Celebrate Mardi Gras with Homemade King Cake Doughnuts

King cake is a celebratory dessert traditionally served for Mardis Gras. Here, we translate the same flavors into a baked doughnut recipe to enjoy at home.

In New Orleans, Mardi Gras celebrations are well underway. Beyond the beads and parades, one of our favorite annual traditions is the consumption of king cake, a celebratory dessert served for the holiday.

Sometimes a small plastic or porcelain baby—thought to represent baby Jesus—is placed underneath or inside the sweet dough. The person who finds the baby is thought to be the recipient of good fortune, and he or she is also responsible for throwing next year’s Mardis Gras party (or at least providing the cake). This happy update on the colorful dessert puts all the warm cinnamon flavors and decorative colors of king cake into doughnut form. Yes, please!

⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon vinegar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
a dash ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

2–4 tablespoons heavy cream
⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup confectioner’s sugar

Green, purple, and yellow sugar or sprinkles for decorating

2 standard doughnut pans
pastry bag or large resealable plastic bag
plastic baby (optional)

Try not to overmix the batter since doing so create a dense, tough cake.

You can grease your pans with some softened unsalted butter or a baking spray.

You can add more heavy cream to your glaze, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired pourable consistency. If it’s too thin, add more confectioner’s sugar.
Yields 12 doughnuts

1. Curdle Milk: Preheat oven to 400°F. In a small bowl, stir together milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place butter in a medium heatproof bowl and microwave at 30-second intervals until melted. Set aside to cool.

2. Make Batter: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ¼ kosher salt. Add sugar, honey, vanilla extract, and 1 egg to bowl with melted butter and whisk to combine. Whisk in curdled milk mixture. Add to bowl with dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.

3. Bake Doughnuts: Cut a ½-inch tip off pastry bag or resealable plastic bag. Add batter and carefully pipe into greased pans, about ⅔ of the way to the top. Transfer to oven and bake until light golden and a toothpick comes out clean, about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool in pans for 1–2 minutes. Carefully invert and set aside to cool for 15–20 minutes more.

4. Make Glaze: While doughnuts bake, whisk together 1–3 tablespoons heavy cream and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in confectioner’s sugar until well combined.

5. Decorate Doughnuts: Dip cooled doughnuts into glaze, allowing excess to drip off. Sprinkle over decorative sugar or sprinkles. Stick a plastic baby in a doughnut if you’re a Mardis Gras traditionalist at heart. Enjoy!


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