Beyond King Cakes: The Best Mardi Gras Desserts

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    17 Next-Level Mardi Gras Desserts

    King Cake for Mardi Gras
    Photo: sandoclr / Getty Images

    These Mardi Gras dessert recipes will have you saying, "Laissez les bons temps rouler!" ("Let the good times roll!") 

    King Cakes are the traditional dessert of Mardi Gras, and this collection features plenty of them--from the traditional King Cake, to easy and vegan versions, to fun variations like King Cake cinnamon rolls, cookies, and even dessert cheese balls!

    But beyond King Cakes, Mardi Gras desserts are strongly inspired by New Orleans cuisine and culture, and you'll find...MORE plenty of Southern favorites here as well, like beignets, bananas foster, and bread pudding.

    So don some green, purple, and gold attire, turn up the jazz, and get ready to find your new favorite Mardi Gras dessert recipe here!

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  • 02 of 18

    Classic King Cake from Scratch

    Classic King Cake - the perfect Mardi Gras dessert
    Photo: laartist / Getty Images

    This is it: THE classic King Cake recipe! It's made from scratch, with a rich brioche dough, and decorated in the traditional style with alternating icing colors or sprinkles in the classic Mardi Gras colors of gold, purple, and green. These colors are used throughout the Mardi Gras celebration and are symbolic: purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.

    Traditionally, a small plastic baby figurine or a bean is placed inside the King Cake before baking, and whoever finds the...MORE baby or bean in their slice will get good luck throughout the coming year. Sometimes, the lucky recipient is also tasked with making the King Cake for the following year!

    Classic King Cake Recipe

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  • 03 of 18

    Easy King Cake

    Easy King Cake - a great Mardi Gras dessert recipe
    Photo: Peggy Trowbridge Filippone

    If you're not up to making your own brioche dough from scratch, try this Easy King Cake recipe! It uses store-bought crescent dough as the base, but the final result tastes so good, you'd never know it was a shortcut recipe! There's also a photo tutorial to guide you through each step of the process.

    Easy King Cake Recipe

    Easy King Cake Step-by-Step Photo Tutorial

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  • 04 of 18

    Vegan King Cake

    Vegan King Cake for Mardi Gras
    Photo: Envision / Getty Images

    Most King Cake recipes call for butter and eggs, which would make them off-limits for vegans. But this Vegan King Cake recipe uses coconut milk and soy margarine, so everyone can join in the Mardi Gras fun!

    Vegan King Cake Recipe

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  • 05 of 18

    King Cake Cinnamon Rolls

    Photo: Three Olives Branch

    Why should traditional cakes get all the Mardi Gras fun? The concept of a "King Cake" can be revised and expanded to include all sorts of other desserts, like these decadent King Cake Cinnamon Rolls!

    Cinnamon, praline, and cream cheese are already traditional King Cake components, so it only makes sense to take gooey homemade cinnamon rolls and decorate them with sprinkles, just like a King Cake. Add a plastic baby inside one of the rolls and the transformation to Mardi Gras dessert is...MORE complete!

    King Cake Cinnamon Rolls from Three Olives Branch

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  • 06 of 18

    King Cake Cheese Ball

    King Cake Cheese Ball for Mardi Gras
    Photo: Dip Recipe Creations

    This ain't your grandma's cheese ball! This King Cake Cheese Ball is a fun and unique dessert dip made with cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, and of course, the ubiquitous purple, green, and gold sprinkles. You can serve it with graham crackers, vanilla wafers, or a selection of fresh fruit to really let the good times roll.

    King Cake Cheese Ball from Dip Recipe Creations

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  • 07 of 18

    King Cake Spritz Cookies

    King Cake Spritz Cookies for Mardi Gras
    Photo: Karen's Kitchen Stories

    Bigger isn't always better! These King Cake Spritz Cookies look like miniature versions of King Cakes. They're adorable, portable, easy to make in big batches, and--most importantly--delicious! Serve them at your Mardi Gras party, or bag them up and hand them out as party favors.

    King Cake Spritz Cookies from Karen's Kitchen Stories

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  • 08 of 18

    Beignets

    Beignets for Mardi Gras
    Photo: blowbackphoto / Getty Images

    After the King Cake, Beignets might be the dessert most associated with New Orleans. These iconic doughnuts can be found in every cafe in the French Quarter. Small, lighter than air, and coated with an even dusting of sugar, they're the perfect way to start Mardi Gras.

    Beignets Recipe

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  • 09 of 18

    Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

    Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce for Mardi Gras
    Photo: Diana Rattray

    Bread Pudding is a classic Southern dessert, and the only thing that could make it even more of a Southern dish would be adding bourbon! (Check!)

    It's true that bread pudding is a great way to use up leftover, stale bread, but you won't ever mistake this recipe for second-best. The bread pudding has a melt-in-your-mouth texture, and the bourbon sauce adds an incredible deep, rich flavor.

    Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce Recipe

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  • 10 of 18

    Banana Tarte Tatin

    Banana Tarte Tatin for Mardi Gras
    Photo: Photo Marylise Doctrinal / Getty Images

    Tarte Tatin recipes are traditionally made with apples and pears, but what's to stop us from going a little tropical and adding bananas to the mix? This is an easy last-minute dessert to throw together: all you need are bananas, puff pastry, and some rum (of course!) to make the to-die-for rum sauce. Don't even think of serving the tarte tatin without it!

    Banana Tarte Tatin Recipe

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  • 11 of 18

    Galette des Rois

    Galette des Rois for Mardi Gras
    Photo: Laurent Mani / Getty Images

    Although "galette des rois" can be translated to "king cake," this is a far cry from the traditional ring-shaped King Cake topped with green, gold, and purple icing. This classical French cake is made with puff pastry and almond cream, and bakes up into a golden-brown cake that is as beautiful as it is delicate. This cake is a great choice if you want to offer a more elegant Mardi Gras dessert!

    Galette des Rois Recipe

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  • 12 of 18

    Bananas Foster Bread Pudding

    Bananas Foster Bread Pudding for Mardi Gras
    Photo: Annie / Flickr

    Bread pudding gets a Southern twist in this recipe for Bananas Foster Bread Pudding! This dessert is made extra-indulgent by the use of cream, brioche, and dark brown sugar. Serve it with a splash of rum sauce to really complete the bananas foster comparison!

    Bananas Foster Bread Pudding Recipe

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  • 13 of 18

    Bananas Foster Truffles

    Bananas Foster Truffles for Mardi Gras
    Photo: Elizabeth LaBau

    Calling all bananas foster lovers! If you like bananas foster, you have GOT to try these truffles! They're made with real roasted bananas, rum, cinnamon, and brown sugar, so they taste uncannily like the real thing...only better, because chocolate is also involved!

    Bananas Foster Truffles Recipe

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    Bananas Foster Upside-Down Cupcakes

    Bananas Foster Upside-Down Cupcakes
    Photo: Flavor Mosaic

    If the idea of an upside-down cake seems intimidating to you, try cupcakes instead! These are made in a regular cupcake pan, and use bananas instead of the more traditional pineapple, for a fun, bananas foster-inspired twist. Make these mini desserts for your next Mardi Gras party!

    Bananas Foster Upside-Down Cupcakes from Flavor Mosaic

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    Bananas Foster Mini Skillet Flambe

    Bananas Foster Mini Skillet Flambe for Mardi Gras
    Photo: The Kitchen Girl

    This recipe has it all! Deep, rich, caramelized sugar? Check. Sweet, ripe bananas? Check. Melting vanilla ice cream? Check. Adorable, single-serving size? Check. Fun with fire? Check, check, check!

    Seriously, the flambe part of the recipe is optional, but if you have ever wanted to try to light your dessert on fire, now's your chance! This classic technique involves dousing the caramelized bananas in rum and then lighting it on fire--the alcohol burns brightly for a moment and then is...MORE extinguished, leaving just a delicious rum flavor and the adrenaline of the open flame! As long as you exercise appropriate caution, this could be the showstopping Mardi Gras dessert you've been looking for!

    Bananas Foster Mini Skillet Flambe from The Kitchen Girl

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  • 16 of 18

    New Orleans Pralines

    New Orleans Pralines for Mardi Gras
    Photo: Elizabeth LaBau

    Pralines are a New Orleans institution! This iconic Southern candy is made with brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans, to produce a thin patty that's bursting with sweet, nutty flavor. The texture of pralines is unlike anything else--part creamy, part crumbly, and entirely addicting.

    New Orleans Pralines Recipe

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    New Orleans Coffee

    New Orleans Coffee - a great Mardi Gras dessert accompaniment
    Photo: chryscampos.com - Getty Images

    What could go better with a big slice of King Cake than a mug of New Orleans coffee? New Orleans coffee has a unique flavor because it includes chicory, a roasted root with a  distinctive caramel flavor. It's great as a wake-up with a plate of beignets, or the perfect way to end a Southern feast.

    New Orleans Coffee Recipe

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    Hurricane Cocktail

    Hurricane Cocktail for Mardi Gras
    Photo: PeopleImages / Getty Images

    The Hurricane Cocktail became popular in New Orleans in the 1940's, and is still considered a signature drink of the city. This rum-based drink is fruity and refreshing, and it makes a great accompaniment to many Mardi Gras desserts.

    Hurricane Cocktail Recipe