Go Back
+ servings
King Cake

King Cake

King Cake is a famous New Orleans ring-shaped cake made with yeast dough and topped with purple, green, and gold-colored sugar. Think of cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, and French pastry all rolled into one incredible dessert for Mardi Gras. For this version, I added pecans to the cinnamon filling. And even better, this deliciously colorful cake is super easy to make at home!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Southern
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Rising Time 2 hours
Servings 12 slices
Calories 334kcal
Author Imma


  • Large bowl
  • Medium bowl
  • Stand mixer
  • Baking sheet pan


King Cake Dough

  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) warm water
  • teaspoons (7g) dry active yeast, or one package
  • ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon (2 ml) vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces (113 g) unsalted butter
  • 2 large egg
  • 4 ounces (113 g) sour cream
  • 3-3½ cup (375-438 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon ( 2 g) lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon (0.5 g) nutmeg

Cinnamon Sugar Mixture

  • 2 ounces (56 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ cup (150 g) brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (4 g) ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup (55 g) pecans
  • cup (41 g) all-purpose flour

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) milk


  • 1 cup (113 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) water
  • teaspoon (0.5 ml) vanilla extract
  • green, purple, and yellow sugar, as needed


The Dough

  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and let it sit until mixed (about five minutes). If using a stand mixer, combine the water and yeast in the mixer bowl, making sure to use the dough hook.
  • Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe medium bowl, combine the sugar, salt, milk, vanilla, and butter and microwave for about a minute. Stir until everything melts.
  • Whisk the egg and sour cream into the lukewarm butter mixture. (Note: If your butter is still hot, let it sit for a few minutes, or you will curdle your eggs.)
  • Pour the mixture into a large bowl or stand mixer and mix thoroughly.
  • Gradually add about 3¼ cups of flour, the lemon zest, and nutmeg, and continue mixing the dough using dough hooks.
  • If mixing by hand, remove dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Then knead until smooth and elastic for about 8-10 minutes; add additional flour as needed to make a soft dough. (Less flour, rather than more).
  • Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat it. Cover loosely with a clean cloth and let it rise in a warm place for an hour or until doubled.
  • Then punch the dough down and turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 16×10-inch rectangle.

The Cinnamon Sugar Filling

  • Prepare cinnamon sugar by combining melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, pecans, and flour.
  • Spread the cinnamon-butter mixture over the dough and sprinkle on an even layer of pecans. Roll up dough in a jelly-roll style, starting with the long side (pinch the edges to seal).
  • Place the rolled dough on a greased baking sheet with the seam side down. Pinch the two ends together to form a ring (Moisten the ends of the dough with a little water to seal). Cover the dough ring with a cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.

Baking and Glazing

  • Preheat the oven to 375℉/190℃.
  • Make a wash with the egg and milk, then gently brush it on the cake.
  • Bake for 25-30 or until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let it cool for about five minutes.
  • While the cake cools down, make the glaze. Whisk together powdered sugar, milk, water, and vanilla in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth. Spread the glaze over the warm cake and immediately sprinkle with alternating bands of the colored sugar. Allow the cake to cool before serving.


  • The longer yeast dough has to rise, the better it tastes and feels. If you have time, you can make the dough a day or two ahead of time and leave it in the fridge to develop slowly.
  • Make it a family project. This cake might not be that straightforward to make, but I guarantee you it is a lot of fun to prepare, especially together. I have my son help me with the glazing part and my hubby with the cinnamon filling, and I wouldn't trade that experience for anything.
  • Baking the cake with the baby inside can create a choking hazard, especially if children are involved. Though it may ruin the surprise, it's better to put the baby where it can be seen.
  • Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used in the recipe.


Serving: 1piece | Calories: 334kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 225mg | Potassium: 107mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 38g | Vitamin A: 470IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 0.6mg