Pre-lenten balls and parties were enjoyed by the French of New Orleans as early as the 1700s. Banned by the Spanish in the late 1700s, the celebrations weren't reinstated until 1823, 20 years after the United States assumed ownership. By 1827, the masked balls became legal and the first documented parade took place in the streets.
Mardi Gras, which means "Fat Tuesday," always takes place on the day before Ash Wednesday.
Carnival season runs from January 6 -- Twelfth Night -- to Mardi Gras Day.
Whether you're planning a Mardi Gras celebration or just want to sample some of the nation's most famous food traditions, you're likely to find something you'll make again and again. Use the resources on the right or recipe pages below to begin your plans, and enjoy the celebration!
Louisiana and Mardi Gras Recipes and Party Ideas
Mardi Gras: Creole Style
All about Fat Tuesday and how it's celebrated in New Orleans, including recipe suggestions.
Mardi Gras: Cajun Style
About the Cajun style Mardi Gras with some classic recipes.
Bread Pudding With Bourbon Sauce
A delicious bread pudding recipe from Chef Nick, perfect for a Mardi Gras meal or celebration.
Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo
I put a few of the shrimp in the gumbo early along with the sausage to give it more of the shrimp flavor. If you're concerned about fat content, prepare the gumbo a little in advance and skim excess fat off the cooled soup.
Jambalaya is one of the South's most varied dishes. This version is made with shrimp and ham, but feel free to use sliced sausage or cooked cubed chicken in place of the ham.
Slow Cooker Creole Chicken With Sausage
Spicy andouille sausage teams up with chicken thighs in a delicious Creole sauce in this easy and tasty chicken dish.
Serve this with hot cooked rice and a tossed salad.
Garlic Cheese Grits
This is a family favorite recipe for baked cheese grits.
Shrimp are cooked in a flavorful Creole sauce.
King Cake Recipe
A basic King cake, made with several colors and a sugar topping.
Eggplant Creole Appetizer With Crab Sauce
This dish makes a great first course for a special dinner. Feel free to substitute green tomato slices for the eggplant slices if you have them.
These deep-fried little pillows will make you think you're in the French Quarter.
Calas, another tasty New Orleans tradition, is a breakfast fritter mixed with cooked rice, flour, sugar, and spices, and then deep-fried.
Fried Oyster Po' Boy
Dress this wonderful New Orleans sandwich with mayonnaise, remoulade, or your favorite spread.
Andouille Sausage Recipes
Here are some of my favorite andouille sausage recipes, from hearty soups and gumbos to beans and breakfast dishes.
Louisiana Beans and Rice
This recipe for beans and rice is made with dried red beans, ham bone or ham hock, seasonings, and hot cooked rice.
Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
Smoked sausage and a cut up chicken are cooked to perfection with tomatoes, a variety of seasonings and vegetables, and rice.
These tasty shrimp and sausage skewers are basted with Tabasco and served with a Creole mustard dipping sauce.