The Best King Cakes I Had During Mardi Gras

If there’s one reason Mardi Gras exists, it is to fatten up the people of New Orleans with the delectable Heaven-sent manna we call King Cake.

And I take my King Cake very. LOOK AT ME… Very. Seriously.

“What is a King Cake?” you may wonder. “And are the Spice Girls really going to make a comeback for their 20th anniversary?” Maybe.

But to answer your first query, a king cake is kind of like a big cinnamon roll with icing and sprinkles on top. Traditionally speaking. It’s a big part of Mardi Gras culture and I’m obsessed with finding the best New Orleans has to offer. So if you too wanna get your hands on the best of the best (or the worst, for whatever reason), just wait another 11 months and remember this countdown. Here we go!

11. Winn Dixie – plain
winn dixie
It was… fine. But nothing out of the ordinary. If you’re heading to a party and need something to contribute, it will pass without judgement probably.

10. Sucre – plain
Sucre cake

While this metallic tri-colored beauty may win style points for aesthetic, it doesn’t bring much else to the table. While Sucre normally reigns supreme in the realm of sweet stuff, I can’t say I was impressed by their Mardi Gras delicacy. The cake itself was kind of dry, and because the icing (if you can call it that) was more of a glaze, it couldn’t even swoop in and save the day by drowning your taste buds in sugar. C+ at best. (Sorry Kris.)

9. Gracious Bakery Queen Cake
queen cake
Still in the “ok” category. What it lacked in pizzazz, it made up for in its interesting almond cream flavor. Definitely not the best, but a step above a tired ol’ king cake.

8. Rouse’s – plain
Ok now we’re talkin’. Even though it isn’t anything fancy, the actual pastry was moist and the overall sweetness was satisfying. Would have another piece.

7. Gracious Bakery – satsuma
I know what you’re thinking. A citrus flavored King Cake? Yes. It was a subtle twist that made for an interesting flavor. Not too over the top but enough to make a difference for sure.

6. Rouse’s – apple cream cheese
apple cream cheese

This probably isn’t actually a picture of it, but just imagine the picture of the plain one, but with apples and cream cheese inside. YUM.

5. Gracious Bakery – Nutella pretzel
Nutella cake
I’m gonna be honest. It took me until the last piece of this cake to figure out why it was considered a nutella or a pretzel King Cake, as I saw neither nutella nor pretzels in it. But I thinkkkkk the actual pastry was made of pretzel dough and the nutella was baked into it, like cinnamon normally is. Also, it had a random maraschino cherry in it, which was a yummy and unexpected surprise (perhaps an edible substitute for the baby). Anyway, I don’t know if that had anything to do with why I liked it, but I sure did.

Bonus: the icing kinda tasted like the marshmallows from Lucky Charms!

4. Rouse’s Queen Cake
Rouses Queen

Two words: Cookie. Butter. I repeat: WHIPPED COOKIE BUTTER ICING. Omg. (All hail the queen!!!! tbh.) It’s a delicious twist on the classic.

3. Toast – cinnamon cream cheese
Toast cake
I love a heavy King Cake. This one was dense and baked to perfection, despite its dark color. Everything you would hope for. There wasn’t anything necessarily different about it, but they mastered the basics.

2. Cartozzo’s – mini plain
Inline image 2
Similarly to the King Cake from Toast, there wasn’t anything necessarily unique about Cartozzo’s King Cake. But it probably had the best combination of moistness, sweetness and density. Every bite was like chewing on a pillow of joy. But I also ate it in the shower so, like, take my critique with a grain of salt.

1. Dong Phuong – plain
dong phuong
Guys. Guys!!!! This King Cake gave. me. life!!! I ate the entire thing myself! Well… my one roommate had a piece. I felt bad not offering. BUT LET ME TELL YOU there is not a plain thing about this plain cake! The shape is full instead of the traditional ring shape.

They usually have a plastic baby inside them somewhere, and if you get the piece of cake with it inside, you are in charge of buying the next King Cake. (Some people also say it’s good luck, but refer to previous traditional obligations and you be the judge…)

This pastry is flaky, moist, and dense. The icing. THE ICING. It’s light as a feather. Almost like a whipped cream cheese flavor. It kind of reminded me of the icing on a Cinnabon. I can not recommend this cake enough. If you’re ever in New Orleans East during Mardi Gras – even if you’re not – get one. Or two. Or three. Or four. Or five. Or six. Or seven. Or eight. Or nine. Or ten. Or eleven. Or twelve. Or thirteen. Or fourteen. Or fifteen. Or sixteen. Or seventeen……