King cake standouts like the James Beard award-winning Dong Phuong Bakery are worth a visit this Carnival.
The start of Carnival season on Kings' Day brings along a parade of king cakes. Local bakeries kick off their king cake season starting on Jan. 6 through Mardi Gras day. The tradition coincides with the Feast of the Epiphany, also called Twelfth Night.
Wondering where to buy your king cake? We gathered a dozen, popular king cake spots throughout the New Orleans area to fill up on the tasty treat.
Dong Phuong Bakery
The lightly-sweet, super-flaky king cake at Dong Phuong Bakery was born from the local Vietnamese community based in New Orleans East. Since the James Beard award-winning bakery started creating king cakes in 2008, this Vietnamese spin on the traditional Carnival treat has surged in popularity throughout the New Orleans area. This bakery’s king cake is made from brioche dough and a cream cheese-based icing. Over the years, Dong Phuong has added other varieties to the lineup. Owner Huong Tran and her husband immigrated to New Orleans from Vietnam and established the bakery more than 30 years ago.
Manny Randazzo King Cakes
When it comes to king cakes, the Randazzo name is like Carnival royalty in New Orleans. Manny Randazzo’s, the popular king cake bakery in Metairie, draws serious crowds each season ready to wait in line for a taste from the “king cake king.” Aside from popular flavors like pecan praline during Carnival, the bakery is also known for its seasonal king cakes for holidays.
During Carnival, Haydel’s Bakery can crank out as many as 60,000 king cakes, and the process to get them on shelves is no easy task. The multi-generation family business has made king cake magic for decades. Haydel’s Bakery also holds the Guinness World Record for “World’s Largest King Cake” when they wrapped a king cake around the Superdome twice in 2010. See the bakery’s official king cake recipe courtesy of co-owner David Haydel, Jr.
A local tradition since 1949, Gambino’s Bakery celebrates 70 years of baking in Louisiana. The Jefferson Parish bakery is known for its doberge cakes. Locals also flock to the bakery as a top king cake spot. Made fresh with a special recipe Danish dough, the hand-made king cakes are infused with cinnamon swirls and hand filled before baking.
Creative king cakes take shape at Hi-Do Bakery in Terrytown. These custom, handcrafted masterpieces can bring almost any image from a customer’s imagination to life — in king cake form. Since Hi-Do Bakery’s venture into customized designs, the king cakes have become a Carnival staple. While the most popular shape is the fleur-de-lis, the family-owned bakery also creates crab, crawfish and crown-shaped king cakes.
Bywater Bakery incorporates a signature twist on classic sweets into its cutting-edge king cakes. King cake lovers can try eleven different king cake flavors including the popular Chantilly King Cake and Bouille King Cake. The bakery also added a new king cake flavor this year.
Sugar Love Cakes Bakery
Over the years, Sugar Love Cakes Bakery in Slidell has become a king cake hot spot on the Northshore, especially due to the popular king cake on a stick. The cute downsized king cake treat quickly became a sought-after alternative to the traditional king cake. King cake on a stick is dusted with purple, green and gold sugar and a swirl of icing, with a baby. Aside from the bite-sized king cake on a stick, Sugar Love Cakes also pushes out full-sized king cakes with several filling options like raspberry and praline pecan. The bakery was also crowned the “Best Traditional King Cake” at the King Cake Festival.
Caluda's King Cake
Many foodies may know chef John Caluda for his signature crawfish strudel and white chocolate bread pudding during Jazz Fest. Caluda also heads his pastry team at Caluda’s King Cake in Harahan where they push out a mix of traditional and creative flavors. Also, look for an interesting king cake flavor of the week throughout the season.
Antoine's Famous Cakes
Antoine’s Famous Cakes is the “Home of the Queen Cake,” a king cake created with multiple fillings. The brioche cake is layered with thick white icing and drizzles of Mardi Gras colors, a departure from the traditional granulated sugar. King cake lovers can stop by the original Gretna location or the second Metairie location.
For decades, the family-run bakery in Gentilly has dished out fresh-baked king cakes with passion. Owner Adrian Darby opened the spot in a strip mall on Paris Avenue in 2000, inspired by the dream to serve freshly baked pastries and desserts to the people of New Orleans.
Gracious Bakery + Cafe
Each year, Gracious bakery surprises king cake lovers with creative flavors. In addition to their cinnamon cake and their frangipan-filled “queen cake,” they typically surprise customers with specialty cakes each year. They are also known for a delicious Valrhona chocolate version. Gracious Bakery has three locations in the New Orleans area.
King Cake Hub
King Cake Hub, a king cake retailer located in Mid-City, offers some of the area’s most coveted king cakes at a single location. The concept looks to ease the hassle of king cake shopping with online ordering from several bakeries and pickup from one convenient location. Now in its third year, the venture is the brainchild of Will Samuels, former co-owner of the shuttered Pizza Nola. This year, king cake lovers can choose from more than 60 different varieties of king cakes including several exclusive flavors.