Our Best Mardi Gras Recipes

"It has been said that a Scotchman has not seen the world until he has seen Edinburgh, and I think that I may say that an American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi Gras in New Orleans."Mark Twain

Fat Tuesday. Is there a more joyous food holiday? This special occasion revels in the richest, fattiest, most calorie-laden and decadent edibles available. After all, it's the last day before the fasting of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is actually the culmination of the entire Carnival season, a months-long celebration featuring public parades, parties, costumes, masks, high-spirited revelry, and magnificent feasting.

From Belgium to Brazil, Mardi Gras festivities take place all over the world. In America, the party reaches its peak in New Orleans, Louisiana, the birthplace of U.S. Mardi Gras celebrations. Way back in the late 1600s, French King Louis XIV sent delegates overseas to defend France's claim on the American territory of Louisiane. At that time, Louisiane included the modern-day states of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and portions of eastern Texas. On Tuesday March 3, 1699, the king's delegates made camp on the Mississippi River about 60 miles downstream from what is now New Orleans. It happened to be Fat Tuesday, and in honor of that day, they named the encampment area Mardi Gras Point (Point du Mardi Gras in French). By 1723, New Orleans became the capital of Louisiana, and the first NOLA Mardi Gras parade took place in 1837. The city was a natural epicenter for Carnival celebrations in the region and eventually the entire United States, a badge of honor that New Orleans has welcomed with open arms. For two weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday, local NOLA social clubs or "krewes" pull out all the stops with elaborate parties, balls, costumes, masks, dances, marching bands, parades, and floats, where riders toss "throws" such as colorful beads, doubloons, moon pies, lingerie, and coconuts into the cheering crowds. Anything goes during Mardi Gras, and it's a wild time. Or as they say in the Big Easy, laissez les bons temps rouler. Let the good times roll!

King cake is the most iconic Mardi Gras food, decorated in the traditional colors of purple (for justice), green (for faith), and gold (for power). This rich, buttery cake is twisted and baked in a ring-shaped mold then decorated with colored icing sugar. It's customary to hide a baby Jesus figurine inside the cake. Whoever gets the trinket bakes the next king cake to keep the party going.

Sweet pancakes are also traditional on Shrove Tuesday, as Mardi Gras is sometimes called, along with all manner of rich, fried pastries from doughnuts to beignets. In New Orleans, other Cajun and Creole foods find their way to Mardi Gras tables from jambalaya and gumbo to muffuletta, andouille po' boys, grilled oysters, red beans and rice, pralines, hurricanes, and Sazerac cocktails. If you can't make it down to New Orleans to partake of these foods and drinks, enjoy them at home! Here are some of our richest, most delicious NOLA-inspired recipes to help you celebrate Mardi Gras in style, no matter where you are.

Grilled Shrimp and Grits
Enjoy a taste of the south with this tested recipe for a grilled twist on the classic pairing of shrimp and grits. Whether it’s for brunch, lunch, or dinner, this delicious combination of rich and creamy stone ground grits and perfectly grilled shrimp is sure to please any crowd. read more
red beans and rice
Enjoy a taste of New Orleans with this recipe for classic red beans and rice! In NOLA, Sunday is ham night, and on Monday, the leftover ham and the ham bone are used to make Red Beans and Rice, a traditional Creole stew that can be prepped quickly and simmers for several hours before diving in. read more
Grilled Oysters with Roast Garlic Butter and Romano
If you've only ever eaten oysters raw, this recipe will be a revelation. And if you've never warmed up to oysters, give this recipe a try. Oysters Grilled with Roasted Garlic Butter and Romano are easy to make, drenched with rich flavors, and utterly delicious. read more
shrimp po boy
Savory New Orleans BBQ shrimp and spicy Andouille sausage are the stars of the show in this recipe for a grilled po boy. Served on crusty French style bread and packed full of meat and/or seafood, the po' boy sandwich is a New Orleans staple and our Barbecue Shrimp & Andouille Po-Boy twist is surely an instant classic. read more
Smoked Louisiana andouille sausage
Andouille sausage is the soul of New Orleans Creole cooking. It is spicy, garlicky, and smoky. Here is how to make this classic Louisiana sausage. read more
Citrus Grilled Blackened Catfish with Charred Lemon Cream Sauce
A base of sliced citrus is the key to perfectly grilled fish in this recipe for grilled blackened catfish with charred lemon cream sauce. Grilling the catfish fillets on top of orange slices ensures the fish won't stick to the grill grate and adds a touch of citrus flavor. read more
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new orleans sauce
New Orleans barbecue sauce is a rich, hot buttery sauce used on shrimp but it works beautifully on many other dishes. Technically, since there is no smoke in the recipe, so it really isn't barbecue, but there's no reason why you can't bask in its delicious mix of butter, garlic, Louisiana hot sauce, and more. read more
Charred Peppers
This Louisiana BBQ sauce recipe is spicy and sweet with Chipotle Tabasco, roasted jalapenos, red peppers, and Steen's Cane Syrup. Referred to as Bayou Bite, this delicious sauce blends sweet and hot peppers for a mildly spicy finishing and dipping sauce for ribs, chicken, steaks, chops and so much more. read more
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Creole Seasoning Rub
This recipe for spicy Creole seasoning is perfect for gumbo, jambalaya, and crawfish etoufee. It also works well rubbed on pork, chicken and turkey. read more
Cajun seasoning rub recipe on meat in a food processor
This spice blend features classic Louisiana flavors like cayenne and allspice, perfect for making andouille sausage, jambalaya, gumbo, and blackened fish. It is also good rubbed on barbecued meats and mixed into burgers. read more
cookstons bacon wrapped shrimp
Create an grilled bacon wrapped stuffed shrimp appetizer with only five ingredients thanks to this award winning recipe courtesy of pitmaster Melissa Cookston. Cookston won the 2012 Kingsford Invitational by taking first place in five categories including this delicious bacon wrapped stuffed shrimp recipe. read more
Griddle Grilled Shrimp with Cheesy Polenta Cakes
Shrimp and corn are a match made in heaven. Instead of the usual shrimp and grits, enjoy the combination in this recipe for Griddle Grilled Shrimp with Cheesy Polenta Cakes. A white wine griddle sauce takes this recipe up a notch. read more
shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn on newspaper
This mouthwatering grilled shrimp boil recipe is an effortless family style feast for your backyard cookout. There’s something truly engaging about diving into a steaming hot peel-and-eat shrimp boil, fingers dripping with spicy juices as you devour the tender shrimp, potatoes, sausage, and corn, all done on the grill. read more
pimento cheese stuffed tomato
In the South, you cannot have a social gathering without Pimento Cheese sandwiches. You can buy it in plastic tubs at the grocery, but it is exponentially better when you make it yourself thanks to this tested recipe. It's also rather simple, comprised primarily of pimentos, mayonnaise, and grated cheddar cheese. read more
Smoked pimento cheese sandwich
Pimento cheese is a canvas. Shredded cheddar, mayo, and chopped pimentos are just the start. From there, the sky's the limit. I love this smoky take on the classic, and it's not heresy. Many Southerners "doctor" the original recipe to show their creativity and one up their neighbors. read more


Mardi Gras king cake

Dave Joachim

AmazingRibs.com Editor David Joachim has authored, edited, or collaborated on more than 45 cookbooks including four on barbecue and grilling, making him a perfect match for a website dedicated to the “Science of Barbecue and Grilling.” His Food Science column has appeared in "Fine Cooking" magazine since 2011. 

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