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A Guide to New Orleans King Cake Season

Whether you’re a king cake purist, love filling or prefer presentation, one of these New Orleans bakeries will grant your wish this Mardi Gras.

In most cities, the holiday season only goes through Christmas and New Year’s Day. As folks from around the country are hauling their decorations to the attic and working on breaking their resolutions for the new year, New Orleanians are anxiously awaiting the official start of the Mardi Gras season on Twelfth Night, January 6. However, for us Twelfth Night is bigger than the start of the Carnival Season, it is the official start of king cake season! King cakes come in just about every way imaginable: no filling, icing, sugar topped, bursting at the the seams with filling. You name it, and someone has made a king cake with it. Like the po-boy, New Orleanians all have their favorite and consider all other types of king cake to be unfit imposters. Here’s our guide to some of the local favorites. It’s time to pick a side and place your order.

The World’s Largest King Cake by Haydel’s (photo courtesy of Guinness World Records)

Manny Randazzo’s King Cakes use the original family recipe that has been making locals smile since 1965. Consistently one of the most popular king cakes in the area, the Randazzo king cake embraces lathering their cakes with icing and providing just a sprinkling of the more traditional colored sugar. To really push the buttons of some of the more staunch king cake traditionalists, Randazzo’s also offers a wide variety of filled king cakes, from apple filling to strawberry cream cheese to the four flavor Royal king cake.

Randazzo’s Icing-centric Traditional King Cake (Photo courtesy of Randazzo

Haydel’s Bakery is another local favorite. More impressively, Haydel’s is home to the world’s largest king cake which was so big it wrapped all the way around the outside of the Superdome, twice! Haydel’s offers a wide range of king cakes to please just about everyone, including the no icing purists! Don’t worry you filling lovers, they have plenty for you including a deviously decadent chocolate chip brownie filling.

A Work of Art From Sucre (Photo Courtesy of Sucre)

Sucre has recently burst into the hearts and minds of New Orleanians with what is often described as “the most beautiful king cake I’ve ever seen.” These mini works of art were recently named the best king cakes in New Orleans by a major newspaper and featured in many national magazines. Sucre’s king cakes are more danish than cake and filled with creole cream cheese, but definitely an experience worth having!

My personal favorite king cake is the more traditional McKenzie’s king cake. While McKenzie’s Bakery is long gone from the New Orleans landscape, their most favorite recipes live on at Tastee Donuts. The McKenzie’s king cake was the pinnacle of treats to bring to school during the Mardi Gras season, a delicious mass of cake and sugar with no visible icing to get in the way. There may be no finer culinary memory from my childhood than sneaking a huge piece of McKenzie’s king cake after school. While a bit harder to locate than most, McKenzie’s is certainly worth the effort for me.

Did we miss your favorite king cake? If so, let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

King Cake Season 2012
January 6 to February 21, 2012

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