Anyone who thinks Mardi Gras is just a chance to party doesn't know enough about the food surrounding this annual festival. The food of New Orleans is the stuff of legend - spicy jambalaya, blackened catfish, savory dirty rice --really, what's not to love? Many of this region's Cajun staples are stews built on rich, dark roux. (Its deep flavor is present in every bite of seafood gumbo and shrimp etouffe.) When you're on the hunt for Mardi Gras recipes, look for traditional preparations that hold true to the Cajun and Creole tradition. This cuisine doesn't need any fancy twists or updates - it's beauty is in its simplicity. Once you've cleared the dinner plates, it's time for king cake. This colorfully decorated cake isn't just a sweet dessert - local custom dictates that the baker add a trinket (often a tiny baby doll) to the batter. The lucky guest who finds the doll in his slice is "king of the feast". Hiding a trinket (it was once typically a bean, now bakers often a place a tiny baby doll) in the batter in this festively decorated cake is a Mardi Gras tradition.See Popular Mardi Gras Recipes
Trending in Our Kitchens
Jambalaya, a hodgepodge of meat, seafood, and rice, is one of Louisiana's most iconic dishes. Though recipes vary widely, there are two versions basic versions: Creole jambalaya, which originated in New Orleans as a stand-in for Spanish paella, contains tomatoes, while Cajun jambalaya, which sprang up from settlers in the state's bayou country, does not. Don't fret if you don't know which one to choose--both versions are delicious.
Try these appetizers, main dishes, drinks and more with Cajun and Creole flavors perfect for Mardi Gras celebrations with friends!
Like Mardi Gras itself, Bananas Foster is dazzling, fun and a little bit decadent. A dessert made of bananas, vanilla ice cream and a sweet, spicy-and-smoky sauce, the over-the-top treat is a New Orleans classic. Add to those tasty ingredients the fact that the dessert is often served flambe, and you can understand why Bananas Foster is better than a banana split -- kind of like how Mardi Gras is better than any other parade.
Anyone who thinks Mardi Gras is just a chance to party doesn't know enough about the delicious food that's at the heart of this annual festival. New Orleans cuisine is the stuff of legend -- spicy jambalaya, blackened catfish, savory dirty rice. Really, what's not to love?
You can have great spicy gumbo without Mardi Gras, but you can't really have Mardi Gras -- at least not in Louisiana -- without gumbo. In fact, this traditional stew is such a part of Mardi Gras culture that in southern Louisiana, the holiday includes men who go door to door "begging" for gumbo ingredients, a ritual known as Courir de Mardi Gras (Mardi Gras Run). When they've got everything they need, they cook enough gumbo for the whole community.
Mardi Gras is steeped in tradition, and while you may forgo the feathers and floats this year, if you're looking to add a touch of French Quarter authenticity to your celebration, then you can't do better than an old-fashioned King's Cake. It's one of those foods that comes with a long and deliciously tangled history. As legend has it, the cake dates far back to medieval Europe and the celebration of Epiphany (or the Twelfth Night of Christmas) at the beginning of January, which commemorates the biblical story of the three kings visiting the infant Jesus.
We admit it: this day and age, the idea of "kid-friendly" Mardi Gras seems about as nonsensical as busing the folks at your local retirement home down to a Lady Gaga concert. But that's only because Mardi Gras has devolved in the public imagination to a point where it's somehow synonymous with a Girls Gone Wild kind of thing. No, when we think of "girls gone wild" and Mardi Gras, we're thinking of a bunch of 6-year-olds shrieking as they dart around the house in face paint and kooky glasses.
Take a trip to New Orleans with a bowl of crunchy, colorful Mardi Gras Slaw! Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, is famously and raucously celebrated in New Orleans (as well as in Rio de Janeiro) every year, as people from all over the world gather to indulge in over-the-top food and drink before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season begins the following day, on Ash Wednesday. I'm all for a good party, but will be taking Fat Tuesday a little less literally next week by incorporating healthy Mardi Gras Slaw into my Cajun-inspired menu.
There are probably thousands of different ways to make chili. But we're certain that few are as easy as this slow-cooker Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili with a Cajun twist. (Today is Mardi Gras, you know.)
Learn how to make cajun seafood gumbo, and you've got a hearty, spicy dinner that's perfect for a chilly night. There's no need to save it for Mardi Gras!
You can use store-bought pralines to make the crust for this fluffy cheesecake, but Big Sugar's quick praline recipe is worth the extra effort, as is the buttery caramel sauce that gets pooled on top.
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to spend a few days in New Orleans in February--which meant warmer weather than where I was living and a chance to enjoy my first beignets (among many other Mardi Gras foods). If you've never had a real beignet, you are in for a treat whether you make them at home or jump a flight to join in the Mardi Gras festivities. When freshly fried and doused (literally) with powdered sugar, these are some of the best sweet bites around.
Looking to add a little bit of Mardi Gras flavor to your weeknight repertoire (but without all the, um, debauchery and degrading yourself for plastic beads)? Then kick it up a notch or two with these Creole Carnival Burgers. Here, plain ol' salt and pepper get the boot in favor of eye-opening Cajun spice mix.
Gearing up for today's Mardi Gras celebration means I've been thinking more and more about shrimp. What would New Orleans be without the beautiful seafood brought in by Gulf shrimpers? So this week, I'm cooking shrimp, and getting two fabulous meals from it.
In Cajun country, catfish is king. And as we gear up to celebrate Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday), we take our own bow to the catfish that folks from Louisiana know how to cook to perfection. Pan-fried or baked, catfish has a mild flavor that marries well with spices like paprika and cayenne pepper, and a dash of hot-pepper sauce.
Gerald Hirigoyen's airy beignets (doughnuts) can be deep-fried a few hours in advance and recrisped in the oven just before serving.