Mardi Gras is just around the corner, so we’ve rounded up some classic Mardi Gras recipes you MUST make this season. From jambalaya to the very best king cake, gumbo to cocktails and more, this round up includes authentic and delicious recipes for Carnival-related festivities.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
With Fat Tuesday just around the corner, it’s time to talk about classic Mardi Gras CUISINE!
Let me tell you about my Mardi Gras experience
I attended college in South Louisiana and immediately fell in love with the culture, the food and the people. I attended my first Mardi Gras with sorority sisters, one of whom is from the New Orleans area and brought us home to her family to experience the festivities she knew and loved.
It was unlike anything I’d ever seen, and quite honestly, it was a lot different than the depictions you see and hear.
How? Well, none of us drank until we were sick. No one got arrested. No flashing was involved, either. Yet we still caught a lot of beads, and we made costumes on Monday to wear for Fat Tuesday–snowflakes since it snowed on Christmas Day in New Orleans. (If you’re interested in learning more about Mardi Gras in New Orleans, this is a good read.)
I look forward to the day when we can introduce our daughters to various Mardi Gras festivities, be it in New Orleans or in Winston’s hometown.
But for now, we’re going to make all the Cajun and Creole dishes we know and love to celebrate at home with the girls.
How to recreate the Mardi Gras experience at home
In our family, we recreate the Mardi Gras experience at home with food and stories.
One of the stand-out foods from my first Mardi Gras experience was king cakes. My friend’s family had TONS of them in their house, and we legitimately ate them at all hours, testing out the different flavors and bakeries from around town.
Just remember: Mardi Gras is a time to be spent with friends and family. You’re supposed to have fun. The food should reflect this and not be a burden to make.
What recipes should I cook during Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday?
It depends on your tastebuds, but if you’re looking for a solid recipe that tastes like the authentic ones do in South Louisiana, you’ve come to the right place.
Here are some of our favorite recipes to make during Mardi Gras season. If you haven’t tried them out before, you absolutely should this year!
18 Mardi Gras Recipes to Make This Carnival Season
Laissez les bons temps rouler! Mardi Gras is just around the corner, and in celebration, we've rounded up MUST MAKE Mardi Gras recipes. From jambalaya to cocktails to the very best king cake, this round up includes eighteen stunning, authentic and delicious recipes for Mardi Gras festivities.
Mardi Gras Entrees
Covering classics like jambalaya, gumbo, red beans and rice and more, these Mardi Gras dinner recipes are PERFECT for serving your family or a crowd. Choose whichever one fits your tastebuds best!
One of our favorite Louisiana dishes is this deceptively simple shrimp and grits! The shrimp get extra flavor from andouille sausage and are served over the creamiest grits ever. Perfect for entertaining and simply cooking at home, this classic Creole recipe is a winner every time.
Gumbo is made a little easier, thanks to a store-bought roux and the Instant Pot! Made with the same classic ingredients we all know and love, this is a faster gumbo recipe that tastes just as good as the classic... without putting in an entire day of work to get all those flavors!
In French, "etouffee" means smothered... and that's exactly what you do to these crawfish. They cook down in the most delicious sauce with a few favorite Louisiana veggies and are served over rice for the ultimate comfort food meal.
Jambalaya is an amazing one-pot meal, and this recipe is made with turkey sausage! Basically, sear the sausage, chop all your veggies and then cook 'em down with rice to make a delightful and incredibly flavorful dinner.
Looking for a classic Cajun gumbo recipe? This is it. It makes a ton of gumbo (and freezes beautifully!) and is perfect for sharing, which is why we make it every year on New Year's Day... but obviously, it's perfect for Fat Tuesday, too. Brew up a big batch and invite friends for the ultimate wintertime comfort food this Mardi Gras.
If you're working on Fat Tuesday (and let's be real: if we don't live in South Louisiana, we're all working on Fat Tuesday), this set-it-and-forget-it red beans and rice recipe is perfect for you! When you get home from work, simply make the rice (or make some in advance!) and serve this goodness.
Meat pies are a Louisiana specialty! And even though you won't really find them in New Orleans, I'm including them in this list because they're amazingly delicious... especially if you make 'em in advance. They're pretty time-intensive, but the flavors are on-point and make for a fun hand-held meal.
This jambalaya recipe is the one we make on gamedays because it's great for sharing! Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya makes a ton and is quite easy to put together, especially if your veggies and meats are prepped in advance. Throw 'em all in the Dutch oven and let 'em cook down until the rice is beautifully fluffy and the flavors have melded.
Mardi Gras Sweet Treats + Desserts
We've got classic Mardi Gras desserts, like King Cake, and some twists on classics. I've included some New Orleans specialities, like beignets and bananas foster, too, to add some flair to your Canival gathering.
If you're in the market for a REAL DEAL king cake, this is what you need. Made with a yeasted dough that needs two rises, it takes time and effort to make this recipe, but my goodness, is it delicious. We like to fill ours with cream cheese and raspberry filling, but you could change yours up if you like other flavors better!
Beignets are a NOLA classic... and these salted caramel ones are what everyone needs to nibble on for Fat Tuesday. Served with a mug of your favorite coffee and topped with a dusting of powdered sugar, these beignets are PERFECT for breakfast or dessert.
If you're looking for a shortcut king cake that brings the flavor but doesn't require two rises and hours of your day, this is it. Made using some store-bought ingredients, this king cake is reminiscent of a monkey bread... with king cake flavors!
Bananas Foster is a classic NOLA dish... and this version of it from The Gingered Whisk is kid-friendly, meaning there's no booze for us to worry about. Serve it over ice cream or your favorite kind of cake for a decadent dessert this Mardi Gras.
If you're looking for a dessert that's a NOD to Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday, look no farther than this ice cream. Filled with pieces of king cake (homemade or store-bought) and made to where you don't need an ice cream maker, this ice cream is pretty darn delightful!
Mardi Gras Drinks + Libations
It wouldn't be Mardi Gras without a fantastic sipper! Below, I've gathering some of our favorite New Orleans drinks that are made from fresh ingredients. While they aren't something you'd normally order at a bar in NOLA to bring with you on the go, they certainly are delicious for enjoying at home!
Daiquiris are another classic New Orleans sipper, and this homemade one calls for blood oranges! Not only is it stunning in color, but the fresh flavors are exactly what we can all enjoy on Fat Tuesday.
Is it dessert? Is it a drink? Technically, I think it's both... and I love the idea of this home-fried Beignet paired with a Coffee Cocktail Shake. Perfectly decadent and wonderful for sipping, I can see this going down easy all Mardi Gras long.
The Sazerac is an ICONIC New Orleans drink, and this rendition, featuring blackberries, makes me super happy. This twist on the traditional cocktail would go down easy and be great for sharing during Mardi Gras festivities.
What will you be cooking, baking and drinking this Mardi Gras?
This Mardi Gras recipe round-up was originally published on January 2, 2018. The text of this blog post was updated on February 19, 2020.
About the Author:
Erin Parker is a Southern gal living in Texas with her husband and two daughters. She started The Speckled Palate to share what she was cooking as a newlywed… and over the years, it’s evolved to capture her love for hosting. Specifically, the EASIEST, lowest key entertaining because everyone deserves to see their people and connect over good food. Learn more about her…