Mardi Gras Food Traditions

Mardi Gras Food Traditions
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Mardi Gras Food Traditions

Check out this slideshow to learn the food and drink traditions associated with New Orleans and Mardi Gras.


To many, Fat Tuesday is also known as Pancake Day. The international custom of eating pancakes on this day dates back to the Middle Ages when people used up their last eggs, butter and dairy since they wouldn't be eating those items during Lent.

For a delicious pancake recipe to celebrate Pancake Day, try Home-Style Pancakes with Blueberry Butter.

King Cakes

According to, the tradition of King Cakes runs deep. The cake celebrates three kings who brought gifts to a young Jesus Christ. Each cake features a hidden baby figurine, and the person whose slice holds the figure traditionally hosts the next party.

Initially King Cakes were no more than a simple ring of dough, today they are highly decorated and sometimes filled with different flavor fillings.

Learn how to make one yourself.


The drink of the New Orlean's Mardi Gras celebration features rum, passion fruit juice, grenadine and lime. According to, the beverage was originated in New Orleans in the 1940s. A bar owner, Pat O'Brien, had an overabundance of rum and wanted to sell it off to sailors, which he thought he could do with a little sugar, lime and passion fruit juice.

Today you can visit Pat O'Brien's Courtyard or Pat O'Brien's Bar in the city and try one for yourself.

Image Courtesy of


This New Orleans' staple is often enjoyed during Mardi Gras as part of the local culture. The famed sandwich originated almost a century ago during a street car strike. Some former street car workers formed a sandwich shop and used cut potatoes and roast beef gravy for a sandwich. The sandwich concept still lives on in the city today.

Learn how to make the ultimate po'boy!

Beignets and Calas

Both of these doughy, fried treats are enjoyed on Mardi Gras in the spirit of feasting before Lent. Calas (rice in sweet egg batter and fried), once on every street corner, had nearly disappeared commercially after World War II, but lived on through home cooking and family traditions, according to Today, they are beginning to reemerge on restaurant menus alongside the always popular beignets.

Image Credit: Gerald Herbert/AP


This dish is as essential to New Orleans as jazz. During the Fat Tuesday celebrations, gumbo is one of the most important foods enjoyed at parade-watching parties.

For an out-of-this-world gumbo recipe, try this Chicken-and-Okra Gumbo.


This Polish phenomenon has also become popular in the U.S. for Mardi Gras. Like most Fat Tuesday foods, Paczki is indulgent, sometimes topped with powdered sugar and filled with jelly.

Image Credit: Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images


Many believe this Cajun dish is a descendent of Spanish paella. It grew to be popular at public gatherings (mostly at church fairs around the turn of the century) where the people of Louisiana made it in huge pans over fires outside. It is no wonder that this festival food is still popular today during Mardi Gras.

Try our recipe for Express Shrimp & Sausage Jambalaya.


As people flood the streets of New Orleans for Mardi Gras to celebrate, pass around beads and enjoy the city's unmatched music scene, they also gather to eat and drink. In fact, Fat Tuesday is, at its core, a time to feast (hence, why it is called "Fat" Tuesday) before giving up indulgences during Lent.

Check out the slideshow above to learn about some unexpected and exciting food and drink traditions from New Orleans and its largest annual celebration: Mardi Gras.

Also, learn how to make king cake, a Mardi Gras favorite.

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