How to Make a Better Tasting King Cake for Mardi Gras

You really can’t go wrong with a monkey bread king cake.

king cake surrounded by mardi gras decorations

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The king cake, a traditional New Orleans dish eaten to celebrate Mardi Gras, is known for two things: having a plastic baby hidden inside it and being dry as all get-out. The plastic (or porcelain) baby symbolizes Jesus, and finding it in your slice is meant to bring good luck and prosperity. The dryness — well, I don’t know. Maybe I’ve just been going to the wrong Mardi Gras parties.

This king cake recipe is adapted from my Aunt Paula’s recipe for monkey bread. It’s a similar dish to king cake in shape, flavor, and texture, but lacks the dry crumb that more traditional king cakes can develop if handled improperly. It’s also incredibly simple to make. And since it’s monkey bread, you can technically eat it for breakfast.

Monkey Bread King Cake


½ c brown sugar

¼ c butter

1 tsp cinnamon

1 ½ c chopped toasted pecans

1 package non-instant butterscotch pudding

18 frozen white dinner rolls, thawed (my aunt uses Rhodes Bake-N-Serv)

1 miniature baby


Combine brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon in a small saucepan; stir over medium-low heat until melted together. Set aside. Spray a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle bottom and sides with toasted pecans and dry pudding mix powder. Pour brown sugar-butter mix into Bundt pan, coating sides. Remove rolls from package. (Snip a hole in one and insert baby if using a porcelain Jesus. Otherwise, wait until the bread has cooked and cooled first.) Press rolls into pan. Bake 20-25 minutes at 350℉. Remove pan from oven and let cool. (If using a plastic baby, hide it in the bread now.)

Serving Options

Remove from pan, invert (think upside-down cake) and serve plain for a delicious, simple king cake. Or, keep the gooey side down when you plate it and drizzle the top with purple, green, and yellow icing or colored sugar for a more traditional look.

Featured image: Shutterstock


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