5 Must Have CNY Snacks – And How To Make Them

Chinese New Year (CNY) is inching closer and my level of excitement is increasing by day!! CNY is (hands down) my favourite festival. Having to spend CNY while I was abroad for 4 years straight, was slightly depressing. I remember vividly when I had to spend CNY abroad for the first time, I was appalled at the fact I had to attend school – then I recall, I’m in England. Never in my life did I have to attend school on this sacred day! For those who can’t imagine, it’s like going back to school on Christmas Day.

The one important thing (other than red packets) that every child looks forward to during CNY – and adults even, are the snacks we get to munch on. CNY is a season of gathering, with family and friends, and what better way to catch up over some tea and snacks. On top of the fact that the snacks are unique to the festival, each of them posses a symbolic (hidden) meaning that acts as a good blessing for the New Year.


photo credits: wikipedia

Having to spend CNY abroad would mean that I have nurtured the capability of being over-ambitious in desperate times. When you can’t buy (or can’t afford to buy) something, you force yourself to make it. Same goes for the CNY snacks in England, which are sold at inflated prices, or just not as good. Thankfully my family sends me a box of love every year but nevertheless, it’s good to arm yourself with the knowledge should you need it.

Here’s 5 of my must have CNY snacks (wherever you are celebrating this joyous occasion), AND HOW TO MAKE THEM – courtesy of the most efficient tutor in the world, YOUTUBE.

1. Bak kwa (“Chinese Pork/Beef Jerky”)

It’s often translated as “beef jerky” but the taste is no where close to the goodness of Bak Kwa. The texture is the same though but the flavour in Bak Kwa is so much more complex. It’s a blend of sweet yet salty and the charred edges brings out the smoky touch. Each bite sends you to heaven. Bak Kwa acts as a reminder for the Chinese’s humble past. Back in those days (like really long ago), meat was considered a luxury and usually saved for a special occasion like CNY. Leftover meat would be used to make Bak Kwa and hence preserved for a longer period of time. This is entirely my own interpretation but I suppose the story reminds us to appreciate what we have now. Some also say it symbolises “a robust fortune ahead” due to its cantonese name “long yoke”


Photo credits via FaitMaison – if you don’t like videos, go to FaitMaison for a clear step by step instructions for how to make bak kwa!

DAMAGE = Every 100g, appx 370 Calories

Video recipe by Josephine


  • Mince Meat
  • 3 tbsp Sugar
  • 3 tbsp Clear Honey
  • 2 tbsp Fish Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Chinese Rice Wine
  • 1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce 
  • 1 tbsp Char Siu Sauce or Oyster sauce
  • ½ tbsp Chinese Five Spice
  • ½ tbsp White or Black Pepper
  • ½ tbsp Sesame oil
  • A pinch of Salt to taste

2. Pineapple Tarts

The symbolism behind pineapple tarts come from its Hokkien name “ong lai”. “ong lai” stands for pineapple, but it also means “prosperity is here”. Hopefully every bite of this sweet treat will bring you good luck and prosperity!


Photo credits via The Little Teochew – they do awesome recipes too.

DAMAGE = 1 tart 20g appx 74 Calories

Video recipe by ZaTaYa


  • 550 grams of plain flour
  • 300 grams of unsalted soften butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tbsp of icing sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 500+ grams of pineapple filling.

3. Nian Gao (“Sticky Rice Cakes”)

Eating Nian Gao is like having one of those candies described in Enid Blyton’s novel. It’s soft and sticky and sweet and melts in your mouth! The word “nian” is translated to “year” in English, and “gao” means “high”. This little bowl of goodness is a way of welcoming a better year, or having self-improvement!

Bonus tip: if you fry the nian gao, it tastes even better.


DAMAGE = 100g appx 92 Calories (non-fried)

Video recipe by Josephine, again. What can I say, she’s awesome.


  • 1 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 1 piece Chinese brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Vegetable oil

4. Love Letters (“Thin Wafer Biscuits”)

As the name goes, love letters is about love and romance and there’s definitely room for some sweetness in the tummy during CNY. This snack is often enjoyed by both young and old!


DAMAGE = 1 roll appx 56 Calories

Video recipe by Erika Lim


  • 125g Plain Flour
  • 125g Tapioca Flour
  • 210g Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1TBS Margarine/Butter
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Can of Coconut Cream (shake well before opening)
  • Water
  • 1 tsp Salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Crystals (to taste)
  • Love Letter Machine/Pan

5. Kueh Bang-kit (“Coconut Cookies”)

Kueh Bang-kit comes in all shapes and sizes which means that it carries several meaning. Some say it’s shaped like a flower for happiness, some say its good luck comes from its cantonese name which symbolises “unity”. Either way, they are all positive. The cookies are very unique and some will like it and some wouldn’t (like marmite). It’s very crumbly and some rather dry, and it either melts in your mouth or falls everywhere before it gets in your mouth. Try and see if you like it!


DAMAGE = 1 piece 6g appx 23 Calories

Photo credits and Video recipe by KitchenTigress


  • 380 g tapioca starch
  • 1/2 tbsp plain flour
  • 50 g young pandan leaves
  • 170 g coconut cream
  • 120 g sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, about 50 g
  • 1 yolk, about 15 g
  • 5 g butter

Here’s wishing you all a Happy Chinese New Year (whether you’re Chinese or not) ❤

Peace & Love,

Eileen x

Peregrinate with me

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