Introduction: Easy Mardi Gras King Cake

About: Hello and Welcome to In the Kitchen With Matt. I am your host Matt Taylor. My goal for the show is to teach you how to cook really good food at home for cheap. Eating out everyday can get expensive, but it doe…

In this Instructable, I will show you how to make a King Cake. This easy Mardi Gras King Cake recipe is perfect for that celebration. Hide the little plastic baby on in the inside and the person who gets the slice will have good fortune and luck that year. Also, they are supposed to throw the following Mardi Gras party and make the next King Cake. You can find out more information about the History of the King Cake online. There are lots of varieties of cake, but this is a common one found here in the United States. This king cake recipe is super simple to make, if I can do it, you can do it. Let's get baking!

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Follow the steps below or watch the video tutorial or do both.

Step 1: Ingredients and Tools

You may print the recipe here.


  • 3/4 cup of milk (whole, 2%, etc.)
  • 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (rapid rise or instant yeast as well) (8g)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (55g)
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar (50g)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (120g) (optional)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (360 to 420g)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (2g)


  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar (135g)
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon (5g)
  • 6 tbsp. softened butter (85g)


  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar (confectioners, icing) (120 to 180g)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp. milk (15 to 22ml)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (2ml)
  • Colored Sanding sugar


  • Bowls
  • Whisk
  • Wooden spoon
  • Plastic baby (optional/traditional)
  • Plastic wrap
  • Sheet pan
  • Rolling pin

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Step 2: Start the Yeast

Heat up the milk to 100 to 110 F/37 to 43 C. Add the milk to a large bowl along with a pinch of the sugar. Then sprinkle on the yeast and mix it into the milk with a fork. Let the yeast stand for 10 minutes until it gets nice and foamy.

Step 3: Rest of the Wet Ingredients

Once the yeast has activated and is foamy, add the sugar, melted butter, sour cream, and eggs. Then whisk to combine. The sour cream is optional but it helps to create a softer more moist cake. Well even though this is called a King Cake in actuality it is more like a giant fancy cinnamon roll. :)

Step 4: Complete the Dough

In a separate bowl combine the salt with the flour. Then add the flour 1/3 of it at a time, stirring it in with a spoon, or use a stand mixer. Once the dough has come together and is slightly tacky it is ready to be kneaded.

Step 5: Knead That Dough

Pour the dough out onto a floured surface and knead the dough. Fold the dough over onto itself and push out with the palm stretching it. Then turn it a quarter turn and repeat. Knead the dough for 8 minutes, adding a bit of flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Or use a stand mixer with a dough hook.

Step 6: Rising Time

Now place the dough into a large bowl with a little bit of oil in it. Make sure the oil gets on the sides of the bowl and coats the dough. This will help it to not dry out while it rises. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and place it somewhere warm and let it rise for 1 to 1.5 hours, until doubled in size.

Step 7: Roll Out the Dough

Now punch down the dough and place it on a floured surface. Use a rolling pin and roll it into roughly a 10 inch by 18-inch rectangle.

Step 8: Filling

In a small bowl combine the softened butter and brown sugar and cinnamon creating a paste. Alternatively, you can baste the dough first with the butter and then sprinkle on the cinnamon and sugar mixture. You may also use white granulated sugar instead of brown sugar if you like. Baste it onto the rolled out dough.

Step 9: Roll and Rise

Now, start at one end and roll up the dough fairly tightly lengthwise. Then place it onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Curl it in creating a circle and crimp together the to ends. It kind of reminds me of a neck pillow for the plane, haha. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for another hour. Remove the plastic wrap and it is ready to go. Preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C.

Step 10: Baking and Baby

Bake the cake/giant cinnamon roll for 25 to 30 minutes until nice and brown on top. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for 15 minutes. Tradition calls for a little plastic baby to be put in the cake. I don't like putting the plastic baby in the dough and baking it, I add it after the fact. I just found a small package of them at Walmart in the cake decorating section.

Step 11: Put the Baby in the Cake

Now cut a slit into the middle of the cake, and stuff the little baby inside. Don't worry about the slit you can cover it with icing. Or you can turn the cake over and cut the slit in the bottom somewhere and stuff it in there.

Step 12: Glaze and Coloring

Now, in a small bowl mix together the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and the milk. Add more milk or powdered sugar as necessary to get your desired thickness. Cover the top of the cake with the glaze/icing. Then sprinkle on the colored sanding sugar, alternating between the colors. The classic colors are yellow, green, and purple. I got those at Walmart as well, but they can be found online too.

Step 13: Enjoy

Now, your Mardi Gras king cake is done and ready to serve. Enjoy!

Step 14: Video Tutorial

Print the recipe here if you like.

Now watch those steps in action with this video tutorial.