Mardi Gras Appetizers
Crab cakes, fritters, shrimp cocktails -- the choices for Mardi Gras appetizers are almost limitless. Plan your Mardi Gras party with a few appetizer recipes from our collection.See Popular Mardi Gras Appetizers Recipes
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?
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.
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.
F&W's Emily Kaiser created these crispy hush puppies -- cornmeal dumplings -- by adapting a recipe from chef Susan McCreight Lindeborg. (Lindeborg ran the kitchen at Washington, DC's Morrison-Clark Inn when Emily worked there as a line cook.) Emily serves them with a version of the creamy French sauce remoulade, which she spikes with Tabasco and a little ketchup.
Jason McCullar reinvents shrimp remoulade, the classic New Orleans cocktail-party dish. Instead of tossing his vermouth-poached shrimp with a mayonnaise dressing, he makes a ginger-spiked dipping sauce.
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.
Toasted walnuts, honey, hot red pepper, and soft aromatic cheese blend seamlessly in this spicy and savory appetizer spread.
The sandwich filling that originated in New Orleans transforms itself into a tasty spread perfect for a quick, no-fuss snack and starter.
The traditional French fritter or beignet is a puffy, deep-fried doughnutlike pastry. Mixing the dough is easy with the help of your bread machine.
In Mexico, these fritters are often served at Christmas. Some sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar while others prefer them with a drizzle of cinnamon syrup.