Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Cake)

Nian Gao is a traditional Chinese New Year dessert. It is a sticky rice cake which requires long hours (7 hours!) of steaming. It is eaten in Chinese New Year because its pronunciation is a homophone for “a more prosperous year, higher position, grow taller, etc, year after year”. For example, businesses to grow more prosper, working class people to go higher in their career path and for kids to grow taller.

I do have a baked version which takes less than 1 hour to make.


Nian Gao can be kept for a long time. It just need to be re-steamed to regain its soft texture.


For the golden syrup:

  • 300g sugar
  • 200ml water
  • 2 slices lemon

For the Nian Gao:

  • 300g glutinous rice flour
  • 300g sugar
  • 300ml water
  • 4 tablespoons golden syrup
  • banana leaves or parchment papers for lining tins



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