Star shaped King Cake for Mardi Gras

Easy King Cake for Mardi Gras

This easy King Cake for Mardi Gras will make your celebration complete! King Cake is filled with cinnamon and sugar and festively sprinkled with purple, gold, and green. Make a traditional ring-shaped King Cake or make a pretty star-shaped bread!

The History of King Cake for Mardi Gras

A Three Kings Cake, or just King Cake, has many forms and versions and is generally associated with Epiphany. In France, a King Cake is known as a Gallete des rois and is made with puff pastry that is filled wtih frangipane.

King Cake in Spanish speaking countries is known as a roscon de reyes which is filled with cream and decorated with fruits.

In the US, King Cake became popular in New Orleans, probably being introduced by Basque settlers in the early 1700’s or by the French in the 1870’s. It has become a Carnival, or Mardi Gras, tradition across the country. There are many variations on the fillings, from cinnamon and sugar, to cream cheese, pralines, or strawberries.

King Cakes in the US are generally shaped into a ring and decorated with sprinkles – purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.

In most cultures, a small ‘feve’ is added into the King Cake. It can be a small dry bean, a pecan, walnut, or almond, or a small plastic baby that symbolizes the Baby Jesus.

Star shaped King Cake for Mardi Gras

What does it mean to get the Baby in a King Cake?

Finding the Baby or other feve in a King Cake means that you will have luck and prosperity in the coming year. It also means that you are on the hook to hosting the next gathering and provide the next King Cake!

It is tradition to hide the baby so that it is a true surprise to the person that finds it. Recently, people have placed the baby on the outside of the King Cake in order to avoid a choking hazard.

Star shaped King Cake for Mardi Gras

How to Make this Easy Recipe for Mardi Gras King Cake

This version of a King Cake for Mardi Gras couldn’t be easier to make! The dough is enriched with milk, butter, and an egg. It comes together like a simple bread dough and is a dream to work with!

To make this King Cake, you are basically making a giant cinnamon roll! The most common shape for a King Cake is a simple ring but I have chosen to make a star shape. This shape is easier than you think to make – just follow the photos below!

First, make the dough:

Step 1: Mix together the dry ingredients until they are well combined.

Step 2: Mix together the milk and butter and heat until the butter is melted.

Step 3: Let the milk cool to about 110 degrees F and add the egg. Whisk it up and slowly add to the dry ingredients.

Step 4: Knead the dough with a mixer or by hand until it is smooth and passes the windowpane test. Allow the dough to rise for about an hour.

Step 5: Divide the dough into three pieces. Roll out one of the pieces to a 12-inch circle. Spread on half of the filling. Roll out the second piece of dough and lay it on top of the first piece. Spread on the remaining filling. Roll out the last piece of dough and place on top.

Step 6: Place a small bowl, biscuit cutter, or glass in the center to make sure that you don’t cut too far. Using a pizza cutter, pastry cutter, or knife, cut the circle into four sections. Cut each section into two sections. Then cut each of those sections into two sections. You should have 16 sections of filled dough strips.

Step 7: Take two sections that are next to each other – twist the left section towards the left twice. Twist the right section towards the right twice. Pinch the ends together. Continue all the way around the circle.

Step 8: Cover and allow to rise for 45 minutes to one hour. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Step 9: Brush with egg wash. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.

Step 10: Make the icing/glaze. Allow the King Cake to cool completely before icing. Spread the icing/glaze over the top of the King Cake. Sprinkle with green, gold, and purple sprinkles in whatever pattern you prefer.


How to Store King Cake

King Cake for Mardi Gras is best when stored at room temperature in a cover container. In an airtight container, King Cake should last about 3 or 4 days but it is always best the day that it is made.

To freeze King Cake – Freeze it BEFORE you add the icing or glaze! Since sugar is hygroscopic, the glaze will suck the moisture out of the bread and cause dry, stale bread. To freeze, allow the King Cake to cool completely then double very well in cling wrap. Then wrap with aluminum foil and label. This King Cake will be good in the freezer for up to 3 months.

To Thaw: Remove the King Cake from the freezer and leave the wrappings on. Place on the counter overnight or for several hours to thaw completely. Remove the foil and both layers of cling wrap and proceed with the icing and sprinkles.

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Easy King Cake for Mardi Gras with purple, green and gold sprinkles.

King Cake for Mardi Gras

Enriched dough is filled with cinnamon and sugar, then glazed and covered in Mardi Gras colored sprinkles – green, gold, and purple for the perfect Mardi Gras celebration!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Proofing Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Multi-cultural
Servings 12
Calories 362 kcal


  • Plastic Baby or Dried Bean
  • Sprinkles in green, gold, and purple
  • Stand Mixer, optional
  • Baking Sheet
  • Rolling Pin
  • Offset Spatula
  • Parchment or Silpat


For the Dough

  • 500 g Bread Flour
  • 7 grams Instant Yeast
  • 7 grams Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 250 mL Milk
  • 50 grams Butter unsalted, at room temperature, diced
  • 1 Egg large, at room temperature

For the Filling

  • 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter very soft
  • 100 grams Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp Flour

For the Egg Wash

  • 1 Egg large

For the Glaze

  • 200 grams Powdered Sugar
  • 3-4 Tbsp Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Green, purple, and gold sprinkles


To Make the Dough

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment or a large mixing bowl, add the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and nutmeg. Mix to combine well.
  • In a measuring cup, measure out the milk. Add the diced butter. Microwave for 30 seconds and then stir. Continue to microwave on short bursts until the butter is melted. Allow to cool to about 110 degrees F. If you dip your finger into the liquid, it should feel warm, not hot.
  • Add the egg to the warm milk and whisk to combine.
  • Turn the mixer on low speed and gradually pour the milk/butter/egg mixture. Once the wet and dry ingredients are completely mixed together, turn the mixer up to medium. Allow the mixer to knead the dough for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the dough passes the windowpane test.
  • IF YOU ARE NOT USING A STAND MIXER: Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Gradually mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Dump the dough onto a lightly flour countertop and knead by hand for 8 to 10 minutes or until the dough passes the windowpane test.
  • Lightly grease a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl and allow to rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size. While the dough rises, mix together the filling ingredients until you have a smooth paste.

To Shape the King Cake

  • Dump the dough out onto the counter and punch out the air. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces.
    Bread dough cut into 3 equal pieces.
  • Roll out one piece of dough to a roughly 12-inch circle. Spread half of the filling mixture onto the dough into an even layer with an offset spatula.
    Cinnamon sugar mixture spread on a circle of dough.
  • Roll out the second piece of dough to a 12-inch circle and place this circle on top of the first piece with the filling.
    Place a second round of dough on top of the filling.
  • Spread the remainder of the filling on top and then repeat the rolling process with the third piece of dough.
  • Using a sharp knife or a pastry or pizza cutter, cut the circle almost to the center into 16 sections. (Cut into 4 equal sections then cut in the center of those 4 sections, then cut again in the center of each of those sections.) Place a small bowl, glass, or biscuit cutter in the center to show yourself where you should NOT cut!
    Cut the circle of dough almost to the center.
  • Take one of sections and twist it twice to the left. Take the section to the right of that section and twist it two times to the right. Pinch the ends of those two sections together. Move on to the next two sections. Continue all the way around the circle.
    Twist two strips outward and then pinch the ends together.
  • Cover with a damp tea towel or a piece of greased cling wrap and allow to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F while the dough is rising.
    Star bread shaped before baking.
  • Whisk up the egg for the egg wash and gently brush over the surface of the dough. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely at room temperature

Make the Glaze and Decorate

  • Whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of milk. Add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the glaze is thick but runny enough to spread easily.
  • Spread the glaze over the top of the King Cake to cover it completely. Sprinkle the green, purple, and gold sprinkles in whatever pattern you desire.


**A traditional shape for a King Cake is a simple wreath shape. To make this, in step 7, instead of dividing the dough into 3 pieces, just roll out the entire batch of dough into a large rectangle. Spread the filling over the rectangle of dough. Roll up the dough along the long side and then turn the dough to make a ring shape. Pinch the ends together, allow to rise for 45 minutes to an hour and then bake.


Serving: 10gCalories: 362kcalCarbohydrates: 58gProtein: 7gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 281mgPotassium: 106mgFiber: 1gSugar: 27gVitamin A: 360IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 51mgIron: 1mg
Keyword easy king cake, epiphany, homemade king cake, how to make king cake, king cake for Mardi gras, kings cake, new orleans
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