Mardi Gras traditions aren't all about beads and parades. There are actually tons of other culinary cultural staples tied to the holiday that have been around for hundreds of years. Back in the 19th century, a dessert tradition from France arrived in New Orleans, and thankfully, it was one that would stick around for years to come.
The dessert was dubbed the "King Cake" and it was made to honor the biblical three kings. The cake was baked to look like a crown using a light and fluffy pastry dough and was then decorated in three symbolic icing colors: green for faith, gold for power, and purple for justice. Historically, a little bean was baked into the cake, and whoever got the slice with the bean would be deemed the king for the day — for celebratory purposes only. Now, this tradition has evolved from a bean to a plastic baby figurine, but the meaning is still the same (and it's probably safer because I feel like a plastic baby figurine is less likely to be a choking hazard than a literal bean).
And while the King Cake is the most popular and iconic Mardi Gras dessert, there are a few other desserts that have become popular for the holiday that are super easy to make if you feel like celebrating from home this year. These are some of each type of Mardi Gras treat options:
OG Mardi Gras King Cake
This is the classic recipe: it's cinnamon-y and fluffy and also a work of art. Check out the recipe on Brown Eyed Baker.
New Orleaners love their moon pies. Check out this super easy recipe on Brown Eyed Baker and keep one of Louisiana's traditional desserts alive.
Apple Cider Bundt Cake
This sweet and seasonally spiced cake is perfect in the cooler months. Check out the recipe by Baked By Rachel.
Blood Orange Coffee Cake
If cinnamon swirled cakes are not your jam you might want to consider this coffee swirled cake that looks exactly like the traditional King Cakes. Check out the recipe on How Sweet Eats.
These Polish donuts are made with brioche, the same dough that's used in more traditional King Cakes. Check out the recipe on Brown Eyed Baker.
When you think of Mardi Gras, you think of New Orleans, and when you think of New Orleans, you think of beignets — duh. Check out this must-taste recipe by Brown Eyed Baker.
Bourbon Bread Pudding
In the spirit of New Orleans, get your bourbon on with this infused bread pudding cake. Check out the recipe on Brown Eyed Baker.
If you're a donut gal, you'll want to check out this recipe by Hummingbird High because Mardi Gras cakes come in all shapes and sizes, and here, they come as donuts.
Mardi Gras Bundt Cake
If you're looking for a updated and easier-to-bake spin on the Mardi Gras cake, this recipe by Brown Eyed Baker is the one for you.
Cinnamon Bun Cake
Swirled cinnamon is a key ingredient in the traditional King Cakes. This updated recipe by A Cozy Kitchen has all of the flavors without all the colors. Though feel free to add your own flare if colored icing is your Mardi Gras jam.
Marble Bundt Cake
If you're looking for a Kings Cake that's a little bit more low key, you'll want to check out this recipe from Foodie Crush — it's great year-round, but perfect for Mardi Gras.