clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
A King Cake with colored sugars of purple, green, and gold.

King Cake Recipe: A Traditional Version

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 1 review

A King Cake filled with the classic flavors of cinnamon sugar swirled in tender sweet bread dough. It's baked to perfection and topped with a simple powdered sugar icing and sprinkles of purple, green, and gold-colored sugars.

  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


Units Scale


  • 2 eggs yolks
  • 1/2 cup warm water, 105°-110° F
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon instant dry yeast, rapid-rise
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/4 cup
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, light or dark, packed
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon flour

Egg Wash

  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons milk


  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons warm milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • purple, green, and yellow sanding sugar or sugar crystals



  1. Scramble yolks in a small bowl and set them aside.
  2. Butter the sides of a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Stir yeast and sugar into warm water and proof for 5-10 minutes; see notes.
  4. Place sour cream and butter into a large microwave-safe bowl; heat them in the microwave for a few seconds at a time, stirring to mix together as the butter softens and the sour cream is warmed, do not get ingredients hot.
  5. Stir the vanilla into sour cream and butter, set aside.
  6. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt into a medium-sized bowl set aside.
  7. Pour the yeast mixture (after it has been proofed) and the egg yolks into the sour cream mixture, stirring to combine.
  8. Stir the flour mixture, a small amount at a time, into the sour cream/yeast mixture until all ingredients are well incorporated; dough will be sticky.
  9. Remove dough onto a floured countertop and knead for 3-5 minutes incorporating the 1/4 cup of flour as you knead.
  10. Transfer the dough into the buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and place in a draft-free area to let rise for about an hour.
  11. Punch down the risen dough, place it on a floured surface, and roll into about a 12" x 20" rectangle using a floured rolling pin.
  12. Spread the filling evenly onto the dough, then roll up the dough tightly; starting at the long end, pinch all the seams closed with wet fingertips to help seal the edges.
  13. Bring ends of the roll together to form into a ring, pinching ends together trying to make an evenly seamless ring.
  14. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to rise for an hour in a draft-free place.
  15. Preheat oven to 375°F 
  16. Brush the risen King Cake with egg wash on all sides and bake for 20 minutes.
  17. Cool cake and drizzle with icing and sprinkle with colored sanding sugar or sugar crystals.


  • Combine the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour in a small bowl mixing together with a spoon.

Egg Wash

  • Mix egg whites and milk together in a small bowl with a fork.


  • Mix powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla with a spoon in a small bowl until smooth.


  • Proofing the yeast in warm water means the mixture is left to sit while the yeast activates and starts to flower or bubble and grow on top of the water.
  • Use softened butter and sour cream at room temperature to avoid using the microwave.
  • Baking with ingredients close to the same temperature gives the best results.
  • To braid the bread: After the first rise, divide the dough into 2 balls, roll each dough ball out into about a 6"x20" rectangle, spread filling, roll up, and pinch all seams closed. Pinch two of the link ends together and braid the links while pulling to lengthen them, form into a circle, then continue with the recipe for the second rise.
  • Pinching the seems seals the dough, so the filling doesn't leak out.
  • The recipe easily doubles for 1 large or 2 smaller king cakes.
  • Divide the icing into 3 small bowls and dye the icing with purple, green, and gold food coloring to decorate the cake instead of colored sugar.
  • Author: Louisiana Woman
  • Prep Time: 2 1/2 hours
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Sweets
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Cajun
Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes