Vasilopita –The Greek Lucky New Year’s Cake-

Greek Lucky New Years Cake Vasilopita.

New year’s eve is approaching and apart from the food and drink, the Vasilopita is the center of attention. Vasilopita pronounced vah-see-LO-pee-tah, is the Greek lucky new year’s cake that has a coin hidden in it and is cut at midnight. It is tradition for each family to have their own vasilopita and a piece is cut for each family member. If the coin is in your piece you supposedly have good luck for the rest of the year.

I remember all the kids were so excited when vasilopita time came, we all wanted to get the lucky coin. Once we had our piece we would break it up to see if we had the coin, if not we still got to enjoy the tasty cake. Nowadays, I enjoy it much more the next day with a cup of coffee.

Vasilopita is not only cut in families, businesses, clubs, associations and ministries all have vasilopites that they cut during the first few weeks of the year. The concept of the coin applies to all the employees and members and is attached to a larger gift such as a television.

How to Cut a Vasilopita

On New Year’s Eve when the clock strikes 12, after everyone wishes each other a new year it is time for cutting the vasilopita. Traditionally there is a religious aspect, so the host of the house is the one who cuts the cake. The first piece is for Christ, the second for the virgin Mary, the third for the house and then follows a piece for the hosts, following by the oldest relatives and moving to the youngest. If a family member is away on a trip they are also included. We also included our pets.

If you are celebrating New Years’ s with friends and you are cutting a vasilopita, they all should get pieces. Anyone who is present at the gathering should get a piece.

Vasilopita is not only cut in families, but also businesses, clubs, associations and ministries. All have vasilopites that they cut during the first few weeks of the year. The concept of the coin applies to all the employees and members and is attached to a larger gift such as a television.

The Vasilopita Coin

Typically a gold plated coin or a silver coin will be inserted in the Vasilopita, there are coins made and sold just for that reason. Whoever gets the coin, not only gets to enjoy good luck for the whole year, but they also get some sort of gift such as money and/or a charm.

Vasilopita Ingredients

Vasilopita is a moist cake made with ingredients everyone has at home: sugar, flour, eggs, milk and orange. There is another more bread-like version made with yeast, which is a bit, more time consuming, but in our family we make and like the cake version. Now obviously this is not a particularly healthy recipe, what with the butter, but you usually enjoy only one small piece and if you have leftovers you can enjoy it over the next few days with coffee or tea.

This vasilopita recipe is slightly lighter than the traditional Vasilopita, and is the one my mom has been making since I was a little girl. It is a slightly modified version of the one in the Hrysa Paradisi cookbook. So while it contains the basic components sugar-flour-butter, it uses orange juice instead milk, it contains less eggs than the typical vasilopita with only 3 eggs as opposed to 6 eggs in other recipes. I also have modified it a bit more by reducing the sugar by ¼ cup, and you could probably reduce it by another ¼ cup without affecting the texture too much.

Greek Lucky New Years Cake Vasilopita.

Baking Tips for Vasilopita

The baking can be a bit tricky, as this cake is a bit moist. Don’t open the oven before it is ready and test with a toothpick or knife all the way to the bottom of the cake to make sure it is done. You can take a small coin, wrap it in aluminum foil, dip it in flour and put it in the batter, or you may once the cake is baked, push the coin from the bottom of the cake while the cake is slightly warm.

Olive Oil Instead of Butter?

I mix it up and sometimes make the classic vasilopita, while other times I make an olive oil-lemon flavored vasilopita. See the post below:

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Vasilopita –The Greek Lucky New Year’s Cake

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
A traditional Greek Lucky New Year’s Cake with a lucky coin made with sugar, butter and flour.
Course: Dessert, holiday
Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean
Keyword: Vasilopita Greek New Year’s Cake
Servings: 16
Calories: 290kcal
Author: Elena Paravantes RDN
Print Recipe Pin Recipe


  • 4 cups (480 g) flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 ¾ cup (350 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (227 g) butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • Powdered Sugar


  • Preheat the oven at at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
  • Line the base of a 9-10 inch springform pan with wax paper and grease the sides.(You can use an even wider pan for a thinner cake-it will take less time to bake)
  • In a bowl mix the flour and baking powder and set aside.
  • In a bowl, cream the sugar and butter.
  • Add the orange juice, vanilla and orange zest- mix with a mixer about 2 minutes.
  • Whip the eggs in a small bowl and add to the butter mixture and mix for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix for 2 minutes at low speed-do not over mix. If you are adding the coin in the batter, add it now.
  • Pour batter (it will be thick) in the pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
  • Bake for about 45-60 minutes. Check with a thin sharp knife in the center, it should come out clean. If not bake for additional time.
  • Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  • Release the pan and turn cake upside-down on another plate. If putting the coin in now, wrap in foil and push it through the cake. Turn cake back on top and sprinkle with powdered sugar, you can also even out the top of the cake slicing with a long knife. You can make a design using paper cut outs or using almonds or raisins or you can ice the cake with a simple icing made with powdered sugar and water. Make sure you have a lucky charm for the person who will get the coin in their piece.
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Vasilopita Greek New Year's Cake

Photos by Elena Paravantes All Rights Reserved

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  • Reply Vicki K. December 30, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    Great Vasilopita recipe. I’m baking some for my daughter’s greek school class and loved how easy this was….and fewer calories! Glad I came across your site.

    Happy New Year!

  • Reply helen December 31, 2014 at 1:57 am

    sounds good, will be attempting this receipe this afternoon.
    XRONIA POLLA to all.
    Thank you from down under…

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    […] that being said, I was unable to get her exact recipe for this, but found one from Olive Tomato that has all the same ingredients as hers. We make ours as a […]

  • Reply Polito December 31, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    Xronia Polla! Great recipe!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD January 1, 2016 at 10:48 am


  • Reply Kristin Zissis January 1, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Your recipe calls for 2 Tablespoons of baking powder. Did you mean 2 tsp? Could there be a mistake in the recipe?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD January 1, 2016 at 10:48 am

      Hi Kristin, there is no mistake, it is 2 tablespoons.

  • Reply The Story of Vasilopita, A Greek New Year Tradition | Myth Kafe January 1, 2016 at 7:51 pm

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  • Reply Eleni January 2, 2016 at 12:36 am

    What’s the calories for this?

  • Reply paris hatiras December 28, 2016 at 12:39 am

    Xronia Polla from Perth Australia 🙂 xox

    • Reply Elena December 30, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      Thank You Paris. Happy New Year to you too!

  • Reply Anna Jones January 1, 2017 at 12:43 am

    Baked the Vasilopita last night, took it to church for morning tea, got the Thumbs Up. Aus way of saying beaut. Anna Jones, Millicent, South Australia

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  • Reply Alexandra Georgiou December 31, 2017 at 4:44 am

    Hi I’ve run out of plain flour..can I use
    self raising flour without putting in the baking powder? Do you think it will work?

    • Reply Elena January 4, 2018 at 8:10 am

      Hi Alexandra,
      It should work, but you would have to adjust the amounts. I have not tried it so I cannot suggest the amount you would need to replace it with.

  • Reply Helen Van Der Rede December 31, 2017 at 11:48 am

    After 2 failed yeast option Vasilopitas I have now resorted to your yeast-free version In the oven as I type!! Here is hoping it works. Xronia polla kai kali xronia!

    • Reply Elena January 4, 2018 at 8:11 am

      Kali Xronia Helen!

  • Reply Barbara Hadjiapostolou December 29, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    Looking forward to trying out this recipe. Wishing you all a wonderful 2019

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