Mardi Gras Recipes to Ensure Les Bons Temps Rouler

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Mardi Gras, though rich in spiritual tradition, also carries delicious implications, like beignets and jambalaya. Check out these great Mardi Gras recipes for a delicious Fat Tuesday. Your Mardi Gras eats will ensure that les bons temps rouler.

sausage gumbo in a bowl

Jambalaya Chicken and Sausage on Rice

Mardi Gras means “fat Tuesday” in French. In English it’s referred to as Shrove Tuesday. It’s the day before Lent begins.

Traditionally, it’s the day when one would purge the household of the foods that might be forbidden during Lenten observations. In Medieval times, rich foods, like butter, eggs, and cream, aka fats, were considered off limits in the weeks before Easter.

While the Roman Catholic church has always observed Lent, a number of Protestant faiths do as well. The church I grew up in hosted a pancake supper on Shrove Tuesday every year, and folks were encouraged to abstain from something important during the Lenten season as a spiritual discipline.

Mardi Gras as a festival in America is often associated with Cajun food, complete with Jambalaya and Beignets.

Memory-making meals cross culture lines pretty well, so I’d like to propose that you need be neither Catholic nor Cajun in order to enjoy some good Mardi Gras eats.

But, maybe you already knew that. 😉

Fun fact: I’m a history geek and like to know the reasons behind traditions, particularly the edible ones. Check out the story on pretzels. It’s related to this discussion.

Mardi Gras Recipes to Ensure Les Bons Temps Rouler

If you’d like to serve a special dinner in honor of Mardi Gras, consider one (or more) of these options.

Disclaimer: I am not Cajun, so, no, my recipes aren’t authentically Cajun; I don’t claim otherwise. They are inspired by Cajun cuisine, and they are delicious and easy, and affordable. I hope you’ll give them a try.

bowl of spaghetti squash jambalaya

Spaghetti Squash Jambalaya

Yes, even folks doing paleo or Whole 30 can enjoy Jambalaya. This is one of our favorite options. It’s delicious served on white rice (pictured above) if you prefer that over spaghetti squash.

Get the recipe here.

jar of cajun spice mix

Homemade Cajun Spice Mix

I used to pay big bucks for commercial blends until I decided that I could do just as well making my own mixes. This Cajun version is one I keep on hand 24/7.

Get the recipe here.

shrimp and sausage jambalaya

Jambalaya with Sausage and Shrimp (for a Crowd)

This jambalaya dotted with sausage and shrimp comes together as a veritable one-pot meal, like paella on steroids. It’s super easy and delicious. This recipe feeds a crowd.

Get the recipe here.

chicken gumbo soup

Chicken Gumbo Soup

Not authentic gumbo, but very much like the canned gumbo soup many of us enjoyed as children. Only it’s better and cheaper and healthier.

Get the recipe here.

pancakes on a griddle


Pancakes for supper is not only traditional but a super easy way to fly on a Tuesday night. Check out these tips for Pancakes for Supper.

Check out these favorite Pancakes recipes.

crepe with strawberries and whipped cream on a plate


French “pancakes”, crepes are easy to make and can become dinner or dessert, depending on your preferences. I have fond memories of Mardi Gras in France, 1993, when we ate our way to happiness through stacks and stacks of crepes.

Get the recipe.

buttermilk donuts on a plate

Gramma John’s Buttermilk Donuts

While not full fledged beignets, these homemade donuts are pretty close. In the tradition of fried and delicious, they work for me! Make extra so you can freeze some for later!

Get the recipe here.

Have you got any favorite Mardi Gras recipes?

Originally published February 20, 2012. Updated February 5, 2018.

Mardi Gras Recipes to Ensure Les Bons Temps Rouler | Good Cheap Eats

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. M says

    What recipe is the top photo?

    • That is the Spaghetti Squash Jambalaya, only served on rice. There’s no squash in the topping. Some of my kids prefer it on rice.

    • Alice E says

      I think it is the jambalaya in the spaghetti squash recipe, only served over rice. If you link to the recipe one of the pics in it looks like the topping on the rice, at least to me.

  2. glen says

    Hmmmm……Being from New Orleans (both my parents born and raised there too) our idea of Mardi Gras food is very different. However, yours are a passable start for those interested in learning about our rich food culture.

    • I figured as much. Thanks for understanding that not everyone has had the advantage you’ve had. 🙂

  3. Melissa in GA says

    Let the good times roll!!

    My daughter is currently enjoying all the parades and carnival atmosphere in NOLA! She attended her first parade last week and I asked her – did you get any pretty beads? Her response was – if I did I lost them! That means she had so much “fun” she doesn’t remember. Lol. Ah, to be young again!

    I grew up on the gulf coast and it’s a part of our lives. Dad drove down last week for a doctors appointment and brought back a king cake – it was delicious.

    I made shrimp creole for supper on Sunday – it’s super easy.
    Sauté a medium chopped onion, a small chopped bell pepper, a finely chopped celery stalk and 2 minced garlic cloves in 1/4 cup butter for 10 minutes. Stir in a 15oz can of tomato sauce and a cup of water. Add a couple bay leaves, salt and cayenne pepper (or your Cajun spice mix). Heat to boiling and then reduce heat to low simmering uncovered for about 10-15 minutes. Stir in 2 pounds of peeled shrimp. Heat to boiling, reduce to medium and cook 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. The shrimp should be pink and firm. Remove the bay leaves and serve over hot cooked rice.

  4. Rebecca says

    Thanks for the ideas. I was already planning to do pancakes for the kids that night, but maybe my husband and I will have the spaghetti squash jambalaya!

    • Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

      Rebecca, I prepared Jessica’s spaghetti squash jambalaya for the first time recently and it was delicious! I highly recommend it.

  5. Alice E says

    Jessica, do you think the Cajun spice mix would work without the black pepper. It looks interesting, but I have digestive trouble when I eat black pepper. I do get by with a little occasionally, but I try to avoid it. Do you think I could increase the cayenne slightly, or just add some summer savory?

    • I always recommend that folks omit an item that doesn’t sit well with them. If you can have cayenne pepper, you’ll have some kick. If you’re used to doing without black pepper, it should be just fine.

  6. kara owen says

    My kids go to Catholic school and every Fat Tuesday the Dads Club serves pancakes and bacon. That lunch day there’s, ‘no rules, no limits, no moms’ and the kids LOVE it. A Creole inspired dish for dinner that night sounds delicious and would be a good balance for the day 🙂

  7. Stella Moser says

    We are having our pancakes tomorrow for Valentine’s (?) Tonight for Fat Tuesday we are having Mufalatta and King cake for dessert

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