The New Year is only a few days away. Around the world, different cultures will use food to try and boost their luck, fortune, love life, and even health in the next year. If you are planning a dinner party, make sure you have a few of these foods for your guests. Follow the traditions explained before each recipe to ensure your New Year is the luckiest one of all!
Good Fortune Foods
Try one or all of these fortune foods. Below I list what the traditional food is followed by the reason it is on my list. After that explanation, our grilling experts created recipes that include those foods. This way you can follow the tradition in a deliciously modern way!
In Italy, lentils are served on New Year’s Eve after midnight. They are said to bring luck and good fortune in the year to come because their shape resembles old Roman coins. Traditionally, this dish is made with pork to boost the bounty throughout the year.
Sweet and Smoky BBQ Lentils
- 1 cup brown or green lentils
- 5 cups water
- 2 carrots (peeled and rough chopped)
- ½ large sweet onion (peeled and rough chopped)
- 2 garlic cloves (peeled)
- Enough water to cover veggies in pot
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 2 tsp yellow mustard powder
- 2 tsp liquid smoke
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- 1/8 tsp dried ginger powder
- 1/8 tsp clove
Add lentils and water to a pot. Simmer about 25 minutes until tender, but not mushy. Drain as soon as they are tender. Pour back into the pot and set aside. Meanwhile, in another pot, add carrots, onion, and garlic. Cover them with an inch or two of water and simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes. When veggies are tender, drain and add to high-speed blender along with vinegar, molasses, maple syrup, mustard powder, liquid smoke, chili powder, ginger, and clove. Puree until smooth. Pour the sauce over the cooked lentils and stir to combine. If your sauce is too thin, simmer the lentils in the sauce uncovered for a few minutes to thicken up. Or, alternately, if your sauce is too thick, you can add a tbsp or two of water and mix.
The New Year tradition of grape eating comes from Spain. Starting at the stroke of midnight, you are supposed to eat one grape for every chime of the clock. Each grape eaten resembles a lucky month of the year to follow. Don’t start the tradition too early or you’ll end up with bad luck. Instead of trying to choke down twelve grapes in twelve seconds, you can try a tasty salad to start off your year.
Broccoli Salad with Red Grapes, Raisins, Bacon, and Sunflower Seeds
- 8 slices bacon
- 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 large head broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1/3 cup diced red onion
- 1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
- ½ cup halved raisins
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- Ground salt and black pepper, to taste
Place bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned about 10 minutes. Drain bacon slices on paper towels. Crumble 7 slices of bacon; mix with sunflower seeds in a resealable bag. Combine broccoli, onion, raisins, and grapes in a bowl. Crumble the remaining bacon slice. Whisk mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, and black pepper together in a bowl; fold in the 1 slice crumbled bacon. Pour dressing over broccoli mixture; toss to coat evenly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for flavors to blend about 2 hours. Sprinkle bacon-sunflower seed mixture over salad before serving; mix well.
3. Black-Eyed Peas
There are a few explanations on why you should eat black-eyed peas for New Years. The first mention of peas and beans as a traditional food comes from the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, celebrated in Autumn. The idea is these peas expand, which represents a fruitful and wealthy year.
Spicy Black-Eyed Peas
- 4 slices bacon
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 16 oz package dried black-eyed peas, washed
- 12 oz can diced tomatoes and green chiles
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups water
In a large saucepan, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon, crumble, and set aside to use as a topping for the peas. Saute the onion in the bacon drippings until tender. Add the peas, tomatoes, green chiles, salt, chili powder, pepper, and water. Cover and cook over medium heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the peas are tender. Add additional water, if necessary. Serve garnished with crumbled bacon.
Greens are included in New Year’s traditions due to their color. Kale, spinach, and collards all bare the color of money, so they are said to bring wealth if eaten on New Year’s Eve. The recipe below includes two of the traditional fortune foods. Maybe you’ll be twice as fortunate next year if you try it!
- ½ pound smoked ham hocks
- 1 Tbsp House seasoning, recipe follows
- 1 Tbsp seasoned salt
- 1 Tbsp hot red pepper sauce
- 1 large bunch collard greens
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 c salt
- ¼ c black pepper
- ¼ c garlic powder
In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add smoked meat, house seasoning, seasoned salt and hot sauce. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 1 hour. Wash the collard greens thoroughly. Remove the stems that run down the center by holding the leaf in half. The tender young leaves in the heart of the collards don’t need to be stripped. Stack 6 to 8 leaves on top of one another, roll them up, and slice them into ½ to 1” thick slices. Place greens in pot with meat and add butter. Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done taste and adjust seasoning.
The color of this dish clearly represents gold and wealth in the year to come. Whip up a batch with the recipe below so you and your party guests can share in the wealth!
Jalapeno Cheddar Corn Bread
- 2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix
- 1 c sour cream
- 3 eggs, beaten
- ½ cup melted butter or margarine
- 1 tsp salt
- 16 oz can creamed corn
- 2-3 Jalapeno, veins and seeds removed, diced
Try using this Cast Iron Cornbread Slice Pan!
Mix all ingredients together and pour into greased 9×13 baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until lightly brown.
In Greece, they have a very fun and destructive tradition involving pomegranates. They hang a pomegranate above the front door of their home during Christmas time. Right before midnight on New Year’s Eve, they walk out the front door, turning off all lights behind them to resemble leaving the old year behind. Then, once the clock has struck midnight, the first person to walk through will smash the pomegranate on the door (I would have chosen the ground, but hey, it’s not my tradition). The number of pomegranate seeds that scatter from the fruit is the amount of good luck the family will have that year.
If you’re looking for a more delicate way to celebrate this tradition, try the salad below:
- 1 cup bulgur
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 c boiling water
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
- ½ c parsley leaves, chopped
- ½ c mint leaves, chopped
- 1/3 c golden raisins
- 1 c pomegranate seeds
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, combine bulgur and salt. Top with boiling water and cover bowl with a plate until water is absorbed, 30 minutes. Toss with scallions, parsley, mint, raisins, pomegranate seeds, lemon juice, and olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
During the holidays, there are so many desserts and dishes that are made with nuts. The reason for this is because nuts are symbols of new life. New life, new love, and good fortune are said to follow those who eat plenty of nuts before the year switches over.
Cinnamon Toast Pecans
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
2 teaspoons sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
4 cups (about 1 lb) pecan halves (or nut of your choice)
Preheat oven to 250. Stir together first 5 ingredients. Add pecans, tossing to coat. Spread coated nuts in a single layer on a large jellyroll pan. Bake for one hour stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool; store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks. Yields about 4 cups.
When I read that this was a tradition, I was surprised because I thought pig was traditionally a food that cultures tried to avoid. However, there are a couple reasons why pork is on this list.
Most pigs are meant to grow very large, which represents prosperity. They also “root forward,” with their noses, which symbolizes leaving the past in the past and progress. Pork is said to be the luckiest meat to eat around the new year, so make sure to have a pork dish at your dinner party.
Smoked Pork Tenderloin
- 3 lb Pork Tenderloin, skin removed
- ½ c Apple Juice
- 3 Tbsp Honey
- 3 Tbsp Pork & Poultry Rub (or seasoning of your choice)
- ¼ c Brown Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Thyme Leaves
- ½ Tbsp Black Pepper
Combine apple juice and honey in a small bowl and brush over the outside of the tenderloins. Combine rub, brown sugar, thyme leaves, and black pepper in a small bowl and season pork loin liberally with mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Heat grill to 225º F. Place the pork loin directly on the grill grate and smoke until the internal temperature registers an internal temperature of 145º F, about 2 ½ to 3 hours. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
8. Long Noodle Dishes
In Japan, the tradition is based on soba noodles, but any long noodle can be used. They create a dish using these noodles and eat it without cutting or biting the noodles. Eating a long noodle without it breaking means a long life, so there’s a lot of slurping involved!
Vegetarian Soba Noodle Soup
- 4 oz packet of Buckwheat Soba Noodles, cooked as per packet instructions
- 3-4 shiitake mushrooms stems removed and sliced
- 1 liter of water or vegetable stock
- 1 cup snow peas, cut into thin strips
- 1 large carrot, cut into thin strips
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3-4 spring onions, sliced
- 1” piece of ginger, cut into julienne strips
- 2-3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce (or as per taste)
- Sprigs of cilantro for garnish
- Salt if needed, to taste
Once the noodles are cooked, drain and rinse it lightly with cold water. set aside. Combine the water/stock, mushrooms, snow peas, carrot, garlic, onions and ginger in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil and then simmer on low heat for few more minutes until vegetables are tender. Add the soy sauce and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Divide the noodles among soup bowls. Ladle the hot liquid on top of the noodles and serve hot garnished with cilantro.
This tradition actually calls for the whole fish (both head and tail intact). The whole fish symbolizes abundance and prosperity throughout the year (from beginning to end). But, if you’re like me and don’t like your food giving you the stink eye, you just try eating some grilled fish.
- 1 Fish fillet of your choice
- Seasoning of choice
Spice fish with desired spice and let it sit for 30 minutes. Heat grill to 325. Place fish on the grill and cook for approximately 15 minutes until the fish is flaky (be careful not to overcook).
10. “Ring-Shaped” Foods
Circular foods are very popular traditions around New Years. They represent life continuing and luck for the whole year. Foods in this category are bundt cakes, bagels, and doughnuts. Enjoy a tasty breakfast while improving your luck in the coming year with this glazed donut recipe!
- 1 1/8 cup whole milk, warm
- ¼ c sugar
- 2 ¼ tsp (one package) Instant Or Active Dry Yeast
- 2 whole large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 ¼ stick unsalted butter (10 tablespoons), melted
- 4 cup all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Shortening/oil for frying
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- Enough milk to make a thin icing (about ½ cup)
Dough: Warm the milk until it is getting nice and warm when you dip your finger in it (about 105 degrees). Add the milk to a mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the yeast and stir to combine. Let the yeast rest for 5 minutes. Add the beaten eggs and melted butter to the bowl and stir to combine. While the mixer is running slowly, add the flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together. Mix for a whole five minutes to work the dough well. Turn off the bowl and let the dough sit in the bowl of the mixer for 10 minutes. After the rest period turn the dough out into a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 8 hours up to overnight.
Form the Donuts: Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is 1/2 to 1/3 of an inch thick. Use a three-inch donut cutter to cut out the donuts. Place the cut donuts and holes on a lightly greased baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover the donuts and let them rise until doubled in size, about one hour. The donuts will be very puffy and airy looking.
Frying the Donuts: Heat a few inches of oil or shortening in a large cast iron skillet or fryer over medium heat until the oil reaches 365 to 375 degrees (use a thermometer!). Carefully add the donuts to the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 1 ½ minutes per side. The donut holes will only take about 30 seconds per side.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the donuts from the hot oil and place them on a paper towel-lined baking sheet to remove extra grease. Let them cool slightly. Dip the hot donuts in the glaze and enjoy right away.
For the Glaze: Just combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until smooth. Add just enough milk to make the icing thin. Once the donuts are dipped halfway in the icing, take them out, turn them icing side up, and place them on a cooling rack set inside a baking sheet (to catch the drips).
Have a Lucky…and Delicious New Year!
There you have it! 10 recipes for your New Year’s party that will bring you and your party guest good fortune in the future. There’s no better way to improve your luck than eating a delicious meal with family and friends.
What is your family having for New Year’s Eve? Let us know if you plan on eating any of these traditional dishes or have a few of your own in the comment section below!
For more recipes, visit our Recipe Category. HAPPY NEW YEAR!