Are you ready to catch some flying beads and bask in the glow of purple, green, and gold light? It's time to celebrate Mardi Gras, but beyond heading to N'awlins and getting silly in the middle of the parades, you can ring in the prelude to Lent with some classic Southern Mardi Gras food ideas.
The history of the holiday is rooted in indulgence and debauchery, as it pre-dates Lent, which is pretty much the opposite of indulgence. So get all that eating, drinking, and celebrating in now, because if you celebrate Lent, you know you're about to lose all that fun stuff. At least until the Easter bunny comes by and drops off a basket full of candy (and hopefully rent money?).
In order to nail the menu for your Mardi Gras celebration, you need the N'awlins staples: crawfish, red beans and rice, King's cake, and buckets of jambalaya. But you also need to make sure that each of these dishes are packed with zest, and the whole 'stick to your ribs' feel, since you're basically preparing your body for 40 days of bland deprivation. Here are 13 classic Mardi Gras recipes that'll fill your belly and soothe your soul.
1. Red Beans and Rice
Wanna stuff yourself stupid with a simple Mardi Gras meal? Red beans and rice from The Kitchn is the ticket. It's a New Orleans staple, but also filling enough to be eaten as a side, or a complete dish.
2. Mardi Gras Jambalaya
Does it get any more NOLA than this jambalaya from Big Girls Small Kitchen? Plus, with shrimp, sausage, and chicken in the same pot, topped with a mess of other ingredients and spicy spices, every bowl will be emptied.
3. Buttermilk Coleslaw
When you're expecting Southern hospitality, expect to see buttermilk in just about everything. And in order to break up the heavy, meaty dishes, have a few bites of this tangy buttermilk coleslaw from The Kitchn between.
4. Creamy Crawfish Pasta
I mean, could anyone possibly say no to creamy crawfish pasta from The Kitchn? It's got the bite of Creole seasoning, the rich, heavy cream, and the fresh taste of crawfish mixed with pasta. Naps should immediately follow this meal.
Why worry about the slight difference between gumbo and jambalaya when you can just combine the two for a hearty bowl of gumbo-laya from Prevention RD before heading back out to the parades?
6. Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
If you've celebrated Mardi Gras before, you know that gumbo and jambalaya are slightly different dishes. They both have veggies, meat, and stock, but jambalaya has thickened stock, whereas gumbo is a bit thinner and more like soup. Either way, they're both delicious NOLA classics, and this gumbo from The Kitchn is particularly mouthwatering.
7. Blackened Okra
Okra is a Southern favorite among the veggies, and even though it can sometimes have a strange texture (occasional slimy exterior), if grilled or broiled, like this blackened okra from Naturally Ella, it will remain delicious.
8. Cornbread Fritters
You can't exactly have a Southern feast without a piece of cornbread on the side, am I right? And these cornbread fritters from Food Nasty are ah-mazing.
9. Creamy Crawfish Dip
You can't really embrace the N'awlins vibe without having some crawfish. Aside from the classic crawfish boil, this creamy crawfish dip from The Kitchn can serve as an appetizer or a hearty lunch.
10. Red Beans and Rice Nachos
The good thing about red beans and rice is that they can go with practically everything. These nachos have red beans and rice from Joy The Baker baked on top with some classic nacho toppers is pretty much the best thing you will ever eat.
11. Bourbon Pecan Pralines
These praline-flavored candied pecans from Brown Eyed Baker are spiked with bourbon. Do I really need to go into why you need these in your life, or does the description say it all? Thought so.
12. King Cake Donuts
King cake is a Mardi Gras must-have, in whatever form you find it in. The original take on king cake is a cinnamon-swirled brioche, shaped into a wreath and covered with frosting and the three Mardi Gras colors. But when you can find King cake in donut form from Hummingbird High, do not pass up the opportunity to gobble it up!
13. Gluten-Free King Cake
Last, but certainly not least is the OG King cake from Gluten-Free On A Shoestring. But if you're sensitive to gluten or allergic altogether, this gluten-free version is just as tasty as the original, without the risk of a reaction.