Mardi Gras, aka Fat Tuesday, is the last day of the Carnival season just before Lent. (Mark your cals—in 2023, it takes place on February 21.) It’s also an excuse to go hog wild with food and festivities…but you don’t have to hop a flight to the Big Easy or even leave your kitchen to do that. Here, 34 Mardi Gras food ideas—like gumbo, étouffée and, yes, king cake—that celebrate the flavors of the holiday. (Psst: Don’t feel like cooking? Head to the end of this story for Mardi Gras foods you can buy online.)
34 Mardi Gras Food Ideas to Celebrate Fat Tuesday at Home
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What Are the Most Popular Mardi Gras Foods?
- Time Commitment: 20 minutes
- Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, <30 minutes
FYI, shrimp creole is kind of like étouffée, but the base is thinner, less spicy and usually made with tomatoes. Just like étouffée, you’ll want to serve it over rice to soak up all that sauce.
- Time Commitment: 30 minutes
- Why We Love It: <30 minutes, kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser
These cornmeal cuties are crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and begging to be dipped in the condiment of your choice. (Remoulade—a mayo-based dressing that's similar to tartar sauce—is a classic in the Big Easy.)
- Time Commitment: 45 minutes
- Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion–worthy
We strongly encourage you to eschew plates and napkins in favor of lining the table with newspaper.
- Time Commitment: 35 minutes
- Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion–worthy, kid-friendly
Sure, these fluffy, spicy pillows veer away from tradition…but we’ve never met a doughnut we didn’t want to try immediately. The blend of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, allspice and ginger make an excellent companion to a cup of coffee or tea.
28. Cafe au Lait
- Time Commitment: 5 minutes
- Why We Love It: no cook, <15 minutes, <10 ingredients
Speaking of coffee, cafe au lait is the way to serve it on Mardi Gras. That means “coffee with milk” in French. In New Orleans, it’s coffee with scalded milk, so you don’t even need a frother or steamer.
Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City restaurants. She used to sling sugary desserts in a pastry kitchen, but now she’s an avid home cook and fanatic baker.