Super Easy King Cake Recipe (WOW GOOD!)

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Celebrate Mardi Gras with a slice of colorful and scrumptious king cake, thanks to this incredibly easy king cake recipe.

King cake

Alright, folks, it’s confession time here at Southern Plate. You see that king cake up there? Well, that was the first time in my entire life that I’ve ever made a king cake recipe or had a bite of one. After tasting this recipe though, it will NOT be the last time! I’m already craving more and plan on making it for breakfast (without all the sprinkles though).

Now for those of you who have also never made a king cake, let me tell you this was INCREDIBLY EASY to make! Texture-wise it is kind of like a coffee cake or a sweet roll, only without the oh-my-gosh sweetness, which is why I liked it so much. If you like desserts (or coffee treats) with just a touch of sweetness that is a little filling, this one is perfect. Now, if the sprinkles and such turn you off, ignore the glitter and make it for breakfast. It is truly life changin’ y’all. You’ll thrill your family and have a new favorite!

A Mardi Gras tradition

Some of you are probably surprised that I’ve never had a king cake before. I’ve never in all my born days celebrated Mardi Gras, even though the original Mardi Gras celebration took place in my beloved Alabama. Mobile still has a Mardi Gras celebration each year and I’ve read that it is actually very family-friendly.

The traditional colors of the king cake For Mardi Gras

Now purists (because I’m sure there are Mardi Gras purists out there in Southern Plate land) will notice that the colors on my king cake are a little varied from the traditional. Each color on the cake symbolizes something and since I made the cake in my kitchen, I used different colors to symbolize different things. Hey, your kitchen, your rules!

Traditional king cake colors:

Purpleto symbolize Justice

Green to symbolize Faith

Gold to symbolize Power

Here is what I chose the colors to stand for:

Greento symbolize Faith

Gold to symbolize Power

Pink to symbolize that the grocery store didn’t have purple and I didn’t want to go all over tarnation looking for it.

Now let’s get to baking…

King cake recipe ingredients

  • Frozen white bread dough
  • Cream cheese (click here for our homemade cream cheese recipe)
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Lemon extract
  • Sprinkles

Plus flour to dust surfaces and the rolling pin.

How to make this king cake recipe step by step

Roll the dough

Let your bread dough thaw completely.

Tip: If the loaf is frozen and you don’t have time to thaw…

I seldom think to do this ahead of time, so I set my loaf on a plate in the microwave and microwave it for thirty seconds. Then I flip it over and do another thirty seconds and then let it sit a bit to finish thawing. It thaws much faster this way, but if your microwave cooks a little fast you will want to do less time.

Okay, now roll that out on a lightly floured surface, using extra flour on your rolling pin to keep it from sticking.

Rhodes Bread Loaf Recipe says to roll it out to about 10×18 inches. I say to roll it out about that or until you get close enough and are tired of fooling with it!

Combine cream cheese and powdered sugar.

Now, in a mixing bowl place your cream cheese and powdered sugar.

 add lemon extract

Now add your lemon extract.

Mixing cream cheese mixture with stand mixer.

In a stand mixer, mix that up until it is all smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides.

Adding cream cheese mixture to dough.

Plop that cream cheese filling right on the thaw and rolled dough.

spread the cream cheese evenly over dough.

Spread the cream cheese mix onto the dough.

roll up and pinch the dough closed

Now roll that dough up and pinch its edges closed.  I also brush some water over the final edge before pinching it closed to help with the seal. 

form the roll into a circle

Next form a ring like this and pinch the ends together.  You may need to brush with some more water to seal it.

cover in plastic and let dough rise

Now some instructions will tell you to spray the plastic wrap before setting it on the ring. But I spray the ring where the wrap will be touching it to keep it from sticking to the wrap when it rises. Set the dough on a baking sheet, cover with the wrap, and let it sit for 45 to 60 minutes.

how dough looks after rising

Here is our risen dough.  

Tip to get the dough to rise

What I often do is start my oven and let it preheat for just a minute or so and then I turn it off. Open the door to just make sure it is only warm in there and then place your dough in there to rise.

baked king cake

Bake that dough for 30 to 35 minutes and look at that beauty!

mix frosting ingredients together

Next, let’s make the icing. You’ll need confectioners’ sugar, milk, and the flavoring of your choice. See the recipe card for suggestions. I like to add butter flavoring but you could add vanilla or more lemon extract. Do whatever cranks your tractor!

Add all the icing ingredients to a medium-size mixing bowl.

stir frosting until creamy

Stir until smooth and creamy. 

If not yet good enough to drizzle, add 1/2 teaspoon of water at a time to get it to the consistency you want.

drizzle the icing over the top of the king cake.

Drizzle that icing over the cake.

Icing drizzled over king cake.

It will look something like this.  If you wanted this to be a simple coffee cake-type treat you could stop here and serve. 

But if you want the traditional king cake, well then, let’s get those sprinkles (whether they’re store-bought or colored sugar prepared at home)…

add colored sprinkles to your king cake.

Start sprinkling in alternate colors.

Icing drizzling down sides of king cake.

Keep going!

Finished King Cake

There you have it! This king cake recipe is now ready to serve.

If you like, take some to family and friends or just enjoy yourself with a cup of your favorite drink.


You can store your king cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week or in the freezer for one week.

Recipe Notes

  • You’re going to need an obscene amount of sprinkles if you want to make this into a king cake. But as I said, I’ll be making it again and again without the sprinkles so if you want to leave them off go for it. If you want to add festive sprinkles or sanding sugar and have some on hand but they are the wrong color, just invent your own festival and say those are what your colors stand for. No sense in spending extra money here if we don’t have to. Alternatively, if you want to stick to tradition, you can make your own sprinkles. It’s so easy to make colored sugar at home. Just place white sugar with a few drops of food coloring in an airtight container and shake to combine.
  • I really do recommend buying the lemon extract though because that little hint of lemon just makes this recipe. Use lemon juice if you’re in a pinch!

Slices of king cake on plate.

Recipe FAQs

Where did the king cake tradition come from?

It looks like it came over from France and was brought to New Orleans in 1870. If you are interested in learning more about king cake history. check out this article.

What is the king cake baby?

Traditionally, a small porcelain baby that symbolized Jesus was hidden in the king cake. A way for New Orleans residents to celebrate their Christian faith, the person who found the king cake baby would have good luck for the year. Today, people often place small plastic babies within the cake once cooked. You can find them on Amazon or at your local party store.

Why is the king cake oval?

King cakes are oval-shaped to symbolize the unity of faiths. For more on the tradition around king cakes, you might find this article interesting.

Super Easy King Cake

This king cake recipe is so easy to make and tastes delicious served with a cup of coffee in the morning.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake
Servings: 4
Calories: 418kcal


For the king cake:

  • 1 roll frozen bread dough thawed
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract

For the icing:

  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk more if needed but stir this amount first, you’ll be surprised how far this goes!
  • 1 teaspoon clear butter or vanilla flavoring


  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough to a rectangle of about 10 x 18 inches. Add extra flour to your rolling pin so it doesn't stick. It doesn’t have to be exact, close enough works!
    1 roll frozen bread dough
  • In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and extract and mix until creamy and well blended. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the dough to within an inch of each side. Roll up longways (to make a long log) and brush the final edge with water before pressing it into the log to seal.
    8 ounces cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • Take log and form into a circle, pressing the ends into each other and brushing with water if needed to seal together. Spray top lightly with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Remove wrap but leave the dough on the baking sheet and bake it in a 350-degree oven for 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool.
  • Mix confectioner’s glaze (sugar, milk, and either butter or vanilla flavoring) and drizzle over the top of the cake with a spoon. Immediately sprinkle colored sprinkles over the glaze if desired. Allow the cake to sit until the glaze hardens.
    1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon clear butter or vanilla flavoring


Calories: 418kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!


*Since I first made this king cake last week, I’ve made three more to give people!

You may also like these cake recipes:

Red Velvet Bundt Cake Recipe Sooo Good!

Funnel Cakes Recipe

Chocolate Pound Cake with Fudge Glaze

“I’d rather be positive and get 50% percent good results

than stay negative and get 100% bad results.”

~Joyce Meyer. Submit your quote by clicking here.

I’m so glad to have you as part of my Southern Plate Family and appreciate all of your kindness and support!


Stacey Lynn

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  1. The write up says “If you wanted this to be a simple cinnamon coffee cake-type treat you could stop here and serve. ” The recipe doesn’t call for cinnamon which seems common in other recipes. Did I miss something?

    1. Great catch Carolyn. It should have read just a coffee cake type treat, but I usually have cinnamon coffee cake so my fingers typed that out instead of just plain old coffee cake. Thanks for flagging that for me 🙂 Appreciate you!

  2. I never thought I would make a King Cake because of the difficulty, but this sounds absolutely amazing and so good. I can’t wait to try it. That frozen bread dough would really simplify things. Thanks so much for all the good recipes we’ve receive.

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