Fat Tuesday Recipes

Mardi Gras Recipes for Shrove Tuesday, Carnival, and Pancake Day

The day before Ash Wednesday is known by many names: Mardi Gras, Carnival, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Paczki Day, Pancake Day.

As we turn to the penitential season of Lent, we enjoy one last day of feasting. On this day, medieval Christians used up their eggs, butter, and milk—all of which were forbidden during their Lenten abstinence—by making pancakes and pastries.

Learn more about Fat Tuesday traditions from around the world, and try some of these Fat Tuesday recipes and Mardi Gras recipes at home. All of them are relatively simple, and they are a great way to remind us that our own Lenten fasting is minor compared with that of Christians in ages past.

Paczki Day in Poland

Fat Thursday celebrations in Poland with a traditional doughnuts
Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

The Spruce's Eastern European Food & Recipes has the scoop on Poland's Fat Tuesday traditions. While the Poles and other Eastern Europeans made their own crepe-like pancakes, their preferred method of using up dairy products before Lent was the paczki, a rich donut usually (though not always) filled with jam (usually prune or raspberry). Similar to the German bismarck or berliner, these round rolls (pronounced "punch-key") are made with a yeast-raised egg batter.

But paczki aren't all that's cooking on Fat Tuesday in Poland. Check out the links below for other delicious treats!

  • Paczki Day
  • Polish Doughnuts - Paczki
  • How to Make Maria's Polish Paczki or Doughnuts Step by Step
  • How to Make Polish Carnival Rosettes
  • How to Make Polish Crullers ("Chrusciki")

Eastern European Shrove Tuesday Recipes

Pancake Day
Capturing moments at present that are soon going to be past. / Getty Images

Being half-Polish, I had to give Paczki Day recipes pride of place. But The Spruce's Eastern European Food & Recipes has recipes and more on Shrove Tuesday traditions in every other Catholic Eastern European country as well—Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Ukraine—as well as the largely Orthodox countries of Romania, Russia, and Serbia (and you can include Ukraine again, since the country is split between Catholics and Orthodox), which don't celebrate Shrove Tuesday but do have their own celebrations before Orthodox Lent begins on Clean Monday. Even if you already have your recipes for Fat Tuesday picked out, you'll want to read this account of how country celebrates Shrovetide—the variety of traditions is fascinating!

Pancake Day in London

Salisbury Cathedral Choristers Make Pancakes Ahead Of Shrove Tuesday
Matt Cardy / Getty Images

In England, the Pancake Day tradition continues, and both Laura Porter, the About London Travel Expert, and the British Food & Recipes collection at The Spruce, have articles on Pancake Day in London and Britain at large.

  • Pancake Day in London
  • All About Pancake Day in the UK
  • Foolproof Traditional English Pancake Recipe

Venezia: Città e Carnevale

Cannoli for sale seen through a bakery window, Venice, Italy
Danita Delimont / Getty Images

In Italy, Fat Tuesday is known as carnevale—goodbye to meat—from which we get our English word carnival. But the Italians aren't satisfied with celebrating for just one day. Carnival, as Kyle Phillips, the former About Italian Food Expert, notes, runs for several weeks, and nowhere is it more elaborately celebrated than in Venice. Don't be fooled by all the remarkable pictures; Kyle has plenty of Carnival recipes in the text below them—everything from lasagna to rolled pizza to fritters to cannoli.

  • The Carnival Recipe Index
  • How to Make Cenci for Carnevale: An Illustrated Recipe

Mardi Gras in Louisiana

Mardi Gras Beads

Of course, no celebration of Fat Tuesday in the United States would be complete without a nod to our own Mardi Gras Celebration in Louisiana. The Spruce's Southern Food & Recipes has a wonderful collection of Louisiana recipes that are perfect for Mardi Gras and reflect New Orleans' French heritage, from which the Mardi Gras celebration in the city is derived.

The Spruce's Food & Cooking collection offers another collection of Mardi Gras Recipes and Food, along with some information about the difference between Cajun and Creole cooking and the "King Cake" tradition of Mardi Gras.

  • Mardi Gras Recipes
  • Mardi Gras Recipes and Food

Pancake Recipes for All Occasions

Pancake Tuesday
Michelle Jefferies / Getty Images

Kids love pancakes, and Pancake Day is a great way to help introduce your children to the season of Lent and to the idea of fasting. As you might expect, the Spruce's Cooking for Kids collection has many pancake recipes, as well as tips for making perfect pancakes. You'll also find traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras favorites, such as King Cake, jambalaya and candied pecans—all in versions that your children will love, and love to help make!

  • Pancake Recipes for All Occasions
  • How to Make Pancakes From Scratch
  • Easy King Cake Recipe
  • Jambalaya Recipe
  • Easy Candied Pecans Recipe

Pancakes From Around the World

Pancake Day
Daniel Borg / Getty Images

There are probably as many ways to make pancakes as there people in the world, and The Spruce offers a wide variety of pancake recipes.

Fat Tuesday Celebration Menu

Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo
Lauri Patterson / Getty Images

One of the most inconvenient aspects of Fat Tuesday is that, well, it always falls on a Tuesday. For those of us with full-time jobs, that can make it hard to celebrate as we might like. But never fear—The Spruce's American Main Dish Recipes collection has us covered! Check out this Fat Tuesday Celebration Menu, which includes crockpot crab spread, sausage and shrimp gumbo, baked rice pilaf, pecan mandarin orange salad, and a tunnel of fudge cake that sounds like it will tide you over through Lent all by itself! And if that's not enough, you'll find even more recipes in this complete guide to Fabulous Mardis Gras Recipes.

  • Fat Tuesday Celebration Menu
  • Mardis Gras and Fat Tuesday Recipes

Mardi Gras King Cake (Vegan)

New Orleans Mardi Gras King Cake with Baby Doll
Envision / Getty Images

As I mentioned in the introduction, the reason Fat Tuesday is celebrated with so many rich foods is because Christians had to use up their eggs, butter, and milk before Lent started. But what if you don't normally eat eggs and dairy products—are you out of luck on Mardi Gras? The Spruce's Dairy-Free Cooking collection lets everyone join in the fun, with a recipe for a vegan version of the traditional Mardi Gras King Cake.

  • Mardi Gras King Cake (Vegan)

How to Throw a Mardi Gras Party

Mardi Gras Revelers

Now that you have plenty of Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday recipes, it's time to turn to The Spruce's Events and Parties site for ideas on how to make your Mardi Gras party a success. You'll find both general tips on throwing a Mardi Gras party (including a selection of recipes) and a detailed plan for creating a Mardi Gras Jazz brunch (including a sample menu with links to recipes). Check it out, and let the good times roll!

  • Throwing a Mardi Gras Party
  • Creating a Mardi Gras Jazz Brunch

BONUS: Activities to Aid Digestion

Jester Mask
Ray Laskowitz / Getty Images

Children love eating breakfast for supper, and Fat Tuesday/Pancake Day is a good way to prepare them for the fasting and abstinence of Ash Wednesday. And once the food has been eaten, these Mardi Gras crafts can help them learn a little bit more about this last day of feasting before Lent.

  • Mardi Gras Crafts