vietnamese new year foods
Source: vietgiao

Traditional Tet Holiday or Vietnamese Lunar New Year is an important occasion for all the Vietnamese. Every action, image, color, etc. on the Tet holiday is symbolic and has its own meaning. Foods are no exception. Each Vietnamese New Year food is offered to ancestors, grandparents and will be sent a new year wish. So what are the Vietnamese traditional dishes on Tet holiday? Let’s Vietnamtrips share with you in this article.

1 - Top 14 Vietnamese New Year foods: Banh Chung

vietnamese new year food

Banh Chung is a meaningful Vietnamese Tet food - Source:

The old Vietnamese have a saying: "Fat meat, pickled onion, red couplets, firecrackers, green Banh Chung". Banh Chung (Vietnamese Square Sticky Rice Cake) is considered the soul of the Tet holiday and is a type of cake with a very long history in the culinary culture of Vietnam. The “cake” is made from delicious glutinous rice, pork, green beans and is wrapped squarely with dong leaves then boiled for about 8-10 hours. After being boiled, this Vietnamese Lunar New Year food is flexible, very fragrant with the aroma of glutinous rice, and has the green color of dong leaves.

In Northern Vietnam, from about mid-December of the lunar calendar, many families have prepared green beans, dong leaves, glutinous rice to make Banh Chung. People try to prepare the best ingredients so that their Banh Chung is the most delicious. Cooking this Vietnamese food for Tet on the last days of the year is also an opportunity for the family to gather. Next to the warm pot of Banh Chung, generations in the family tell each other about the past, future plans, and many other stories.

2 - Banh Tet 

Banh Tet or Cylindrical glutinous rice cake is one of the best Vietnamese New Year foods. This is a type of food in the cuisine of both the Vietnamese in general and some ethnic minorities in Southern and Central for specific. The food shares many things in common with Banh Chung in the North in terms of ingredients and recipe. The rare differences are the shape and using banana leaves to wrap instead of dong leaves. The position of Banh Tet in Tet of the local people is the same as that of Banh Chung.  

This Vietnamese New Year food is wrapped with many leaves, symbolizing that a mother wraps her child, bringing the Vietnamese people's desire to reunite on New Year's Day. Not only that, the green Banh Tet with yellow bean filling reminds farmers of the green rice paddy fields, and triggers the dream of “settlement and happiness” and a peaceful spring for everyone.

3 - Cha Gio - top Vietnamese New Year foods

vietnam new year food

Cha gio - Source: dienmayxanh

Cha gio or Vietnamese egg rolls along with some dishes such as beef noodle soup, Banh Cuon, Banh Mi,... have become dishes imbued with Vietnamese cultural identity.  The meaning of Cha gio on Tet comes from the ingredients and the way to prepare the dish.

Among many Vietnamese Lunar New Year dishes, Cha gio is definitely the one that contains the flavor of Tet most. The filling of fried spring rolls is the combination of many ingredients such as pork, eggs, wood ear,... and the coat is a golden and crispy crust. The harmony of ingredients refers to the diversification of life, or rather, the consensus and attachment between people. 

Today, due to cultural convergence between the three regions of Vietnam is expanding, there are some changes in the ingredients of this Vietnamese Tet food in each region. Regardless of that fact, each delicious Cha gio not only shows devotion and the effort of the maker but also a way to admire cultural beauty or national identity. Cha gio is always one of the most popular Vietnamese New Year foods.   

4 - Gio Lua 

vietnam tet food

Gio Lua - Source: Pinterest

When it first appeared in Vietnam, Gio Lua or Lean pork pie was a precious and expensive dish that only the king and the royals could serve. Hence, the presence of Gio Lua in the Tet holiday is the symbol of wealth and luxury. Moreover, it shows the wish of the family for a “warm inside, soft outside” life. The meaning of “warm inside, smooth outside” stems from the recipe to make this Vietnamese Lunar New Year food.

“Warm inside”: Gio Lua is made from pork loin, so to make it delicious and fragrant, you must choose fresh and warm tenderloin to make delicious pork rolls.

"Smooth outside": Properly wrapped spring rolls must be wrapped with 3 layers of banana leaves to preserve the rolls naturally, the inside-most is the youngest, the outside-most is the old green leaf layer.

5 - Top 14 Vietnamese New Year foods: Pickled onion and scallions

vietnamese tet food

This is a favorite food in Tet holiday - Source:

Fermented dishes are really necessary for a meal on the Tet holiday to prevent eaters from being satiated by fried and fatty foods. The two most outstanding names are pickled onion and pickled scallions. 

Pickled onions are popular in the North, while people in the South eat scallions soaked in sugar vinegar, called pickled scallions. For generations, they have been a Tet food associated with every Vietnamese, even on ordinary days. However, people in the North only pickle onions on winter days, when onions are harvested from the crop so that until the New Year, they are just sour enough and do not have a pungent taste when eaten. The sweet and sour taste of sour onion and fatty meat is enough to stimulate the taste buds and wake up the atmosphere of Tet coming all over the country. 

6 - Thit Dong 

vietnamese lunar new year food

Jellied meat is one of the indispensable Vietnamese New Year foods - Source: dienmayxanh

It is said that the origin of Thit Dong or jellied meat is from stewed pork leg soup that is unexpectedly frozen when left outside in cold weather. Unpredictably, this Vietnamese Tet food becomes a strange dish to eat with rice or Banh Chung without causing boredom.

Since then, whenever Tet comes, northern families do not forget to prepare a pot of jellied meat to eat. The light color from the natural color of the cooked meat, the condensed meat juice, sometimes even the fat scum on top can make many people bored, feeling like eating a "clumsy" dish.

But just try a piece of this Vietnamese Lunar New Year food with a bowl of white rice, you will feel like they are enjoying the early days of spring in the North. The gravy when added to hot rice melts slightly but is not salty, but just suitable to eat with rice or Banh Chung, sticky rice is delicious. 

7 - Braised pork in coconut juice - one of the best Vietnamese New Year foods

While Northern Vietnamese have jellied meat on the first days of the year, the Southern eats braised pork. The main ingredient of this dish is usually bacon or types of meat that have both lean and fat. The meat is cut into large squares, while the large and round duck eggs are cooked with their shape remaining. When the two figures are combined, it means peace. This is also the reason why braised pork is a favorite Vietnamese New Year food.

The tender piece of braised meat has the clear white of the fat and the red of the lean meat, the light brown of the stewed pork skin, and the color of the burnt sugar water. Boiled duck eggs are soft, the yolk is fat and smooth accompanied by the sweet taste of coconut water, the rich salty taste of the fish sauce, the spiciness of red chili, all blend to create an unforgettable taste in the mouth of the eater.

As one of the popular Vietnamese New Year foods, braised pork can be eaten with many dishes such as rice and fermented vegetables. Perhaps the salty, sweet, and fatty taste of braised pork mingled with the sour and spicy taste of pickled onion has created a seductive and ecstatic flavor for Tet.

8 - Bubble soup (pork skin soup)

vietnamese new years food

Pork skin soup is a delectable Vietnamese food for Lunar New Year - Source:

The culinary culture of the Northern people, especially the Hanoians, is often picky and sophisticated because it converges the quintessence of the capital city with thousands of years of civilization. Bubble soup is a delicious dish that is indispensable in the New Year menu of every family in Hanoi. It is called "bubble soup" because the “vedette” is pieces of white pork skin baked which look like bubbles floating on the water.

This traditional Vietnamese food for Tet is elaborately processed, including broth of pork or chicken bones combined with lean pork pie and vegetables. In the context of the early spring days, the soup with bright colors is like a wish for a prosperous and lucky year.

9 - Top Vietnamese New Year foods: Dried bamboo shoot soup

The pot of bamboo shoot soup cooked with pork leg is an indispensable dish for the people of the North every Lunar New Year. It is also a cultural feature of Vietnamese people from ancient times to eat foods derived from nature such as bamboo shoots, sweet potatoes... Without this dish, the dining table somehow loses the flavor of Tet. 

A bowl of bamboo shoot soup on the Tet holiday is not complicated in ingredients, only dried bamboo shoots and pork legs, but it is especially delicious and requires a lot of elaborateness and meticulousness in processing. 

This traditional Vietnamese Lunar New Year food is the perfect combination between the aroma of bamboo shoots and the greasiness of well-cooked pork leg. The sweetness of the bamboo shoot soup reduces the sourness of pickled scallions and lessens the boredom of the greasy pieces of braised pork on the Tet tray of rice. Holding a bowl of soup and inhaling the hot steam mixed with the strong aroma of bamboo shoots is a feeling that no matter where the Vietnamese go, it is hard for them to forget.

10 - Pork stuffed bitter melon soup

traditional vietnamese new year food

Pork stuffed bitter melon soup - #14 Vietnamese New Year foods - Source: giadinhnet

Like the North and Central of Vietnam, in the Tet holiday of the South, it is impossible to lack bitter melon soup. In Vietnamese, bitter melon soup means "passing through suffering", hoping for a lucky and favorable new year and the difficulties and hardships of the old year will pass. 

This Vietnamese traditional food on Tet holiday has nothing strange to Southerners, but when it appears on the tray of rice on the Tet holiday, it becomes unusually meaningful. The appearance of the bitter melon soup is like a charm to family members, making them feel as if all the hardships will pass, and in the new year, everything will be different.

11 - Boiled chicken

tet traditional food

Boiled chicken - Source:

Some Vietnamese dishes have remained unchanged for hundreds of years, even though the customs of each house, region, and period can be modified constantly; and boiled chicken is an example. Hardly any solemn occasions, festivals, especially the Lunar New Year, can be celebrated without boiled chicken. Not only one of the best Vietnamese New Year foods, boiled chicken is also an indispensable offering in the Vietnamese custom of worshiping.

Why does the Vietnamese New Year rice tray have to include boiled chicken? Why can’t it be replaced by any other meat? In terms of spirituality, chickens, especially roosters, are very important in the sun-worshiping religion to the inhabitants of wet rice cultivation. It is said that chickens call the sun to create time, chickens peck lightning when it comes down to hit people. Therefore, the offering of this Vietnamese Tet food on the occasion is to express the wish for a year of favorable weather and a fruitful harvest. 

12 - Steamed momordica glutinous rice

According to the long-standing conception of Vietnamese people, red is the color that brings good luck to everyone. That is why on the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, things are always filled with brilliant red. The dish is not an exception, typically Xoi Gac or steamed momordica glutinous rice - one of the most delicious Vietnamese New Year foods.

Cooking steamed momordica glutinous rice requires the cook to be skillful in every step from choosing Momordica, sticky rice to steaming rice. Sticky rice after cooking must have the characteristic red of the fruit, sweet taste, and is soft when eaten.

Because of its special color, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year food symbolizes luck, blessing, fulfilled love, and happiness. 

13 - Jam

lunar new year vietnamese food

A tray of jam - Source: dienmayxanh

Jam is a sweet dish, made from fruits and some tubers cooked with sugar. In the past, Vietnamese families had a custom of gathering together and making homemade jam on the Tet holiday. Then, everyone invited each other sweet stuff that they create on their own as an alternative for best wishes. Nowadays, due to hectic schedules, people no longer prepare Tet jams by themselves, instead, they buy them at supermarkets. However, jam is always one of the indispensable Vietnamese New Year foods. 

A traditional Tet tray of jam is always round, divided into 8 boxes with a variety of kinds of jams such as ginger jam, coconut jam, pumpkin jam, peanut jam, kumquat jam, lotus seed jam, tamarind jam, custard apple jam, etc. which feature sour, spicy, sweet, and fleshy taste like the taste of life. 

14 - Watermelon seed

Melon seeds are a dish to sip on the Tet holiday of Vietnamese people. This is the dish that the host often brings out to welcome guests during Tet. This Vietnamese Tet food when eaten has a fatty and greasy taste. When eating, people will use their teeth to split the shell, take the inside of the seed and often serve it with a cup of tea. The chatting will become more vivid, more joyful.

With dozens of dishes on the dining table, there is no wonder about how important Tet is to Vietnamese people. The Vietnamese New Year foods are meticulously prepared not only to fill the eater’s empty stomach but also as a way to show their hope and expectation for a lucky year.   

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Being born and living here in Vietnam, I got a chance to see lots of beautiful places, try countless great dishes, & experience many interesting things in places I visited. And It's so great to share all things I know about Vietnam to you.

Giang Pham — Giang Pham



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