Easy Mardi Gras King Cakes Recipe with Cream Cheese Cinnamon Filling

By Anne-Marie Nichols

Easy Mardi Gras Kings Cake Recipe with Cream Cheese Cinnamon Filling

Looking for kings cake recipes? Leave it to my friend, Holly Clegg, who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to send a more wholesome Mardi Gras King Cakes recipe just in time to include it with your party plans!

It’s from her cookbook, trim&TERRIFIC Gulf Coast Favorites.

This easy Mardi Gras King Cakes recipe is a terrific solution if you cannot get an authentic Mardi Gras Kings Cake from a bakery near you.

You can find more of Holly Clegg’s trim& TERRIFIC® recipes at The Healthy Cooking Blog.

Check out Holly’s trim & TERRIFIC™ cookbooks on Amazon, too!

Update on Holly: Holly was diagnosed with gastric cancer in 2018. For the latest on Holly’s health, see her Instagram page.

You can learn more about Holly’s Cancer Journey and donate to the Holly Clegg Gastric Cancer Research Fund at MD Anderson Cancer Center on her behalf.

What is a Kings Cake?

For those of you unfamiliar with Mardi Gras Kings Cakes, the tradition was brought to New Orleans from France in 1870. Now as part of the Mardi Gras celebration, it’s common to bake a Kings Cakes in honor of the three kings.

Since I have a French maman, I grew up with eating a more traditional king cakes recipe as part of another French tradition, the festival of Epiphany at the end of the Christmas season.

Both Mardi Gras and Epiphany King Cakes have little figurines baked inside. The most common one is the kings cake baby, which represents the Baby Jesus.

During Mardi Gras, if you get the slice of the cake with the baby, then you’re named King of the Day, and by custom you must host the next party and provide the Kings Cakes.

Make this easy and healthier version of a Mardi Gras Kings Cake recipe for your Mardi Gras party. Your guests will love it! #mardigras #mardigrasparty #mardigrasfood #kingscake #kingscakebaby #crescentdough #crescentrecipes #baking #bakingrecipes #easybaking#cake #cakerecipes #creamcheese #desserts #dessertrecipes #dessertideas

An easy to make, better for you Mardi Gras King Cakes recipe from Holly Clegg

No matter where you live, I want you to be able to enjoy one of my favorite Louisiana traditions – the Mardi Gras King Cakes!

This might be my most requested recipe – so easy and fun to make that people all over say they prefer it even to the store bought Kings Cakes variety!

From my trim&TERRIFIC Gulf Coast Favorites cookbook, now, you can make this quick and healthier kings cake recipe in your own home, without worrying about a complicated yeast dough – using crescent rolls. Kids will have so much fun getting in on the action too.

Each color of the icing represents something: yellow equals power, green equals faith, and purple equals justice. Remember that color chart, as equal parts of red and blue food coloring make purple.

And don’t save this sweet kings cake recipe treat for only Mardi Gras season!

You can make this cake year-round: for icing you can use red food coloring for Valentine’s Day, pastel colors for Easter, and red and green colors for Christmas.

The madness of Mardi Gras is about having a good time, so start the music, toss the beads, and enjoy the food that has garnered a reputation all over the country.

As they say in New Orleans, “Throw me a party, mister!”

This Mama’s tips on making Holly’s Easy Mardi Gras King Cakes Recipe

If you're interested in lowering the calorie count, try using Swerve Sweetener confectioners sugar instead of regular confectioner sugar in Holly’s easy king cakes recipe. It’s a natural, no calorie sweetener that tastes great, and is as easy to use as regular powdered sugar.

As for food coloring, I highly recommend Wilton’s icing color sets. You can buy them online or at any crafting store that sells Wilton’s cake decorating products.

Unlike liquid food coloring, Wilton’s icing colors are vibrant and easy to use. You can also buy the exact color you need instead of mixing several colors.

You can make Holly Clegg’s Kings Cake recipe dairy free by using a vegan cream cheese, non-dairy buttery spread, and soy, coconut or almond milk.

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls don’t contain dairy products. However, if you’re using a store brand, please check the label to make sure it's dairy free.

More awesome recipes from Holly Clegg

Blackened Chicken Tenders

Southwestern Sweet Potato Salad

Ultimate Double Chocolate Brownies Recipe

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Watermelon and Cantaloupe Salad

Easy Mardi Gras Kings Cake Recipe with Cream Cheese Cinnamon Filling

Easy Mardi Gras King Cakes Recipe with Cream Cheese Cinnamon Filling

When I shared this recipe, the kids absolutely loved helping to make the cake. The only thing easier is ordering it from your bakery and this version is so much better for you!


King Cake:

  • 2 (8-ounce) cans reduced-fat crescent rolls
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Mardi Gras Icing (recipe below)

Mardi Gras Icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Yellow, green, red, and blue food coloring


King Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Separate crescent rolls at perforations into 16 slices. On 10-inch round pizza pan coated with nonstick cooking spray, place slices around pan with points in center. About half way down from the points, press seams together.
  2. In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Spread cream cheese mixture on dough in center where seams of dough have been pressed together.
  3. In another small bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon with fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over cream cheese. Fold dough points over cream cheese area and then fold bottom of triangle over points forming a circular roll like a king cake.
  4. Bake 20–25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly, drizzle with colored Mardi Gras Icing (recipe below).

Mardi Gras Icing:

  1. In small bowl, mix together confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla. Divide mixture into three bowls.
  2. In first bowl, add a few drops yellow food coloring. In second bowl, add a few drops green food coloring. In third bowl, add equal amount of red and blue food coloring (will create purple color).
  3. Drizzle each color over baked cake.
Prep Time: 45 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
Servings: Makes 16 servings
  • Serving size: 1/16 of recipe
  • Calories: 184
  • Calories from Fat: 66 (36%)
  • Total Fat: 7g
  • Saturated fat: 3g
  • Unsaturated fat: 4g
  • Sodium: 275mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 26g
  • Sugar: 16g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 39
  • Cholesterol: 9mg

Diabetic Exchanges: 1 1/2 carbohydrate, 1 1/2 fat

Recipe and photo used with permission. Originally published on February 12, 2014 and February 24, 2017. Updated with new pictures and information.

Need a King Cake recipe for your Mardi Gras party? Make this healthier and easy to make Mardi Gras Kings Cake recipe with Cream Cheese Cinnamon Filling! #mardigras #mardigrasparty #mardigrasfood #kingscake #kingscakebaby #crescentdough #crescentrecipes #baking #bakingrecipes #easybaking#cake #cakerecipes #creamcheese #desserts #dessertrecipes #dessertideas

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