King Cakes

It’s Mardi Gras — that time of year when king cake is king. If you’re not familiar with king cake, you should be. Not to be confused with cake-cake, a king cake is a braided yeast dough (think cinnamon roll) that is filled, topped with glaze and decorated in traditional Mardi gras colors. But before you go running to your nearest bakery, grocery store or ordering one online, you should think about baking your own. Why? Face it–nothing tastes as good as a freshly baked croissant, biscuit, or cinnamon roll. King cake is no different. Fillings range from traditional (cinnamon-sugar) to outlandish (Elvis-inspired peanut butter, banana and bacon, anyone?). Check out these best of the best king cake recipes (a few of which I’ve made myself) and, while you’re at it, stock up on butter, flour, and sugar.

Pecan Praline Cream Cheese King Cake from Lemon Baby

Pecan Praline is one of the most popular flavors of king cake, as is cream cheese. I combined the two into this ridiculously decadent beauty, chock full of pecans and creamy brown sugared goodness.

Pecan-Praline Cream Cheese goodness right there.

Cream Cheese King Cake by SAVEUR

When (very unofficially) polled, more people claimed they preferred cream cheese over any other flavor (pecan praline was second). It’s no wonder, as creamy fillings go beautifully with tender dough.

King Cake
Photo Credit Helen Rosner/SAVEUR

Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese King Cake from Lemon Baby

This king cake is the best of both tart and sweet worlds. Filled with Meyer lemon curd and topped off with a lemon glaze, it’s anything but traditional, and yet it still satisfies that king cake craving.

King Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Filling
Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese King Cake from Lemon Baby

Salted Caramel King Cake from Chocolate + Marrow

The inspiration for this year’s forthcoming king cake, this salted caramel beauty should be a centerpiece for all Mardi gras festivities. Honestly, does it get any better than sea salt + caramel? I don’t think so.

Salted Caramel King Cake from Chocolate + Marrow

Bananas Foster King Cake from Tasting Table

Another quintessential New Orleans dessert, bananas foster is decadent and delicious. With a rum-banana-cream cheese filling, this over-the-top king cake is a winner.

Bananas Foster King Cake
Bananas Foster King Cake from Tasting Table

Mardi Gras King Cake from Joy the Baker

New Orleans’ own Joy the Baker puts a little personal spin on the traditional filling by adding cocoa powder. Me likey.

Mardi Gras King Cake
Mardi Gras King Cake from Joy the Baker

Donald Link’s “Elvis” King Cake Via Andrew Zimmern

I can’t even right now. Peanut butter, banana, and bacon? It’s almost too insane…but if I’m completely honest? I’m digging it.

Donald Link’s “Elvis” King Cake
Donald Link’s “Elvis” King Cake via Andrew Zimmern

Traditional King Cake from Brown-Eyed Baker

Last but not least, we end on a traditional note. This cinnamon-sugar filled king cake is no-frills but gets the job done for the king cake purists.

Traditional Mardi Gras King Cake from Brown Eyed Baker

Well, any way you slice it (see what I did there?), king cake is here until midnight on Fat Tuesday, March 5. So do yourself a favor, whip yourself up one of these babies and laissez les bon temps rouler!

Tell us what you think!