Mardi Gras is a time to celebrate New Orleans culture, and what better way to do that than by making delicious South Louisiana dishes to share with family and friends.
We've combed our recipe archive and come up with a batch of tried-and-tested recipes for you to consider. We've included classics as well as an eclectic batch of dishes that would be excellent for pre- or post-parade parties during Carnival. They are highlighted below.
If you want to search for others, check out our database of thousands of recipes.
Also, if you have a recipe or another variation on one of these dishes and want to share it with us, leave it in the comments or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, let's start the way Hank Williams did singing jambalaya, crawfish pie and file gumbo...
Happy Mardi Gras!
This dish is so versatile. Have seafood lovers in the house? Make it with fish or shrimp. If you are meat eaters, fill it with sausage and chicken. This basic recipe easy to vary.
When Judy Walker made this pie, I was so bowled over that I had to go home and make it myself. It's foolproof!
Many variations of this dish exist in homes and restaurants. How do you like to make yours? Here is a chicken and sausage gumbo recipe to consider. File, or ground sassafras, is optional, of course.
Shrimp can get pricey, but this dish is rich that a little goes a long way. Serve the shrimp in the sauce with bread for dipping or let folks make barbecue shrimp po-boys by spooning it onto French bread.
What I love about this recipe that Judy Walker tested and tweaked is that it is simple to make and will make a big crowd full and satisfied.
CRABMEAT MAC AND CHEESE
This may not be an iconic New Orleans dish, but if you can get fresh crab meat and follow this recipe, it may become a tradition in your house.
GRITS AND GRILLADES
During Mardi Gras, it's a tradition that this dish is served at late-night queen suppers after Carnival balls. Many of us enjoy it at home as well.
If you can get them fresh, shuck them yourselves and grill them up. It's easier than you think. Top them with a simple sauce, such as butter, garlic or Parmesan cheese. Or, if you like, you can get fancier, with these recipes.
This meat pie included in "Cooking Up a Storm" (2008, Chronicle Books), tastes just like the ones that Natchitoches is so famous for. The recipe makes a big, big batch of hand pies. The filling, however, can be frozen for future use.
Whether you buy your olive salad or make it, you can serve big crowds with these oversized sandwiches. Go for the classic combination or mix and match cheeses to suit your taste.
RED BEANS AND RICE
It might be tough to find a New Orleanian who hasn't cooked or been served from a big batch of red beans. And, for many, those beans have come from Camellia, a business run by the Haywards for generations. Here's their family recipe.
ROAST BEEF PO-BOY
Judy Walker got this recipe from Parkway Bakery, which is famous for its po-boys in New Orleans and beyond. During Carnival season, there often is a line out of the door. This recipe is as close as you can get, if you can't get in the door. Make a big pot and then let guests make their own sandwiches.
SWEET SOUR FISH SOUP
New Orleans has had a large Vietnamese population since the mid-1970s. I recently learned how to make this classic soup from the Hoang and Pham families, who live on the North Shore and in Kenner, respectively. It's fairly easy and a great light alternative to some of our fattier fare.
And, if you don't feel like cooking, check out Brett Anderson's latest advice on where to get fried chicken during Carnival.