Mouth-watering King Cake recipe for Mardi Gras!

Are you ready to taste the bold flavors of Mardi Gras in every bite? Indulge in a tasty and colorful treat that perfectly captures the spirit of the Carnival season: the Mardi Gras King Cake.

This traditional cake is a staple of New Orleans’ festive feasts, celebrated with friends and family during the weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday. Its sweet dough is braided into a ring shape, adorned with green, gold, and purple sprinkles, and filled with delightful surprises like candied citron peel or creamy cream cheese. Not only is it delicious, but this cake also hides a small trinket or plastic baby inside, making it a fun game for all.

But don’t worry if you can’t make it to N’awlins this year – we’ve got you covered! With our easy-to-follow recipe and simple substitutions, you can make your own Mardi Gras King Cake right in your own kitchen. So grab your apron and laissez les bons temps rouler!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Mardi Gras King Cake
Mardi Gras King Cake

Listen up, fellow bakers! I’m here to tell you why this Mardi Gras King Cake recipe is not just any ol’ cake recipe. First of all, let’s start with the fact that it’s a king cake recipe. If you know anything about Mardi Gras, then you know that there’s nothing quite like biting into a slice of this festive treat. But why settle for a store-bought cake when you can make one yourself?

Not only is making your own king cake an impressive feat, but the taste of this homemade version will blow any store-bought option out of the water. Can you imagine taking a bite into layers of sweet dough filled with cream cheese and candied citron peel? Or the satisfying crunch you’ll feel when biting into the colorful green, gold, and purple sprinkles on top? Trust me when I say—your taste buds will be thanking you.

And let’s not forget about how easy it is to make! With simple ingredients like all-purpose flour, warm water, active dry yeast, eggs, and more—this recipe is perfect for bakers of any skill level. So why not step up your baking game and impress your friends with your own traditional king cake cinnamon roll creation? This recipe is worth a try—you won’t regret it!

Ingredient List

 The colors of Mardi Gras: purple, green, and gold, perfectly captured in this delicious King Cake.
The colors of Mardi Gras: purple, green, and gold, perfectly captured in this delicious King Cake.

Ingredients for the Cake

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh lemon rind

Ingredients for the Filling

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed finely chopped candied citron peel
  • 1/2 cup packed finely chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature

Ingredients for Glaze and Toppings

  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Green, gold, and purple sanding sugars

The Recipe How-To

 The sweet aroma of cinnamon and butter wafting through the air.
The sweet aroma of cinnamon and butter wafting through the air.

Now that we’ve covered the ingredient list, here’s how to make the Mardi Gras King Cake.

Step 1: Activating Yeast

In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup warm water, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast. Stir until the yeast dissolves and let it sit for about 5 minutes until it is frothy.

Step 2: Making the Dough

In a large mixing bowl, mix together 3/4 cup whole milk, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 eggs, 3 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, and the activated yeast mixture from step 1. Gradually add in 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix everything well until a dough forms.

Step 3: Kneading the Dough

Once the dough has formed, place it onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes or until smooth.

Step 4: Rising the Dough

Place the kneaded dough in a greased bowl and cover with a cloth. Let it rise for about 1-2 hours in a warm place or until doubled in size.

Step 5: Making the Cream Cheese Filling

While the dough is rising, make the cream cheese filling by mixing together 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 1 egg yolk. Add in some chopped candied citron peel or fresh lemon rind if desired.

Step 6: Rolling Out the Dough

After the dough has risen, punch it down and roll it out to about a 30-inch rope. Place the rope of dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then press down on one end of dough to flatten it slightly into an oval shape.

Step 7: Adding Filling and Shaping

Spread the cream cheese filling over the flattened part of the dough, leaving about an inch border around it. Fold over one side of the dough to enclose the filling, then fold over other side and pinch edges together to seal. Shape into a ring.

Step 8: Second Rise

Cover cake lightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Step 9: Baking & Decorating

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Bake king cake in center of oven until golden brown for approximately 25-30 minutes. Allow cake to cool then decorate with confectioners’ sugar glaze (made by mixing confectioners’ sugar with milk) in green, gold, and purple – Mardi Gras colors!

The flavors will remind you of traditional King Cake but with an added twist of cream cheese that just makes things more delicious! Serve during Mardi Gras festivities or whenever you want to indulge in this sweet treat

Substitutions and Variations

 Watch as the yeast dough rises to create a fluffy and tender cake.
Watch as the yeast dough rises to create a fluffy and tender cake.

Variety is the spice of life, they say, and this king cake recipe is no exception. There are several ingredients that you can substitute or vary to make your king cake unique.

Firstly, if you don’t have candied citron peel, don’t fret; you can swap it out for other candied fruit, such as orange peel or dried cherries. And if you’re not a fan of candied fruit altogether, feel free to leave it out and add more fresh lemon rind for an extra zesty kick.

For those with dietary restrictions, there are plenty of dairy-free margarine alternatives that work just as well in place of the unsalted butter. If you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, try using coconut oil or soy margarine instead.

To give your king cake a different flavor twist, switch up the filling! Cream cheese is the traditional choice, but you can experiment with other spreads such as Nutella or a cinnamon roll filling. And if you want to add some Mardis Gras flair to your king cake design, mix green and gold food coloring to your confectioners’ sugar glaze.

The key to making these substitutions work is keeping the ratios consistent with the original recipe. Don’t replace too many ingredients all at once or alter the measurements too much, otherwise it could affect the texture and moistness of the cake.

Overall, don’t be afraid to get creative and try new combinations – it might just become your go-to recipe for Mardi Gras celebrations.

Serving and Pairing

 Mix and match the colorful sprinkles to create your own unique design.
Mix and match the colorful sprinkles to create your own unique design.

Alright, listen up folks, because now we’re talking about serving and pairing this Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe. Are you ready? Good. Because this cake deserves a proper presentation.

First things first, let’s talk toppings. You can dust the cake with some confectioners’ sugar to give it a classic and elegant look. Or, you can sprinkle some green, gold, and purple sugar on top to honor Mardi Gras traditions.

Now, let’s talk about pairing. This king cake goes incredibly well with a cup of hot coffee or tea. The warm and cozy taste of your favorite beverage will perfectly complement the flavors of candied citron peel and fresh lemon rind in this cake.

However, if you are feeling daring and want to try something new, I recommend pairing this cake with a glass of cold milk or even a cocktail! The sweetness of the cake paired with the sharpness of a well-made cocktail will create an amazing flavor combination that is sure to please.

Lastly, there is the option of enjoying this cake all by itself (especially if you can’t resist indulging). Trust me when I say, it is just as satisfying all alone.

So there you have it folks! Whether you prefer to play it safe by sticking to classic pairings or want to take risks with unique combinations, this Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe will not disappoint. Enjoy!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A slice of King Cake, a cup of coffee, and a good conversation with friends - the ultimate Mardi Gras experience.
A slice of King Cake, a cup of coffee, and a good conversation with friends – the ultimate Mardi Gras experience.

Ah, the age-old question: how to keep your Mardi Gras King Cake fresh and ready-to-eat? Well, fellow bakers, I have some tips that will make sure your king cake stays as flamboyant and bold as the first time you made it.

Firstly, let’s cover the make-ahead part. You can totally prepare the dough a day or two before celebrating Mardi Gras. Just follow the recipe instructions on how to prepare the dough and shape it into a King Cake. Instead of baking it immediately, cover the unbaked dough in cling wrap and tuck it away in your refrigerator. The next day, remove the covered cake from the refrigerator about an hour before you plan to bake it to allow enough time for it to come up to room temperature.

Now let’s talk storage. If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, you should wrap them in foil or plastic wrap and store at room temperature or in the fridge for up to 2 days without losing its flavor. Just remember not to store it in a humid area or directly in sunlight because exposure to moisture is not going to be pretty or tasty.

And finally, onto reheating! I would recommend warming slices of King Cake in the microwave for about 10 – 15 seconds for that fabulous melt-in-your-mouth sensation, but if you’re looking for something a little extra crispy or crunchy then try heating up your slices using an oven toaster with a low broil setting for just a few seconds—it’ll be worth getting out of bed early on a Sunday morning!

So there you have it – my secrets to keeping your Mardi Gras King Cake moist, delicious and fresh. Now go forth and show off those baking skills with pride at your next parade party!

Tips for Perfect Results

“Laissez les bons temps rouler” – Let the good times roll with this festive cake!

As a baker, I know that there are certain tips and tricks that can make a recipe turn out perfectly. Here are some tips that will help you create the perfect Mardi Gras King Cake:

1. Use fresh ingredients – Make sure your yeast is fresh and your flour is not expired. Fresh ingredients will ensure that your cake turns out delicious.

2. Let the dough rest – After mixing the dough, let it rest for at least 30 minutes before kneading it. This will make it easier to work with and give the yeast time to activate.

3. Don’t overwork the dough – Once you start kneading the dough, be careful not to overwork it. Overworking the dough can result in a tough cake.

4. Add the filling properly – If you’re using a cream cheese filling or candied citron peel, make sure to add it evenly to the dough. Don’t overload one area of the cake or leave an area without filling.

5. Use a good quality butter – For the best flavor, use unsalted butter instead of margarine. It will make all the difference in how your cake tastes.

6. Let it rise twice – The first rise is important for activating the yeast, while the second rise gives the cake its fluffy texture. Make sure to let your cake rise twice for ultimate fluffiness.

7. Glaze it when hot – To get a shiny glaze on your cake, brush it with confectioners’ sugar glaze when it’s hot out of the oven.

8. Get creative with decorations – Finally, don’t be afraid to get creative with decorating! Use green, gold and purple icing to make traditional Mardi Gras colors or go all out with sprinkles and candy dots for an extra festive touch!

By following these tips, your Mardi Gras King Cake will be perfect every time!


Now, let’s move onto some commonly asked questions about this Mardi Gras King Cake recipe. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or a beginner looking to try something new, these FAQs will help ensure that your cake turns out perfectly every time. So, let’s dive into the questions that may have been on your mind since the beginning of this recipe.

What is the traditional king cake of Mardi Gras?

This baked delight that goes by the name of “king cake” has a rich history rooted in the story of the three wise men who presented gifts to the infant Jesus. It’s a sweet pastry distinguished by the flavors of coffee cake and cinnamon roll, often adorned with yellow, green, and purple icing, the signature hues of Mardi Gras. Adding to its decadence are delicious fruit fillings and creamy cheeses.

What flavor is a traditional king cake?

King cakes are a popular pastry with a variety of flavors to suit different tastes. The traditional king cake is a cinnamon-flavored dough with a sugary topping in green, gold, and purple. However, other flavors have gained popularity over time, with cream-cheese and Praline being two of the most sought-after.

What kind of dough is king cake made of?

A Mardi Gras King Cake is a festive dessert made with braided sweet roll dough, shaped into a circle, and decorated with icing and colorful sugars in shades of purple, green, and gold. It is similar to a regal-looking cinnamon roll, perfect for celebratory occasions.

What does it mean when you get the baby in a Mardi Gras king cake?

Have you ever heard of the tradition of the king cake at Mardi Gras celebrations? It’s an exciting moment when someone finds the hidden baby inside the cake. It’s not just a fun game but also carries a meaningful message. According to tradition, discovering the baby inside means good fortune and prosperity, and the person who finds it is crowned “king” or “queen” of the night.

Bottom Line

And there you have it, my dear baking enthusiasts! An easy-to-follow recipe for a traditional Mardi Gras King Cake that promises to be the life of the party, no matter what the occasion. The combination of cinnamon, candied citron peel, and cream cheese filling makes this cake uniquely flavorful and practically irresistible.

As with most things in life, patience is key when it comes to making this cake. Take your time measuring out the ingredients, give your dough ample time to rise, and most importantly, have fun with it! We all know that baking is equal parts art, science and love, so make this recipe your own by experimenting with different fillings or decorating techniques.

In the end, what truly sets this cake apart is its ability to bring people together around a shared love of good food and good company. So I hope that this recipe serves as a reminder that sometimes the best things in life are the ones we make from scratch – with our own two hands – and share with those we care about.

Happy baking, y’all!

Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe

The person who gets the bean in their portion of this wonderful sweet bread becomes ruler of the day (or week) at Mardi Gras time in New Orleans. Even though this is a traditional holiday bread, it's wonderful ANY time of year. The mixing and heavy kneading may be done in the bread machine, if desired. From an old Family Circle cookbook.
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Fusion
Keyword: < 4 Hours, Breads, Brunch, Inexpensive, Kid-Friendly, Sweet, Yeast
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Calories: 401.1kcal


  • 1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine (if using margarine, NOT spread or tub product)
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange rind
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 dried beans
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar (powdered)
  • sliced candied citron peel, for garnish
  • candy sprinkles, for garnish


  • Combine butter or margarine, evaporated milk, granulated sugar, and salt in a small saucepan.
  • Heat slowly until butter is melted; cool to lukewarm.
  • Beat four of the eggs in a large bowl with a wire whip; stir in milk mixture.
  • Sprinkle yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar into warm water in a cup.
  • Stir until yeast dissolves; allow to stand until mixture bubbles (approximately ten minutes).
  • Add to egg mixture, blending well.
  • Add lemon and orange rind.
  • Mix flour into egg mixture, one cup at a time to make a stiff dough.
  • Turn out onto a lightly floured pastry cloth or board; knead until smooth and elastic (about ten minutes), adding only enough extra flour to keep the dough from sticking.
  • Place in a large greased bowl; turn dough to coat all over with shortening.
  • Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk.
  • Punch down; knead a few times and divide in half.
  • Using the palms of your hands, roll half into a 20" rope; lift ends and twist loosely one or two times.
  • Place on a large greased cookie sheet in a half circle.
  • Repeat with the other half of the dough, pinching the ends of the ropes together to form a large ring about 12 inches in diameter.
  • Lift the ring slightly at one side and push the bean about an inch into the dough from the bottom.
  • Cover and let rise again until double.
  • While the dough rises, beat remaining egg in a small bowl and brush over dough.
  • Preheat the oven to 375F during the second rising.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until a golden brown and the bread gives a hollow sound when tapped.
  • Slide carefully from the baking sheet to a wire rack; cool thoroughly.
  • Before serving, mix the powdered sugar slowly with water until smooth and of drizzling consistency (you should only need a couple of tablespoonsful of water).
  • Drizzle over the ring and decorate with candied citron and sprinkles.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 129g | Calories: 401.1kcal | Carbohydrates: 64.2g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 11.4g | Saturated Fat: 6.2g | Cholesterol: 112.5mg | Sodium: 488.1mg | Fiber: 1.9g | Sugar: 18.5g

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