King Cake Shot

King cake shot recipe with colored sugar rims
S&C Design Studios
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Servings: 3 servings

Celebrate Mardi Gras with a round of King Cake shots! The recipe is simple and the flavor is utterly delicious. It even makes a round of three, so you can share with friends or work down the line yourself.

These shots replicate all the taste of a traditional King Cake. A cake-flavored vodka forms the base, a cream liqueur gives it a luscious mouthfeel, and cinnamon schnapps offers a kick of spice. The shooters are poured into shot glasses rimmed with gold, green, and purple sugars for a festive and colorful touch. To make them even more irresistible, each one is topped with whipped cream and a dusting of nutmeg.


  • 1 1/2 ounces cake vodka
  • 1 1/2 ounces Irish cream (or RumChata)
  • 1 1/2 ounces cinnamon schnapps
  • Garnish: gold, green, and purple sugar (for rimming)
  • Garnish: whipped cream
  • Garnish: ground nutmeg

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for a King Cake Shot
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  2. To begin rimming the glasses with sugar, dip the rim of one shot glass in a shallow dish of the cream liqueur. Let the excess drip off while the glass is still upside down.

    Rimming a Shot Glass for the King Cake Shooter
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  3. Quickly dip the wet edge of the glass in a dish of the colored sugar. Ensure you get a nice, even coat all the way around. Tap off any excess sugar. Repeat with two more shot glasses, rolling one each in either the green, gold or purple sugars.

    Rimming a Shot Glass With Purple Sugar
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  4. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the vodka, cream liqueur, and cinnamon schnapps.

    Mixing the King Cake Shot in a Cocktail Shaker
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  5. Shake well.

    Shaking King Cake Shots
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  6. Strain into the prepared shot glasses.

    Straining the King Cake Shots from a Cocktail Shaker
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  7. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of ground nutmeg.

    King Cake Shots With Colored Sugar Rims
    S&C Design Studios
  8. Serve and enjoy!


  • It's easy to make colored sugar at home if you can't find the three colors at the store. Simply add four to five drops of food coloring to about 1/8 cup of white sugar. Stir with a fork until the sugar becomes one color, about 1 to 2 minutes. Lay the sugar out in a thin pile on wax paper to dry overnight.
  • When using liquid food coloring, you will have to break up the resulting sugar cake into fine crystals again. A muddler makes quick work of that. Gel food coloring doesn't cake up as much.
  • You'll get the most vibrant colors if you can avoid mixing food coloring; use purple gel rather than blue and red liquid food coloring.
  • Fill each shot glass just below the sugar line. If the liquid touches homemade colored sugar, the color will run into the drink and look quite messy. This generally isn't a problem if the whipped cream touches the sugar.

Recipe Variations

  • If you prefer, any vodka with a sweet flavor can be used as a substitute for the cake vodka. Whipped cream vodkas are fun and a standard vanilla-flavored vodka is a nice choice as well. You can also pour lemon vodka (or limoncello) to replicate that lemon zest found in many King Cake recipes.
  • Amaretto is a good substitute for cinnamon schnapps. The flavor will change, of course, but it is a nice option if you don't have the schnapps in your bar.
  • Alternatively, pour a cinnamon-flavored whiskey, such as Fireball or Jim Beam Fire, instead of cinnamon schnapps.
  • If you really want to get in the King Cake spirit, drop a rum-soaked raisin in the bottom of each glass. Other trinkets that are typically hidden in King Cake—including nuts and coins—can be a choking hazard in a drink, but the raisin is a nice, relatively safe surprise.

How Strong Is the King Cake Shot?

The King Cake shots are deceptively delicious because their sweet taste masks the high alcohol content. Though it will vary depending on which brands you pour for the three liquors, on average this shot weighs in around 27 percent ABV (54 proof). It's not a straight shot of tequila, but it's also not as light as a grasshopper.

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