Discover China's Most Popular Winter Food

China's winter food is a bit different from that of the other seasons, and surprisingly diverse, with dishes changing in cooking methods and flavors. Many Chinese people in winter are particularly fond of stew or spicy flavor foods, so as to stay warm.

Do your interests lie in Chinese cuisine? Feast yourself on the most popular winter foods and dishes in China!

1. Hot pot (火锅, huǒ guō)

Winter is just the season for hot pot! Most famous in Sichuan and Chongqing, hot pot now is must-have food in winter for all people in the country. Family members and friends sit around a dining table with a simmering metal pot at the center. While the hot pot is kept simmering, you can cook all kinds of ingredients, including sliced meat, beef, fresh vegetables, mushrooms and seafood. Enjoy the food with a dipping sauce. If you like spicy flavor, add much hot chili pepper and hua jiao or Prickly Ash like what Sichuan people do.

If Sichuan hot pot is not your type, there are other types of hot pot In China, such as old Beijing copper-pot Mongolian hot pot, Chaoshan beef hot pot, Yunnan mushroom hot pot, Guangdong porridge hot pot… 

>> You may be interested in top 10 most popular Chinese hot pot

Chinese Winter Food

2. Jiao zi or dumpling (饺子, jiǎo zi)

China’s most famous dish to foreigners – dumpling – takes the form of pieces of dough wrapped around a filling, and is a traditional food served at many of Chinese important winter festivals, like the Winter Solstice and Spring Festival (Chinese New Year Festival). It is simply happy to make dumplings with family and friends. The fillings are varied from meat, beef, egg, to all kinds of vegetables, like Chinese cabbage, celery, and Chinese chives. And the cooking method of dumpling includes boiling, steaming, simmering, frying and baking. Dumpling is without doubt one of the most popular Chinese winter foods.

>> Learn the step-by-step guide to make dumpling

Healthy food in winter

3. Chinese Nourishing stew (滋补炖汤, zībǔ dùn tāng)

The Chinese regimen focuses a lot on a healthy diet. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that winter is the best time to adopt a healthy diet for nutritional supplement and speeding up the metabolism. Stew based on nourished ingredients and some medicine herbs can help protect us from the cold and dryness, stay warm and build a healthy body in winter. The most recommended food materials for winter stew include radish, which is cheap yet regarded as “the little ginseng”, lotus seed with the effect of invigorating the spleen and the stomach, Chinese yam that can nourish Yin and replenish Qi, and matrimony vine that helps to lower blood sugar, anti-fatty liver and atherosclerosis.

Famous Chinese winter stew include radish & briskets soup, black soy bean & catfish soup, Braised Mutton with wolfberry, Lotus Root and Rib soup, etc. 

Winter food to stay warm

4. Tangyuan, Sweet soup balls or sweet dumplings (汤圆, tāng yuán)

It is said that Tangyuan originated in Mingzhou (now Ningbo City) during the Song Dynasty, as a novelty food, and today has become a most popular winter food in China.

Traditional food for Chinese Lantern Festival, Tangyuan denotes family union, harmony and happiness. It is made of glutinous rice flour as the wrapper, and with rose petals, pumpkin, sesame, bean paste, jujube paste or sugar as the filling, tastes sweet and tender.

Tangyuan itself tastes very sweet, so it is not suggested to add sugar to the soup, to avoid much calorie intake. If there is no filling inside tangyuan, the soup can be replaced with sugar osmanthus, sweet wine, scented tea or longan red date soup or longan ginger soup. Longan ginger soup can add nutrition and remove cold. Salty tangyuan can be boiled with some vegetables to increase the fiber.

Tangyuan is also a perfect match for sweet rice wine with egg.

Chinese Festival food

5. New Year Rice Cake (年糕, nián-gāo)

Another Spring Festival food, this traditional winter snack is varied in different places, and mostly made of sticky rice or glutinous rice, and combines with sugar, ham, sesame, peanuts, red jujube, etc. Rice cake can be cooked by steaming, frying or baking.

The red, yellow and white rice cake symbolizes gold and silver. The rice cake is also called "year year cake", which is a homonym for "grow up every year", meaning children's height is increasing year by year.

The famous Chinese New Year rice cake include Ningbo Cicheng Rice Cake, Geyang Rice Cake, Fuzhou rice cake, Suzhou rice cake and Yunnan Mengbai rice cake.

However, the calories of rice cakes are several times higher than those of rice. Therefore people are not suggested to eat much.

Popupar Chinese winter food

6. Chinese barbeque (烧烤, shāo kǎo)

Barbeque is a winter favorite in China. All kinds of food can be materials and ingredients for barbeque here. There are many ways of barbeque in China, including clay barbeque, skewer barbeque, pickled barbeque, open oven barbeque, dark oven barbeque, iron pot barbeque, bamboo barbeque and bonfire barbeque, with different tools, from baking tray, iron plate, iron mesh, strip furnace rack to bamboo. Most Chinese barbeque uses charcoal fire.The most popular foods for Chinese barbeque include marinated chicken wings, chicken legs, pork chop, chicken chop, beef chop, lamb kebabs, bone and bone (chicken and cartilage), pork chops (wrapped in tin foil), steak (wrapped in tin foil), corn, saury, large shellfish (such as mussels, ribbons), soaked dried squid, crispy sausage, black pepper sausage, corn sausage, vegetarian chicken, beef meatballs, cuttlefish balls (easily scorched), thin potato chips, sweet potato chips, shrimp, eggplant, soaked mushroom and green pepper.

What to eat in winter

7. Sweet rice wine with egg (甜酒蛋, tián jiǔ dàn)

Sweet rice wine with egg is a traditional snack in Hunan, and a popular winter food. First make sweet rice wine with glutinous rice, then add eggs, white sugar, osmanthus sugar, longan and matrimony vine to boil. It is beautiful in color, tastes mellow and tender. It is rich in high-protein and helps to keep warm in winter.

popular Chinese winter food - sweet rice wine with egg

8. Baked sweet potato (烤红薯, kǎo fān shǔ)

In winter, the baked sweet potato is one of Chinese people's favorite foods. Baked sweet potato vendors can often be found in the streets in many small Chinese cities and towns, especial in the northeast China. In rural areas of China, people bake sweet potatoes on the fire directly. People can also bake sweet potato at home. Clean the dirt on the sweet potato, steam it with water, and later put it into the oven. It tastes sweet and delicious. 

popular winter snack in China - baked sweet potatos

Recommended China winter tours:

  • 4-day Harbin & China Snow Town Tour
  • 7 Days Beijing Harbin Winter Tour
  • 9-day Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La Tour

  • Recommended China food tours:

  • 10-day Taste of China Top Cuisines
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