Traditional Southern New Year's Day Recipes (2024)

Ever wonder why Southerners eat certain foods to ring in the new year? Or, what are the traditional foods that make up a Southern New Year's menu and how they came to be? Read on to find out!

I don't know about 'round the rest of the country, but most Southerner's wouldn't dare allow the New Year to pass without eatin' some kind of pork, often a roast, sometimes a ham, a big ole mess o' black-eyed peas (or some other form of southern cowpeas) and greens of some kind, often either collard greens, turnip greens, or good ole, basic southern fried cabbage.

It's a tradition, steeped in both superstition and hope for better days ahead that we participate in the first of every year, and important enough that even people who don't particularly care for greens or black-eyed peas - such as The Cajun himself - make sure that they at least have a bite of both of 'em - though to be honest, tradition says it is best to ensure that you get at least 365 peas in your body on New Year's Day just to account for the whole year. Might as well just eat a "mess of 'em" I reckon, just to be on the safe side!

Click on the links within the post below to check out the individual recipes, but be sure to pop over to visit my super list of New Year's Eve party foods too, with appetizers, hangover helpers, brunch items and much, much more to help you ring in the new year, Southern style! Happy New Year y'all!!

Click here for the full range of New Year's Eve and classic New Year's Day recipes!

Southern style collard greensorturnip greens, are pretty traditional greens for New Years. I adore them!

Southern seasonedSlow Stewed Collard Greensmade with smoked pork hocks, or other smoked meats, and served with raw onion, vinegar pepper sauce and cornbread or hoecakes on the side.

Here's another great greens dish option that includes some pork and adds black-eyed peas to the mix!

Pork, greens and blackeye peas - in a convenient soup, with a slow-stewed and concentrated, vitamin-enriched potlikker base. Serve with skillet cornbread to complete the meal.

Southern Style Turnip Greens

While I truly do love greens of all kinds, I am also a big fan of cabbage, and the way I love it the most is simply the stewed version we southerners call fried cabbage.

Classic southern fried cabbage.

Another cabbage favorite is this chopped cabbage, smothered down with the trinity of vegetables, ground sausage and tomatoes.

I prefer using a nicely seasoned breakfast sausage, like Jimmy Dean or Tennessee Pride, although a good Italian sausage or bratwurst will work nicely too. Just don't use a plain raw ground pork unless you bump up the seasonings. The most important thing about this dish is don't drain off the fat. Most pork sausage is pretty lean these days and you'll want the little bit of fat that you do get to season the cabbage.

Smothered Cabbage with Sausage and Tomato

The New Year meal should include some kinda pig too - a full out pork roast, or just the addition of hog jowls, fatback, ham hocks, bacon or some ham chunks and a ham bone leftover from Christmas dinner, or for some, some ribs. More often, it's a combination of several of those. Pork has always been king in The South and is a big part of our lives. If you owned a pig, that one pig could feed your family for pretty much the entire new year and believe you me, we Southerners used every single inch of that pig.

Smothered Pork Roast

Pork roast, slow cooked in the crockpot and simply seasoned with garlic salt, freshly cracked black pepper, Cajun seasoning, thyme and sage and topped with cream of mushroom soup, is a delicious option too!

Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Veggies

For New Year's Day, pork represents health and wealth, and continued prosperity. Some say also that a pig also represents progress - and, since pigs pretty much can't just look backward without completely turning around, a pig represents forward progress. Some folks just do ribs, a roast, or pork chops or even pulled pork, but you can bet that Down South, pig is gonna show up in some form.

Pork Roast with Spicy Onion Pan Sauce

Another delicious option for your New Year's greens would be this traditional Green Gumbo called Gumbo Z'herbes, a flavorful gumbo of greens. Gumbo Z'herbes is a traditional green gumbo made with multiple greens, a wide variety of meats and traditionally served on Holy Thursday before Easter. Sometimes it is prepared meatless to be served during Lent.

Gumbo Z'herbes

I also know that in many areas of The South they like to eat black-eyed peas in the form of a dish called Hoppin' John. Well, down here, we pretty much just call that Black-eyed Pea Jambalaya. Speaking of jambalaya, this Creole Style Pork Chop Jambalaya is another great choice!

Deep South Hoppin' John - Black-eyed Pea Jambalaya

Gotta say, that's some pretty good Hoppin' John there for sure, but I still like my black-eyed peas spooned over hot, steaming rice the most I think.

Southern Style Black-eyed Peas

The tradition of black-eyed peas for Southerners is believed to have originated back during Civil War times when Sherman's soldiers raided Southern homes, taking virtually all of the food and burning the crops, but mostly ignoring the fields of black-eyed peas, because they thought them to be food for the livestock and of no value otherwise. As one of the few food sources left to sustain the people and the southern soldiers, those black-eyed peas came to represent good fortune. Makes sense to me! Want a different but delicious way to get both your black-eyed peas and greens? Try this Greens and Black-eyed Pea Soup!

Greens and Black-eyed Pea Soup

The black-eyed peas represent coins - in fact, used to be that a dime would be hidden in the pot for somebody to find that was said to bring them much luck with money in the coming year. I wouldn't advise doing that these days though. The greens are present, representingpaper money andcornbread, in some form, almost always served alongside, represents gold.

Southern Skillet Cornbread

In The South, this combination of foods, when eaten all together, represents financial prosperity, good luck and good health in the coming new year for those who consume them on New Years Day, so we pretty much just make a meal of the combo for the whole day - just for insurance, ya know! In the United States, ball dropping is always a part of the festivities counting down toward the last seconds of the new year. If you live in the south, that's liable to be a moon pie drop.

Of course there are fireworks, sometimes parades and certainly champagne is a favorite for toasting. In Spain there is a tradition to consume 12 grapes at midnight, the sweetness of each grape to indicate what each month of the new year will bring to you. I like this! Just toss the grapes into the glass when you pass out the bubbly (or sparkling cider for the kids and non-drinkers) and at midnight everybody toasts to the new year and then eats the grapes, one on each stroke of the clock. This tradition has been picked up in the United States especially around Texas and the southwest.

Click right here for the full listing of New Year's Eve appetizers, party foods, New Year's Day Brunch items, including those ever handy hangover helpers, and of course, all the traditional New Year's Day goodies, we all love.

What traditions do you have for bringing in the new year?

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Traditional Southern New Year's Day Recipes (2024)


What is the traditional New Year's Day meal in the South? ›

Many cultures and countries have particular "lucky" foods, and the southern United States is no exception. Greens, pork, and cornbread, as well as black-eyed peas, cowpeas, or beans, are some of the typical symbolic foods served on New Year's Day.

What are the traditional foods for New Year's Day? ›

These different New Year's food traditions from around the world have different meanings and are worth considering putting on your menu or something to bring for a party.
  • Pork. Pork is thought to bring good luck on New Year's Day. ...
  • Cabbage. ...
  • Black-Eyed Peas. ...
  • Greens. ...
  • Lentils. ...
  • Fish. ...
  • Noodles. ...
  • Grapes and other fruit.
Dec 31, 2023

Which two foods do Southerners often eat on January 1? ›

It is advised among some to eat at least 365 black-eyed-peas on New Year's day to ensure good luck for each day of the new year. Pork, a commodity abundant in the South, is often thought of as good luck since a pig's nature is to root forward and not look back, encouraging us to do the same in the coming year.

What two vegetables are traditionally eaten on New Year's Day Why? ›

A major New Year's food tradition in the American South, Hoppin' John is a dish of pork-flavored field peas or black-eyed peas (symbolizing coins) and rice, frequently served with collards or other cooked greens (as they're the color of money) and cornbread (the color of gold).

What Southern staple is eaten on New Year's Day to bring prosperity to you all year? ›

Black-eyed peas and collards are two of the main dishes that many people serve to celebrate the start of a new year. Black-eyed peas are associated with bringing good luck. While collard greens symbolize money and will ensure you have a financially prosperous new year.

Why do you eat cornbread on New Year's Day? ›

If there was any corn left they made cornbread. So, theses three items have come to represent hope and prosperity for the New Year. The peas represent coins, the greens - paper money and the cornbread, gold.

What is the luckiest food to eat on New Year's Day? ›

Black-Eyed Peas

Traditionally paired with collard greens and cornbread, black-eyed peas are a staple New Year's good luck food. The peas symbolize coins, and practices of consuming these legumes around celebrations date back to Ancient Egypt.

What not to do on New Year's Day? ›

Don't Clean the House on New Year's Day - You will wash away any good luck coming your way.

Can you eat potatoes on New Year's Day? ›

A New Year's Day Tradition: Roast Pork, Mashed Potatoes and Sauerkraut. Growing up, our New Year's Day meal was always a pork roast, mashed potatoes, and sauerkraut, whether we liked it or not. It's a Pennsylvania Dutch New Year's tradition.

What is the New Year's food for good luck in Southern? ›

As Southern tradition dictates, black-eyed peas, greens, and cornbread represent pennies, dollars, and gold, respectively, so eating them together on New Year's will keep your purse full all year long.

What to cook on January 1st? ›

Greens, Black-Eyed Peas, Cornbread, and Ham | Photo by Meredith. Even folks who aren't from the South go all in on eating black-eyed peas for good luck on New Year's Day. Cook up an irresistibly soft, hearty dish that will also bring you good fortune.

What is the most Southern meal? ›

A traditional Southern meal may include pan-fried chicken, field peas (such as black-eyed peas), greens (such as collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, or poke sallet), mashed potatoes, cornbread or corn pone, sweet tea, and dessert—typically a pie (sweet potato, chess, shoofly, pecan, and peach are the most ...

Can you eat eggs on new year's day? ›

It is believed that eating these shellfish on the first day of the year will bring you setbacks throughout the year and prevent you from moving ahead in the coming year. White-Colored Foods are a no no on New Year's Day, foods that are all white in color, such as rice, bread, eggs, and tofu.

Can you eat chicken on new year's day? ›

Lobster, cows, and chicken are all considered unlucky animals to eat on New Year's because of how they move. Read on for more foods superstitious people try to avoid on the holiday.

What does cabbage mean on new year's? ›

This eastern European tradition of eating cabbage on New Year's—either as a dish or as cabbage rolls—is meant to signify luck, particularly on the financial side of things. People who eat cabbage on New Year's believe that it'll help them make more money in the year ahead.

Why do people in the South eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day? ›

Often referred to as hoppin' john, black-eyed peas and collard greens are commonly eaten as part of a Southern tradition to bring forth good luck and prosperity in the new year. As a kid, I wasn't really a fan, especially not with their little eyes staring back at me.

Which Southern dish is traditionally believed to bring good luck when eaten on New Year's? ›

And our tastiest superstitious tradition is eating Hoppin' John on New Year's Day. This classic Southern dish, a one-pot meal of black-eyed peas, ham hock, and rice, is believed by many (not just the Sterlings) to ensure wealth and bring good luck in the upcoming year.

What do Cajuns eat on New Year's Day? ›

For New Year's Day, they start off with pork. “The pig is known to root forward as he eats. So, we, in turn, enjoy, pork roast for happiness. We're going to go forward in life; we're going to go forward in the year.

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