Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe

Embrace the spirit of Mardi Gras with this traditional King Cake, a festive and colorful yeast bread that features a sweet cream cheese filling and is adorned with the iconic Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold. This cake is a staple during Carnival season and is perfect for bringing a piece of New Orleans to any celebration.



  • Unsalted Butter: 1/2 cup, melted
  • Lukewarm Milk: 3/4 cup
  • Unbleached All-Purpose Flour: 3 1/2 cups
  • Granulated Sugar: 1/4 cup
  • Nonfat Dry Milk Powder: 1/4 cup
  • Fine Sea Salt: 1 1/4 teaspoons
  • Instant Yeast: 2 1/2 teaspoons
  • Vanilla Extract (or Bergamot Extract, or Fiori di Sicilia): 2 teaspoons
  • Eggs + 1 Egg Yolk: 2 eggs + 1 yolk (reserve white for later use)


  • Cream Cheese: 8 oz, softened
  • Granulated Sugar: 1/2 cup
  • All-Purpose Flour: 3 tablespoons
  • Large Egg: 1, lightly beaten
  • Vanilla Extract (or Bergamot Extract, or Fiori di Sicilia): 2 teaspoons


  • Confectioners’ Sugar: 2 cups
  • Salt: Pinch
  • Bergamot Extract: 1 teaspoon
  • Milk or Cream: 2-3 tablespoons


  • Purple, Green, and Gold Sanding Sugars


  1. Make the Dough:
    • Combine all dough ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead until smooth.
    • Place dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise for about 1 hour.
  2. Prepare the Filling:
    • Mix cream cheese, sugar, flour, egg, and extract until smooth.
  3. Shape the Cake:
    • Roll dough into a 24×6-inch rectangle. Spread filling down the center.
    • Fold dough over the filling, seal with egg wash, and form into a ring.
    • Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover, and let rise for about 1 hour.
  4. Bake:
    • Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
    • Brush cake with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes. Tent with foil and bake for another 30 minutes.
  5. Glaze and Decorate:
    • Mix confectioners’ sugar, salt, extract, and milk to make the glaze.
    • Drizzle glaze over cooled cake and immediately decorate with colored sugars.


  • Ingredient Temperature: Ensure all ingredients are at room temperature for best results.
  • Baby Figurine: If using a plastic baby figurine, insert it after the cake is baked and cooled.
  • Flavor Variations: Substitute Fiori di Sicilia or citrus extracts for a different flavor profile.

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Rising Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 4 hours 50 minutes

Yield: Serves 12

Category: Dessert

Method: Baking

Cuisine: American (New Orleans)


This Mardi Gras King Cake is not just a dessert, it’s a celebration in itself! With its rich, bready texture, sweet cream cheese filling, and vibrant sugar topping, it captures the essence of Mardi Gras festivity and joy. Perfect for a party or a special treat, this King Cake is sure to be a hit and might even bring good luck to whoever finds the baby hidden inside!

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