How to Make A King Cake Recipe

Learn how to Make a New Orleans Mardi Gras King Cake. No Mardi Gras celebration is complete without the iconic Mardi Gras King Cake.

King Cake History and Tradition


How to Make a King Cake | Iconic Mardi Gras Cake

No Mardi Gras celebration is complete without a King Cake. This cake is actually a sweetened yeast bread, usually baked in a ring shape. The cake is frosted with the traditional colors of Mardi Gras—gold, green, and purple—icing representing in order, power, faith, and justice. Although this cake is colorful and tasty, the real fun hides within the cake.


King Cake Surprise


How to Make a King Cake | Must have iconic Mardi Gras Cake


The maker of each King Cake hides a token in the cake. The tokens used are a dried red bean or a figurine of a baby, representing the Christ child. When the cake is cut and shared, the finder of the hidden treasure is said to enjoy good luck for the coming year. The lucky recipient may also be expected to bake the King Cake or throw the Mardi Gras party for the following year.


Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: cajun, creole, Mardi Gras, New Orleans
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Rising Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 519 kcal
Author: Kelly DiMascio

A king cake is a yummy Mardi Gras tradition.  A King Cake is a rich brioche dough and made with a variety of fillings like chocolate, cinnamon, and cream cheese.  This iconic sweet roll is delicious and festive, iced with green, gold, and purple. 

This Mardi Gras treat is eaten between January 6, known as King’s Day or Twelfth Night, and Mardi Gras know as Fat Tuesday. 

The colors of the icing are the colors of Mardi Gras) and have a deeper meaning. Gold represents power, green is associated with faith, and purple illustrates justice. King cake is baked in a ring, no center and has a surprise buried inside the batter - most cakes today are baked with a plastic baby inside, but traditional it could be a red bean, a gold coin or ring.  



  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water about 105 to 115 degrees
  • 2 t milk scalded and cooled
  • 4 cups flour
  • 8 oz butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 t melted butter
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • very small plastic doll a large bean, ring or clean coin


  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 T water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar colored with food coloring pastes: green, purple, and yellow


  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water.
  2. Add milk and about 1/2 cup of flour. In a large bowl, blend butter, sugar, salt, and eggs.
  3. Add yeast mixture and mix thoroughly.
  4. Gradually, add 2 1/2 cups flour to make a medium dough.
  5. Place in a greased bowl and brush with melted butter.
  6. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise until double in volume, about 3 hours.
  7. Use 1 cup or more flour to knead dough and roll into a 4-5 foot long rope.
  8. Form into an oval on a 14 x 17" greased baking sheet, connecting ends of the rope with a few drops of water to make a good seal.
  9. Press the doll, bean, or coin into the dough from the bottom.
  10. Cover dough ring with a damp cloth and let rise until double in volume, about 1 hour. 

  11. Brush with egg.

  12. Bake at 325° for 35 to 45 minutes or until lightly browned.
  13. Cool on a wire rack.

For glaze

  1. Combine the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice and enough water to achieve desired consistency.
  2. Spread over cake.
  3. Sprinkle with alternating bands of colored sugar.

Recipe Notes


Growing up in Mandeville, Louisiana our family bought our King Cake across the Lake at Gambino's Bakery in Metairie.  We made this trip to buy most of our special occasion cakes. Gambino's will ship you a king cake if you aren't a baker.


A King Cake should be delicious - not the dried out, bland pastry with neon frosting made by most grocery stores, so either make your own or order one from Gambino's.  You should actually want to eat the cake - not just find the baby.


Nutrition Facts
Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 519 Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Fat 18g28%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Cholesterol 114mg38%
Sodium 219mg10%
Potassium 79mg2%
Carbohydrates 82g27%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 50g56%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 600IU12%
Vitamin C 0.3mg0%
Calcium 24mg2%
Iron 2.3mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



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