31 Fat Tuesday Recipes That'll Let The Good Times Roll

Feast on your favorites.

King Cake Beignets
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

At its core, Mardi Gras is essentially a reflection of New Orleans' ancient traditions and diverse culture; however, most of us have to come to appreciate it as a celebration of pure indulgence.

Beyond Bourbon Street, colorful beads, and lavish balls and parades lies a deep connection to food—rich, dense, and satisfying dishes to sustain revelers before Ash Wednesday marks the start of the fasting season of Lent.

Thus, the aptly named Fat Tuesday is the last day to enjoy all the meaty and fatty delicacies you can muster up. Because, frankly, 40 days is a long time to go without eating our Southern favorites.

We couldn't let the good times roll without offering some New Orleans-inspired meals to prepare you for the ultimate cheat day of decadence. Whether you call it Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday, here, food and religion marry together for one last pre-Lent hurrah. Feel free to take your pick from these recipes—just indulge responsibly.

01 of 31

Chicken And Sausage Jambalaya

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
Greg DuPree

Jambalaya is a quintessentially Creole dish that's typically filled with meat, rice, and various spices any Cajun food lover would enjoy. Here, our version is packed with chicken and sausage for the perfect hearty approach to Fat Tuesday.

02 of 31

Crawfish Étouffée

Crawfish Étouffée
Greg DuPree

The French word étouffée means to smother or braise. During crawfish season, you can't go wrong with étouffée, a popular stew common of southwest Louisiana that's served over a bed of fluffy rice. This hearty dish will satisfy any seafood lover.

03 of 31

Creamy Andouille Pasta

Creamy andouille pasta in bowl

Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Lydia Purcell; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn

Spicy andouille gives creamy pasta a kick and a bit of Cajun flavor for a weeknight meal.

04 of 31

Chicken And Sausage Gumbo

Andouille Sausage and Smoked Chicken Gumbo
Southern Living

Sausage, chicken, and creole seasoning combine together for a delicious dish that will keep you coming back for more.

05 of 31

Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras King Cake

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

The flavor of New Orleans is baked into this round pastry dessert that's decorated in colorful icing reminiscent of the purple, green, and gold spirit of Mardi Gras. It wouldn't be Carnival and Mardi Gras season without king cake and its lucky surprise inside.

06 of 31

Shrimp And Okra Gumbo

Shrimp and Okra Gumbo
Southern Living

Serve this Louisiana favorite over rice for an authentic one-dish dinner that will wow your guests.

07 of 31

Crawfish Boil

SL's Stovetop Crawfish Boil
Greg DuPree

A sink, stove, and one big pot is all you need to make this authentic Louisiana dish. But we love a crawfish boil because it gives us an opportunity to gather with family and friends in the backyard over crawfish, corn, potatoes, and all the delicious fixings.

08 of 31

Crawfish Rolls

Six crawfish roll sliders on a tray with lemon wedges. Two beers in glasses next to the tray.

Victor Protasio, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Lydia Pursell

Crawfish is in season during Mardi Gras season, so make these quick appetizer-sized rolls for dinner or a nibble before a parade.

09 of 31

Fish And Grits

Fish and Grits

Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Caleb Clarke; Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall

Shrimp and grits originates from South Carolina, but it's warmly embraced by many culinary traditions across the South. In South Alabama, the original home of Mardi Gras, fish and grits is the prized alternative.

10 of 31

Grilled Shrimp Po'Boys With Quick Rémoulade

Grilled Shrimp Po'Boys with Quick Remoulade Sauce
Max Kelly

Tender shrimp is grilled and seasoned to perfection in this recipe, and stuffed into split baguettes to make a Fat Tuesday-worthy sandwich.

11 of 31

Praline Bread Pudding

Praline Bread Pudding
Photo: Hector Sanchez

This is the epitome of comfort food and Southern indulgence. It's full of pecans, brown sugar, and nutmeg. The praline sauce drizzled on top offers the sweetest ending to a feast.

12 of 31

Praline-Cream Cheese King Cake

Praline-Cream Cheese King Cakes
Photo: Greg DuPree; Prop styling: Claire Spollen; Food styling: Chelsea Zimmer

King Cake is a dessert that requires no introduction. While we rarely ever advocate for changing up such classic recipes, this pretty praline-cream cheese version is undoubtedly an upgrade on the Mardi Gras staple.

13 of 31

Cajun Chicken Cassoulet

Cajun Chicken Cassoulet
Photo: Iain Bagwell

Shake things up with an easy one-pot Cajun chicken dish that doesn't disappoint. Unlike the slow-cooked French version, this meal cooks up much quicker.

14 of 31

New Orleans Beignets

New Orleans Beignets
Micah A. Leal

Soft, light, and pillowy—need we say more? You don't have to travel to New Orleans to enjoy bite-sized, powdered sugar-coated beignets. No, your search for the revered pastry ends here with this tasty, fool-proof recipe.

15 of 31

Creole Seafood Jambalaya

Creole Seafood Jambalaya

Will Dickey

Juicy shrimp joins chicken, sausage, even bacon in a classic Louisiana jambalaya.

16 of 31

King Cake Monkey Bread

King Cake Monkey Bread

This year, we'll take our King Cake in shareable, tear-able form, thank you very much.

17 of 31

Instant Pot Jambalaya

Instant Pot Jambalaya
Jennifer Causey; Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Stylist: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

If you're a jambalaya traditionalist, you might not believe us when we say our Test Kitchen pros said this Instant Pot versions was one of their best yet. "Loved how easy this was and the shrimp were perfectly cooked using this method!" wrote one reviewer. "Will definitely make again!"

18 of 31

King Cake Bread Pudding with Chicory Ice Cream

King Cake Bread Pudding with Chicory Ice Cream
Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

We love to reinvent a classic, and this dessert combines some of our favorite flavors for Fat Tuesday. Instead of enjoying your king cake as-is, why not turn it into a sweet, soft bread pudding? A scoop of chicory ice cream is the ultimate New Orleans way to finish off this treat.

19 of 31

Shrimp Creole

Shrimp Creole
Southern Living

This rice supper packs a punch as is, but you might want to add a dash or two of hot sauce to turn up the heat. Aside from being delicious, the best part about this Shrimp Creole is that it comes together in just one pot, making cleanup a breeze.

20 of 31

Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice

Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Kay E. Clarke; Food Stylist: Margaret Monroe Dickey

This Instant Pot recipe cuts out the hours of time it usually takes to tenderize beans for this New Orleans staple recipe. "I make this twice a month for my teenage boys," wrote one reviewer. "They love it and it's super easy!" Don't forget to serve this dish with a loaf of crusty French bread or a skillet of homemade cornbread to sop up every last drop.

21 of 31

Leah Chase's Gumbo Z'Herbes

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, New Orleans, LA
Photo: Robbie Caponetto

Who better to borrow a Fat Tuesday recipe from than the Queen of Creole Cuisine herself? Every year on the Thursday before Easter, Leah Chase would cook up to 100 gallons of her Gumbo Z'Herbes, made with nine different types of greens. All of New Orleans, from Catholics to Jews, whites to blacks, would flock to her gumbo pot en masse. "The best way to know people is through food," she said. "Get them to talk about food. Talk over food. It might be about food, but you're also talking about issues."

22 of 31

Shrimp Étouffée

Shrimp Étouffée
Jennifer Causey; Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Stylist: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

The most time-consuming part of this Louisiana mainstay is chopping all of your veggies, so do it ahead of time to get dinner on the table quicker. Plus, you can cook the rice well in advance and reheat it before supper.

23 of 31

Mini Muffulettas

Mini Muffulettas
Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Amy Burke

New Orleans' famous sandwich gets a big-batch treatment with these mini versions. A tip from the Test Kitchen: You can prepare these the day before, store in zip-top plastic freezer bags, and refrigerate overnight.

24 of 31

Mini King Cake Cupcakes

Mini King Cake Cupcakes
Jennifer Davick; Prop Styling: Lydia Degaris-Pursell; Food Styling: Marian Cooper Cairns

Why risk getting a tiny slice of king cake when you can have your own personal mini version? This cupcake recipe is too cute for your Fat Tuesday party.

25 of 31

Grilled Creole Chicken & Okra

Grilled Creole Chicken and Okra
Photo: Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Grilled chicken, sausage, and okra star in this grilled main that everyone can share.

26 of 31

Brennan's Bananas Foster

Brennan’s Bananas Foster
Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Karin Olsen

If you can't make it to the Big Easy for Fat Tuesday, pretend you're at one of its most legendary restaurants, Brennan's, and make this famous dessert recipe at home. You need just a few ingredients to impress your friends and family this Mardi Gras.

27 of 31

Jambalaya de Covington

Jambalaya de Covington
Jambalaya de Covington

This recipe came our way in 1987 from Joanne Champagne in Covington, Louisiana. Though jambalaya takes many forms, this version is made with smoked turkey, ham, and sausage for a flavorful, filling supper on Fat Tuesday.

28 of 31

Foil Packet Red Beans and Rice

Foil Packet Red Beans and Rice
Johnny Autry; Prop and Food Styling: Charlotte L. Autry

If you're on dish duty this Mardi Gras, try making your red beans and rice using foil packets! This method makes cooking easy, fun, and a snap to clean up.

29 of 31

Creole Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

Creole Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
Jennifer Davick

Finish off your Fat Tuesday meal with a dessert from the recipe repertoire of the Queen of Creole Cuisine, Leah Chase. The five tablespoons of vanilla extract isn't a typo, y'all! Trust the Queen on this.

30 of 31

King Cake Beignets

King Cake Beignets
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Test Kitchen Pro Ivy Odom dreamed up this adorable dessert mashup. Fat Tuesday favorite recipes king cake and beignets meet in this sweet treat that's delicious with your morning coffee or after dinner. "The best part? You can make the dough ahead so you'll have more time to let the good times roll," writes Odom.

31 of 31

Cajun-Style Meatloaf

Cajun-Style Meatloaf
Will Dickey

This recipes satisfies everyone who loves meatloaf, but it has a unique twist: a Louisiana kick from Cajun seasoning and the holy trinity of onion, celery, and bell pepper for juiciness and tenderness.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is it called Fat Tuesday?

    According to americaslibrary.gov, Fat Tuesday is "the last day that many people eat meat and fatty foods before Lent begins." Many Christians fast and abstain from certain foods during Lent until Easter Sunny.

  • What are some foods traditionally eaten on 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. Individuals consume foods high in fat and sugar to prepare for Lenten fasting.

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