Gluten Free King Cake Recipe

Today is Fat Tuesday, also know as Mardi Gras, though Mardi Gras festivities run from January through Fat Tuesday. It has an interesting history, which you can read here. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy learning about Mardi Gras and my gluten free King Cake recipe. It is similar to cinnamon rolls but left in one piece, shaped into a circle, and contains more butter. You may also fill it with any of the suggestions below or your favorite. Next time I want to try it with my Custard and Comstock or Wilderness brand apple pie filling.

UPDATE: Because this turned out heavy, I would instead, use the dough from my Fluffy Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls Recipe instead of this dough.

What Is Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras begins January 6, 12 days after Christmas, the Epiphany, also called Three Kings Day, Twelfth Night, and Three Kings’ Day. In the Catholic religion, Epiphany represents when the three Kings visited baby Jesus. The Epiphany was the realization that Jesus was the human son of God.  Celebrations and parades last for weeks and ends today, Fat Tuesday.

What Is Fat Tuesday?

In French, Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday is never on the same day because Easter Sunday is never on the same day each year. Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday. Fat Tuesday is the last of partying before Ash Wednesday begins, the beginning of Lent, when Catholics give up certain things until Easter. This represents the sacrifice Jesus made when he died on the cross for mankind.

The Best Time to Go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras

If you ever wish to go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, the prime time is the the weekend before Fat Tuesday, when the largest parades are held. Though on Fat Tuesday, there is also a big parade.

King Cake

One of the Mardi Gras traditions is King Cake. Traditionally King Cakes were round, now made in various shapes, with a baby or other trinket inside. The one who finds the trinket is king! King Cake is a Louisiana delicacy made from brioche, a sweet, rich yeast cake dough. Much like a coffee cake, it may filled with your choice of fillings. I chose caramel and nuts for a praline-like flavor. You can fill it with a cream cheese and strawberry filling or apples, nuts, brown sugar and raisins. Or skip the apple and just use the other ingredients.

The Baby in the Cake

A baby, representing baby Jesus, is placed inside the cake. If baking a baby inside, it should be porcelain. Historically, other trinkets were added such as coins, beans, pecans, and peas. In recent times, a plastic King Cake baby is pushed into the bottom if a King Cake after it is baked.

The Meaning of the Purple, Green and Gold Sugar

The cake is decorated with colored sugars which each represent something. Purple represents Justice, green represents Faith, and gold represents Power. You will notice that mardi gras strands of beads are the same color.

More Photos!

I have photos of just about all of the steps. If you need to see any of them, leave a comment below and I will post the ones you need.

Gluten Free King Cake with Caramel Pecan Filling – Mardi Gras Recipe


Yield: Serve 10

Gluten Free King Cake with Caramel Pecan Filling – Mardi Gras Recipe

A delicious gluten free King Cake recipe, a New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition. Fill with caramel and pecans, any of the suggestions filling, or your own creation.


    For the Cake:
  • 1-1/8 cups warm 1 or 2% low-fat buttermilk, (or milk) heated to 105 - 110°F
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup white rice flour (77 g)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour (67 g)
  • 1/2 cup corn starch (72 g) (or tapioca starch) (59 g)
  • 1/2 cup potato starch (76 g)
  • 1/4 cup millet flour (34 g) (or potato flour)
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum (or guar gum for corn-free)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon gluten free baking powder (Rumford, or Featherweight for corn-free)
  • 1/2 cup (8 tbsp/1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
  • For the Filling:
  • 1 cup Gluten Free Caramel Recipe (except make with a total of 1 cup heavy cream)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 egg, for brushing
  • For the Icing:
  • 2 oz. (4 Tablespoons) gluten free cream cheese (or butter)
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar (Trader Joe's Organic is corn-free.)
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Gluten free purple, green and yellow sugar, for decorating


    To Make the Dough:
  1. Warm the buttermilk in a cup that is double the size of the liquid.
  2. Stir sugar and yeast into the warm buttermilk and set aside while you make the dough.
  3. In a medium-size bowl, whisk white rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, cornstarch, millet flour, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder together and sift into your mixing bowl.
  4. Add yeast mixture, slightly cooled melted butter, and if using, lemon zest. Mix just long enough to combine.
  5. With mixer running, slowly pour in beaten eggs. Then beat on high speed for 5 minutes.
  6. While the dough is mixing, oil a bowl, liberally and set aside.
  7. Once dough is mixed, add it to the oiled bowl; and cover it tightly. Set it a a warm environment at about 80°F for 45 - 50 minutes or until doubled in size. (I warm an oven at 350°F for about 30 seconds and place the bowl in the oven.)
  8. Once you are ready to make the cake, turn the dough out onto a rolling surface heavily dusted with potato starch (or cornstarch). Press it down to about 1/3 of its size and shape it into a ball. Return it to the bowl, cover the bowl tightly, and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
  9. Make the caramel and allow it to cool in the refrigerator, and chop the nuts.
  10. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on a surface to cover an area about 12 x 23-inches, and heavily dust with starch. (I used my Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Blend.) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  11. Turn the dough out onto the plastic wrap and pat lightly with starch. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough out to approximately 18 x 7-inches, with the long side facing you.
  12. Lay caramel in an even layer over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border along the top and bottom. Top the caramel with the chopped nuts.
  13. Fold the bottom edge over the filling.
  14. Fold the top edge over the filling, towards the center, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and shape into a log.
  15. Using the plastic wrap, transfer the roll, seam-side down, to the prepared baking sheet.
  16. Using the plastic wrap, unroll the dough onto the baking sheet.
  17. Slide the dough into a circle.
  18. Pinch one end closed and and insert it into the other side. (If desired, insert an oven proof, circular pan in the middle. I used an English muffin ring mold.)
  19. Lay a sheet of clean plastic wrap over the dough and set aside to rise until in size, about 50 minutes.
  20. Using a pastry brush, brush with beaten egg. (This step is important as it seals the dough and prevents the filling from leaking. It also smooths the surface of the dough and promotes browning.)
  21. Preheat the oven to 400 °F.
  22. Place an empty baking sheet on bottom shelf and place baking sheet with the king cake on middle shelf. Bake the cake for 15 - 18 minutes or until firm to the touch.
  23. Transfer cake along with parchment paper to a wire rack to cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove parchment paper.
  24. To Make the Glaze:
  25. Add all glaze ingredients to the bowl of your mixer and beat until smooth.
  26. While cake is still warm, spread the glaze onto the cake and allow some to drip down the sides.
  27. Immediately sprinkle sections of glaze with colored sugars.(Do not wait or the glaze will set and the sugar will not stick.)
  28. Slice with a serrated knife and serve immediately.
  29. To store leftover cake, freeze individually sliced.


Instead of using sugar crystals, you also add food coloring to each third of the glaze.

Feel free to add additional butter; however, the dough will be harder to handle. Just refrigerate the dough after folding the dough over the filling to allow it to firm up again.

Don't do what I did with the colored sugar. First section off what areas you will be placing the sugar. Use multiples of three such as 9, 12 or 15. This way you will not have an even colored pattern. You never want to end in two color meeting together. At least I didn't do that. I just didn't leave enough room to add yellow one more time.


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