Homemade Crawfish King Cake Recipe

What’s better than crawfish or king cake? A crawfish-stuffed savory king cake! 

The love child of my crawfish bread recipe and my homemade king cake recipe, this recipe is well worth the time and effort.

Keep in mind that this recipe makes TWO king cakes, two feel free to halve the recipe to make one or freeze the dough after its first rise to save for later. Or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, make one crawfish king cake and one boudin one!

Homemade Crawfish King Cake

Makes 2 King Cakes

For the Dough:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup instant mashed potato flakes
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 packets instant yeast
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)

For the Filling:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups trinity (diced onion, bell pepper & celery)
  • 4 tablespoons minced garlic (measure this with your heart)
  • 2 pounds peeled Louisiana crawfish tails with fat
  • 2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
  • 2 tablespoons Tony Chachere’s, or more to taste
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

For the Topping:

  • 8 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (the powdery kind in the green bottle)
  • Purple, green & gold food coloring (I use the liquid kind — specifically the McCormick Neon colors to make the Kelly Green and Deep Purple listed on their box and then just regular yellow liquid food coloring for the gold)


The first step is scalding the milk. It’s not nearly as complicated as it sounds! Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the milk. Cook until the edges begin to foam and froth, but do not allow it to boil. It only takes about 4 or 5 minutes, so watch it carefully. There will be a little layer like a “skin” across the top. (Appetizing, I know.)

Remove from heat. I like to pour it into a mixing bowl to prevent the rest of the ingredients from sticking to the hot saucepan and so it cools down faster. Add the sugar, butter, mashed potato flakes, and salt. 

Stir thoroughly until the butter is completely melted and allow to cool to lukewarm. I use a candy thermometer to make sure it cools to about 115 degrees. Remember, if the mix is too warm, it may kill the yeast and your king cake won’t rise. Patience is key here!

In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs.

Add the yeast to the milk mixture, stir well. Then add in the egg mixture, stirring until it’s uniform.

Place the flour in the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with a dough hook.

Pour the milk mixture into the flour and mix on medium speed until the dough has come together, but is still soft. Sometimes I only use 6- 6½ cups of flour. (I start with 6 cups and have the last cup on the side, adding more as necessary.) This is not like bread dough, it is a much stickier dough. Be sure to scrape the bowl and mix again to incorporate all the flour. 

Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place your dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean, dry towel. Set in a warm place and let your dough rise for one hour.

In the meantime, make your crawfish filling and color your cheese topping. 

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the flour and mix until it forms a paste. Add trinity, sauté for 5 to 10 minutes or until translucent. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and sauté. Add crawfish, green onions, and Tony’s and sauté 5 minutes more. This won’t be a very “wet” filling at this point, but the cheese we add later will make up for it. Set aside. If you’d like, when the filling is cool enough, place it in a gallon Ziploc bag to make filling the dough easier.

To color your parmesan, evenly divide the cheese into 3 sandwich bags (1 did about 9 tablespoons in each bag), add your food coloring and massage gently until the cheese is uniformly colored in the shade of your preference. Set aside.

Once the dough has risen, you have a few options: (1) work with the dough immediately, (2) refrigerate the dough for a few hours to make it a bit easier to work with, or (3) wrap and freeze the dough for a later savory king cake.

Push down and divide dough into 2 parts. Each portion will be a king cake — remember, this recipe makes 2 king cakes! 

Place dough onto lightly floured length of parchment paper and roll out one portion at a time into a narrow rectangle of ½” thickness. 

Evenly pipe or spoon the crawfish filling along the center of the dough and top with your cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Roll up along the long sides using the parchment paper to help you. Pinch seam to seal. Stretch gently as best you can. Repeat with other portion of dough.

Using the parchment paper its on, transfer each filled log to its own parchment paper lined baking sheet and form into an oval. Pinch all ends together.

Cover the king cakes with saran wrap or a clean, dry towel and allow to rise in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size. 

After this second rise, if you’d like to top with the colored cheese before baking, sprinkle it on now (you may also sprinkle it on after baking). Bake at 350 degrees until lightly golden brown, 25-35 minutes.

Immediately after coming out of the oven, sprinkle the king cake(s) with the colored parmesan cheese. Best served warm.

NOTE: Baking with the Parmesan cheese may cause the cheese to brown and discolor slightly. Topping the hot king cake with the cheese makes it harder to stay on the cake. Top at your own risk!

Joey Yearous
Joey is a New Orleans native, Dominican alum, and LSU grad who joined the ranks of motherhood in the summer of 2019. She and her Colorado born-and-raised husband, Phil, left their Mid-City apartment for a house on the Northshore about ten days before they welcomed their son, Sam, into the world. A short 19 months later, their daughter Sloane arrived and their caboose Nicholas completed their family 17 months after that. Though she’s always had a passion for writing, it’s her work in whole-home generator sales that pays the bills. Her 3 kiddos keep her busy, but when she’s got a free moment, you can find her cooking, trying new restaurants, and listening to true crime podcasts. A consummate Pinterest fanatic, she’s always looking for her next DIY project or recipe to try. She believes good senses of humor and random acts of kindness make the world go ‘round.


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