When most people think of visiting Louisiana, they think New Orleans. However, Louisiana is a big state and there is so much more to Louisiana than New Orleans and Mardi Gras is celebrated over all the state!
Although I have never been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I have visited the Lake Charles area during Mardi Gras season. During my visit I even made my own Mardi Gras king cake!
Right about now is when people start feeling a lull after the holiday season, except in places like Coastal Louisiana, where celebrations typically never end.
Mardi Gras refers to Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent begins for Catholics, and the end of a season of revelry. Mardi Gras celebrations fill the weeks between Epiphany (Twelfth Night) and Mardi Gras itself. The weekend just prior to Fat Tuesday is the most full of celebrations – from balls and pageants, gumbo cook-offs and crawfish boils, music and parades.
When we think of Mardi Gras, most of us think crazy, wild, drinking Mardi Gras in New Orleans. When you say “I’m going to Mardi Gras,” you will automatically receive comments and jokes about the craziness and alcohol. Unfortunately New Orleans Mardi Gras has a bit of a risqué reputation.
The truth is, Mardi Gras is family friendly for all of the communities in Louisiana that celebrate the traditional way.
Though Mardi Gras in Louisiana will look very different this year without the big parades and public gatherings, you can still enjoy a beloved (and delicious) Mardi Gras tradition in your own home: king cake!
Head to your favorite party and/or craft store to get yourself some colorful beads and masks or any other supplies you need to make your Mardi Gras at home special.
What is Mardi Gras King Cake?
King cake is a highly evolved, oval-shaped cinnamon roll with colorful, sugary icing. It’s a cross between a coffee cake and a French pastry. According to Randazzo’s Camellia City Bakery, the king cake tradition is thought to have been brought to New Orleans from France in 1870. The traditional king cake colors of purple, green and gold – which signify justice, faith and power, respectively – were used to resemble a jeweled crown honoring the wise men who visited the Christ Child on the Epiphany.
As a symbol of the Holy Day, a tiny plastic baby is often placed in or alongside each cake. Traditionally, whoever finds the baby is named “king for a day” and then tapped to provide the cake the following year!
However and wherever you might celebrate Mardi Gras this year – or if this inspires you to celebrate for the first time – here are a few of our favorite places that will happily ship king cakes right to your door.
Get King Cake at Home
Cannata’s King Cakes (Houma, Louisiana)
The part of Louisiana that’s nicknamed “Bayou Country” – Houma and Terrebonne Parish – is traditionally home to one of the largest Mardi Gras celebrations in the entire state, and when it comes to king cake, they’ve garnered top honors.
Last year, the bakery’s Gooey Butter Snickerdoodle-flavored king cake earned the “People’s Choice” award in the New Orleans King Cake Festival. Started in 1939 and carried on by generations of the Cannata family over the past eight decades, the bakery mixes each cake, rolls it out and then fills it.
You can choose from nearly 40 flavors and more than a dozen package options for your Mardi Gras celebration at https://cannataskingcakes.com.
Cajun Pecan House (Cut Off, Louisiana)
The Cajun Pecan House, located in Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou, opened its doors in 1985 with a goal of selling items that were unique to the area, including old-fashioned homemade pralines. Two years later, in an effort to give staff more time to work after the holidays, they made and sold their first king cake. This additional offering was a success and has grown significantly over the years.
Today, the Cajun Pecan House offers more than 30 varieties of king cake, along with 23 different candies, pecan pies, praline apple pies, pastries, and more. One of their most popular king cake variations is, of course, the cinnamon-pecan flavor. King cakes, along with Cajun pies, cakes and candies, can be purchased at https://cajunpecanhouse.com.
Haydel’s Bakery (Jefferson Parish, Louisiana)
Located in Jefferson Parish, Haydel’s Bakery nabbed the Guinness World Record for world’s largest king cake in 2010, when they created two giant king cakes that wrapped around the Superdome in New Orleans. Each year during Carnival season, the bakery ships thousands of fresh king cakes, including adorable mini king cake 12-packs, directly from its ovens to anywhere in the U.S. and around the world. To order from Haydel’s Bakery, visit https://haydelsbakery.com.
Randazzo’s Camellia City Bakery (Slidell, Louisiana)
The Randazzo name has been synonymous with king cakes in south Louisiana since 1965, when three brothers opened a bakery and transformed the traditional braided ring of dough by using fillings of cream cheese and fruit. Over the years, the secret family recipes have been passed down through generations, and the bakery on Louisiana’s Northshore is today run by Tricia Randazzo-Zornes, along with her husband, Lou, and their son, Zach.
The family believes that making king cakes the old-fashioned way is the best way. The award-winning recipe hasn’t changed in more than 50 years and you won’t ever find king cakes being moved along through automation. Every piece of dough is carefully kneaded, braided and molded by hand.
One big upgrade that the bakery invested in is a true benefit to those who mail-order their cakes: As shipping demand grew, the family developed their own patented packaging, designed to keep cakes secure during their travels so that they arrive both delicious and beautiful. Orders can be placed online at http://www.kingcakes.com.
And here’s a final cake to daydream about…
Our friends in Lake Charles report that this bakery is open and serving the local community, but shipping this year will be a challenge because of residual issues from the two hurricanes that hit Southwest Louisiana in 2020. Our mouths watered when we read the description, so we’re sharing it with you to pique your interest for the future!
Delicious Donuts & Bakery (Lake Charles, Louisiana)
Known to have the best king cakes in Southwest Louisiana, Delicious Donuts & Bakery in Lake Charles begins making donuts very early every morning … and by afternoon they’re churning out their beloved king cakes, cookies and more.
With a savory twist on this traditionally sweet treat, the bakery is perhaps best known for its Boudin King Cake. This cake is made with a yeast-raised dough and filled with cheese, crawfish, shrimp, imitation crab meat, jalapeños and Cajun seasoning, then topped off with bacon bits, cheese and jalapeños. Check out all the flavor combinations – both sweet and savory — on their website at http://www.deliciouskingcakes.com.
Happy Mardi Gras! I hope you can celebrate at home and order a Mardi Gras King Cake direct from Louisiana!