Join the parade of good times, Dixieland jazz, dancing, and of course: drinking and eating. Everyone can partake in the revelry of Mardi Gras, even though this Fat Tuesday is the last official chance for Catholics, especially those in Louisiana, to live it up before Lent begins. More than a million people will flock to the French Quarter in New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras, and chances are they’ll be washing their liquor down with some of the city’s legendary Cajun and Creole cuisine. We can’t all take the pilgrimage down to the Big Easy for the event, but the holiday’s a good excuse to celebrate New Orleans food no matter where you live. Need a little menu inspiration? We’ve got just the thing to whet your appetite.
Let the good times roll, and see all of our Mardi Gras recipes. Or would you rather focus on the drinking rather than the cooking? That’s cool. But you’ll need something to soak up those potent hurricane cocktails. Our Chowhound Supertaster tries out and reviews three store-bought gumbos. See what he has to say in our video.
If you can get your hands on some fresh crawfish, you gotta go with this classic Louisiana bayou crawfish boil recipe. You might want to make sure they’re clean by soaking them in a chest of ice water for 10 minutes, and then you poach the crawfish in water with onion, lemon, bay leaf, and garlic. Get our Crawfish Boil recipe.
2. Bananas Foster Milkshake
Seriously, how Mardi Gras-esque is it to have a milkshake with banana, dark rum, and dulche de leche ice cream? So in the spirit of Fat Tuesday. The solid-dessert version originated in New Orleans in 1951. Get our Bananas Foster Milkshake recipe.
Big, fresh Gulf shrimp and strong booze plus a dash of heavenly cream is a festive trio fit for Bourbon Street celebrations. Get our Cognac Shrimp Bisque recipe.
It ain’t Mardi Gras without a king cake. Not only does the pastry have a storied history behind it, but tradition also dictates that a plastic toy baby be hidden inside the cake. The person who gets the slice with the baby will hold the next king cake party. Get our Mardi Gras King Cake recipe.
These baked cheese grits, which come from Southern cookbook author Martha Hall Foose, would be a nice addition to a boozy Mardi Gras brunch. Get Martha Hall Foose’s Cheese Grits recipe.
Thanks to a light golden roux and sliced okra, this gumbo thickens up in less than 45 minutes. Get our Easy Chicken Gumbo recipe.
Top blackened catfish with a dollop of spicy, hot Creole mustard butter, and you may never eat it any other way again. Get our Grilled Blackened Catfish with Creole Mustard Butter recipe.
8. Classic Muffuletta
The muffuletta, with its medley of Italian cold cuts, cheese, and tangy olive salad, gets even better as it sits. Make the sandwich in advance and feel zero guilt about serving it a day later. Get the recipe.
Bring Pat O’Brien’s and the rest of Bourbon Street to your home bar with a well-made version of the Hurricane cocktail. Get our Hurricane Cocktail recipe.
10. Crawfish Etouffée
If you’re lucky enough to be near a source for fresh crawfish, there’s only one way to celebrate Fat Tuesday: with creamy, brackish crawfish etouffée. Get the recipe.
For some modern-day Mardi Gras fun, serve up a batch of Mardi Gras jelly shots. Hurricane-, Ramos gin fizz–, and Sazerac-flavored jelly cubes are sure to spark conversation. Get our Mardi Gras Jelly Shots recipe.
12. Boudin Balls
We have to agree with the Chowhound who described Chef Donald Link’s boudin sausage as “pure heaven.” But if you can’t make it to one of Link’s New Orleans restaurants, his recipe for boudin balls is the next best thing. Get our Boudin Balls recipe.
The town of Natchitoches, Louisiana, is famous for its spicy beef and onion hand pies, fried until golden and puffy. They’re an ideal on-the-go snack for Mardi Gras revelers. Get our Natchitoches Meat Pies recipe.
Call this slow cooker dish the lazy man’s gumbo. Not only does it come together in a crockpot, but there’s no stirring of any roux whatsoever. The secret? Browning the flour in the oven first. Get our Slow Cooker Shrimp Gumbo recipe.
This version of Cajun jambalaya, which includes chicken thighs, andouille sausage, and tasso ham, may be time-intensive, but it’s an impressive way to feed a crowd. Get our Chicken and Smoked Andouille Jambalaya recipe.
There’s no New Orleans cocktail more timeless than the Sazerac. The rye and absinthe cocktail dates back to the 1850s. Get our Sazerac recipe.
Don’t knock catfish till you’ve tried it battered with spicy cornmeal flour, fried until crispy, and served with a squeeze of lemon and a dollop of homemade rémoulade. Get our Cornmeal Fried Catfish with Rémoulade recipe.
— Head photo: Chowhound/Slow Cooker Shrimp Gumbo; Amy Sowder updated this article on Feb. 24, 2017.