Create Your Own Mardi Gras King Cake!

@amb2nola King Cake sliceI spent five Mardi Gras seasons away from New Orleans. Jealous I was not being able to enjoy king cakes on a weekly basis and celebrate the Carnival season alongside my fellow New Orleanians, I decided our first year away to create a little of New Orleans in the Windy City. Adapted from Chef Folse’s, The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine, which, by the way, is THE greatest recipe book on earth, I have created this festive sweet treat multiple times during the Carnival season. I prefer to create two king cakes from this recipe as it is more manageable to braid at half the size. Follow my step by step directions and modifications to create your own Mardi Gras magic in or away from the Crescent City. (Warning: patience and childless time is required for some steps. Also, this recipe does not come out well when halved.)

Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe

Ingredients for the dough
– 2 packets of 1/4 ounce instant (rapid) yeast
– 1/2 cups of warm water (100˚-115˚)
– 1/2 cup of sugar
– 5 cups of flour (+1/2 cup on hand)
– 1 cup whole milk at room temperature
– 2 tsps salt
– 2 eggs at room temperature, then beaten
– 1 cup of melted butter

1a. In a measuring cup combine yeast and 1/2 cup warm water. Sprinkle a 1/4 tsp of the sugar over the mixture to help activate the yeast. Set aside until it blossoms.
1b. In your mixing bowl sift together all dry ingredients. Using a dough hook, blend on low for 2-3 minutes.
1c. In a separate bowl beat eggs.
1d. Slowly add eggs, milk, 3/4 cup of butter and yeast between mixing for an addition 8 minutes on medium until combined well. Do not over mix at high or for more time. (If dough is too wet add up to an additional 1/2 cup of flour.)
1e. Brush a large stainless bowl with butter and place dough inside. Brush remaining butter over dough and cover. Proof in a warm place, for example in oven at 100˚ until it doubles.

140127 King Cake Collage 1
Ingredients for Glaze
– 1 pound of powdered sugar, preferably Domino
– a pinch of salt
– 1/2 tbsp of almond extract
– 1/3 cup and +1 tbsp of water

2 Combine dry ingredients in an electric mixer on low sped. Slowly pour extract and water. Continue to blend until smooth. Set aside.

Ingredients for Assembly
– 1/4 cup of melted butter
– 1/2 cup of sugar
– 1 tbsp of cinnamon
– 2 eggs at room temperature, beaten
– purple, green and gold sugars

Directions for Assembly
3a. Preheat oven to 350˚.
3b. After dough has proofed, divide in half with a pastry knife, if you prefer to make two king cakes.
3c. Roll out to a large rectangle on a floured surface. (I prefer to roll out on the back of my largest baking pan.)
3d. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Brush dough with butter and then sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture above.
3e. With a pastry knife create three even sections. Fold side of each section into one another to cover the mixture.
3f. Pinch together the ends of each strip. Starting from the joined end create a braid with the dough sections in the form of a circle and pinch ends together.
3g. Brush cakes with eggs and proof again until they have double in size.
3h. Bake for 10-12 minutes IF you created two king cakes; bake for 20-25 minutes if you created one very large king cake.
3i. Drizzle glaze over the entire cooled cake and sprinkle colored sugars in pattern as designed.
3j. Place a plastic baby or a red bean into your cake!

140127 King Cake Collage 2

Have you ever made your own king cake?


  1. Made this today and it was incredible. The recipe is perfect, thank you so much for step by step and pictures. I am not an experienced baker, but today I feel *very* accomplished!

  2. I am looking forward to trying this! Could you please clarify the second sentence in step 3e:

    3e. With a pastry knife create three even sections. Fold side of each section into one another to cover the mixture.


    • Hi Pat! After rolling out the dough, create three equal sections. With a pastry knife fold the edges of the segments into one another so that the cinnamon/sugar face is not exposed; the top now becomes the center. Let me know if you need further clarification. Enjoy!

  3. Hi!
    I’m coming back to comment now that I’ve made this King Cake. It was delicious! I’ll definitely make it again.

    Just a couple of comments/suggestions/questions to make the recipe easier to read and follow:
    *I’d change the below sentence as indicated:
    * 2-1/4 ounce PACKAGES instant (rapid) yeast (this will avoid the confusion I had at the beginning).

    *In steps 1a and 1b, when should I add the 1/2 cup sugar? Do I sprinkle all of it in with the yeast in step 1a or is that additional sugar? Or is it part of the dry ingredients in step 1b? (I realize it probably doesn’t matter too much.)

    *The butter is added in step 1d. But in step 1e you say, “Brush a large stainless bowl with butter and place dough inside. “Brush REMAINING butter over dough and cover.” Maybe change “remaining” to “additional,” unless we’re supposed to use a specified quantity? Again, a small point, but it threw me off a bit.

    *Finally, this is just a personal preference, but I used half the amount of sugar for the glaze, and it made plenty. (I also used powdered sugar instead of regular sugar.)

    Again, delicious recipe. Thanks!

    • I am SO glad you enjoyed making it and I appreciate your message! I clarified the recipe to reflect your comments. Thanks again AJP!

  4. I am going to make one (or 2?) of these this weekend. I already have some regular yeast. Do you have any idea about how much of that to use? Will it just take a little longer to rise? If so, that’s ok with me I just need the amount. Another king cake recipe I have called for 4 packets of yeast with a similar amount of flour, so maybe I’ll try that if I don’t hear back from you.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here