a slight depression in the center.
  4. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack.
  5. In a small bowl, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form; set aside. Remove the paper, and place meringue on a flat serving plate. Fill the center of the meringue with whipped cream, and top with kiwifruit slices.

Vasilopita (Greece)

Vasilopita cakeThe Greek Vasilopita cake works the same way as the Mexican Mardi Gras and French la Galette des Rois - one of the cake's pieces has a hidden coin. The cake is cut at midnight and whoever gets the coin is believed to have good luck in the new year. This recipe from Olive Tomato is suitable to prepare a cake in an hour.


  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • powdered sugar


  1. Preheat the oven at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Line the base of a 9-10 inch springform pan with wax paper and grease the sides. (You can use an even wider pan for a thinner cake-it will take less time to bake)
  2. In a bowl, cream the sugar and butter. Add the orange juice, vanilla and orange zest- mix with a mixer about 2 minutes.
  3. Whip the eggs in a small bowl and add to the butter mixture and mix for another 2 minutes.
  4. In another bowl mix the flour and baking powder and add to the wet ingredients and mix for 2 minutes at low speed - do not overmix. If you are adding the coin in the batter, add it now.
  5. Pour batter (it will be thick) in the pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake for about 45-60 minutes. Check with a thin sharp knife in the center, it should come out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.
  6. Release the pan and turn cake upside-down on another plate. If putting the coin in now, wrap in foil and push it through the cake. Turn cake back on top and sprinkle with powdered sugar, you can also even out the top of the cake slicing with a long knife.
  7. You can make a design using paper cut outs or using almonds or raisins or you can ice the cake with a simple icing made with powdered sugar and water. Make sure you have a lucky charm for the person who will get the coin in their piece.

Soba noodles (Japan)

Soba noodlesIn many Asian cultures, noodles symbolize long life and prosperity, thus are considered a lucky food. Japan isn't an exception - Toshikoshi soba is believed to bring fortune, strength and peace. The custom of eating soba in dashi broth and scallions dates back to the Edo era. The recipe from Whats4eats will help to prepare Toshikoshi for 4 people.


  • 1 (10-ounce) package Soba (buckwheat) noodles
  • 6 cups Dashi stock
  • 3/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 4-5 scallions, sliced into thin rounds


  1. Cook the soba according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water. Drain again and set aside.
  2. Heat the dashi, soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a saucepan over medium flame until the broth comes to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Adjust seasoning as desired with soy sauce and mirin.
  3. Portion the soba noodles into four deep bowls. Ladle hot broth over the noodles and sprinkle each serving with some of the scallions and any other toppings. Serve immediately.

Oliebollen (the Netherlands)

OliebollenThe Dutch tradition of eating Oliebollen - the round deep-fried dough balls sprinkled with sugar - dates back to the pagan traditions. It was believed to ward off Perchta, a wicked pagan goddess that would slice open stomachs of her victims. The oil from Oliebollen was believed to make her sword slip and keep the people safe. Nowadays, the sweet treat is typically eaten with sparkling wine on the New Year's Eve. The recipe from Honest Cooking will take about two hours and can serve 25 Oliebollen.


  • 400 g of flour
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 20 g of fresh yeast
  • 300 ml milk (hand warm)
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 g of raisins (soaked, washed and dried)
  • 1 big apple (peeled, cored and chopped in small cubes)
  • fat for deep fat frying
  • icing sugar


  1. Dissolve the yeast in the milk, leave for a few minutes to get frothy.
  2. Mix the flour, salt and sugar.
  3. Add the eggs and the yeast-milk mixture to the flour. Use a wooden spoon, whisk (needs to be a sturdy one) or dough-hooks and a mixer to mix everything together. Keep mixing for about 10 minutes to develop the gluten.
  4. Mix the raisins and apple thoroughly. Cover the bowl and leave to rise for about 1 hour.
  5. Heat the fat in a deep fat fryer or suitable pan to 170C.
  6. Form spheres from the risen batter with 2 spoons, or an ice cream scoop, dipped in the hot fat and let them slide into the hot fat. Bake them until brown, in 4-6 minutes. When the temperature of the fat is correct, the Oliebollen will turn their selves over when the first side has browned enough.
  7. Take the Oliebollen from the fat with a slotted spoon, place them in a colander to get rid of most of the fat, then place them in another colander layered with kitchen paper towels. Use more kitchen paper towels between the layers. The towels will absorb the remaining fat.
  8. Use the same method to bake the rest of the dough. Eat hot, cold or reheated in the microwave and dusted with sugar.

Oysters (France)

Oysters and champagneFinally, in case you don't feel like spending hours in the kitchen, this French New Year culinary tradition may come in handy. Oysters are typically served in dozens in numerous cafes and shops. Hosts offer the shellfish with champagne to symbolize the extravagance and rich feast. You can also serve oysters roasted, like in this recipe from Saveur.


  • 12 unshucked oysters
  • Coarse salt
  • White wine


  1. Preheat oven to 475°F. Nestle oysters flat side up into a bed of coarse salt in a roasting pan.
  2. Bake until shells gape, 5-10 minutes. Discard any oysters that don't open.
  3. Pry off top shells, keeping oyster liquor from spilling, and cut lower muscles to release flesh. Spoon 1 tbsp. wine over each oyster.

Have a happy New Year!

Photo sources: depositphotos.com, akispetretzikis.com. All images belong to their rightful authors.

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