Praline Cinnamon Roll King Cake

This post is sponsored by Sprouts Farmers Market. As always, all opinions, thoughts and recipes are my own.

Celebrate Mardi Gras without spending hours in the kitchen with a Cinnamon Roll Praline King Cake! This easy king cake recipe substitutes store-bought cinnamon rolls for homemade dough and pulls apart like a pecan-studded monkey bread. Makes 12 servings.

Love Mardi Gras treats? Don’t miss No Churn Mardi Gras King Cake Ice Cream and King Cake Martini!

A woman pulls a piece of monkey bread off of the final decorated baked good

Like most busy mamas, I’m low on time these days… but I still want to make my family delicious, homemade baked goods.

With Fat Tuesday just around the corner, I wanted to bake a king cake. Sadly, my previous king cakes require hours in the kitchen. As much as I enjoy that, this month just didn’t allow me time to devote to a traditional king cake.

So instead of purchasing a sad, Texas king cake, I’m using shortcuts to make a pull-apart praline cinnamon roll king cake with full-on flavor without hours of hands-on time!

Why I love this recipe:

My friends at Sprouts Farmers Market were curious if I’d be interested in making a twist on a king cake this year.

Since I shared a traditional king cake cake on this website a few years back, I knew I’d wanted to do something different. And lucky for all of us, I wanted make a less time-intensive rendition of a traditional king cake.

So instead of going the homemade dough route, which takes hours and sometimes doesn’t work out, we use store-bought cinnamon rolls instead.

This is basically KING CAKE monkey bread. (Hi, how could we go wrong with that?)

This king cake, unlike a traditional one, pulls apart beautifully for easy snacking. It has a deliciously sweet, sticky drizzle that binds it together instead of a swirl through the middle of the cake.

And then that cream cheese icing and the decorative sugar just make it sing of the season.

Other Mardi Gras recipes that you’ve gotta make this season: Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya | Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice | Shrimp and Grits | Instant Pot Gumbo | Turkey Sausage Jambalaya | Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice | Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Need more Mardi Gras inspiration? Check out these 18 Mardi Gras Recipes to Make This Carnival Season!

A praline king cake sits next to ingredients from Sprouts on a marble countertop

What you need to make Pull-Apart Praline King Cake

Disclaimer: The links below are affiliate links. If you click through and take action, I will receive a small commission. Please refer to my disclosure page for more information about the affiliate programs The Speckled Palate participates in. 

In addition to these tools, you’re going to need some ingredients, too. I was able to find all of mine at my local Sprouts Farmers Market!

  • Store-bought cinnamon rolls—you need THREE 17½ oz. tubes
  • Granulated sugar
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Chopped pecans—or your favorite nut, though pecans are traditional for praline dishes
  • Unsalted butter
  • Light brown sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Vanilla extract
  • Kosher salt
  • Cream cheese
  • Powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar
  • Milk—you can use whatever you’ve got on hand, though I’d caution against using a heavy whipping cream or a half-and-half because those will make this mixture too thick
  • Green decorating sugar
  • Yellow decorating sugar
  • Purple decorating sugar
  • Plastic Mardi Gras baby

How to make this easy king cake recipe

Preheat the oven, and spray a bundt pan with nonstick baking spray. Set it aside.

Prepare the cinnamon roll king cake

Open the cinnamon roll tubes, and transfer the cinnamon rolls to a cutting board. Slice each individual cinnamon roll into 4-6 pieces and transfer them to a large bowl.

On top of the cinnamon rolls, measure in the sugar, cinnamon and chopped pecans. Using a wooden spoon, rubber spatula or your hands, toss until the cinnamon rolls are coated.

Place ½ cup of pecan halves in the bottom of the prepared pan, then carefully transfer cake pieces into the prepared bundt pan, and set it aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl or a liquid measuring cup, heat the stick of butter until it’s completely melted. Add the brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt, and whisk until well combined.

Pour the praline drizzle over the pull-apart cake, and transfer it to the preheated oven to bake for 60-70 minutes. (You want to ensure the middle is not underbaked, as no one likes raw dough!)

When the cake is cooked through, remove from the oven, and turn out onto a heat-safe plate. If some pecans go astray, you can rearrange them now. Let it cool slightly, and while it does…

Make the cream cheese frosting

In a medium-sized glass bowl, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract.

Use a hand mixer (or a stand mixer) to blend the ingredients together until smooth and creamy.

Decorate this easy king cake and enjoy!

When the cake cools slightly, drizzle with the cream cheese icing. Add the colored sugar as a festive touch on top of the icing, and place the plastic baby into the king cake.

Enjoy warm piece by piece!

Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips

Unless you live in South Louisiana, I’m going to guess that Mardi Gras celebrations are pretty rare where you live. And that’s OK.

As someone who adores at-home entertaining and hospitality, I think Mardi Gras is a fabulous time to host a party. And this Cinnamon Roll King Cake is perfect for tiny guests.

Here’s are some tips and tricks to using this easy king cake recipe at Mardi Gras.

  • Make it a daytime gathering if you’re hosting kids and parents! I’ve made this praline king cake to share with friends and their kids on Fat Tuesday, and it’s been fun hosting them in the afternoon into the early evening hours. The kids l-o-v-e this sticky monkey bread king cake situation!
  • Check with guests about food allergies before making this easy praline king cake. If anyone has nut allergies, leave out the pecans.
  • Grab your groceries in advance and bake this goodness right before guests arrive. We want it to be extra gooey for them to enjoy!
  • If you’ve got kids, let them in on the fun. It’ll be messier than expected, but super fun. Especially the decorating!
  • At your gathering, talk about what is a king cake and king cake tradition! I’ve got more information about these for you below.

Did you know Mardi Gras is a family-friendly affair? While most of us non-New Orleaneans think of Bourbon Street and the revelries there, Mardi Gras is for everyone! Many families will make costumes for Fat Tuesday. Most participants choose costumes based on current events, and it makes for spectacular people watching.

Overhead image of a cinnamon roll king cake on a marble slab next to cream cheese, powdered sugar and beads

Frequently Asked Questions

What is king cake?

A king cake is a traditional pastry made and served during Carnival season. It’s like a cinnamon roll and a traditional French pastry had a baby. 😉 According to Manny Randazzo, people think the king cake tradition was brought to New Orleans from France in the late 1800’s.

The decorations of traditional king cakes include the colors purple, which symbolizes justice; green, which symbolizes faith; and gold, which symbolizes power, in either icing or sanding sugar.

What is the history behind a king cake?

King cakes are associated with the festival of Epiphany at the end of the Christmas season. On the “Twelfth Night” after Christmas (January 6), Carnival season officially begins.

Let’s talk about Epiphany because Epiphany has a lot to do with king cakes: Epiphany comes from Greek, meaning “to show.” Jesus first showed himself to the three wisemen and to the world on the Twelfth Night.

As a symbol of the Twelfth Night, a small plastic baby is placed inside each cake.

Whenever king cake is eaten at a party, each person checks to see if their piece contains the baby. If it does, that person is responsible for providing the king cake at the next party.

(Some will also say that getting the baby brings good luck or that you will get pregnant.)

What makes a king cake different than another type of cake?

A king cake is not a traditional baked good. It’s more similar to a cinnamon roll or a pastry than it is a traditional cake. Like a bread or a pastry, the king cake calls for yeast and requires two rises to create fluffy, flavorful layers. 

This easy king cake recipe you’ll find here is not traditional because it uses store-bought cinnamon rolls, but it tastes delicious and is made in a lot less time!

What flavor is a traditional king cake?

Traditional king cakes are are filled with a cinnamon-sugar mixture, but bakeries make king cakes of all shapes and flavors. I’m partial to the ones that involve cream cheese.

Collage of two images showing a woman picking a piece of the money bread from the cake and the overhead of the decorated cinnamon roll king cake

Tips and tricks for making the best  King Cake Tips

  • Purchase your favorite store-bought cinnamon roll. If you’re a fan of it in its intended form, you’ll love it here, too!
  • Use a sharp knife to cut the cinnamon rolls into pieces.
  • This easy king cake will serve 12. It’s very rich and dense, so you could feed up to 18 on this recipe, just depending on the eaters and their sweet teeth.

Ready to get in the Mardi Gras spirit?

Scroll on down to learn how you can make your own Easy Praline King Cake!

Overhead image of a cinnamon roll king cake on a marble slab next to cream cheese, powdered sugar and beads
Yield: 1 bundt cake

Pull-Apart Praline King Cake

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Celebrate Mardi Gras without spending hours in the kitchen with a Praline Pull-Apart King Cake! This quick king cake substitutes store-bought cinnamon rolls for homemade dough and pulls apart like monkey bread. Halve the cinnamon rolls, then toss in sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Bake in a bundt pan with a gooey praline sauce. Flip onto a platter and serve warm with a homemade cream cheese icing and colored sugar. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Ingredients

Pull-Apart Cake

  • 52 ½ oz. store-bought cinnamon rolls (3-17½ oz. tubes)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups pecans, chopped
  • Purple, gold and green colored sugar, for decorating

Praline Drizzle

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a bundt pan with nonstick baking spray, then set aside.
  2. Open the cinnamon roll tubes, and transfer the cinnamon rolls to a cutting board.
  3. Cut each individual cinnamon roll into 4-6 pieces, depending on the size.
  4. When the cinnamon rolls have been cut, transfer to a bowl.
  5. Measure in the sugar, cinnamon and chopped pecans. Toss until the cinnamon rolls are coated.
  6. Place ½ cup of pecan halves in the bottom of the prepared pan.
  7. Carefully transfer cake pieces into the prepared bundt pan. Set aside.
  8. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the stick of butter until it’s completely melted.
  9. Measure in the brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt.
  10. Whisk until well combined.
  11. Pour the praline drizzle over the pull-apart cake
  12. Transfer the prepared cake into the preheated oven for 60-70 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (You want to ensure the middle is not underbaked, as no one likes raw dough!)
  13. When the cake is cooking, make the cream cheese icing.
  14. In a medium-sized glass bowl, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract. Using a hand mixer (or a stand mixer), blend until smooth and creamy, then set aside.
  15. When the cake is cooked through, remove from the oven. Place a heatproof cake plate on top, and carefully flip the cake to remove it from the pan. Some of the pecans may have gone astray, so you can rearrange them now.
  16. When the cake cools slightly, drizzle with the cream cheese icing.
  17. Decorate the icing with the colored sugar, and enjoy warm, piece by piece!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12 slices

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 705Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 5gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 1047mgCarbohydrates: 95gFiber: 3gSugar: 52gProtein: 7g

Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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10 Comments

  1. Using store bought cinnamon rolls is such a great idea! What a time saver! It’s so festive and fun too!

  2. Um, WHAT? This is BRILLIANT! I’ve never had a King Cake before (I know, I KNOW) and I’ve always been intrigued, but you’re so right – who has the time? (Someone without kids, I’d imagine.) Love, love, love your quick and easy version so you can still celebrate with your family!

  3. I almost can’t stand to look at the photos…I want to eat it so bad!!! Holy moly does this cake look amazing!

  4. This king cake is no lie. I grew up in Louisiana, but this one was without a doubt the best I’ve ever tasted. Do yourself a favor and MAKE IT NOW!

  5. I’m sitting here drooling and practically crying because I need this in my life so badly…. What a fun idea for Mardi Gras!!

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