13 Mardi Gras Recipes to Let the Good Times Roll

Celebrate Mardi Gras with these delicious New Orleans inspired recipes. Red beans and rice, beignets, and a hurricane cocktail are a great place to start.

13 Mardi Gras Recipes to Let the Good Times Roll

Simply Recipes

Mardi Gras refers to events of the Carnival celebration leading up to the Christian period called Lent. A direct contrast to Lent's self-reflective, sacrificing feel, Mardi Gras celebrates the joy of life through music, revelry, and most importantly, food.

Mardi Gras is celebrated throughout Louisiana and over in the Gulf states of Mississippi and Texas with devotion. Carnivals and parades abound during Mardi Gras season, from January 6th (Epiphany) until (Mardi Gras) Fat Tuesday. Seas of purple, gold, and green (symbolizing justice, power, and faith) can be seen everywhere. Mardi Gras Parade Krewes select their own kings of Mardi Gras and put on elaborate float parades in their communities. No celebration would be complete without food and drink, though, and Mardi Gras is no exception.

New Orleans is known for both Creole and Cajun cuisine, so it makes perfect sense that some of the most popular Mardi Gras festivities feature recipes from those cultures. Classic Mardi Gras recipes are spiced Jambalaya or Shrimp Étouffée, not only because they're filled with party-in-your-mouth flavors but also because they can satiate a group of weary, hungry revelers.

Partygoers usually have a cocktail in hand, and boozy, fruity Hurricanes are notorious New Orleans favorites. End the season with a powdery, pillowy Beignet and transport yourself to Café du Monde, or evoke the spirit of Leah's with a buttery sweet pecan praline.

You might not get a strand of beads thrown at you this year, but you won't miss the French Quarter with these delicious recipes.

  • New Orleans Beignets

    Cindy Rahe

    New Orleans Beignets transport you to coughing in Café du Monde after having inhaled too much powdered sugar from your fluffy piece of fried dough. You haven’t lived until you’ve done it at least once. Serve these piping hot with a warm mug of your favorite chicory coffee for a true Louisiana experience.

  • Red Beans and Rice

    red beans and rice
    Elise Bauer

    Red Beans and Rice is to Louisiana what amazing street musicians are to Jackson Square. In fact, on most Sunday evenings in Louisiana, you can find a pot of red beans soaking in preparation for Monday’s dinner. Make this version with pork shanks or replace the pork with smoked turkey sausage.

  • Shrimp Etouffee

    how to make etouffee with shrimp

    Elise Bauer

    Shrimp Étouffée is a smothered dish that begins with the holy trinity of Creole and Cajun cooking: Onions, bell pepper, and celery. The shrimp stock is optional, but the amount of flavor it packs into this dish can’t be beat. Serve this étouffée with steamed white or brown rice.  

  • Slow Cooker Banana Bread Pudding

    Slice of the best slow cooker banana bread pudding topped with a scoop of ice cream and drizzeld with caramel sauce on a gray plate. A jar of caramel sauce is off to the side.
    Jessica Gavin

    Slow Cooker Banana Bread Pudding will give your tastebuds a break from savory dishes and transport you to the dimly lit dining room of Brennan’s. This decadent dish packs the flavors of their famous bananas foster dessert into a hands-off bread pudding complete with a buttery caramel sauce. It’s tasty on its own, but even more so when served a la mode.

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  • Shrimp Po Boy Sandwich

    Shrimp Po Boy Sandwich
    Elise Bauer

    Shrimp Po Boy Sandwiches are made with humble ingredients ingeniously put together to create a complex-tasting meal. The mayo-based remoulade shouldn’t be skipped. Its creaminess is punctuated with spicy horseradish and tabasco. A crispy baguette is the best vessel for carrying the juicy, breaded shrimp to your mouth.

  • Chicken Gumbo with Andouille Sausage

    Chicken Gumbo with Sausage
    Elise Bauer

    Chicken Gumbo with Andouille Sausage is another quintessential New Orleans recipe. This version combines juicy chicken thighs with spiced andouille sausage, but you can omit them and make a vegetarian version by replacing the chicken and sausage with 2-3 pounds of chopped portobello mushrooms and the chicken stock with vegetable stock.

  • Hurricane Cocktail

    How to make a hurricane cocktail
    Andy Christensen

    Hurricane Cocktails in New Orleans are served cheap and in massive quantities. These fruit punch libations are a fixture in the French Quarter, and now you can whip up a glass (or a pitcher) for your festivities. To make this a slushie-type drink, replace the passion fruit puree with frozen passion fruit pulp (found in the frozen Hispanic foods section) and add an extra shot of rum.

  • Slow Cooker Jambalaya

    How to Make Jambalaya in the Slow Cooker
    Nick Evans

    Slow Cooker Jambalaya is a less hands-on version of the classic Creole recipe. The rice and the shrimp are added in different stages. They’re brought together in a savory, mildly spicy tomato sauce loaded with chunks of chicken and sausage. I like to peel my shrimp before adding it to the slow cooker to make eating this flavorful dish easier.  

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  • Stewed Okra and Tomatoes Creole Style

    Stewed Tomatoes and Okra
    Elise Bauer

    Stewed Okra and Tomatoes Creole Style is a fantastic side dish if you’re not able to commit to an entree for Mardi Gras. However, topping steamed rice with it has served as my dinner many an evening. You can make this dish vegetarian by omitting the bacon and using a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to replace it in the recipe.

  • King Cake

    Top view of a homemade king cake on a white plate. Forks and a green linen are to the left. A small plastic baby figurine is above as well as Mardi Gras beads
    Irvin Lin

    King Cake is a staple, especially on Twelfth Night or Epiphany (January 6th), the first day of Mardi Gras season. Tradition holds that whoever finds the hidden baby in the king cake, which is really an enriched bread, is responsible for providing next year’s king cake party. You can add a baby to this cinnamon-sugar-filled cake or go baby-less, but I highly recommend decorating it with the colors of Mardi Gras for some flair.

  • Pecan Pralines

    A bowl of praline candy.

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

    Pecan Pralines is a confection that’s beloved by many in the Gulf States of the U.S. This version is sweet and buttery. Be sure to toast your pecan before using them in this recipe. I find the candy turns out more flavorful that way.

  • Collard Greens with Bacon

    collard greens and bacon
    Elise Bauer

    Collard Greens with Bacon is definitely a cornerstone of Southern cooking. This version is from Louisiana and, though it calls for bacon, it can be made with smoked turkey necks or omitted completely.

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  • Vieux Carre

    Vieux carre in a whiskey glass with ingredients to make the cocktail behind it.
    Sam Schick

    Vieux Carre is a potent way to celebrate Mardi Gras. Made with whiskey, cognac, vermouth, and an herbaceous Benedictine liqueur, you won’t miss the booze in this cocktail. I garnish mine with a dark cocktail cherry, but a twist of lemon peel works well, too.