New Orleans’ 7 best king cakes

Mardi Gras is the best time of the year for many, but especially those living in New Orleans. And even though the four-week party has come and gone in 2015, there’s still reason to think about carnival season – a season centered around eating a lot, drinking even more, and partying until the sun comes up.

Because one of the best parts of Mardi Gras is the famous king cake, a delicious sugary treat craved year round. Hundreds of bakeries around the city of New Orleans try their own spin on the amazing pastry but here are the best of the best.

 

#1 – Tastee Donuts’ McKenzie

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Only one word is needed to explain this king cake: simple. Tastee Donuts’ king cake is the original gangster of the king cake world.

It has everything one could ever want in a king cake without trying too hard. Made from delicious brioche dough, there’s no filling in this bad boy, not even a cinnamon swirl or icing. It just has that perfect purple, green and gold sugar on top.

This cake is king without all the glitz and glamour; it’s what all locals crave with just the right balance of sweet.

One is $11.99, but lucky for you outta-towners, Tastee ships.

 

#2 – Haydel’s Bakery

What a classic this king cake this is!

Haydel’s Bakery knows just how to whip up the right thing. The traditional Haydel’s king cake is a sweet buttery dough twisted into the perfect braid with a cinnamon swirl throughout, a sweet icing on top and finished with that classic purple, green and gold sugar.

Their king cakes come with a plastic baby inside as well as a hand-crafted specialty ceramic baby that is updated every year!

With much success in the king cake business, Haydel’s recently opened pop-up shops all across the city during Mardi Gras for easy access. How genius!

Other flavors include: cream cheese, strawberry cream cheese, praline pecan, German chocolate and chocolate chip brownie. These are $15 for a medium but for shipping one of these treats, it will cost you a whopping $55!

 

#3 – Manny Randazzo’s Bakery

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Ah, the Randazzo king cake!

While the Randazzo family is split into a half-dozen entities due to family drama (hey, more king cake for us), Manny has taken the cake, literally, with an amazing cinnamon dough braided to perfection.

This classic is covered in the sweetest icing in all the land and unlike the traditional, is garnished with purple and green sprinkles, giving Randazzo’s its own unique look. Other flavors include: cream cheese, apple, lemon, strawberry, royal (all four flavors) and the famous praline pecan.

Randazzo’s praline pecan flavor won best king cake in 2012! This bakery knows how to pump out the product and ships thousands of king cakes across the country every season – $17.50 for a medium in store.

 

#4 – Gambino’s Bakery

Pulling up the ranks at No. 4, this is another classic.

Gambino’s Bakery has one of the best king cake recipes out there. The cake is made of a buttery Danish dough with a touch of cinnamon swirl and topped with a white icing and heaps of purple, green and gold sugar.

One of Gambino’s specialties is its filling because you can get one or two. Fillings include: cream cheese, chocolate cream cheese, Bavarian cream, praline pecan, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, lemon, apple, and chocolate brownie. If you live or visit New Orleans, don’t wait to get one of these next season – $18.50 for a large in store.

 

#5 – Cochon Butcher

This Cochon Butcher king cake isn’t your typical king cake. These king cakes are a whole new breed that had to find a spot on the top seven.

Cochon Butcher, a local butcher shop in the city, started making king cakes just a few years ago, and they’ve grabbed the attention of many. Their most famous is The Elvis, a pastry filled with fresh bananas and peanut butter, topped with a decadent marshmallow cream and finished with house-cured diced bacon.

One word – WOW!

Other new flavors include meyer lemon, almond, chocolate pecan and strawberry. Every cake has a little plastic piggy hiding inside instead of the typical baby. $30 for one of these, and sorry non-locals, there’s no shipping for these bad boys!

 

#6 – Sucre Bakery

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Sucre Bakery opened its doors in the Garden District in 2007 and has been producing the most beautiful king cakes on the scene ever since.

A Sucre king cake is truly a piece of art. The dough is layered with sweet butter and a cream cheese swirl to create pastry perfection.

The cake is topped with a sweet white icing and covered in a purple, green and gold glittery luster. Special note from the bakers – warm a slice in the microwave for six to eight seconds for optimal deliciousness! One of these creations is $18, and Sucre ships.

 

 #7 – Domenica

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When famous chef John Besh opened the doors of Domenica in 2009, king cake was not on the radar. But in the past two years, Domenica has hit this new addition out of the park.

This cake is another unique twist on the traditional king cake, having basically no similarities except its shape.

Get this – the cake is cut in half and stuffed with salted caramel, fresh bananas, toasted pecans, mascarpone cheese and carmello. It’s topped with a sweet praline glaze and garnished with gold leaf. This overflowing masterpiece is out of this world and instead of a plastic baby inside, there’s a fava bean! Cue the applause.

But you will need to be willing to drop some serious cash on one of these creations -$39 for one, and no, Domenica doesn’t ship.

 

by Julia Hollings, a NOLA native and lover of king cakes

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