40 Fat Tuesday Recipes to Celebrate Mardi Gras

updated Feb 8, 2024
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gumbo in a bowl with jasmine rice and a spoon
Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne; Prop Styling; Anne Eastman

Like every holiday in Louisiana, Mardi Gras is all about the food. While Fat Tuesday itself is just one day, celebrations and parades go on for weeks beforehand in New Orleans and other cities. Mardi Gras is the time of festivity and feasting leading up to Lent (the 40-day period of fasting and abstaining before Easter Sunday) so it’s customary to celebrate with pull-out-the-stops meals and plenty of King Cake. 

My mom is originally from South Louisiana and I lived for a time in the state, so I grew up eating Creole and Cajun classics like étouffée, gumbo, jambalaya, and Gulf shrimp served every which way — especially boiled and dipped in remoulade sauce and fried and stuffed into a po’ boy. The collection of recipes I’ve gathered here includes some of my favorite Cajun and Creole classics, some other dishes I love to eat whenever I visit Louisiana, and some Fat Tuesday recipes like beignets, of course!

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Nini Nguyen's jambalaya is loaded with smoky andouille sausage and juicy chicken thighs and I want it RIGHT NOW.
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These New Orleans-style beignets will transport you to the French Quarter. Serve them with café au lait made with chicory coffee, and be prepared to be absolutely covered in powdered sugar.
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Cajun Gumbo
This humble Southern stew represents the marriage of cultures, subtleties of tradition, local ingredients, and, above all, community.
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Bananas Foster
This classic dessert is as much fun to prepare as it is to eat.
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Invented in New Orleans, the muffuletta sandwich features an olive salad, Italian deli meats and cheeses. One giant sandwich is known for feeding several people.
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Shrimp Etouffée
Etoufée is always on the top of my list when I visit Louisiana. You can make this recipe with crawfish instead of shrimp if you can get your hands on them (frozen crawfish work just fine in this sort of smothered dish too).
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King Cake
It's really not Mardi Gras season without at least one slice of this colorful cake.
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Shrimp Po' Boy
Louisiana cooks have a way with fried seafood, and a po' boy is the perfect showcase for crispy fried shrimp. I typically order mine "dressed" with mayonnaise, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and a few shakes of hot sauce, but I love the addition of remoulade sauce in this recipe.
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The Original Hurricane
If you're in New Orleans, you have to stop by Pat O'Brien's for a Hurricane, or you can whip up this classic at home.
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Seafood Gumbo
A gumbo that's abundant with seafood and will make your kitchen smell incredible.
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Fried Okra
This recipe for crispy, beer-battered fried okra features two equally delicious ways to prepare the pods.
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I love a creamy remoulade with boiled shrimp.
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Crawfish Étouffée
Save this simple and extra-flavorful recipe because you’ll want to make it every week.
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Crabby Hush Puppies
If crab cakes and hush puppies had a baby, it would be this one-bite snack.
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Shrimp and Grits
Learn how to make the best classic Southern shrimp and grits at home with creamy, cheesy grits.
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Fried Green Tomatoes
The best (and tastiest!) way to make classic Southern fried green tomatoes.
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Shrimp Creole

This beautifully saucy shrimp is cooked in a stew of tomatoes, aromatics, spices, and homemade stock.

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One sip of this iconic cocktail will make you understand just how special it is.
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Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice
With an Instant Pot, the most time-consuming part of making red beans (pre-soaking overnight) can be skipped entirely.
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Bananas Foster French Toast
This French Toast is the ultimate way to eat dessert for breakfast.
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Maque Choux
If only all veggies could taste like this.
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Gumbo Z’Herbes (Greens Gumbo)
This hearty gumbo, chock full of peak winter greens, represents warmth, community, and love.
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Cajun Shrimp Pasta

Take dinner up a notch with a minimalist creamy pasta with a rich, smoky, spicy Cajun flavor. You'll be deeply satisfied by the the chewy al-dente penne against the crunchy shrimp and snap of andouille sausage.

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Southern Hush Puppies
Learn how to make easy, golden, deep-fried hush puppies to serve with fried fish or barbecue.
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Arnaud's French 75
Here's the French 75 from New Orleans' legendary Arnaud's.
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Seafood Boil
This flavorful mix of seafood, sausage, and vegetables is guaranteed to make your next party a crowd-pleaser.
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Banana Bread Pudding
Banana bread pudding is a delectable new way to use up slightly ripened bananas and day-old bread.
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Slow Cooker Jambalaya
A great hands-off way to make the Louisiana classic for a big day of entertaining.
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Creole Crab Cakes with Sweet Chili Sauce

Celebrate Mardi Gras with these crab cakes with Creole seasoning, red bell pepper, green onions, and cilantro.

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Lechon Po' Boy
This Filipino-Cajun po' boy consists of aromatic fork-tender lechon pork served on French rolls with lettuce, cucumber, and tomato salad.
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Blackened Catfish and Gouda Grits
A unique spin to the already popular Southern dish, fish and grits.
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Smoky Cajun Shrimp Orzo
Plump orzo pasta and shrimp are cooked in a smoky tomato broth spiked with Cajun spices.
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Fried Oysters
All you need to bring the flavors of New Orleans right into your kitchen is a dozen oysters and a few simple ingredients.
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Blackened Shrimp
If you want to "kick it up a notch" (sorry), try this quick skillet shrimp with paprika, garlic powder, oregano, and cayenne.
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Boudin Balls
Boudin balls are Louisiana’s version of a snacking sausage that somehow fits an entire meal in one casing. Each fried ball is stuffed with boiled pork, liver, rice, veggies, and Cajun aromatics.
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Vietnamese-Style Shrimp Po' Boy
This shrimp po' boy is topped with pickled daikon, cucumbers, carrots, and jalapeños and slathered with mayo for a super-tasty way to celebrate.
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Vegetarian Gumbo

This delicious vegetarian version of the Southern classic is made with homemade mushroom stock, beans, okra and tofu.

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Louisiana Barbecued Shrimp
Toni Tipton-Martin advises serving these buttery shrimp with plenty of French bread, and I couldn't agree more.
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Cajun Stuffed Plantains
"I grew up in different parts of Southern Louisiana, so I tend to lean on Cajun/Creole recipes, but as a first-generation American born into a Honduran immigrant family I also feel a responsibility to represent that cuisine that ties me to my roots," Grace Aguilar writes of these flavorful plantains stuffed with shrimp, crab, beef, cheese, and seasonings.
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Slow Cooker Shrimp Boil
A classic shrimp boil, packed with shrimp, potatoes, corn, and sausage, made easier with the help of the slow cooker.
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