These classic Mardi Gras food and drink recipes are great for big and small celebrations. This collection of New Orleans cuisine includes everything from breakfast fare to Cajun appetizers, gumbos, po’ boys and étouffées, spirited cocktails and Mardi Gras desserts. New Orleans dishes are what you want for your Mardi Gras party.
With so many amazing food cultures coming together in one place it’s no wonder that Louisiana cuisine, from humble to haute, is considered an epicurean powerhouse.
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What is Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras (literally Fat Tuesday in French) marks the Carnival celebration period extending from the Feast of the Epiphany to its culmination on Shrove Tuesday.
Traditionally, Mardi Gras is the last day of feasting and revelry before Lent, a traditional time of Christian penitence.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans
No other city in America treats Mardi Gras with the same exuberance and abundance as New Orleans. It’s not a one-day affair, but a month long lead up to the big day with parades, beads, masks, costumes, imbibing and FOOD.
Mardi gras food runs the gambit from traditional King Cake and Gumbo to to soft, sugar coated beignets and sweet, high alcohol Hurricanes. Whether you’re celebrating in the Crescent City or not, paying homage with some of those classic recipes is a fun and delicious way to mark the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent.
Spending time in the Crescent City
Personally, New Orleans is one of my absolute favorite vacation destinations.
I love the attitude of the residents, the slow drawl of a Cajun dialect and the sites and sounds which are a feast for the senses.
And lest you think it’s all heavy, fried, or sauced food, I discovered my favorite salsa recipe at a low-key Mexican restaurant that we ducked into to get out of the rain. Not exactly Mardi gras food, but it’s good!
mardi gras breakfast
Start your Mardi Gras celebration with these New Orleans inspired breakfast dishes. From the traditional beignets made famous by Cafe Du Monde to the unexpected King Cake pancakes, these tasty recipes will get you into a party mood.
Personal Note:One of our favorite breakfast spots when visiting The Big Easy is at Stanley in Jackson Square. My pick is the soft shell crab benedict. My husband goes for the boudin benedict. Avoid: The Court of the Two Sisters - major tourist trap and the food is meh, not to mention over-priced.
Shoutout to Kyleigh at Barley and Sage for her rendition of the classic Cafe Du Monde beignets. Her sourdough version is buried under an avalanche of powdered sugar. Consider this Must Have Mardi Gras food if you can't make it to the French Market on Decatur Street.
King Cake is a classic Mardi Gras dessert recipe and Kim from Three Olives Branch has taken this sweet favorite one step further with her batch of Cinnamon Rolls with the telltale tri-color sugar embellishents.
A delicious twist on Eggs Benedict, this Sausage Potato Hash Fried Eggs Benedict from Paula at Call Me PMC has perfect fried eggs over sausage potato hash. It's topped with an amazing, creamy blender hollandaise sauce.
You'll love this Southern Louisiana inspired recipe with crunchy toasted pecans and a healthy dose of bourbon mixed into the sweet banana bread batter. This makes several large loaves, so you can freeze some for later or share with other revelers.
Here's a fun and inspired way to eat King Cake for breakfast... In pancake form! Kathleen from Grits and Gouda drizzles simple icing over a short stack of banana pancakes. Don't forget the traditional colored sanding sugars for this Mardi Gras breakfast food the kids will gobble up!
For a more savory start to the day (and slightly healthier), this New Orleans recipe with sweet potatoes and andouille sausage is quick and easy to make and loaded with Cajun flavors. Serve with hot sauce for an extra kick.
Pralines are synonomous with New Orleans cuisine so we consider this richly speckled peach praline yeast bread a welcome new kid on the block where Mardi Gras food is concerned. This is perfect for breakfast because it's heavenly when toasted and served with a slather of farm fresh butter.
And speaking of pralines, these ridiculously buttery, tender peach praline breakfast scones are outta bounds. Everyone wants to start Mardi Gras with one or two of these flaky sweet breads on the menu.
Because this post is about Mardi Gras food and drink, I think this V8 Bloody Mary counts as breakfast, don't you? At the very least, its the hair of the dog to get you moving the next day!
Boozy Mardi Gras Drinks:
When planning your food menu for Fat Tuesday, don't forget something to wash it all down with.
These classic Mardi Gras drinks range from sophisticated slow-sipping craft cocktails to drinks that flow like Kool-Aid. No matter which you choose, these Bourbon Street inspired cocktails are perfect to toast the occasion.
Hurricanes are a classic Mardi Gras drink made with passion fruit and rum, lime juice, orange juice and a bit of simple syrup. They go down way too easily and hit you like ... well.... a hurricane! Thanks to G-Free Foodie, Tina, for sharing her rendition of this classic New Orleans recipe.
Planters Punch is as popular in the Big Easy as it is on any Caribbean island. Serve this fruity rum punch cocktail with a pineapple garnish and revel in the flavors. Paper umbrellas and swizzle sticks are optional for this Mardi gras drink.
This easy bourbon margarita via Alejandra from The Littlest Crumb is just like a regular margarita but with a whiskey twist. Made with bourbon, cointreau, lime juice and a dash of agave. Then shaken and served on the rocks in glass with a salted rim. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Doing alcohol shots are definitely a "thing" on Bourbon Street, so these eye-poppying layered B-52 shots should be on your Mardi Gras party menu, too. Made with Kahlua, Bailey's Irish Cream and Grand Marnier, it's a party in a shot glass.
This cocktail isn't as potent as the other Bourbon Street specials, but it is a very tasty sipper and a traditional New Orleans drink. Made with milk, spiced simple syrup and a shot of good brandy, bourbon or cognac (your choice).
This fruity twist on the classic Sazerac uses a blackberry simple syrup blended with St. George Absinthe Verde. Enjoy this elegant sipper with a twist. Recipe compliments of Jay and Leah at The Gastronom Blog, so you KNOW its legit!
There are two classic ways to make a French 75 and this recipe uses the more traditional, gin. It's light and bubbly with a spirited finish. Great with a twist of lemon and served in a champagne flute. This cocktail is a classic libation that you'll love.
The Cognac French 75 uses French Cognac instead of gin with champagne (or sparkling wine) for a fizzy finish. Try this sophisticated classic New Orleans recipe served in a coupe with a twist. This is my personal favorite for cooler weather.
This blackberry bourbon smash cocktail via The Littlest Crumb is an easy-to-make craft cocktail. Make with a homemade brown sugar blackberry and rosemary simple syrup, dash of fresh lime juice, bourbon and a splash of club soda.
Inspired Cajun Appetizers
The Crescent City is situated so close to the Gulf of Mexico, it's no wonder that seafood is a major part of New Orleans cuisine. Many of these Cajun appetizers are based on the local Southern Louisiana oysters shrimp and crawfish synonymous with the region.
Oysters rockefeller was first created at famed New Orleans restaurant, Antoines. Made with fresh oysters on the half-shell sauteed shallots and spinach deglazed with with pastis or Pernod and broiled under a layer of breadcrumbs. #doesntsuck.
Nothing says New Orleans cuisine like Boudin sausage and this Cajun appetizer recipe, courtesy of Kevin over at Kevin Is Cooking makes the BEST! He recommends dipping these hot, crunchy sausage balls into a simple remoulade! The ultimate Mardi Gras bite!
These Cajun inspired Beer Boiled Peanuts from Pam and Sara at Biscuits and Burlap are a Southern snack just made for watching football games, but we think these Cajun appetizers are perfect food for Mardi Gras parties.
Mardi Gras grilled oysters have a Cajun butter sauce that's delectable with these savory bivalves. It's also a super easy recipe to make on any grill. Break out your oyster shucker, these are rich, spicy, briny and irresistible.
Cornmeal crusted, deep fried oysters with a lip smacking remoulade sauce is an irresistible Mardi Gras appetizer. The shellfish are tender, hot and juicy with a crunchy fried cornmeal dredge. Great with an Abita beer.
Chenee from Chenee Today shares her classic New Orleans recipe for BBQ Shrimp and it's a doozy. These peel and eats are served warm in a spicy Creole butter sauce. You'll be licking your fingers the entire way through this lip-smacking recipe.
Kathleen at Grits and Gouda shares her favorite Cajun appetizer, Muffuletta Dip! This savory dip has all the flavors of that famous sandwich and it's such a fun Mardi Gras party food. She recommends serving it with French bread crostini, pita chips or crackers.
Try Creole deviled eggs for your Mardi Gras party spread. This New Orleans inspired recipe from Erica at Erica's Recipes has crisp bacon and succulent shrimp tucked into a classic deviled egg. These tasty bites go with lots of spirited libations.
Talk about your classic New Orleans recipes... this Muffuletta Olive Salad -- is actually THE ONE you use on that famous sandwich, but it also makes a great dip for crackers, or spread over a schmear of cream cheese on a crust of bread. Can't stop eating this one...
This Chargrilled oysters recipe from Samantha at Little Ferraro Kitchen makes grilled oysters just like Acme Oyster Co does in the French Quarter. There's nothing more decadent than slurping up half a dozen or so of these buttery briny gems! Perfect for Mardi gras celebrating.
Oyster Stew is a simple 20 minute New Orleans dish of shucked briny oysters, milk, butter and a few drops of hot sauce. Serve guests a cup of this seafood soup as a starter to a larger meal.
Mardi Gras Food
These classic New Orleans inspired dishes are perfect for any Mardi Gras party, big or small. From New Orleans Gumbo recipes to classic Red Beans and Rice, Po' Boys, Muffulettas and Etouffées, these are some of the best Mardi Gras food ideas. Get inspired.
You can't get more authentic than Louisiana Red Beans Rice with Smoked Sausage. This hearty bowl of spicy, rich beans and smoked sausage is the ultimate food for Mardi Gras or anytime you're craving traditional New Orleans dishes.
Dirty rice is a classic Cajun style New Orleans recipe. Made with white rice, ground chicken liver and pork, spices and seasoning, it's rich and delicious. Shout out to Danielle at Went Here 8 This for sharing her delicious recipe.
This quick and easy shrimp and ham skillet jambalaya will make you think you're down on the Bayou. Best of all, this simple new Orleans inspired recipe is ready in under 30 minutes and only uses one pan! You're welcome!
Gumbo is a classic food for Mardi Gras and this generations old New Orleans Seafood Gumbo Recipe is chock-full of tender shrimp, oysters and crabmeat swimming in a spiced broth that began with a medium-deep roux! Thanks to Jocelyn at Grandbaby Cakes for sharing her recipe.
Speaking of sandwiches, Muffuletta is a classic New Orleans recipe that started as a convenient lunch for the working class. Now it's synonymous with New Orleans cuisine and Mardi Gras food. Get the recipe for the traditional Mufuletta Bread (a.k.a. "muffs") and the easy Olive Salad to make it legit!
This classic New Orleans recipe is a traditional Louisiana dish with a buttery, richly seasoned sauce over fresh shrimp and rice. This recipe via Rachel at Craving Some Creativity says its one of her childhood favorites.
This seafood chicken and sausage gumbo doesn't lack for anything with shrimp and oysters, meaty chicken thighs and smoked sausage in a dark, rich roux. No Mardi Gras celebration is complete without this famed New Orleans recipe.
Alpana at GypsyPlate certainly has our attention with her version of Grillades n' Grits! Grillands are Creole in soul, where medallions of meat are pan-fried and then gently braised in a rich tomato based gravy. I'd call this essential Mardi Gras food!
It's the spice blend that makes these Cajun Pork Meatballs and pasta so flavorful. With a creamy Cajun-inspired sauce and quick-sauteed veggies, it's an easy New Orleans recipe that the whole family will love.
BBQ Shrimp and Cheesy Grits is quintessential New Orleans cusine that's perfect for celebrating Mardi Gras. Pass the bowl and the hot sauce! Thanks to Hailey at Cooking and Cussing (love that name) for sharing her recipe.
For a real taste of the bayou, you can't go wrong with a legit Crawfish boil. This one comes from Paula at Call Me PMC and it's perfect for a Mardi Gras party. Spread out the newspaper and spread your Crawfish boil over it. It doesn't get more Louisiana than this.
Mardi Gras Desserts
These Cajun desserts are worth every single calorie. Besides, Lenten fasting starts the next day so make one, two or three of these Mardi Gras desserts to hold you and your guests over 'til Easter.
Tucked inside each Mardi Gras King cake is a porcelain baby figure (or dried bean) that crowns the lucky recipient as the "King of the party"-- and also makes that person responsible for bringing a King Cake to the next Mardi Gras party. This traditional New Orleans recipe makes a soft yeast cake, swirled with cinnamon and topped with traditional green, purple and gold sparkling sugar garnish.
This pecan pralines recipe via Rachel at Craving Some Creativity, has been a beloved recipe in her family for over 35 years. Whole snappy pecans in a browned sugar coating, these treats are a kind of cookie that is a classic Cajun dessert throughout the South.
Speaking of pecan pralines, we love to use this classic Cajun candy dessert mixed into another Mardi Gras dessert recipe... Bourbon Pralines and Cream Ice Cream. You can taste the boozy hit of bourbon in this lush, creamy ice cream and the crunchy sweet bits of praline are irresistible.
This Mardi Gras dessert is a MUST for your celebration. Jocelyn at Grandbaby Cakes makes her classic Bananas Foster recipe, with sliced bananas in a cinnamon caramel sauce, then flambees them in rum and banana liqueur to create the sweet treat of your dreams!
Marta from Sense and Edibility takes traditional bananas foster one step further by turning it into a rich cheesecake with an oatmeal cookie crust. She tops the whole shebang with a rich, oozy brown sugar and rum caramel sauce.
Speaking of caramel sauces... Here's a classic New orleans recipe that will transform a simple dish of vanilla into something ethereal. Homemade caramel sauce embellished with a splash of bourbon and lots of toasted Southern pecans.
If you're a fan of pecan pie, this bread pudding is right up your alley. The traditional pie filling is baked into layers of bread for a sweet, puffed Mardi Gras treat. Thanks to Paula at Call Me PMC for sharing.
Can't get enough Bananas Foster? You'll love this version for your Mardi Gras celebration! Michele at Flavor Mosaic makes individual Upside Down Bananas Foster Cakes! Don't you just want to reach out and grab one?