15 Indulgent Dishes for a Festive Fat Tuesday

Get the Feasting Started

Fried shrimp po boy sandwiches

​The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

The food and drink-laden festivities of Mardi Gras all culminate on Fat Tuesday, the day before the fasting and self-denial of Lent begins in the Catholic tradition. In the Mardi Gras epicenter of New Orleans, Fat Tuesday is an all-day party, with plenty of feasting and merry-making. You can replicate the tastes of Fat Tuesday at home with this delicious menu. Our advice? Wear stretchy pants.

  • 01 of 15

    Slow Cooker Shrimp and Grits

    Shrimp and grits

    The Spruce 

    If you have to work on Fat Tuesday (it is a weekday, after all), this crockpot shrimp and grits recipe will help you celebrate without spending a lot of time on the meal. It's creamy, satisfying, and only takes about 10 minutes of active prep time. The long cook time smooths out the edges of the hot sauce, but feel free to use less if you're averse to heat.

  • 02 of 15

    Fried Shrimp Po' Boy Sandwich

    Fried shrimp po boy sandwiches

    ​The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

    It's impossible to have a New Orleans-style party without a fried shrimp po' boy sandwich. A po' boy is a hearty stuffed sandwich—often with sausage, fried fish, or shrimp—served on a crusty French bread or baguette. Fry up a batch and set out the ingredients for your guests to make their own for a fun do-it-yourself supper.

  • 03 of 15

    Slow Cooker Jambalaya

    Crock pot jambalaya


    AXLVideo / Getty Images 

    Made with sausage, chicken, seafood, and rice, stick-to-your-ribs jambalaya is a classic Creole dish often featured at Fat Tuesday tables. Unlike the Cajun version, this one contains tomatoes. The rice cooks separately to ensure it's perfectly done. If you'd like, add ham or substitute turkey for the chicken.

  • 04 of 15

    Fried Boudin Balls With Remoulade Sauce

    Boudin balls

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Boudin balls are a classic Cajun recipe made with seasoned pork and rice and dipped in an addictive remoulade sauce. These would make an excellent appetizer for your get-together or a tasty side to the meal. If you can't find boudin sausage, go ahead and use andouille or your favorite sausage instead.

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  • 05 of 15

    Chicken Étouffée

    Crawfish etouffee

    sf_foodphoto / E+ / Getty Images

    You can't get much more Cajun than a classic étouffée. Often made with shrimp or crawfish, this version uses chicken for those who don't love for seafood. A roux is often used to thicken these dishes and to add an extra nutty dimension. This one is cooked along with the dish to save time, which is why there's so much flour. Find a Creole or Cajun spice that you can find in most supermarkets, but be aware that they can get a little spicy.

  • 06 of 15

    Updated Tunnel of Fudge Cake

    Tunnel of fudge cake

    Annabelle Breakey / Photolibrary / Getty Images

    The original tunnel of fudge cake uses frosting mix, but this from-scratch version will truly wow your guests. That fudge tunnel is a fun surprise, especially for kids. Don't mess with the recipe; every ingredient is carefully calibrated to create the final product and it won't come out properly if you start freestyling. It's rich enough without frosting, so don't worry about an additional topping.

  • 07 of 15

    King Cake Shot

    King Cake Shot Recipe With Colored Sugar Rims
    S&C Design Studios

    Have your cake and drink it too with these dessert shots. The shooters bring the big flavor of King Cake in a small glass with cake vodka as the base. Cream liqueur to give it that luscious texture and cinnamon schnapps for a kicky flavor. Pour them into glasses rimmed with purple, green, and yellow sugar for a festive touch. Top each with a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of nutmeg to really get the party started.

  • 08 of 15

    Easy French-Style Beignets


    Steve Korn / Getty Images 

    New Orleans is known for its beignets, little fried pillows of dough often dusted with powdered sugar and eaten out of a bag. This choux pastry dough is yeast-free and simple to throw together at the last minute. For extra authenticity, serve them with bitter hot chicory coffee or cafe au lait and of course, plenty of sugar.

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  • 09 of 15

    A Homemade Hurricane

    Hurricane cocktail

    The Spruce

    When you see pictures of people living it up in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, they're usually holding Hurricanes. This fruity rum-spiked punch goes down easy but packs a real wallop. Adjust the amount of rum for your personal preference, and garnish with a pretty maraschino cherry and a slice of orange. No matter what the weather's like where you are, this drink will transport you to the tropics.

  • 10 of 15

    Tasty Crab Boil Spice Mix

    Crab boil

    MATTHIASRABBIONE / Getty Images 

    Boil up a mess of crabs, shrimp, lobster, or crawfish for a real down-home Fat Tuesday celebration. This spice mix is the perfect way to flavor the water for the best result. Many people buy it when they pick up the seafood, but it's so easy to make at home, and it'll impress guests that you whipped it up yourself. Throw some potatoes and corn in with the seafood and you've got a party on your hands.

  • 11 of 15

    Vegetarian Gumbo With Okra

    Bowl of vegetable gumbo with thyme garnish
    Envision / Getty Images

    Just because you don't eat meat doesn't mean you can't enjoy some of the Fat Tuesday standards. This vegan gumbo is loaded up with okra, zucchini, celery, onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers for a full serving of veggies. It calls for file powder, a Creole spice made from sassafras. It's really unique, but if you can't find it, just add a little more thyme and salt and some Creole or another savory seasoning.

  • 12 of 15

    Classic Cajun Rice Salad

    Rice salad

    foods style Moment Open / Getty Images

    This rice salad with veggies is a classic Cajun side, so don't leave it off your Fat Tuesday menu. It goes great alongside any protein, thanks to its slightly spicy flavor. Creole mustard will add in a little extra punch, but stoneground or Dijon mustard will work just fine. Serve with tabasco sauce on the side for those who really want to level it up.

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  • 13 of 15

    Sazerac Cocktail


    Claire Cohen

    The Sazerac cocktail was invented in New Orleans, so if you're a whiskey drinker, you have to mix one up one on Fat Tuesday. This recipe comes straight from the Sazerac whiskey company, so you know it's official. Use Peychaud's bitters for the most authentic flavor, but Angostura bitters will also work if that's what you have on hand.

  • 14 of 15

    Simple Baked Onion Rice Pilaf

    Rice pilaf

    Tanchic / Getty Images 

    This virtually foolproof rice pilaf lends itself well to experimentation and will soak up any Hurricanes you're indulging in during the festivities. Add chopped red and green peppers for color and zesty flavor or stir in some green peas toward the end. Chopped garlic or additional herbs would also be a nice twist.

  • 15 of 15

    Vegan King Cake

    New Orleans Mardi Gras King Cake with baby doll
    Envision / Getty Images

    The original King Cake contains a lot of butter and eggs—not this vegan version. If you or any of your guests are avoiding animal products, this is the dessert for you. Traditionally, the King cake baker hides a tiny plastic baby figurine in the cake. The lucky diner who gets the baby in their slice will have good luck that year. Some people use a (clean) coin or a kidney bean instead if they don't have a figurine to toss in.