6 Traditional Mardi Gras Recipes to Try at Home (2024)

While this year’s carnival season in New Orleans looks a lot different than the parties, parades, floats, and beads of typical years, we can all still celebrate safely — and laissez les bon temps rouler — from home. To honor Fat Tuesday, enjoy a taste of the Crescent City’s Cajun and Creole favorites with these six classic Mardi Gras recipes.



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Made famous by the incomparable Cafe Du Monde, beignets are a treat made to share — you can’t keep them a secret when you have powdered sugar all over your face and clothes. Pillowy and soft, beignets are a close cousin to Mexico’s sopapillas and a delicious breakfast treat with a strong cup of chicory coffee. Make preparation easier by putting together the yeast dough the evening before, then let it rise in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, you’ll have nothing to do except roll out and cut the dough, then give the squares a quick fry and a generous dusting of powdered sugar. You will also need a candy or deep fry thermometer to make sure the oil is hot enough to create the perfect puff. And if you don’t feel like making beignets yourself, you can always buy mix from the Cafe Du Monde.

Get the recipe here.


Red Beans and Rice

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Mondays were washing day in traditional Cajun households, so a slow-simmering pot of red beans was just the thing for a hands-off dinner that didn’t require a lot of attention while scrubbing clothes all day. And although there’s no shame in resorting to the occasional box of Zatarain’s, home-cooked red beans and rice are worth the extra effort, especially for Mardi Gras. The red beans (we recommend Camellia brand) need to be soaked four hours or overnight but can be quickly cooked unsoaked in an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker. Andouille sausage is a traditional ingredient, but you can also skip it for a filling vegetarian feast. Collard greens and cornbread are great accompaniments to round out this tasty dish.

Get the recipe here.


King Cake

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This sweet treat is a must for Mardi Gras, and people in New Orleans start tucking in from Epiphany (January 6) all the way through Fat Tuesday. From grocery stores to gourmet bakeries, everyone has their favorite version. The king cake is inspired by the traditional French galette du roi, made of puff pastry and almond cream, but Louisianans tend to prefer a yeasted coffee-cake style, decorated in sugars colored purple, gold, and green. A surprise treat (sometimes a plastic baby, sometimes a bean or pecan) is tucked inside, and the person receiving that slice is declared king for the day — and expected to host the next party with King Cake. The recipe below won’t steer you wrong (forget about the cherries, though), or you can always order one from Gambino’s.

Get the recipe here.

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Ask anyone in Louisiana what the best gumbo is, and you’ll probably hear: “My grandmother’s.” But if you don’t have a Louisianan grandmother, you can still whip up a delicious version with the recipes below from two famed New Orleans restaurants, Mr. B’s and The Gumbo Shop. While the proteins used in gumbo run the gamut (hunting families’ pots may feature duck, while coastal dwellers pack theirs with shrimp), it always starts with a roux and the “holy trinity” of onion, celery, and bell pepper. The stew is usually thickened with okra or filé (powdered sassafras) — or both. Ladled over a scoop of white rice, gumbo is love in a bowl.

Get the recipes here.


Seafood Boil

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A Mardi Gras seafood boil is a thing of beauty, and perfect for feeding a crowd. This isn’t the year to haul out the world’s biggest stainless steel pot, but you can still enjoy a boil on a household-sized scale. One of the best things about seafood boils is that they’re flexible and easily customized. Our favorite recipe involves shrimp, sliced andouille sausage, potatoes, corn and — this is key — artichokes. To serve your boil, cover a table with a thick layer of newspaper, drain, dump, and dig in. It’s best with melted butter, plenty of paper towels, and lots of Abita beer.

Get the recipe here.



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Synonymous with New Orleans, this rum-heavy fruit punch packs a wallop stronger than a lot of storms, so enjoy with caution. Created at legendary French Quarter watering hole Pat O’Brien’s, the traditional Hurricane is a concoction of light and dark rum, passionfruit syrup, orange and lime juices, simple syrup, and grenadine. Passionfruit syrup can be hard to come by, so you can also pick up Pat O’Brien’s mix at liquor stores or online. For a more sophisticated sip, go old school and mix up a Sazerac, which was invented right on Royal Street and may actually have been the world’s first co*cktail.

Get the recipe here.

6 Traditional Mardi Gras Recipes to Try at Home (2024)


What are 3 traditional foods prepared during Mardi Gras? ›

Try classic Mardi Gras recipes like shrimp étouffée, jambalaya, or red beans and rice, or fix something unexpected for a group of party guests like warm gumbo dip or cornbread hush puppies. No collection of Mardi Gras recipes would be complete without sweets.

What is one food item that is unique to Mardi Gras in New Orleans? ›

Dirty Rice

Although the liver is typically seen as a staple ingredient, dirty rice can be made without it. The rice itself is cooked in chicken and beef stock, giving it an incredible flavor and making it dark in appearance, hence the name “dirty rice.”

What is the traditional meal for Fat Tuesday? ›

Depending on your tradition, religion, or culture, people enjoy a variety of foods on Fat Tuesday, including pancakes, king cake, jambalaya, or a crawfish boil.

Which food is popular in Louisiana for Mardi Gras? ›

Many of these influences are found in modern Cajun and Creole cuisine, which is a great place to start if you're unfamiliar. Gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp creole, red beans & rice, and shrimp étouffée are all incredible dishes that'll make you feel like you're in the Louisiana bayou.

What are five traditional foods or drinks served on Valentine's Day? ›

Here's an overview of a few foods traditionally eaten on Valentine's Day.
  • Honey. Like love, bees can produce delicious sweetness and a harsh, bitter sting. ...
  • Herbs. Savory herbs bring out the flavor of many classic dishes. ...
  • Strawberries. ...
  • Wine. ...
  • Chocolate.
Feb 1, 2023

What are some New Orleans dishes? ›

Perhaps more than anywhere else, New Orleans is a city filled with iconic dishes. Po' boys, jambalaya, gumbo, beignets — these dishes define the city's cuisine and culture to the outside world.

What is the tradition of the king cake? ›

At a Mardi Gras party, the king cake is sliced and served fresh. Each reveler looks to see if their piece of king cake contains the small baby. If so, then that person is declared “king for a day” and bound by historical Mardi Gras custom to host the next party.

What is New Orleans style food called? ›

Cajun and Creole food are both native to Louisiana and can be found in restaurants throughout New Orleans. One of the simplest differences between the two cuisine types is that Creole food typically uses tomatoes and tomato-based sauces while traditional Cajun food does not.

What can you not eat on Fat Tuesday? ›

There are fasting guidelines on Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent, but Fat Tuesday generally does not have restrictions on what to eat.

What is eaten on Fat Thursday? ›

During Fat Thursday, people would meet their friends and relatives and eat large quantities of sweets, cakes, and other meals that usually not eaten during Lent. Among the most popular all-national dishes served on that day, you should not miss your chance to enjoy pączki and faworki.

What do Catholics eat for Fat Tuesday? ›

Traditional Fat Tuesday Meals

Many celebrations include donuts, pancakes, and Polish Pączki. One popular favorite food item is Mardi Gras King Cake—a delicious cake with a small plastic baby hidden inside, representing the baby Jesus.

What does Krewe stand for? ›

At the center of local parading customs is the peculiar term “krewe” itself. A krewe is, simply, a club or organization that exists to celebrate Carnival. But while a krewe has royalty, the positions of king and queen are merely ceremonial.

What do Christians eat on Fat Tuesday? ›

Many Christian congregations thus observe the day through eating pancakes or, more specifically, the holding of pancake breakfasts, as well as the ringing of church bells to remind people to repent of their sins before the start of Lent.

What do Americans do on Fat Tuesday? ›

Today is Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, the last day of the Carnival season. It's celebrated in New Orleans and around the United States and the world with parades, balls and parties.

What do Italians do for Fat Tuesday? ›

In many cities throughout Italy, you will find adolescents throwing confetti, streamers, fruit, or even raw eggs. While culinary traditions range from region to region, the food of Carnevale is always rich. This was (and still is) the time to indulge before the restrictive period of Lent.

What do Italians eat on Fat Tuesday? ›

The Food of Carnevale

It's only fitting, then, that lasagna is a popular food at Carnevale feasts, as it's a sumptuous combination of meat, pasta, ricotta and mozzarella. Sausages, cheeses and antipasti also have a special place at the table. Still, the main attractions of Carnevale are typically the sweet treats.

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