The countdown to Mardi Gras has begun and we’re only a couple days away from the special day. Also known as Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras is the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the start of Lent. Traditionally, Mardi Gras is all about enjoying rich and fatty foods (hence, Fat Tuesday) right before the fasting period of Lent. Although it’s originally meant to be a single day, there are many places that celebrate a whole period of Mardi Gras. There are some places that celebrate Mardi Gras for several days before the celebratory Tuesday.
This year, Mardi Gras takes place on February 28th, and what better way to honor the holiday than to make yourself a big ol’ King Cake? The King Cake is the official food of Mardi Gras, and has been for the past 300 years. Purple represents justice, green is for faith, and gold represents power. King Cakes come in many different variations, but they were originally made with French-type dough, with sugar on top and a bean inside. There’s no wrong way to enjoy a King Cake, though. You’ve got a few days left before Mardi Gras, which leaves you with plenty of time to experiment until you’ve found the King Cake that perfectly suits your taste.
Here are 12 King Cake recipes, just in time for Mardi Gras.
1. Mardi Gras King Cake
Let’s start with a classic Mardi Gras King Cake. You can’t go wrong with this foolproof recipe, which uses Quick Rise yeast to make the whole baking process move a little bit faster. If you’d like, you can be extra festive and insert a little baby in the middle of the cake, which is meant to represent the baby Jesus.
2. King Cake Bubble Up
Think cinnamon rolls meet the traditional King Cake. The recipe calls for regular refrigerated Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, and you can even make this dream beforehand and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to dig in.
3. Pecan Praline King Cake Monkey Bread
Here’s a spin on the classic King Cake that will make your party guests drool in anticipation. You’ve got all the classic colors that come with a King Cake, only this time it’s all put on top of a warm, cinnamony, buttery monkey bread.
4. King Cake Cheesecake
Anything cheesecake-related is worth your time and effort. This cheesecake is made from scratch and it’s set in a shortbread crust. Make sure you take out your cream cheese from the fridge so it’s fully softened before you make the filling.
5. King Cake Cheese Ball
Nobody ever said King Cake dishes had to be cakes. Cream cheese is the center of this decadent side dish, and it couldn’t be easier to make. All you have to do is put some purple, green, and gold sprinkles on top of the cheese to complete it. It goes perfectly with vanilla wafers or graham crackers.
6. King Cake Cupcakes
If you’re entertaining for Mardi Gras, these individual King Cake cupcakes are the perfect thing to hand out to your guests. Easy to make and quick to bake, they’re a Mardi Gras staple.
7. King Cake Danishes
All it takes is 5 ingredients to make these colorful danishes. Even the most rookie of chefs could create these wonders. The recipe will make you 16 danishes, so if you have a feeling you’ll need more than that, double up.
8. King Cake Dip
If you combined all the best ingredients from pretty much any King Cake recipe and mixed them together, you’d have a King Cake dip on your hands. Cinnamon, pecans, milk, caramel sauce — you name it, it’s in there. The colorful pretzels add the festive element.
9. King Cake Donuts
A light glaze tops off these King Cake donuts, along with purple, gold, and green sprinkles. If you don’t own a donut pan already, now’s the time to invest.
10. King Cake Cocktail
Mardi Gras wouldn’t be complete without a solid cocktail. It’s made with cake vodka, but if you can’t find that at the liquor store, just grab some vanilla vodka and add 2 drops of almond extract. The only other ingredients are Grand Marnier, Bailey’s Irish Cream, cinnamon, and sanding sugar.
11. King Cake Oreo Truffles
You don’t even need to bake these truffles. They’re made with Golden Oreos, cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, and white almond bark. We. Are. Drooling.
12. Crawfish King Cake Recipe
The adventurous foodie types will line up to try this King Cake variation, which is made with Louisiana crawfish tails, onion, garlic, and cream cheese. The combination of flavors will blow your mind, and it’s all encompassed in buttery crescent roll dough.