What is your New Year’s Eve plans this year? I will admit that while a powerful bout of FOMO (‘fear of missing out’ in case you don’t suffer from it) would compel me to go out on the last evening of the year in my twenties, by the time I turned 30 I clocked so many mediocre-to-rubbish New Year’s Eve experiences that I no longer stuffer from it at all. I now prefer staying at home or going to a friend’s house for a quiet get together over doing anything else.
This year, a couple of our friends are coming for some nibbles and drinks. Nothing too labour intensive though. I plan to make a vat of mulled apple juice, which those who drink will be able to mix with Zubrowka – Polish Bison grass infused vodka, which when mixed in with apple juice tastes like apple pie. There will be lots of healthy and little less so snacks, some candle light, ambient music and a good conversation, I am sure.
In case you are a person after my own heart, here is a selection of dishes, snacks and desserts I think would make for a delicious Happy New Year’s Eve recipes.
If you are a fan of a buffet style entertaining that involves a lot of finger food, New Year’s Eve could not be a more perfect occasion for that. Don’t make your life too hard, and don’t set out to make dozens of snacks yourself as even though they are small, the time in the kitchen can add up. I would go for two homemade snacks and fill the rest of the table with grapes, tangerines, shop-bought crackers, plant-based cheeses and dips.
These roast duck inspired baked vegan spring rolls make for a perfect finger food option and the best bit is that they are baked, not fried so a lot lighter on the stomach and involve a lot less ‘babystitting’ and fussing over.
Blinis (and champagne) are a traditional New Year’s Eve food and we don’t need caviar to make them posh, do we? These pretty spiced red pepper blinis are completely plant-based yet that hit all of your brain’s pleasure centers all at once. Delicious and not hard to make either – at their core, they are simply baby pancakes so don’t be intimidated, you’ve got this!
Stuffed mushrooms need no introduction, I am sure. These vegan stuffed mushrooms heady with garlic and rosemary will knock your guests socks off, I promise. Easy to make and they certainly deliver on the flavour front.
These mini vegan sausage rolls filled with an umami rich filling were incredibly popular with my non-vegan taste testers when I was creating this recipe so I am confident they will be popular at your house too. Easy to make and
Vegan bao buns with pulled jackfruit are a true texture and flavour explosion and your guests won’t complain seeing these as part of your offering, I am sure. If making your own buns from scratch feels like too much of a headache – especially if you have not made them before – you can buy them these days in some well stocked supermarkets (I know that in the UK, M&S sells them) or in your Asian food supplies store. They are usually always vegan, but be sure to check the ingredients if you are not sure.
If the flavours that hail from the Indian subcontinent are more up your street, try these cute baked pea kachori with a quick coriander chutney. They are easy to put together, delightful to eat and healthier due to the fact that they are baked, not fried.
If frying does not terrify you as much as it does me (although I clearly do make fried foods from time to time), classic onion bhajis with an addictive date and tamarind chutney are always a win, they are certainly one of my guilty pleasures.
Miniature pizzas are also a great thing to serve at a New Year’s Eve gathering. Because they are small, the dough is super easy to handle. Also, because they are small, you can make a lot of topping variations to ensure that everyone finds one that makes them happy. Some of my go-to toppings are: roasted peppers, artichokes, zucchini slices, pumpkin cubes, mushrooms, cherry toms, olives, capers, vegan cheese – melty or soft cheese (added on at the end), vegan pesto, red onion chutney…I could go on and on…but that should give you and idea…
Tacos are an ultimate finger (or more like palm) food and a mainstay of vegan menus all over the world. That’s because they simply yield themselves so well to plant-based eating – the array of flavours and textures present makes for a tantalising eating experience as long as you know what you are doing – a pet hate of mine is things like ‘hummus tacos’, which I saw in quite a couple of highly rated vegan-friendly restaurants sadly. These beauties are filled with stewed and then charred jackfruit, fresh tomato salsa, pickled onions and vegan cashew crema. I used plain flour tortillas but corn ones work just as well.
These smoky mince tacos are another option. They are flour tortillas (large tortillas are fine, simply cut them up small once off the pan) filled with an aromatic vegan mince filling, topped with vegan cheese and coriander, flattened and pan-fried until crispy on a preheated pan. I tend to have them dipped in vegan cashew cream or guacamole and they make me super happy.
These pulled mushroom tacos are beautiful too, they are smoky, sweet and tangy and beautifully caramelised. I used shredded king oyster mushrooms for the filling and that’s what I would recommend, but if you cannot find them regular oyster mushrooms or portobello will work well too.
While I am on the subject of Mexican-inspired food, I also love these crispy on the outside and meaty on the inside vegan enchiladas and they feed a crowd so you may want to give them a go too.
These vegan duck pancakes are a plant-based take on another crowd pleasing dish – Chinese roast duck. They are easy to make and delicious and although this is one of my early recipes on this blog it certainly stood the test of time. Arm yourself with some shop-bought Chinese pancakes, a bunch of spring onions, a jar of hoisin sauce, a couple of tins of jackfruit and a cucumber and you’ll make them in no time.
As New Year’s Eve hosting tends to be a little less formal than other celebrations at this time of the year, a centerpiece may not be in your evening plans but if it is, here are a few options I would consider myself.
Firstly, this simple vegan mushroom pie is a straightforward to make and delivers so much flavour. It features a creamy and cheesy mushroom filling wrapped in a golden puff pastry. I make my own vegan cheese filling and use shop-bought puff pastry to speed things up, but if you wanted to make it even quicker use your favourite vegan cheese instead. Simple, really!
If you have mushroom haters in the house, how about a delicious pumpkin (or squash) galette instead? It’s a free hand pie, which means you can make it as big or as small as you need to cater for the number of guests you’ll have.
If you are willing to put a little more work in this vegan wellington is certainly my personal favourite centrepiece. It’s a little more labour intensive as there are two types of filling, plus a gravy to get on with but it’s well worth the effort if you feel so inclined.
A giant sausage roll, which I based on my mini ones, is also a firm crowd pleaser and it only requires one filling and a gravy. It’s meaty and smoky and fragrant with herbs and my mom fell in love with it so much that she now makes it for herself (she is the only near vegan in her house) every year.
My other suggestion is to make a tray of saucy bubbling lasagna that hugs you with comfort. I have many lasagana (or lasagne) recipes on my blog, but this vegan lasagne is my take on lasagne bolognese. It’s meaty, smoky and creamy all in one, it makes both vegan and non-vegans happy.
If an idea of a shareable comfort food feels right, but you are entertaining some gluten-free folks, how about a big pan of vegan cabbage rolls? In fact, they are often made for New Year’s Eve in my native Poland. These charred cabbage leaves are stuffed with a fragrant and meaty rice filling and served with a spoonful of rich tomato sauce.
If you have been following me for a while, you probably know that I am a die-hard dumpling fan – I LOVE LOVE LOVE these tender and crispy parcels of dough filled with a flavour bomb more than anything in the world. Filled dumplings are one of my firm favourite comfort foods…I grew up on Polish dumplings, but I love Chinese potstickers, Japanese gyoza, Italian ravioli just as much…The origin of them does not matter as long as the dough is thin and the filling is generous and packed with flavour. These are my three dumpling rules!
These effortlessly vegan mushroom and cabbage pierogi (which is the name for dumplings in Polish and it’s already plural so no need for an ‘s’ at the end) are one of my favourites. Mine are a twist on the traditional and are served with an irresistible walnut crumb for extra flavour and texture. If you are not a mushroom fan, you could make them with spinach (RECIPE HERE) or savoury onion and potato filling (RECIPE HERE) instead.
And if you are entertaining someone who cannot have wheat, check out these beautiful gluten-free pierogi instead. The dough does not contain gluten, but it’s easy to handle and tastes delicious regardless.
If Asian-inspired flavours sound more up your street, I am with you. I am a big fan of a hit of ginger, a very drops of toasted sesame oil, a splash of soy sauce…you get me? These beautiful potstickers are one of my favourites – in fact, I am planning to make them this New Year’s Eve myself. I used oyster mushrooms for these, but fresh shittake or even chestnut mushrooms will work well too. Alternatively, how about edamame beans – they are easily available frozen and make for a delicious filling too. Or winter squash dumplings? Seasonal and pair perfectly with East-Asian flavours too.
While we are on the subject of East Asian delicacies, these steamed car siu bao used to be Duncan’s favourite before we quit eating meat and this is my meatless version of them. He says he loves them just as much. These fluffy beauties are steamed rather than pan-fried so if you are so inclined, it is possible to make them without any oil.
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention some kind of Italian ravioli at this point. These easy to shape half moon Italian dumplings hail from the region of Dolomites and are called casunziei. Mine are filled with a roast beetroot and walnut filling and served with a walnut crumb. These contain gluten, but if you like the look of them, but the sound of gluten makes your stomach contract painfully, use the gluten-free dough from this recipe instead.
Salads and sides
While I am clearly a carb lover, I also love vegetables of all shapes and sizes. To be honest, I have never met a vegetable I did not like – apart from they are cooked badly, of course. I’ve been like this since I was a child. Here are a few veggie side ideas that you may like the sound of for your New Year’s Eve table.
This seasonal winter salad features sweet and nutty acorn squash alongside heaps of green leaves, some pickled onion, black rice, caramelised pecans and a smattering of vegan feta. It’s pretty easy to make and it’s pretty to look at too. You can, of course, use a dense pumpkin instead of squash if you prefer.
This raw beetroot salad is another favourite of mine. Employ your food processor’s shredding attachment to do most of the work for you and make extra to have it for lunch throughout the week for a near instant hit of veggie goodness.
This rice vermicelli salad with an addictive sesame dressing is one of my early recipes but I still stand by it. It’s easy to make and really irresistible – super delicious way to up your veggie intake without you even noticing – it’s THAT good and if you like the sound of it but would like to make it a little heftier – pair it with this simple baked tofu or with sesame encrusted tofu for extra crunch.
It’s Brussels Sprouts season so why not make a salad out of them instead of the usual roasting. This Brussels sprouts Caesar salad is one of my winter favourites – it has bags of flavour and texture and I am yet to meet a person who does not like it, even if they were sceptical at first. If it sounds good in principle but a little too involved, pair it down by making my simplified version instead or swap out shaved Brussels sprouts for charred lettuce halves and make this charred lettuce Caesar instead.
If you’ve overdone it at Christmas (don’t beat yourself up, it’s too easy to do!) and are already craving all the greens you can get your hands on, try this green vegan salad instead. It’s green and super nutritious but far from boring. I promise!
So I hear that in some cultures eating 12 grapes for good luck on New Year’s Eve is a bit of tradition. This roasted grape and fennel salad will make it extra easy to comply. And even if it’s just an old fashioned superstition, better safe than sorry, right?
This platter of blistered green beans is a half way house between a side and a salad. It’s fresh and crunchy yet warm and full of texture and flavour surprises too. Easy to make and quite adaptable should you need that.
Naturally sweet carrots turn delicious once roasted and these Gochujang coated baby carrots are no exception. Easy to make yet memorable – winner for sure!
Finally, this delightful roasted squash on a bed of creamy white bean mash completes my Salads and Sides section. It’s easy to make, seasonal and a perfect party food alongside some simple bread, like some griddled no knead Turkish pide.
Stews & curries
If you are celebrating the eve of this year in a small, intimate company, you may want to honour the occasion with a big vat of comforting stew or a curry. I have plenty of these on my website, but these are the ones I am particularly fond of right now.
First up this meaty yet meatless vegan jackfruit tagine, which features Middle Eastern spices, chickpeas for plant protein and a bit of a bite and green tinned jackfruit for meatiness. It’s adorned with sparkling red pomegranate seeds and vibrant green coriander so it’s pretty to look at too. Served alongside rice or some soft naan bread, it is nourishing and comforting.
If you love Indian flavours, why not try my take on saag tofu, which is my take on an Indian classic – saag paneer. Like the original, this vegan saag paneer is a real crowd pleaser and my guests cannot get enough of it. Pair it with a bowl of plain rice or chewy vegan naan bread if you prefer.
Korma is another, popular Indian dish that will leave everyone happy and with pleasantly full bellies. My vegan korma recipe is a plant-based take on the original, it is also simplified for ease, but packed with flavour nevertheless. Serve it in a round (for New Year’s luck, does the shape of a dish count?) casserole dish for everyone to share, top with toasted flaked almond for a pleasant crunch and chopped coriander for lemony freshness, oh and a side of plain rice of soft vegan naan – shop-bought or homemade – is a must too.
Green Thai curry needs no introduction as it’s one of Thai food wonders, it’s so packed with flavour that it’s guaranteed to wow your guests. This is my vegan take on this classic Thai stew. If you are feeling ambitious, make your own curry paste, but if you are after an easier life, simply buy a good vegan green Thai curry paste – there is absolutely no shame in that. And if a red Thai curry is more to your liking, I also happen to have a recipe for it .
Sweets & desserts
No dinner party or a buffet-style gathering is complete without something sweet for the road or is that just me? Possibly, I do love my sweets. Anyway, if you feel inclined to make something sweet for your and your guests, here are some ideas for you.
This magnificent looking vegan chocolate mousse cake may seem complicated but it really isn’t. The bottom half is a fudgy vegan brownie and the top half is an airy chocolate mousse. It needs time to set but otherwise, it’s fairly straightforward if you have some skills in the dessert department. Or you can just make the mousse (RECIPE HERE) on its own if you prefer.
Tiramisu is such a classic and such a crowd pleaser that I could not miss out on the opportunity to veganise it, especially being a massive coffee drinker. This large scale vegan tiramisu is on the money and feeds a crowd, but if you are only having a couple of people over, you could make these vegan tiramisu jars instead (RECIPE HERE).
If you are a dab hand at pastry, this vegan hazelnut tart is where it’s at. It’s inspired by the flavours of Nutella and it’s easy to put together yet has heaps of wow factor. The pastry comes together in a food processor and the filling only requires a bit of gentle stirring and some patience while it sets. It has had rave reviews since I published this recipe last winter so I am sure you won’t be disappointed if chocolate is your weakness.
If you love cheesecake, why not try this no bake vegan cheesecake? It’s beautifully creamy and rich, flavoured with white chocolate so perfect when paired up with sour fruit or fruit compote – think berries including seasonal cranberries, rhubarb or maybe blood oranges? If you are celebrating in a small crowd, these mini cheesecakes are a great alternative instead. Alternatively make my vegan cheesecake bars and stud them with roasted cranberries instead of blueberries for a winter twist.
If you are a fan of nuts, these vegan baklava cigars may be just the ticket to a tasty New Year’s Eve. Layers of crispy phyllo pastry (shop-bought of course) reveal sweet, sticky and crunchy nut filling scented with citrus zest. The whole thing gets drenched in a sticky orange & cinnamon flavoured syrup and baked to perfection. A little goes a long way and they are a perfect way to end a meal, especially alongside a thimble of strong espresso. These are easier to make than they look, I even have a how-to-video on the page thanks to my lovely husband who helped me shoot it.
And if baklava themed dessert appeals to you, but you are after something with less added sugar, this date sweetened baklava is the answer. It’s an old recipe of mine so the photos don’t necessarily do it justice but the taste will win you over (provided you like dates, of course) and will help kickstart your New Year’s resolutions too.
I know Christmas is now over, but in case you have some stale gingerbreads banging around, you could whip a tray of these vegan gingerbread brownies in no time at all. They are fudgy in the middle, beautifully crispy on the outside, studded with chunks of sweet ginger and fortified with a glug of booze. They will please everyone and they require no advanced baking skills as long as you follow the recipe.
If you are a lover of white chocolate, these vegan blondies may be want you need. I studded them with frozen raspberries for a beautiful flavour contrast, but I plan to make them for tomorrow with roasted cranberries instead and with a good portion of orange zest and I am pretty sure that would work beautifully too.
This vegan chocolate torte with amaretto is festive yet requires no pastry skills at all. Making it, in fact, is child’s play (well, if children and food processors mixed well that is). It rich and decadent. When paired with plain vanilla ice-cream and some tangy fruit compote (think raspberry, cranberry, blood orange, rhubarb), it makes for a beautiful dessert that tastes like you had spent hours in the kitchen, I swear. And if you like the idea of Amaretto flavoured chocolate, but are after something smaller, try these vegan Amaretto cups instead, easy and delicious.
And finally, this is my latest creation that I cannot get enough of at the moment – in fact I am anxiously waiting until some of it defrosts on my counter so I could enjoy it alongside my afternoon (decaf) coffee. This vegan nougat studded with pistachios and hazelnuts is divine and while not completely beginner friendly, it’s not as hard to make as you would think provided you have a standing mixer and a kitchen thermometer. It sets beautifully overnight and freezes well too.
I hope you will enjoy this New Year’s Eve round-up and that it will make the last evening of 2023 more delicious. If you have any questions about any of these recipes, contact me on Instagram or Facebook or leave a comment under the recipe and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Lazy Cat & co.