King Cake {Recipe}

King Cake


  • 1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange oil or extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil or extract 
  • 1 pecan half, uncooked dried bean or King Cake Baby


  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange oil or extract 
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Purple, green and gold sugar crystals


Combine the yeast, flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg, lemon rind in mixer bowl and add water, warm milk, butter,  egg yolks, and orange and lemon oils. Beat with dough hook on speed 1 for 2 minutes until smooth. Increase speed to 2 and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic (6-8 minutes). Place the dough in a well-greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top.

Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours). Deflate the dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Shape the dough into a cylinder, about 30 inches long. Place the cylinder on a buttered baking sheet. Shape into a ring, pinching ends together to seal. Place a well-greased 2-pound coffee can or shortening can in the center of the ring to maintain shape during baking. Press the King Cake Baby, pecan half or dried bean into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. Cover the ring with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the coffee can immediately. Allow the cake to cool. For the glaze: Combine the ingredients and beat until smooth. To assemble, drizzle cake with the glaze. Sprinkle with sugar crystals, alternating colors.

Whoever gets the baby is the Mardi Gras King or Queen and has to bring the King Cake next year.

Check out my Bavarian Cream Cheese King Cake recipe, too.


  1. March 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    […] no stranger to Emeril. I haven’t made many of his recipes, but my go-to King Cake and bread pudding are both based in large part on his recipes. So choosing an Emeril recipe for […]

  2. Mary said,

    March 6, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Wow. This look delicious.

    • gaaarp said,

      March 6, 2011 at 9:29 pm

      Thanks! I love baking King Cake, especially since the ones you can get up North are usually not good at all.

  3. Tamara said,

    August 23, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Anyone know what would happen if I substitute canola oil for the butter? I have a kid with crazy allergies, and I’m experimenting with baking without dairy or soy…but I’m not very good at it yet.

    • gaaarp said,

      August 23, 2009 at 11:10 pm

      I’m not sure, but from reading a few websites on the subject, it sounds like substituting canola for all of the butter might negatively impact the texture of the finished product. Are there other substitutions you could make?

  4. Libby said,

    June 12, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Wonderful! Pretty close to the recipe I use. I may do one soon just for fun.

  5. Kayte said,

    June 5, 2009 at 9:22 am

    I agree, King Cake is good anytime…and it always feels like a party!

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