Homemade Nian Gao Recipe

Nian Gau Recipe

Low sugar steamed Glutenous Rice flour Cake “ Nian gao”

This traditional Nian Gao (Chinese cake) is a 'must have' during Chinese New Year in every Chinese family.  Nian means 'year', "gao" means top, high achievement, promotion in whatever you do throughout the year.  Chinese people believe that eating nian gao during New Year will attract lots of money coming into their business,  their children will grow healthy and wiser, and the women will become wealthier.

This homemade Nian gao contains less sugar.  It can last for many months if store in the refrigerator.  It can be served plain or coated with bater and pan fry, or sandwich 2 pieces of nian gao with yam ( taro ), sweet potatoes or beet root , coat with batter and deep fry.  It is best to eat while still warm.  Not only during Chinese New Year it has been our family's favourite breackfast and afternoon teatime through out the year.


Glutenous Rice Flour 500 gm
Cold water 500 ml
White sugar 500g ( divide into 2 parts, 300 gm and 200 gm)
 4 chinese rice bowl 12 cm wide


1 Put 300 gm of white sugar into a small pot, with small flame , cook till sugar melt and turn golden colour, stirring all the time using a wooden spoon

2 Off fire, pour in slowly, bit by bit cold water stiring with wooden spoon till syrup is formed without any lump sugar left.  If sugar lumps is seen, cook over small flame till sugar is fully dissolved.  Place the pot of syrup in a basin of cold water to cool down the syrup.

3  In a mixing bowl, put in glutenous rice flour and the remaining 200 gm of white sugar.  Pour in the cooled syrup and using a whisk, stir the mixture slowly till smooth.  Sieve the mixture.

4 Grease the 4 chinese rice bowl to prevent the sticky nian gao from sticking to the bowl and for ease of removing from the bowl later.

5 Pour in the sieved nian gao mixture to three quarter full.  Cover the bowl with aluminum foil to prevent water from dripping onto the mixture while steaming.  Water droplet will make the surface of nian gao rough, and you will not get a smooth appearance of nian gao.

6 Prepare the steamer with enough water that can boil for fourty five minutes.

7 Place the prepared bowls of mixture in the steamer tray, tightly cover and steam for fourty-five minutes with high flame.

8  When the nian gao is cooked, either remove from the steam or leave to cool in the steamer till the next day.  Put in the refrigerator to harden for easy cutting.

Note:  Bowls for steaming nian gao can be of any size.

If you like to have the Fried Nian Gao recipe, click here.

Fried Nian Kau Recipe

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