At its core, Mardi Gras is essentially a reflection of the New Orleans' experience, ancient traditions, and diverse culture. However, most of us have to come to appreciate it as a celebration of pure indulgence. Beyond Bourbon Street, colorful beads, and lavish balls and parades, lies a deep connection to food—rich, dense, and satisfying dishes to sustain revelers before Ash Wednesday and the fasting season of Lent begins. Thus, the aptly named Fat Tuesday, which is the last day to enjoy all the meaty and fatty delicacies you can muster up. Because, frankly, 40 days is a long time to go without eating our southern favorites.
We couldn’t let the good times roll without offering some New Orleans-inspired meals to prepare you for the ultimate cheat day of decadence. Whether you call it Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday, here, food and religion marry together for one last pre-Lenten hurrah. Feel free to take your pick from these 12 recipes—just indulge responsibly.
Related: Cooking Class: New Orleans Beignets
Jambalaya is a quintessentially Creole dish that's typically filled with shrimp, rice, and various spices any Cajun food lover would enjoy. Here, our slow-cooked version is packed with shrimp and sausage for the perfect surf-and-turf approach to Fat Tuesday.
The flavor of New Orleans is baked into this round pastry dessert that's decorated in colorful icing reminiscent of the purple, green, and gold spirit of Mardi Gras. It wouldn't be Carnival and Mardi Gras season without king cake and its lucky surprise inside.
The French word etouffee means to smother or braise. During crawfish season, you can't go wrong with etouffee, a popular stew common of southwest Louisiana that's served over a bed of fluffy rice. This hearty dish will satisfy any seafood lover.
Shrimp, pickled okra, Parmesan cheese, and creole seasoning combine together for a delicious appetizer that will keep you coming back for more.
Related: Shrimp and Okra Gumbo Recipe
Pancakes are practically synonymous with Fat Tuesday, just like king cake. We transformed classic layered German chocolate cake into irresistable flapjacks that are worth waking up early for.
We're not being bombastic here—this really is our best seafood gumbo. Why? Not only does it yield a satisfying bowl, but very little effort is required to make this dish.
A sink, stove, and one big pot is all you need to make this authentic Louisiana dish. But we love a crawfish boil because it gives us an opportunity to gather with family and friends in the backyard over crawfish, corn, potatoes, and all the delicious fixings.
Tender shrimp is fried and seasoned to perfection in this recipe, and stuffed into split baguettes to make a Fat Tuesday-worthy sandwich.
This is the epitome of comfort food and southern indulgence. It's full of pecans, brown sugar, and nutmeg. The praline sauce drizzled on top offers the sweetest ending to a feast.
This recipe can pull double duty for breakfast or dinner because of the spicy seasoning and jumbo shrimp.
Shake things up with an easy one-pot Cajun chicken dish that doesn't disappoint. Unlike the slow-cooked French version, this meal cooks up much quicker.
Soft, light, and pillowy—need we say more? You don't have to travel to New Orleans to enjoy bite-sized, powdered sugar-coated beignets. No, your search for the revered pastry ends here with this tasty, fool-proof recipe.