Last Updated on March 26, 2022 by Anne-Marie
Looking for king cake recipes for Mardi Gras? Try this easy king cake recipe made with crescent rolls and creamy cream cheese filling.
Why this recipe works
Leave it to my friend, Holly Clegg, who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to send an easy Mardi Gras King Cakes recipe just in time to include it with your party plans!
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.
It’s from her cookbook, trim&TERRIFIC Gulf Coast Favorites.
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!
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!
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 or the wise men.
Since I have a French maman, I grew up with eating a more traditional king cake as part of another French tradition, the Feast of the 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 carnival season, if you get the slice of the cake with the plastic baby, then you’re named King of the Day. This lucky person gets to host next year’s Mardi Gras party and provide the Kings Cakes.
An easy to make Mardi Gras King Cakes recipe
No matter where you live, I want you to be able to enjoy one of my favorite Louisiana traditions, Mardi Gras King Cakes.
This might be my most requested recipe. It's so easy and fun to make that people all over say they prefer it even to the store bought Kings Cakes variety!
This easy recipe is from my trim&TERRIFIC Gulf Coast Favorites cookbook.
You can make this quick kings cake recipe in your own home 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.
Don’t save this sweet king’s cake recipe treat for only Mardi Gras season!
You can make this cake year-round! For the 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!”
- reduced-fat crescent rolls
- reduced-fat cream cheese (also called Neufchatel Cheese)
- confectioners sugar (also called powdered sugar)
- vanilla extract
- light brown sugar
- ground cinnamon
- skim milk
- Yellow, green, red, and blue food coloring (You can also use purple instead of blue and red mixed together.)
How to make the King Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Separate the crescent rolls at the perforations into 16 slices.
- On a 10-inch round pizza pan coated with nonstick cooking spray, place the slices around the pan with points in the center. About halfway down from the points, press seams together. (You can also bake this easy king cake recipe on a large baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza pan.)
- In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, confectioners sugar, and vanilla extract until creamy.
- Spread cream cheese mixture on the crescent dough in the center where seams of dough are pressed together.
- In a small bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over cream cheese.
- Fold dough points over the cream cheese area and then fold the bottom of the triangle over points forming a circular roll like a king cake.
- Place in the oven and bake for 20–25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Then drizzle with the colored Mardi Gras Icing.
How to make the Mardi Gras Icing:
- In a small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Divide the mixture into three small bowls.
- In the first bowl, add a few drops of yellow food coloring. In the second bowl, add a few drops of green food coloring. In the third bowl, add an equal amount of blue food coloring and red food coloring to create a purple color.
- Drizzle each color over the baked cake.
How to lower the calories
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.
What type of food coloring should you use?
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.
If you’re using paste food coloring, just using a teeny dollop of food coloring. Add more if needed.
Can you make dairy free king cakes?
You can make Holly's Kings Cake recipe dairy free by using a vegan cream cheese, non-dairy buttery spread, and soy, coconut, or oat milk.
For 6 delicious vegan and non-dairy cream cheese substitutes, check out The 14 Best Substitutes for Cream Cheese.
Pillsbury Crescent Rolls don’t contain dairy. However, if you’re using a store brand, check the label to make sure it's dairy free.
More awesome Cajun style recipes for Mardi Gras
Serve these dishes up for your Mardi Gras celebration:
● If you're looking for more New Orleans style desserts, check out Tiana's Famous Beignets Recipe from Disney's Princess & The Frog.
● You'll love this hearty Chicken and Sausage Gumbo recipe any time of year!
● Learn how to throw a Cajun Seafood Boil Party. So much fun!
● Any of these 60 Best Cajun Recipes.
What foods do you love serving for Mardi Gras?
- 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
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Separate crescent rolls at perforations into 16 slices. On a 10-inch round pizza pan coated with nonstick cooking spray, place slices around the pan with points in the center. About halfway down from the points, press seams together.
- In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Spread cream cheese mixture on dough in the center where seams of dough have been pressed together.
- In another small bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over cream cheese. Fold dough points over the cream cheese area and then fold the bottom of the triangle over points forming a circular roll like a king cake.
- Bake 20–25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly, drizzle with colored Mardi Gras Icing (recipe below).
Mardi Gras Icing:
- In a small bowl, mix together confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla. Divide mixture into three bowls.
- In the first bowl, add a few drops of yellow food coloring. In the second bowl, add a few drops of green food coloring. In the third bowl, add an equal amount of red and blue food coloring (will create purple color).
- Drizzle each color over the baked cake.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 179Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 114mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 17gProtein: 4g
Diabetic Exchanges: 1 1/2 carbohydrate, 1 1/2 fat
Recipe and photo used with permission.
Originally published on February 12, 2014, February 24, 2017, and February 8, 2018. Updated with new pictures and information.