Mardi Gras King Cake French Toast

Bust out the beads, the booze, and the sparkly sugar, because this King Cake French Toast is stuffed with bourbon pecan cream cheese and ready to party, party, party.

King Cake French Toast Stuffed with Bourbon Pecan Cream Cheese. Perfect Mardi Gras breakfast.

Mardi Gras is calling us to burst into the streets wielding our tambourines and trombones and wiggle our booties. Our contagious public dance party of few will grow into a jazz parade of many. We’ll make new friends, learn new moves, and feel no shame. The only appropriate way to end (or begin) this fine Fat Tuesday: King Cake French Toast Stuffed with Bourbon Pecan Cream Cheese.

Whatever your plans from now until Mardi Gras, this King Cake French Toast demands to join the fun. It’s an easy, overnight French toast bake recipe inspired by classic New Orleans king cake. Cream cheese, toasted pecans, and bourbon are involved. A creamy dreamy glaze is poured. Sparkly sugar is sprinkled, all in the name of Fat Tuesday! King Cake French Toast Bake Stuffed with Bourbon Pecan Cream CheeseSince king cakes range from fluffy coffee cake-like rings with soft glaze to decadent pastries loaded with creamy fillings, I placed our King Cake French Toast somewhere in between, though it teeters towards the less-sweet side. This is breakfast after all, so I didn’t want things to become tooth-achey sweet. Bourbon at breakfast, however, is completely acceptable.

Sickening sweetness first thing in the morning? No. Bourbon? Absolutely.

I’m not sure what that philosophy says about me. Let’s not dwell. We have King Cake French Toast to bake.

For the custard, we’re whisking together primarily egg whites and milk (I know it’s Fat Tuesday, but I’m leaving you a little extra room for beignets), along with cinnamon and nutmeg. For the bread, we’re choosing any sturdy loaf that captures our fancy. Brioche or challah will be rich, wonderful, and closest to a true king cake. Sourdough will be tangy and tasty. French bread will be fun. Whole wheat (what I used) will add pleasant nuttiness and extra fiber. The only true rule is that the bread be thickly sliced and have a somewhat firm structure so that it can absorb the max amount of custard without becoming soggy.

Now, let’s get between the slices. Cream cheese filling is traditional in many king cakes, and cream cheese-stuffed French toast sounds totally dreamy, so we spread it on thick. Toasted pecans and brown sugar are whipped with the cream cheese for warmth and crunch. Bourbon need be added in honor of Mardi Gras, a festive spirit, and a certain (in)famous street in New Orleans.

Whew! Let’s finish this pecan-bourbon-brown sugar-cream cheese-stuffed French toast custard magic. Gilding the Fat Tuesday lily, is a bright, citrusy Greek yogurt topping, my breakfast twist on the classic powdered sugar glaze that crowns a king cake. It’s just sweet enough to make King Cake French Toast a Fat Tuesday-worthy treat.

King Cake French Toast Bake Stuffed with Bourbon Pecan Cream Cheese Filling. Fat Tuesday recipe. At last, it’s time to sparkle in green, gold, and purple. Of course King Cake French Toast will taste fabulous without the colorful sugar bling, but if there is anything we can take away from this jazz party on a plate, it’s this: Mardi Gras is no time to be shy.

Pour on the sparkle, breaks out the horns, and let’s boogie!

Mardi Gras King Cake French Toast

A Mardi Gras French toast bake inspired by classic New Orleans king cake. Stuffed with bourbon pecan cream cheese and topped with creamy Greek yogurt glaze. This make ahead French toast bake can be left in the fridge overnight, so all you need to do in the morning is bake.

Yield: Serves 6

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes


For the French Toast

  • 1 loaf sturdy bread (sourdough, brioche, challah, French, etc), cut into 1-inch thick slices (We used a whole wheat artisan loaf)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 2 cups non-fat milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Filling

  • 1 package (8 ounces) reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon (or substitute non-fat milk)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped and toasted

For the Greek Yogurt Glaze

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used non-fat)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the sparkle

  • Green, purple, and gold sugar, for decorating


  1. Prepare the cream cheese filling: In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, and bourbon. Beat in pecans. Set aside.
  2. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange half of the bread slices on the bottom of the baking dish so that the bottom of the dish is covered with a single layer (the actual number of slices may vary depending upon the loaf you use. Just ensure you have an even number of slices so that half will be on the bottom and half on the top). Spread slices with a thick layer of cream cheese filling, then lay remaining slices over each to make a “sandwich.”
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, egg whites, milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, nutmeg and salt. Pour over the bread slices, then press the slices gently for a few moments to help them absorb the liquid. Cover pan and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
  4. When ready to bake, place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Let the French toast sit at room temperature while your oven preheats. Flip over the bread slices so that the side that was on the bottom of the dish is now on the top. Bake, uncovered, 45-50 minutes, or until slices are puffed and lightly golden and the custard is set.
  5. While the French toast bakes, prepare the Greek yogurt glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt and powdered sugar until smooth. Wisk in lemon juice, vanilla, and salt.
  6. Serve baked French toast warm, drizzled with creamy glaze and sprinkled with colored sugars. Party!

Store leftover French toast slices in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days.

More Mardi Gras and more French toast:

53 Responses to “Mardi Gras King Cake French Toast”

  1. Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness — February 19, 2014 @ 6:16 am (#)

    Hey brain twin! I did French toast today too!
    I have actually never had King Cake! Me and Caleb were in New Orleans a few months back and couldn’t find any to try.
    At least now I can try a spin on it because I LOVE french toast…especially when it involves cream cheese, GY glaze and COLORED SUGAR!

  2. Mary Frances — February 19, 2014 @ 7:12 am (#)

    Bourbon cream cheese? Sprinkles on French toast? My mind can’t handle all this delicousness this early!

  3. liz @ The Lemon Bowl — February 19, 2014 @ 7:37 am (#)

    Believe it or not I’m heading to NOLA this weekend for the first time ever!!! I’m so excited to bring home a king cake for my family. I’ll get some beads for you!! ;)

    • Erin Clarke — February 19th, 2014 @ 12:55 pm

      Liz, I am so excited for you! New Orleans is such a wonderful city. Have an amazing time! I’m sure you’ve heard this already, but you must, must go to Café Du Monde for chicory coffee and beignets. They are WORTH IT!

  4. Cassie — February 19, 2014 @ 7:45 am (#)

    My husband loves the bulleit bourbon. This is genius!

    • Erin Clarke — February 20th, 2014 @ 12:21 am

      Bulleit is my fave Cassie! Your husband has great taste ;-)

  5. DessertForTwo — February 19, 2014 @ 7:58 am (#)

    Yayayayayayay!! I’m so ready to party for Mardi Gras! Did you know STL has the largest celebration (outside of NOLA?) Y’all should come down!

  6. Erika — February 19, 2014 @ 8:06 am (#)

    I LOVE this!! I lived in New Orleans for 6 six years so I sort miss being right in the middle of the action. This french toast looks incredible!

    • Erin Clarke — February 20th, 2014 @ 12:14 am

      Erika, the fact that you lived in one of my fave cities for 6 years and give your blessing is the highest praise I could ask for! Love NOLA–can we please abandon reality and go ASAP??

  7. tanya — February 19, 2014 @ 8:30 am (#)

    Stuffed with bourbon pecan cream cheese?? Oh my, let the fun begin! This is really a treat Erin!

  8. laurengrier — February 19, 2014 @ 8:35 am (#)

    Seriously, this is mind blowing!!! I am totally making this!!!

    • Erin Clarke — February 20th, 2014 @ 12:12 am

      Thanks lady! It’s not a bad lunch item either. Not that I would know…

  9. Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen — February 19, 2014 @ 9:17 am (#)

    I love this twist on king cake! I’m totally drooling over that bourbon cream cheese filling!

  10. Katie — February 19, 2014 @ 9:29 am (#)

    Oh my… king cake as french toast… I need this in my life ASAP! I’m so sad I didn’t get any king cake yesterday.

  11. Carmel Moments — February 19, 2014 @ 10:00 am (#)

    Love this idea! So cool! I bet my kids would love the extra sparkle for breakfast too. :)

  12. Natalie @ Tastes Lovely — February 19, 2014 @ 10:18 am (#)

    This is such a great idea! We used to celebrate Mardis Gras in french class. Why? Probably because we were jealous of the Spanish class celebrating Cinco de Mayo.

    • Erin Clarke — February 20th, 2014 @ 12:01 am

      Or because Mardi Gras is better!!! Hello soul food, king cake, bourbon, and beignets. What’s not to celebrate??
      (PS. If your French teacher let you have bourbon, I don’t know whether I’d be appalled or impressed ;-) )

  13. shashi @ — February 19, 2014 @ 10:20 am (#)

    Loving your take on King cake! The glaze and the filling are simply BRILLIANT! That picture is all sorts of drool inducing!

  14. Justine@cookingandbeer — February 19, 2014 @ 11:28 am (#)

    This take on King Cake is soooo unique. I love it! I’m loving the bourbon in the filling! Yum!

    • Erin Clarke — February 20th, 2014 @ 12:03 am

      Thanks so much Justine! I thought the bourbon was pretty much obligatory, haha.

  15. Shikha la mode — February 19, 2014 @ 12:48 pm (#)

    I don’t know how anyone can not have bourbon at home – not allowed. This looks so good!

    • Erin Clarke — February 20th, 2014 @ 12:00 am

      I might just make that my new motto!!

  16. Julie @ Table for Two — February 19, 2014 @ 6:03 pm (#)

    Love this king cake rendition for french toast!!! Such a unique creation, friend! My SIL used to send us King Cake every year from NOLA – such a treat!

    • Erin Clarke — February 19th, 2014 @ 11:59 pm

      BEST FRIEND EVER! I’m thinking about taking a trip South just to get the real deal.

  17. Happy Valley Chow — February 19, 2014 @ 6:52 pm (#)

    What an awesome idea! Perfect little treat for mardi gras :)

    Happy Blogging!
    Happy Valley Chow

  18. Chelsea @chelseasmessyapron — February 19, 2014 @ 8:02 pm (#)

    Oh my gosh this is such a fun recipe Erin! Loving those bright sprinkles!!

  19. bakerbynature — February 19, 2014 @ 9:22 pm (#)

    I see you used my favorite bourbon of all time!!! And this french toast is GENIUS! Pinned.

  20. Angie@Angie's Recipes — February 19, 2014 @ 9:41 pm (#)

    What a super and fun idea! Your French toast looks delish, Erin.

    • Erin Clarke — February 20th, 2014 @ 12:04 am

      Thanks so much Angie! I adore French toast bakes of all kinds, so Mardi Gras seemed perfect.

  21. anecdotesandapples — February 19, 2014 @ 10:59 pm (#)

    What a great way to celebrate Mardi Gras! Brilliant! And Delicious!

    • Erin Clarke — February 19th, 2014 @ 11:57 pm

      Thanks so much Monet! I’m all over making the most of any holiday, even at breakfast :)

  22. laurasmess — February 19, 2014 @ 11:52 pm (#)

    This is such a gorgeous recipe Erin. What is it about shiny, sparkly coloured things that make you feel immediately happy? That glossy glaze looks beautiful :) Oh, and the bourbon pecan cream cheese filling? YUM. Pretty sure my husband would do the ‘rolling eyes in happiness’ thing if I made this for breakfast!

  23. Gretchen @ Two Healthy Kitchens — February 20, 2014 @ 5:49 am (#)

    This was a super fun post to read – I was laughing out loud as I read! Bourbon for breakfast? Absolutely!
    I’ve never been to New Orleans, but I’ve always wanted to visit. It just seems like such an incredibly charming city! As a mommy, I’m pretty sure Mardi Gras isn’t quite the time for a family getaway, but I think any other time would be amazing! :) I’ll stick to celebrating Fat Tuesday at home, with my bourbon and French toast!

  24. Kelly — February 20, 2014 @ 7:39 am (#)

    This looks incredible Erin! Love this king cake rendition for french toast, the bourbon filling sounds amazing! So fun and creative!

  25. consuelohoneyandfigs — February 20, 2014 @ 10:51 am (#)

    Oh wow, is this French toast even real or am I dreaming??? Bourbon-cream cheese stuffed anything is bound to be a winner in my book. This needs to happen asap, I don’t care if we don’t celebrate Mardi Gras here: I’M SO HAVING THE TOAST.

  26. Beth @ bethcakes — February 20, 2014 @ 11:53 am (#)

    This definitely looks like the best way to celebrate Mardi Gras. And like you said, bourbon at breakfast is definitely acceptable! I love everything you added together for that cream cheese filling. I’d like some of this for breakfast any/every day!

  27. Trisha (Stew or a Story) — February 20, 2014 @ 4:43 pm (#)

    This is so creative! I love how totally decadent it looks while being surprisingly healthy. Also sprinkles + breakfast = winning.

    • Erin Clarke — February 20th, 2014 @ 11:05 pm

      You got it Trisha! Yes, French toast bake is traditionally decadent, but really by using whole grain breads + eggs + non-fat milk, it’s not too over-the-top. Serve with fruit and you are set :)

  28. huntfortheverybest — February 20, 2014 @ 7:54 pm (#)

    this would be great for fat tuesday breakfast!

    • Erin Clarke — February 20th, 2014 @ 11:03 pm

      Heck yes! We may as well celebrate Mardi Gras with every meal, right?

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  30. Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures — February 21, 2014 @ 12:02 pm (#)

    This is fantastic! I would gladly eat this any day of the year!

  31. Luv What You Do — February 21, 2014 @ 8:45 pm (#)

    This looks divine! So delish! Breakfast is the best meal of the day!

  32. Diane Siniscalchi — February 23, 2014 @ 1:00 pm (#)

    Hi Erin! I made your dad’s pancakes this morning for my family. Although I’m on a diet, I did try one. Delicious! So light and tasty. Since they are so light, they could be very dangerous for me. I do love how little oil and sugar you use. I can even see how a little orange or lemon rind would taste good in these. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Erin Clarke — February 23rd, 2014 @ 3:03 pm

      Hi Diane! I’m so so excited and honored that you tried them! I love that they are light too, but as you mentioned, it’s a dangerous game when pancakes are around :) I love your idea of lemon or orange rind, and I’m definitely going to have to try that for the next batch. Thanks again and have a wonderful day!

  33. Kate — February 24, 2014 @ 12:27 am (#)

    Bourbon for breakfast? I’m all for it. I’ve never experienced Mardi Gras firsthand, but one of my friends went to college in NOLA and has been telling us all about the traditions and festivities. I want to experience it myself someday, but for now, at least I have this French toast recipe!

    • Erin Clarke — February 24th, 2014 @ 3:50 pm

      Kate, thanks for supporting my bourbon at breakfast endeavors. I’m always happy to have another partner in crime :)

  34. BruCrew Life — February 27, 2014 @ 10:52 pm (#)

    Oh boy, I would love to dive into a piece of this right now!! Sounds just heavenly!! :)

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