Osechi Ryori is the traditional food enjoyed on New Year’s day in Japan. They come in an assortment of colorful dishes packed together in special boxes called jubako, which resemble bento boxes. Every dish of these traditional foods has a special meaning in welcoming the New Year.
The Japanese celebrate the New Year Day with traditional New Year foods called Osechi Ryori (おせち料理). It is considered the most important meal of the year as each dish serves as well-wishes for the coming year.
What is Osechi Ryori?
Similar to bento boxes, Osechi Ryori is usually packed in 2-3 layers of lacquer boxes (ojubako) and there are many dishes in each layer. The entire family would share one ojubako to enjoy on new year’s day. The multi-tiered boxes symbolize the hope that happiness & wealth come continuously, like the layers of lacquerware.
To welcome the New Year with you, I’ve included a selection of popular Osechi Ryori dishes below. Each recipe also comes with a video that guides you through the cooking process. I hope you enjoy the spread!
And don’t miss our popular side dishes & desserts to serve with Osechi.
22 Popular Osechi Ryori Dishes
- Sweet Rolled Omelette (Datemaki) 伊達巻
- Candied Chestnut and Sweet Potatoes (Kuri Kinton) 栗きんとん
- Candied Sardines (Tazukuri) 田作り
- Sweet Black Soybeans (Kuromame) 黒豆
- Herring Roe (Kazunoko) 数の子
- Daikon & Carrot Salad (Namasu) 紅白なます
- Pickled Chrysanthemum Turnip (Kikka Kabu) 菊花かぶ
- Pickled Lotus Root (Su Renkon) 酢れんこん
- Pounded Burdock Root with Sesame Sauce (Tataki Gobo) たたきごぼう
- Simmered Chicken and Vegetables (Chikuzenni) 筑前煮
- Instant Pot Nishime 煮しめ
- Simmered Shrimp (Ebi no Umani) えびのうま煮
- Salmon Kombu Roll (Kobumaki) 鮭の昆布巻き
- Yellowtail Teriyaki (Buri no Teriyaki) ぶりの照り焼き
- Butter Soy Sauce Scallops ホタテのバター醤油焼き
- Decorative Fish Cakes (Kamaboko) かまぼこ飾り切り
- Kamaboko Fish Cake with Salmon Roe 蒲鉾いくらのせ
- Kanto-style Ozoni (New Year’s Soup) 関東風お雑煮
- Kansai-style Ozoni (New Year’s Soup) 関西風お雑煮
- Fresh Homemade Mochi お餅の作り方
- How to Eat Mochi (Japanese Rice Cakes) お餅各種
- Sweet Red Bean Paste (Anko) 餡子
Typically served in a lacquered jubako (special square boxes similar to lunch boxes), Datemaki is a sweet rolled omelette that makes a very popular Japanese New Year’s food. It is by far my favorite dish among the new year foods. And I hope you give this delicate-looking omelette a try too!
Kurikinton literary means “chestnut gold mash”, which symbolizes economic fortune and wealth. It’s important for New Year meal to bring good luck and prosperity. If you make this dish, please use Japanese Sweet Potatoes for its bright yellow color. Not only they are sweeter than regular sweet potatoes, yellow is also an auspicious color for the new year.
3. Tazukuri (Candied Sardines) 田作り
Made of roasted baby sardines & coated in a sweet soy sauce glaze, Tazukuri is another popular dish for Osechi Ryori. We eat it on New Year’s day as it symbolizes a bountiful harvest. Tazukuri (田作り) literally translates to “making (作り) rice paddy (田)” as sardines were once used as fertilizers for rice fields.
Kuromame literally means “black bean (黒豆)” in Japanese, and it is often served on New Year’s Day as a part of Osechi Ryori. The shiny black beans make a beautiful contrast to the red lacquer jubako container, which holds all different kinds of colorful traditional meals. Eating kuromame also is considered good for your health for the new year. If you want to cut down on cooking time, you can use your pressure cooker and follow this Instant Pot Kuromame recipe.
5. Kazunoko (Herring Roe) 数の子
We enjoy this golden-colored Kazunoko on New Year’s day as it symbolizes a prosperous family and many offsprings. This prized delicacy has a unique crunchy texture and it’s one of the most popular dishes among Osechi Ryori.
6. Namasu (Daikon & Carrot Salad) 紅白なます
Namasu is a daikon and carrot salad that is lightly pickled in sweetened vinegar. This dish was introduced to Japan from China around the 700s (Nara period) and it is especially enjoyed during the New Year in Japan. Since red and white are considered celebratory colors in Japan, you will see these colors being used in many traditional ceremonies. This salad is easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time.
7. Pickled Chrysanthemum Turnip 菊花かぶ
Simple decorative touches on a vegetable can transform a dish from ordinary to special. These Pickled Chrysanthemum Turnips will bring your Osechi Ryori game to the next level. And you only need some basic cutting techniques!
8. Pickled Lotus Root (Su Renkon) 酢れんこん
Marinated in a sweet vinegared sauce, Pickled Lotus Root called Su Renkon (酢れんこん) is one of the popular Osechi Ryori, the Japanese New Year Food.
Dressed in a delicious sesame sauce, this Pounded Burdock Root (Tataki Gobo) is a popular dish that appeared in Osechi, Japanese New Year Food, which is said to bring good luck.
Chikuzenni is a classic Japanese dish often served on New Year’s Day, but my mom makes it regularly because it was my family’s favorite Nimono (Japanese simmered dish). This is also a popular side dish for bento because it can be made in advance and still tastes great at room temperature. For New Year’s dish, the vegetables and konnyaku are cut into fancy shapes to celebrate the occasion.
11. Instant Pot Nishime 煮しめ
Simmered in a savory dashi-based sauce, Nishime is a classic one-pot vegetable stew to serve in Osechi Ryori for the Japanese New Year’s celebration. If you have a pressure cooker, follow my Instant Pot Nishime recipe to speed up the cooking process.
12. Simmered Shrimp (Ebi no Umani) えびのうま煮
Simmered shrimp cooked in dashi soy sauce and soaked overnight, this beautiful dish adds bright color and delicious flavor to your Osechi Ryori.
13. Salmon Kombu Roll 鮭の昆布巻き
Flavorful salmon rolled up in kombu and tied with kanpyo (gourd strips), Salmon Kombu Roll is a traditional Japanese dish for the New Year. Representing the secrets of perennial youth and long life, you may be tempted to devour more than one of these exquisite appetizers.
14. Yellowtail Teriyaki ぶりの照り焼き
Yellowtail Teriyaki, or Buri no Teriyaki, is a classic fish dish in Japan. Simple and elegant with the perfect glaze of teriyaki sauce, this dish is a perfect main dish to enjoy on New Year’s Day.
15. Butter Soy Sauce Scallops ホタテのバター醤油焼き
Pan-fried to perfection and seasoned with just soy sauce and butter, these Butter Soy Sauce Scallops are unbeatable in my book. Each morsel is so tender, flavorful, and so addicting! This is a crowd-pleaser appetizer you can make in no time. Perfect for any Japanese-inspired party!
16. 7 Beautiful Designs to Cut Japanese Fish Cake (Kamaboko) かまぼこの飾り切り
Two Japanese fish cakes (Kamaboko), seven beautiful designs to cut Japanese fish cake! Make ordinary fish cake into decorative designs on this Oshogatu (Japanese New Year)!
17. Kamaboko Fish Cake with Salmon Roe 蒲鉾いくらのせ
With its elegant presentation, Kamaboko Fish Cake with Salmon Roe makes an impressive addition to your Osechi Ryori. You’d be surprised how easy it is to make the recipe. Simply make small slits across the Kamaboko (fish cake), stuff in shiso leaf, and top with golden salmon roe.
18. Kanto-style Ozoni (New Year’s Soup) 関東風お雑煮
Ozoni (Japanese New Year Mochi Soup) is a clear dashi-based mochi soup with chicken and seasonal vegetables, which is enjoyed in the Kanto region (Eastern Japan). This comforting winter soup usually includes toasted mochi, chicken, and Japanese mustard spinach and is served with varieties of Osechi Ryori.
19. Kansai-style Ozoni (New Year’s Soup) 関西風お雑煮
This Kansai-style Ozoni is a miso-based soup enjoyed in the morning on New Year’s Day. The soup includes mochi (rice cake), and the preparation varies by region and household. My recipe is an adaptation from my mom’s recipe where I include leafy green vegetables and yuzu peel.
20. Homemade Fresh Mochi スタンドミキサーで作る餅の作り方
Make fresh homemade mochi using a stand mixer! Stuff the mochi with your favorite filling, dip in a savory or sweet coating, or enjoy it in Japanese New Year Soup and red bean soup.
21. Mochi (Japanese Rice Cakes) お餅各種
From sweet to savory, there are various types of mochi (Japanese rice cake) we enjoy in Japan. For savory dishes, mochi is used as a topping for Ozoni, hot udon noodle soup, or inside Okonomiyaki. For sweet dishes, you will find Mochi Ice Cream, Zenzai (Oshiruko), Strawberry Daifuku, and so on. So for Japanese New Year, you have the perfect excuse to enjoy them all.
22. Sweet Red Bean Paste (Anko) 餡子
Red bean paste (or Anko in Japanese) is used as a filling in many delicious Japanese sweets and desserts. This Pressure Cooker Anko recipe is an easy way to prepare the sweet bean paste without much hassle. Once it’s cooked, you are set to make all sorts of mochi or Dorayaki and Taiyaki. Don’t have a pressure cooker? Here’s the traditional stovetop method.
More Helpful Guides for Japanese New Year
- Japanese New Year (History, Custom & Traditions)
- A 5-Day Osechi Cooking Timeline
- How to Pack Osechi Ryori in 3-Tier Boxes
- Popular Side Dishes & Desserts to Serve with Osechi Ryori
Editor’s Note: Original post was published on Dec 27, 2015. The content has been updated in December 2019.