30+ Classic Recipes for Mardi Gras
Recipe: King Cake
Try this classic King Cake recipe at home for a taste of Nola in your own kitchen.
Recipe: Chicken-Andouille Gumbo
Andouille is a classic southeastern Louisiana ingredient – the best of this spicy pork sausage can can be found in the produce stands that line highways down in the lower portions of the state. This classic Cajun gumbo makes enough to please the crowd of out-of-towners that ascend down to the Louisiana boot during the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras. Make it ahead of time, and stock your freezer with the rich Cajun gumbo. Test Kitchen Tip: Use empty cereal boxes to save space. Line an upright box with a zip-top bag (just like you’re lining a trash can). Carefully fill the zip-top bag, and freeze the liquid while still in the box to hold it in a flat shape. Once frozen, remove the bag from the box and stack. Thaw in the refrigerator or over a low simmer on the stove.
Instant Pot Jambalaya
Recipe: Instant Pot Jambalaya
This quick Jambalaya may taste like it's straight from the Big Easy, but it comes together faster than you can finish a hurricane cocktail.
Recipe: Crawfish Étouffée
Étouffée (pronounced ay-too-fay) is French for “smothered,” and this dish is just that – crawfish smothered in a creamy, rich sauce that you can only get in Southeastern Louisiana. Crawfish Étouffée is about the second-best way to prepare crawfish, the first, of course, being boiled over a hot gas stove. Many Louisianans look forward to having leftover tails from their crawfish boils to make this rich, flavorful meal. Full of flavor, the sauce combines paprika, pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, poblano peppers, onions, celery, garlic, and flour in a thick, creamy, roux-like smothering sauce. Crawfish tails are coated in the spicy sauce, and served on top of long-grain, white rice. This dish is perfect for a Mardi Gras supper after a long day of standing outside in chilly parades.
Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice
Recipe: Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice
Don't have hours to wait? Use an Instant Pot to make this classic Creole dish in a flash without sacrificing flavor.
Recipe: Crawfish Dip
If you have some leftover crawfish tails but aren’t in the mood for an entrée, this is a unique (and easy!) way to use them. Filled with flavor from a variety of spices, guests will be wowed by the flavor of this simple dish that lets the slow cooker do most of the work. After making this dip, serve it in a slow cooker to keep it warm (and to avoid doing any extra dishes). Set this appetizer out with crackers or toasted baguette slices and watch it disappear at your next party. It also makes a great appetizer for a Derby party!
New Orleans Beignets
Recipe: New Orleans Beignets
If you've never been to New Orleans, you can still get a taste of its cuisine with our recipe for New Orleans Beignets, the official state doughnut of Louisiana.
Recipe: Mini Muffulettas
Invented at a New Orleans institution, Central Grocery, the Muffuletta sandwich combines the best of Italian and Creole food into one filling and very unique sandwich. Central Grocery, opened in 1906, catered to the Italian citizens of the crescent city. Typically, Italian customers ate lunches of bread, salamis, cheeses, and olives – but each ingredient, they ate separately. The owner noticed they were having a hard time carrying all of their ingredients separately, and combined them to make the iconic sandwich. In our version, we made our own olive salad using pickled vegetables and Spanish olives – but you can buy delicious pre-made jars in stores across Louisiana. Simply load olive salad onto small dinner rolls (with sesame seeds, of course) and add Italian meats and cheeses.
Best Ever Seafood Gumbo
Recipe: Seafood Gumbo
Packed with seafood, this classic Creole gumbo is one of our best heart-warming seafood dishes to date. Loaded with lump crabmeat, shrimp, sliced okra, and Andouille sausage, this gumbo is certainly not lacking in flavor. The more spices, the better. The genius of this menu item is that, as is the case with all gumbo, it actually tastes better after it sits in the refrigerator for a while. Make it ahead of time, and let the flavors soak together overnight in the refrigerator. Simmering Andouille with the stock lends the base a tasty depth; adding seafood at the last minute means it’s perfectly cooked. Serve over white rice with parsley and hot sauce.
Recipe: Shrimp-and-Sausage Gumbo
Enjoy a smoky and spicy classic that takes just a few minutes prepare, and then slow-simmers in a slow cooker so that the classic Louisiana flavors have time to soak into each other. By browning the flour in an oven prior to mixing it with the gumbo, this recipe makes roux-making easy. You won’t have to worry about burning the flour and oil – in fact, there is no oil in this delicious recipe. When this classic shrimp and sausage gumbo is ready, it’s best served over a bed of herbed rice. Our reviewers rave that this recipe is “wonderful and easy,” and “definitely a keeper.”
Warm Gumbo Dip
Recipe: Warm Gumbo Dip
Why reserve Gumbo for starters and sit-down meals? Here at Southern Living, we believe that the flavors of good ole Louisiana gumbo can and should be incorporated into every meal possible, even the hors d’oeuvres served as everyone gathers at a house before heading down to the Mardi Gras parade route. This unique warm Gumbo dip combines the best flavors of Gumbo – green onions, celery, bell peppers, shrimp, and okra – into a creamy dip. By chopping the shrimp and combining the flavors with cream cheese and Parmesan cheese, the traditional gumbo flavors turn into a rich and thick dip. Served over buttery toasted French bread slices, this Southern dip will quickly become a party favorite.
SL's Stovetop Crawfish Boil
Recipe: Crawfish Boil
Nothing screams spring in New Orleans quite like a crawfish boil. The smells of fresh ground hot cayenne pepper, entire heads of whole garlic cloves, smoky paprika, simmering onions, and roasting thyme combining in the humid Louisiana air are a sure-fire sign that spring has sprung, and that Mardi Gras is right around the corner. Although we love an outdoor crawfish boil, sometimes it’s hard to set up the necessary stock pots and open burners in your backyard – especially if you don’t have a backyard in the first place. That’s why we’ve perfected the art of a stovetop crawfish boil. Experience the longtime Cajun tradition in the comfort of your home, and have spicy boiled crawdads for dinner!
Master the art of make-ahead freezer meals by stocking up on these weeknight favorites. Here, we share recipes (along with a few helpful tips and tricks) that make the most of your greatest kitchen ally: the freezer. Build deep flavors in Jambalaya by sautéing the aromatic trinity of onion, celery, and pepper in the Andouille drippings with herbs, garlic, and spices. Make a double batch of cooked rice to spin this inexpensive staple into countless meals. Cool the rice, portion, and freeze in a zip-top freezer bag. To reheat: Transfer rice to a bowl, and sprinkle with water. Cover with a paper towel; microwave on High 2 minutes.
Recipe: Shrimp Étouffée
Even when crawfish aren’t in season, people in Louisiana still want to eat étouffée (because it is delicious). So we’ve created this delicious shrimp version of the classic dish to bring Cajun comfort food at its best to your table, no matter the time of year. The thick, spicy mixture with onions and peppers is cooked in a light gravy and served over rice. Reviewers of this top-rated recipe rave, “I make this recipe often using shrimp, and it's great! Being from south LA, I can tell you that this is authentic in flavor and ingredients! Bon appetite!”
Recipe: Okra Creole
Okra is a humble but oh-so-beloved Southern favorite. Grown in backyard gardens from one end of the state to the other, okra is served best either fried, or used in slowly simmered soups and stews, and served over rice. Dress up the humble vegetable with this spicy Creole side dish. With mouthwatering flavors of bacon, onions, and corn to compliment the okra, this dish comes together with time saving, frozen ingredients. Seasoned with Creole seasoning, and this dish certainly isn’t short on flavor. One reviewer raves, “Wow... trip down memory lane! This really brings back memories. My mother used to fix this when we were kids.” Serve over rice for a complete meal.
Recipe: Creole Jambalaya
This classic Creole Jambalaya recipe is exactly the spicy, flavorful, and filling dish that authentic jambalaya should be. Sautéed onions, fresh bell peppers, green onions, cooked cubed ham, and Cajun-flavored sausage (or Andouille) come together to flavor this delicious rice dish. The flavorful creole ingredients simmer in tomato sauce so all the spices can blend together. Cooked rice soaks up the liquid and makes this classic jambalaya complete. For formal occasions, a quick garnish of parsley dresses up this down-home Creole dish. For an authentic touch, serve this spicy jambalaya with a slice of buttered and toasted French bread.
Creole Shrimp and Grits
Recipe: Creole Shrimp and Grits
A New Orleans classic gets a Lowcountry makeover in our hybrid (and delicious) Creole Shrimp and Grits recipe. Creole shrimp is just about as New Orleans as it gets, and Shrimp and Grits is just about as Lowcountry as it gets – combined, and you have a classic yet unique dish that captures two favorite Southern regions in one delicious flavor profile. The rich sauce for this Creole Shrimp and Grits recipe starts with a roux, which is browning flour in oil. Be sure to get into the corners of the pan when you stir so the flour there does not scorch.
Cajun Shrimp Casserole
Recipe: Cajun Shrimp Casserole
This reader-submitted recipe from Cottonport, Louisiana, was shared with us by Elaine Jeansonne, an obvious master at Southern cooking. In the South, we love a creamy casserole. In Southern Louisiana, this holds as true – especially when that rich, creamy casserole has crawfish in it. This hearty seafood casserole is filled with shrimp, cheese, and rice. It gets its spicy Cajun flair from okra, bell peppers, and cayenne pepper. It’s a great choice for a special occasion meal, or even for a quick weeknight supper – it only needs 20 minutes in the oven to achieve rich, bubbly, cheesy perfection. We also offer make-ahead and freezing instructions on this luscious Cajun shrimp casserole.
Recipe: Chicken-and-Sausage Gumbo
There are countless ways to make a good gumbo, but chicken and sausage might be our favorite. Although we love seafood and we love okra, there’s something about the simplicity of cooked chicken and spicy sausage simmered in a homemade roux that’s pure comfort in a spoon. This classic recipe starts with a tradition roux made of flour and butter or oil. Then, add the Cajun “trinity” of seasonings – green bell pepper, celery, and onions – before stirring in the meat and other vegetables and spices. Serve this classic dish over long grain rice with a slice of toasted and buttered French bread.
Cajun Chicken Pasta
Recipe: Cajun Chicken Pasta
This hearty, filling Cajun dish may be exactly what you need to help prepare your body for Mardi Gras. Sautéed bell peppers, mushrooms, and green onions combine with Cajun-seasoned chicken and a simple white sauce for a skillet meal that is sure to please your dinner table. One easy way to kick up the flavor in this dish is to season it heavily. Here, the seasoning is sprinkled on the chicken strips before they’re sautéed and tossed in the linguine-vegetable mixture. Reviewers rave, “I just made this for dinner tonight and oh my gosh, it was delicious. This will be a regular dinner in my house.”
Traditional King Cake
Recipe: Traditional King Cake
King Cakes are a vibrant part of the Mardi Gras tradition in New Orleans, and across the entire state of Louisiana. As part of the state’s deeply Catholic faith, the cake represents the gifts given to baby Jesus. According to tradition, there is a plastic baby stuck into the cake before it is cut. Whoever gets the piece with the baby must buy the next King Cake. So, if you get the baby and don’t want to buy the cake (they can actually get pretty expensive), try making this basic recipe instead! This traditional Mardi Gras dessert recipe makes two King Cakes each topped with a creamy glaze and festive gold, purple, and yellow sugar sprinkles.
John's Bananas Foster
Recipe: Brennan's Bananas Foster
Bananas Foster was invented in a New Orleans restaurant, and is still a favorite dessert in Louisiana and across the South today for its unmatched richness and sugar-sweet flavor.
Muffuletta Deviled Eggs
Recipe: Muffuletta Deviled Eggs
A twist on two classic Southern favorites, this deviled egg rendition will stand out on your appetizer table during Mardi Gras. They’re bite-size versions of our favorite Italian sandwiches! With rich and creamy egg yolks, mayonnaise, and homemade olive salad, these deviled eggs are certainly company worthy. Make your own olive salad using mixed pickled vegetables, Spanish olives, Kalamata Olives, olive oil, capers, and Italian seasoning – or purchase pre-made olive salad from your local grocer. Top with thinly sliced, crispy fried salami and chives for a party-ready platter. One reviewer raves, “This is my new go-to recipe for deviled eggs. They are delicious, salty and flavorful from the olives and pickled vegetables… so good!"
Slow-Cooker Red Beans and Rice
Recipe: Slow-Cooker Red Beans and Rice
According to an age-old tradition, Red Beans and Rice are eaten on Mondays in Louisiana. If it’s Monday and you forgot to soak your beans overnight, but you are still craving the savory dish, then this recipe can be whipped up in your slow cooker with minimal effort while you complete your daily errands. Simply combine beans, sausage, celery, onions, garlic, Creole seasoning, and bell peppers in your slow cooker. Serve the savory mixture over a bed of hot rice. Garnish with parsley or onions, and make sure you set out the hot sauce! If you have leftovers, this recipe can be frozen and served again later.
It's Louisiana's ultimate comfort food - muffulettas. Prepare the classic sandwich quickly on a weeknight and pair it with Zapp's potato chips, of course.
King Cake Monkey Bread
Recipe: King Cake Monkey Bread
Easily made with a can of cinnamon rolls, this sweet and Southern recipe is a modern twist on a classic king cake.
Praline-Cream Cheese King Cake
Recipe: Praline-Cream Cheese King Cake
Toasted pecans and rich cream cheese make this king cake irresistibly delicious.
Mini Crab Cakes with Cajun Sauce
Recipe: Mini Crab Cakes with Cajun Sauce
These crab cakes pack a serious flavor punch in one bite-size appetizer. Topped off with Cajun Sauce, you're sure to love this recipe.
Cornbread Crab Cakes
Recipe: Cornbread Crab Cakes
This recipe combines two of our favorite Southern dishes: crab cakes and cornbread. It's truly the best of both worlds.
Crispy Andouille Hush Puppies
Recipe: Crispy Andouille Hush Puppies
This crunchy, bite-size cuisine is the perfect side dish for any barbecue or fish fry.
New Orleans Red Beans and Rice
Recipe: New Orleans Red Beans and Rice
Quintessentially Southern, this Red Beans and Rice dish is simple, classic, and oh-so delicious.
Praline Cream-Beignet Tower
Recipe: Praline Cream-Beignet Tower
This Praline Cream-Beignet Tower is much easier than it looks. Delicious and striking, it's sure to impress your Mardi Gras guests.