7 Desserts for Your Lunar New Year Spread

Ring in the year of the Ox with something sweet but not too sweet.

February 05, 2021

February 12 marks a new lunar year — and, while celebrations of the Spring Festival may not be as grand this time around, an intimate, bountiful spread can feel just as festive. Of course, no feast — be it big or small — is complete without something sweet. Ring in the year of the Ox with any (or all) of our takes on seven Lunar New Year desserts.

A common celebration dish, Ba Bao Fan (pictured above), also known as “eight treasure rice,” belongs on your table. The eye-catching sweet rice is studded with eight different fruits, nuts and seeds. Although the bejeweled dessert is brushed with sugar syrup before serving, it’s not heavily sweet. But you can always whip up some extra sugar syrup on the side to satisfy more insatiable sweet tooths.

Tangyuan with Peanut Filling

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

Bite into tangyuan, or chewy rice balls filled with a sweet, oozy surprise. Traditionally, the warm, silky sweets burst with earthy black sesame paste, but here, we’ve gone with a less typical route — a luscious peanut filling. Add a few drops of food coloring to the dough to make your spread pop.

Sweet red bean soup is enjoyed year-round but can also be found at Chinese banquets and, of course, Lunar New Year tables. The simple dessert requires only six ingredients and is a particularly good option for those who prefer their treats not too sweet. Protein-packed dried azuki beans serve as the foundation of this dish, while bits of dried tangerine peel, small tapioca pearls and lump sugar round it out.

The key to getting the flower-like design on the tops of these chewy, lightly sweetened steamed cakes is a rolling boil. The baking powder, a.k.a. the leavening agent, works with that high heat to create the fortune cake’s signature cracks.

Food Network Kitchen’s Taiwanese Pineapple Cakes.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

Taiwanese pineapple cakes make great gifts anytime, but can also be enjoyed on Lunar New Year. A buttery, tender, shortbread-like dough is wrapped around a sticky, sweet crushed pineapple filling to make for one of the most satisfying treats you’ll sink your teeth into.

Chinese Almond Cookies

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

Golden, crumbly almond cookies are thought to resemble coins, making them particularly popular as a symbol of good fortune during the new year. These are perfect for the nut lover you know, and pair well with a cup of tea or coffee.

Photo by: Chantell Quernemoen

Chantell Quernemoen

Jian dui, or fried sesame balls, are a staple on dim sum dessert carts. Common fillings include lotus seed paste or red bean paste, but Molly Yeh’s take opts for chocolate hazelnut spread, like Nutella.

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