Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Rice Cake)

Nian Gao - CNY Cake

Growing up, nian gao is a common sight in my household around Chinese New Years. We eat it steamed or pan fried– my favorite is freshly steamed because its warm, superrr soft and chewy. Frying creates a more complex texture, flavor and almost makes it sweeter with the caramelization of the sugars on the outside adding a nice crunch. Either way, both methods are delicious.

Nian gao comes in a few forms, but the most common version is relatively light brown in color, lightly sweet and decorated with red dates. My parent would makes a white mochi version– opting for all white sugar rather than a combination of brown and white– and scatters blanched peanuts peanuts throughout.

This recipe gives you the option to make my family’s version by just replacing the brown sugar with white and adding in blanched peanuts. White sugar is sweeter than brown sugar, so make sure add slightly less than the required amount for brown sugar.

Nian Gao - CNY Cake

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Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Cake)

Nian Gao aka Chinese Mochi Cake. It is a simple, sweet, chewy, vegan friendly, gluten free and dairy free and is eaten around Chinese New Year.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: mochi


  • 120 g water hot
  • 30 g granulated sugar
  • 30 g brown sugar or 25g granulated sugar
  • 90 g glutinous rice flour
  • 30 g rice flour
  • red dates to decorate
  • blanched peanuts


  • This recipe fits fits in a small bowl about 2 cup in volume. Make sure the bowl you are using can be steamed in– metal, ceramic or glass works well.
  • Fill a pot with water to steam and place a steam basket on top. Well oil the bowl you are using to steam in.
  • Dissolve granulated and brown sugar in water. Mix together glutinous rice flour and rice flour and add it to the sugar mixture until evenly combined. At this point, you can add in additional ingredients.
  • Pour mixture into your bowl. Cut up a red date and place it cut side down on top of the mixture (option). Transfer the bowl to a steam basket, cover and turn your stove on high heat until the water is boiling. Then lower to medium heat and cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Serve warm. To pan fry, let cool completely and cut the nian gao into strips. Grease a frying pan on medium high heat and cook both sides until browned.

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