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22 vegan Lunar New Year recipes to help you ring in the new and enjoy delicious traditional food! These are plant based takes on traditional dishes so you can enjoy the same meals, meat-free.
What is Lunar New Year?
The Importance of Lunar New Year Food
Food is an integral part of many cultures and when it comes to Lunar New Year, this is especially true as many dishes are eaten symbolically and on very specific days of the celebration. For example, many ingredients represent the moon and passing of time, like Korean rice cake discs and Japanese mochi. Noodles represent long life and dumplings are a favourite this time of year! Of course, it varies by culture, but one thing that rings true across all cultures celebrating the Lunar New Year is that food is a huge part of the holiday.
Traditionally, many of the recipes are not vegan, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still partake in the festivities. With easy meatless swaps, these recipes are all vegan friendly takes on the classics.
22 Vegan Lunar New Year Recipes
Here are just a handful of delicious vegan Lunar New Year recipes you have to try! These can be eaten year-round, but bring good fortune and prosperity when enjoyed around the New Year time.
Best Vegan Lunar New Year Mains
This easy gluten-free Vegan Dumpling filing is made with tofu and crunchy vegetables and flavored with plenty of ginger, garlic and sesame. It can be wrapped in your favourite dumpling wrappers, sautéed and enjoyed as a bowl and even used to make spring rolls!
Learn to make homemade, gluten free udon noodles that are thick, chewy and perfect for your favorite Japanese soups and stir-fries. Enjoy in a soup to slurp noodles for longevity in the new year.
Although you can absolutely enjoy a rice cake stir fry any time of year, it is commonly enjoyed around Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year time because rice cakes (nian gao/年糕) symbolize good fortune and prosperity. In fact, the literal translation of the Chinese is “year cake”. If you ever attend a traditional Chinese New Year dinner, expect a steaming plate of sliced rice cake stir fry!
Japchae translates to “mixed vegetables” because of the way it is prepared. More on that in a minute! It’s stir fried Korean sweet potato starch noodles or glass noodles with a distinct soy/sesame oil sauce and lots of veggies.
A classic comfort dish I ate frequently but is commonly enjoyed to celebrate the Korean New Year or Seollal.
While cold soba itself is not exactly a traditional Lunar New Year dish, noodles represent long life and you can enjoy this in a more traditional recipe and make Toshikoshi Soba.
Toshikoshi soba is traditionally served very simply with just buckwheat noodles, hot dashi broth and scallions. However, there are different variations depending on the region and household.
Ozoni / New Year’s Mochi Soup
These vegan savory rice balls (tang yuan), 咸汤圆 are soft and chewy that are cooked in a delicious vegetable-packed soup. Ah.. talk about comfort food!
Here’s a no brainer when it comes to one of the most basic yet popular Chinese dish. It’s also a great way to use up any left over rice and veggies that you have lying around in your fridge. It’s quick and easy to make yet is packed full of flavour!
Lunar New Year Sides
Make a fresh and crunchy Spicy Cucumber Salad with garlicky maple soy dressing for an easy no-cook vegan side dish. This piquant and refreshing cucumber salad is a mix between a classic Taiwanese and a Korean-style cucumber side dish. I like this salad with a bit more crunch, so I only chill the salad for about 15 minutes. If you like a more traditional, softer cucumber salad, you can chill the dish for as long as you like! The cucumbers become juicy and bendy the longer they sit in the vinegary dressing.
Simple, delicious sautéed Lotus Root, or kinpira renkon in Japanese. Lotus root is a crunchy, neutral tasting root that is visually beautiful. When sliced, it resembles a flower. It is eaten often during the New Year, for good luck, as it’s believed to bring good fortune (they say, you can see your future through the holes).
These crispy lotus root chips are vegan, gluten-free, oil free and meal-prep friendly. They make a great snack to have on hand, or serve with your favourite spread or dip. Bonus: they’re a beautiful flower-like shape!
Bindaetteok, or Korean Mung Bean Pancakes, are a beloved snack that’s easy to make at home. The traditional recipe is gluten-free because it’s made with mung bean and rice flour. Often, they’re filled with meat and veggies. In my take, I like to fill my pancakes with lots of vegetables.
A classic Korean banchan, or side dish, served with meals that is easy to whip up and a great way to put some plant based protein on the dinner table.
Lo Bak Gou (萝卜糕, Luó Bo Gāo) or daikon cake or turnip cake is a must-have dish for some families (like mine) during Lunar New Year. In this festive celebration, different families have their own auspicious dish based on where they are from.
Pearl Balls, 珍珠丸子 (Zhēn zhū wán zi), are meatballs coated with sticky or glutinous rice. They look like giant pearls because of the glistening sticky rice, hence the name. These are easy to make, very hearty, and perfect for sharing. This is a dish you’ll commonly find served during the Lunar New Year, celebrations, birthdays, and even at dim sum restaurants.
Cheung Fun are rice noodle rolls that hail from Canton cuisine. Steamed in a thin crepe layer, they’re rolled up, often with a meaty filling and spring onions, and served with a sweet soy sauce.
Vegan Lunar New Year Desserts and More
Zenzai is a very traditional Japanese dessert made with azuki beans and mochi, or glutinous rice cake. If you’ve never had azuki, or sweet read bean before, the idea of beans in a dessert might sound a little strange but its a very common item to see in Asian desserts. Texturally, the azuki beans are typically cooked down until completely soft, and sweetened delicately. It pairs really beautifully with the chewy, springy texture of mochi, and is served with a sweet “soup”.
This buttery vegan Pineapple tart or Nastar, 凤梨酥 (Fèng lí sū) recipe is my family’s favorite treat to make for Lunar New Year. They have the perfect melt-in-your-mouth crust with a delicious homemade pineapple filling.
Che Ba Mau, or as directly translated into Vietnamese: three colour bean dessert, is one of my favourite childhood desserts. There’s just something about the combination of different textures, flavours, and that crunch of ice, swimming in a little puddle of sweetened coconut cream…
A vegan-friendly Tang Yuan. One of the most important and meaningful Taiwanese desserts, often eaten during Winter Solstice or Lunar New Year.