Easy King Cake is a semi-homemade version of the traditional Mardis Gras dessert, made with canned cinnamon rolls and colored sugar.
If you're a fan of Mardis Gras, then you've most likely heard of the famous King Cake. For those of you that aren't familiar, let me explain. Mardis Gras actually means Fat Tuesday in French and it's the day before Ash Wednesday when the Christian Lenten season of fasting begins. If you take part in Lent, then you will be "fasting" or giving up fatty foods until Easter. Mardis Gras is the last day to indulge in extravagant foods and many people like to enjoy King Cake. Especially in New Orleans.
I love making homemade yeast breads since baking is my passion, but I'm also a busy mom and sometimes (a lot of the time), I simply don't have the time. This Easy King Cake is a quick and simple version. But I promise, it is still just as tasty! My kids absolutely LOVE it and I've been making it this way for many years.
The secret to this recipe is that I used canned cinnamon rolls which includes the frosting. So there are actually just 2 ingredients when you add the colored sugar!
I used Pillsbury Flaky Cinnamon Rolls with Butter Cream Icing. Although this is not a sponsored post, it's important to use this kind, if you can find them because they are actually rolled cinnamon rolls. The other ones on the market are more like biscuits with cinnamon sugar topping and they won't work as well for this recipe.
This is how the cinnamon rolls looks when you first take them out of the package.
Then you will simply press them down, so they look more like flattened oval shapes.
Place the flattened cinnamon rolls on their sides in a circular pattern on a greased or silicone mat lined, large cookie sheet.
Here are silicone mats similar to the one I used on Amazon (affiliate):
And here's the type of pan I used (affiliate):
Bake according to package instructions. I baked mine at 375°F for about 12 minutes. Let it cool.
Note: Some people like to hide a little plastic Baby Jesus somewhere inside their King Cake. When I made this cake, I didn't have a baby to put inside. But if you do have one, then you can cut a little hole somewhere in the baked King Cake and stick the plastic baby inside. It's fun when you serve it to see who will get the Baby Jesus. There are different theories on the meaning of this. Some say the person who gets the baby will have good luck all year. I also read that, in New Orleans, it means that you will be the person to make the King Cake next year.
Frost with the butter cream icing that comes with the cinnamon rolls. Then add colored sugar in green, yellow and purple - the colors of Mardis Gras.
Slice and enjoy!
Isn't it pretty? I just love colorful, sweet foods!
Are you celebrating Mardis Gras this year? If so, I highly recommend this Easy King Cake! And if you want to add a baby, you can probably find one at your local craft store. You could also ask your grocery store bakery if they have one you could buy.
Does anyone know the meaning of the Baby Jesus in the King Cake? I would love to hear your thoughts. What does it mean if you get the baby in your slice of King Cake? Let me know in the comments and Happy Mardis Gras!
Easy King Cake
- 2 cans store-bought cinnamon rolls I used Pillsbury Flaky Cinnamon Rolls with Butter Cream Icing
- Yellow green and purple sugar
- 1 plastic toy baby if desired
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Place cinnamon rolls sideways on a large cookie sheet that has been greased or lined with a silicone mat. Arrange cinnamon rolls in a circular pattern. It should look like a flower when you're done. Press down on cinnamon rolls with your hand to flatten them slightly.
- Bake according to package instructions. Let cool.
- Frost with the buttercream that comes with the cinnamon rolls. Add yellow, green and purple sugar. Serve immediately or store covered for up to 24 hours at room temperature. It is best when eaten the first day.
tom portante says
When I worked in NO 35 years ago, there was King Cake brought in to the office every day for weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday. Who ever got the baby was required to bring in the cake the next day.
Lise Ode says
Sounds like a fun memory. Did you get the baby?
Here is a link about the meaning of the baby and the King cake. Looking forward to trying your easy recipe. https://www.southernliving.com/holidays-occasions/mardi-gras/king-cake-meaning
VALERIE DOLESE says
Let me know please if there is a recipe using the cinnamon rolls with cream cheese filling- thanks
I used an almond instead of the Jesus figurine. The meaning of it, it symbolizes the gifts brought by Melchior, Gaspard and Balthazar on the Epiphany.
Bronwyn Landry says
Hi! Great easy recipe. I'm from Louisiana but now live in California so I was searching for an easy one. I'll be making this for sure. So the baby isn't baby Jesus actually. The tradition started as a bean or pecan baked into the cake and over time it was many different things but the baby was the one that stuck. The tradition is if you find the baby you are king/queen for the day and you bring the next King cake to keep the party going. It's a big tradition!
Lise Ode says
Oh ok, thank you for clarifying that. 🙂
I was taught that the "baby" symbolizes luck and prosperity and whoever finds it was the king ar queen for the day Later in years others put the twist that whomever gets the baby will be lucky but also has to buy the next king cake for the next party.. The colors purple, green and gold, symbolizes justice faith and power.
Pamela Bourque says
A decent cake had gotten so expensive, I've been with just this idea!
But with Grands, cheesecake and cherry pie filling. Not planning to separate the rolls, more like pinch together.
There’s a huge, rich history to the cake baby, originally a bean baked in a cake for the servants to bohemian lurkers, pre-christianity. However, now whoever gets the baby brings the next king cake, usually once a week from twelfth night to Mardi Gras.
Love it! It’s my “go to” recipe. Similarly to others, we use it as Epiphany King’s cake every year on Jan 6th! I make 3, with the baby inside, (symbolic for the 3 wise man). One to keep, one to share, & one to give away. It’s always a hit with others and my family really looks forward to it. Especially the kids, they can help with such an easy recipe. It’s a tradition!
Lise Ode says
Hi Maribel! Thank you for sharing your baking traditions with this recipe. Enjoy!
In our family, we do a "king cake" on the epiphany/12th day of christmas/3 kings day. A cake, a crown, a baby; it all makes more sense for the epiphany. However, I am happy to celebrate with one twice a year!
Love this idea Pillsbury it is, does it really matter how it's done for three kings day .have fun with it . It was very or done by scratch.. King's cake it is .looking forward to making this with my grandchildren..
I am looking for something easy and just found your recipe for King’s Cake! I’m excited to try this for a Mardi Gras themed birthday party this weekend! I’m so glad you tried this simple substitution and shared it with us! Thank you!