Chinese New Year Dessert ideas

Best CNY Dessert Ideas

As Chinese New Year approaches, here are nine desserts suggestions that you could have after a hearty feast of traditional Chinese New Year food. These desserts cannot go wrong and are picked for their accessibility and popularity in Singapore. Featuring Nian Gao, steamed sponge cake, eight treasure rice pudding, Osmanthus jelly and more.

1) Nian Gao

The top of this list is undisputably the nian gao. Nian gao (年糕) is a lucky food eaten during Chinese New Year because of the word gao, which sounds like the word gao (高) for “high or tall”. Thus, it is consumed by people with hopes that every year they can rise in ranks, positions, and status. The nian gao is also round shaped, and circles in the Chinese’s point of view represents unity and completeness. Furthermore, nian gaos are sweet and thus are very suitable as desserts for Chinese New Year. They are made up of sticky rice, chestnuts, Chinese dates, sugar, and lotus leaves. You can find it everywhere in Chinatown’s Chinese New Year stalls. There are also different types of nian gaos and ways to consume them, and you may read more about them here.

2) Rice dumplings

It is called tang yuan (汤圆) in Southern China, and yuan xiao (元宵) in Northern China. Glutinous rice ball is a main food item eaten during the Lantern Festival, known as Yuan Xiao Jie (元宵节) which takes place on the 15th day of Chinese New Year, which is the last day. People in the South also eat this during their Chinese New Year celebrations as a dessert, as they are sweet with their sesame seeds or peanuts fillings.


The name tangyuan sounds like tuan yuan (团圆) which means “reunion”. Chinese New Year is a time where family members reunite, gather, and eat together, hence having tangyuan encompasses that idea. Moreover, tang yuan has a circular shape and is served in a round bowl. These circular elements resonate with the Chinese as they view circles as representing harmony and cooperation. Hence, eating tangyuan is meaningful as it signifies unity and communion during Chinese New Year.


3)  Steamed sponge cake

Steamed sponge cake for CNY dessert

It is called fa gao (发糕) in Chinese, which reminds people of the word “fortune”, which is fa cai (发财) in Chinese. They are made of glutinous rice that is grounded, made into a paste and fermented, before steaming. The dough should rise into a cake properly and the surface should split open before the cake is ready and the steaming process is done. It is said that the more splits there are on the cake, the more luck will come. To give the cake more tint, add carrots for the orange hue, green tea for the green colour and corn flour for a golden colour. You may also add your own dried fruits and ingredients such as dates, jujube fruits and hawthorn berries. These sponge cakes are sweet, fluffy and soft which makes them delicious to consume as desserts.

4) Sesame seed balls

Sesame seed balls are fried glutinous rice balls filled with red bean paste and sprinkled with sesame seeds. The outcome is a crispy and crunchy outer skin layer with a chewy and sweet filling. Due to their circular shape, they are representative of family unity.

5) Red bean soup

Although it is not a traditional festive dessert and can be eaten all-year round, this red warm soup made of azuki beans are sweet and easy to slurp down. In addition, red is an auspicious colour and blends in with the Chinese New Year theme. You may add other ingredients such as lotus seeds, sago, glutinous rice balls or dried tangerine peels to add more flavour to the soup.

6) Fruit platter

Fruits are undoubtedly one of the best dessert choices. They are rich in fiber, antioxidants and vitamins which are necessary to support various bodily functions. Choose the fruits which have auspicious meanings and symbols, which we have listed out here.

Here’s a list of a select few fruits:


Kumquats are “golden oranges” but they are much smaller than oranges, being the size of about an olive or grape. The kumquat plant is displayed as Chinese New Year decorations at front doors as they are deemed as auspicious. They are called jin ju (金桔) in Chinese, whereby the ju sounds like ji (吉) in Chinese which means “good luck”. Hence Kumquats are commonly eaten or displayed during Spring Festival.


These fruits symbolize that everything will turn out as you hope for.


Bunches of grapes symbolizes never ending luck and happiness.

Some fruit platters also contain dried fruits, nuts and seeds or longans and dates, each with their special meaning.

7) Eight treasure rice pudding

This Shanghainese specialty revolves around some of the ingredients mentioned, such as lotus seeds, red jujube and others such as bean paste, the flesh of melon seeds, raisins, candied jujube, processed fruit and walnut seeds. These eight ingredients are affixed neatly on top of the sticky rice and bean paste. There are eight ingredients because the number eight represents fortune and wealth. This eight treasure rice has a legend that it was created to celebrate the defeat of a despotic king by eight warriors.

8) Osmanthus jelly

Osmanthus jelly, a popular Chinese New Year dessert

This jelly is called gui hua gao (桂花糕) and is eaten during Chinese New Year as the word gui sounds like another word for “noble”, which is gui (贵) in Chinese. The Chinese often like to use flowers in their desserts and the Osmanthus is no exception. These flowers luck, friendship and achievement. This pretty dessert is made up of glutinous rice powder, fresh Osmanthus petals and crystal sugar. It is commonly eaten by the Shanghainese during Spring Festival and we can see why – being soft, delicate and light, it is not only pleasant to the mouth but a dessert to behold as well.

9) Cookies

Finally, we have Chinese New Year Cookies, something that no one can resist. Pineapple tarts are a top favourite because of their sweet and buttery taste – a match made in heaven. Love letters are also another top choice for they resemble gold bars and represent wealth. Our love letters are crispy and they do not break easily. Their crunch and intense egg flavour makes them very addictive. All of our Chinese New Year cookies and snacks are halal and we are confident of the quality of our offerings. Should you be unsatisfied about the quality of our cookies, we offer a 100% money back guarantee, so that you can shop confidently. Find out more about the top Chinese New Year goodies today.

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