Best King Cake recipe | Tradition King Cake recipe

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King Cake is a traditional dessert that is popular in the United States, particularly in the southern region, during the Mardi Gras season. Here’s a recipe for making a classic King Cake:

king cake recipe


  • 1 cup warm milk (110°F to 115°F)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Green, purple, and yellow sugar (or sprinkles)
  • 1 plastic baby (optional)

For the filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Green, purple, and yellow food coloring


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the warm milk and yeast. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, until the yeast is foamy.
  2. Add the sugar, melted butter, egg yolks, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and salt to the bowl. Stir until well combined.
  3. Add 4 cups of the flour to the bowl and stir until the dough comes together. If the dough is still sticky, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and supple.
  5. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.
  6. While the dough is rising, make the filling. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, flour, and egg yolk until smooth. Divide the filling into three small bowls and tint each bowl a different color with food coloring.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 22 inches long and 10 inches wide.
  9. Spread the tinted filling over the center of the dough in 3 long strips.
  10. Fold the long sides of the dough over the filling, pinching the edges to seal.
  11. Carefully transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet, forming it into a ring and pinching the ends together to seal.
  12. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Brush the egg wash over the dough.
  13. Sprinkle the colored sugar or sprinkles in alternating stripes around the ring.
  14. Bake the King Cake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
  15. Let the King Cake cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.
  16. If using a plastic baby, insert it into the underside of the King Cake.

Enjoy your homemade King Cake!

Additional tips and variations for making a King Cake:

  • Some recipes use a cinnamon sugar filling instead of cream cheese filling. To make the cinnamon sugar filling, mix together 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of melted butter. Spread the filling over the dough before rolling and shaping the cake.
  • You can use a combination of green, purple, and gold (instead of yellow) sprinkles or sanding sugar to decorate the cake. These colors are traditional Mardi Gras colors and have special meaning: green represents faith, purple represents justice, and gold represents power.
  • If you can’t find a plastic baby to insert into the cake, you can use a dried bean or a small figurine instead. Just be sure to warn your guests before they take a bite!
  • To make the cake ahead of time, you can refrigerate the dough after the first rise for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to bake the cake, let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before shaping and decorating.
  • For a gluten-free version of King Cake, use a gluten-free flour blend in place of the all-purpose flour.
  • King Cake is traditionally served with coffee or hot cocoa. You can also slice the cake and serve it with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also experiment with different flavors of filling, such as chocolate or fruit preserves. Just make sure the filling has a thick enough consistency to hold up to the shaping and baking process.

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