20 Easy Mardi Gras Recipes for Family Dinner

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Plan one of these easy Mardi Gras recipes for a family-friendly dinner on Fat Tuesday and turn up the jazz music! You're just minutes away from a fun and festive family meal even on the busy weeknight.

A photo collage shows several easy Mardi Gras recipes for a busy night.

When you want to "laissez les bons temps rouler" or "let the good times roll" for Mardi Gras but you're a busy parent and it's a school night, what are you supposed to do??

The answer? Turn to one of these easy Mardi Gras recipes for a simple family dinner to enjoy the holiday.

The Crockpot and Instant Pot recipes will help you get a festive meal on the table quickly and let you have a taste of New Orleans with your kids.

What is Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras is also known as "Fat Tuesday" and is the last day before Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent begins.

As a Catholic family, we observe the traditional fasting during Lent and abstain for meat every Friday until Easter. You can read about our favorite meatless meals for Lent here.

But on Fat Tuesday, it is the last day we get to enjoy a little bit of overindulging with all the meat and butter and sweets!

Mardi Gras Dinner Ideas for Families

Since Mardi Gras naturally falls on a Tuesday, we have to manage family dinner on a busy weeknight.

I love to plan ahead a few extra things to make the meal fun and festive for the kids even when we're super busy:

  1. Stream Some Jazz: This fun New Orleans Brass playlist by Spotify would make perfect dinner music for the evening.
  2. Declare the King or Queen: Hide a plastic baby inside your dessert and the person who finds it in their slice is declared king or queen of the rest of the night. (HINT: Tuck it into the dessert AFTER you bake it so the plastic doesn't melt!) We bought this hysterical plastic crown for my husband to wear instead of a party hat on his birthday and it comes out for Mardi Gras each year, too.
  3. Watch Disney's Princess and the Frog: If you have time after dinner, bring dessert into the living room and enjoy a viewing of this Disney classic! You can stream it on Amazon or Disney+.

Celebrate Fat Tuesday at home with your family with the easy weeknight dinner recipes.

20 Mardi Gras Recipes for Family Dinner

Celebrate Fat Tuesday at home with your family with the easy weeknight dinner recipes.

You'll find slowcooker and Instant Pot recipes to keep things simple and all the Cajun-inspired dishes to make your family feel like they're down in New Orleans for the night.

Slowcooker Jambalaya with Rice

The first recipe that comes to mind for Mardi Gras is this easy slowcooker jambalaya.

You can serve it with or without the rice and it is a great prep-ahead dinner for a busy night.

Slowcooker Jambalaya
This hearty chicken jambalaya features spicy sausage and tender shrimp and plenty of savory vegetables. To stretch the meal even further, stir in cooked rice for a comforting stew your family will love!
5 from 1 vote
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The cooked sausage and peppers and celery in a slow cooker.

Crockpot Bourbon Chicken

If your kids don't like things spicy, this sweet bourbon chicken can be made in the slowcooker, too.

Serve it over herby rice for a comforting meal.

Crockpot Bourbon Chicken
This sweet and sticky bourbon chicken is cooked in a crock pot for an easy weeknight dinner. Serve the shredded meat over a bowl of rice and spoon some of the delicious spicy-sweet sauce over the top.
5 from 1 vote
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A bowl of rice is topped with shredded bourbon chicken from the crockpot.

Cajun Blackened Chicken Thighs

This easy Cajun blackened chicken thighs recipe can be made in the air fryer or oven for a fast main dish to serve with your favorite festive sides.

Plenty of yummy meal ideas are included in the post right here:

Cajun Blackened Chicken Thighs
Make these Cajun blackened chicken thighs in your air fryer or oven for a fast and easy weeknight dinner. Serve them on their own with a simple side dish or chop them up to add to your favorite pasta dish like a Cajun chicken alfredo pasta.
5 from 1 vote
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The white plate has two baked chicken thighs that have been seasoned with blackening spice.

Cajun Sausage and Rice

This easy Cajun sausage and rice recipe uses one of my go-to Instant Pot cooking methods.

I love that you can saute the sausage right in the pot before stirring it together with the rice and Cajun-seasoned tomato sauce.

Cajun Sausage and Rice
Savory cajun sausage and rice is made easy in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop. This not-too-spicy dinner is kid-friendly and a great way to use a turkey kielbasa sausage for an easy dinner.
5 from 1 vote
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A spicy sausage and rice inside the Instant Pot.

Air Fryer Jerk Chicken

This easy air fryer jerk chicken could also be roasted in the oven with those sweet red, orange, and yellow bell peppers with onions mix.

Serve it over my Charleston red rice or alongside my crispy roasted sweet potatoes. 

Air Fryer Jerk Chicken
Caribbean Jerk chicken with bell peppers and onions cooked in the air fryer or roasted in the oven make a quick dinner recipe for serving with rice, sweet potatoes, or pasta.
5 from 1 vote
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A bowl of cooked jerk chicken with red and yellow bell peppers and onions.

Cajun Chicken Alfredo Pasta

Bake up those Cajun chicken thighs and slice them over a bed of this easy alfredo sauce pasta.

Or sprinkle chicken tenderloins with a drizzle of olive oil and Cajun seasoning blend and cook them as directed in this air fryer chicken tenderloins recipe.

They would both be awesome with roasted cherry tomatoes on top, too!

Quick and Easy Alfredo Sauce
This homemade Alfredo sauce is quick and easy to make on a busy weeknight. So much tastier and healthier than the jarred variety, it uses real ingredients you likely already have on hand!
5 from 43 votes
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A plate of spaghetti coated in homemade alfredo sauce sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

Crab Cakes with Remoulade Sauce

Put a batch of frozen crab cakes in the air fryer and serve them with fresh lemon wedges and a cup of this easy homemade remoulade sauce.

You can adjust the spice level to make it firey hot or mild, whichever you prefer!

Remoulade Sauce for Crab Cakes
This spicy cajun remoulade sauce for crab cakes is a great dipping sauce for shrimp or po'boy sandwich spread, too! Made from easy things you have in your pantry mixed with a few classic creole ingredients for a creamy sauce you'll want to use again and again.
4.97 from 52 votes
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The remoulade sauce is on a plate with mini crab cakes and a spoon. Lemon wedges are scattered around and green onions sprinkled on top.

Cajun Tilapia over Red Rice

Use some Cajun seasoning to make this grilled tilapia recipe.

Serve it with your favorite roasted veggies and a dollop of Savannah red rice.

Grilled Tilapia
This is the easiest way to grill tilapia without it falling apart. Season it with your choice of spice blends for a healthy dinner. The seasoned tilapia is perfect on its own or made into a fish sandwich.
5 from 1 vote
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The grilled tilapia is on a dinner plate with a dollop of dill aoli, red rice, and a cob of corn.

New Orleans Roast Beef Po'Boy

Nothing says decadent like a large roast beef before we go meatless for Lent.

Cook up the roast one week in advance and then assemble these New Orleans roast beef po'boys for an easy dinner.

New Orleans Roast Beef Po'Boy
Seasoned and slow cooked for hours, this tender roast beef falls apart with a simple poke of a fork. Layer it into sandwich rolls with horseradish cream sauce, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pickles for a classic roast beef po'boy.
5 from 44 votes
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A large sub sandwich has shredded roast beef, melted provolone, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and thin sliced pickles stacked for the filings.

Red Rice with Bacon

This baked red rice with bacon is the perfect side dish for many of the dishes mentioned above!

Red Rice with Bacon
This spicy rice recipe is a classic Southern side dish served at our favorite beach restaurants under the name Charleston red rice or Savannah red rice. Filled with savory bacon and veggies, it goes great with grilled fish or chicken and is so easy to make at home.
5 from 1 vote
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The finished baked rice dish with tomato and bacon has a spoon ready to serve.

Sweet Mojito Salsa

Prefer festive Mardi Gras recipes but want to keep things on the lighter side?

Try this sweet mojito salsa over grilled fish for a healthy alternative to the holiday meal.

Mojito Salsa
This refreshing mojito salsa is a fun twist on traditional salsa. Made with roasted yellow tomatoes and plenty of lime and a touch of fresh mint, it is delicious on top of spicy grilled fish. Perfect for dunking tortilla chips, too.
5 from 1 vote
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Yellow mojito salsa is drizzled over a spicy grilled tilapia on a blue plate next to a serving of white rice.

Baked Cheese Tortellini Skillet

Pasta is always a great choice when feeding kids and this baked cheese tortellini is always a hit with the crispy breadcrumb topping.

But is it appropriate for Mardi Gras?? YOU BET. There's Cajun seasoning mixed into that savory tomato sauce. But no worries, it's not too spicy.

Baked Cheese Tortellini
This easy skillet pasta recipe combines refrigerated cheese tortellini with light ground turkey and a seasoned tomato sauce. Top it with crispy panko bread crumbs and bake it in the oven for a quick take on lasagna.
5 from 1 vote
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A bowl of baked tortellini with a slice of garlic bread on the side.

Spicy Shrimp Stew

Sweet corn, tender shrimp, and savory sausage are mixed into this hearty shrimp stew with plenty of Cajun flavor.

Spicy Shrimp Stew with Corn and Peppers
Mix things up in your crockpot with this easy, spicy shrimp stew loaded with peppers and corn. Serve with a biscuit or fresh cornbread for a comforting winter meal.
5 from 1 vote
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A blue bowl of spicy shrimp stew shows tons of corn, red peppers, spicy sausage, and big shrimp.

Pasta Rosa with Sausage

This comforting and creamy pasta rosa could use andouille sausage and Cajun seasoning in the mix if you want to make it especially festive.

Pasta Rosa with Sausage
Toss your favorite pasta shape in this rich and creamy tomato sauce with sautéed sausage and onions. Top with grated parmesan cheese and serve for the ultimate comfort food.
5 from 1 vote
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A white bowl holds curly pasta coated in a creamy tomato sauce with crumbled sausage and parmesan sprinkled on top.

Pasta with Sausage and Peppers

Slice up spicy andouille sausage and mix it with the red peppers and red onion for this sheet pan dinner idea.

Add the pasta and you've got my easy sausage and peppers pasta recipe.

Sausage and Peppers Pasta
This easy pasta recipe uses prepared chicken sausages and fresh bell peppers in a delicate garlic butter sauce. Fresh peppery arugula and parmesan cheese finish the dish. This elegant recipe is simple enough to make in a vacation rental kitchen in a skillet on the stovetop or on a sheet pan in the oven!
5 from 3 votes
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A white bowl has rigatoni pasta with sausage and peppers.

Sausage Crescent Roll Swirls

Use crumbled chorizo if you want to make this savory sausage crescent roll swirl recipe a little spicier for the holiday. Use creole mustard in place of Dijon, too.

Sausage Crescent Roll Swirls
Savory sausage rolled in sweet, buttery crescent roll dough, and baked for the perfect easy party appetizer.
5 from 1 vote
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A platter of sausage swirl appetizers is ready to be served.

Roasted Sausages and Potatoes with Apples

We LOVE using spicy sausages like andouille in this baked sausages and potatoes dinner. Pick up a Creole mustard for serving on the side.

Roasted Sausages, Potatoes & Apples
This fall comfort food classic is a hit with kids and parents alike. The easiest weeknight dinner with some fresh apples and spicy sausages from the market.    
5 from 45 votes
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A baking dish is filled with roasted sausages, potatoes, and apples. A jar of mustard and a platter of baked pretzels are in the background.

Garlic Butter Shrimp Skillet

This decadent garlic butter shrimp skillet would definitely be a hit for Fat Tuesday!

Serve it with toasted bread for soaking up every drop of the delicious white wine butter sauce.

Garlic Butter Shrimp Skillet
This super quick recipe for garlic butter shrimp is made in a skillet on the stovetop in just 3 minutes. There's plenty of flavorful lemon butter sauce to dunk fresh bread or stir in cooked pasta or rice.
Inspired by Lucy Buffet's recipe from her Lulu's Kitchen cookbook.
5 from 1 vote
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A big bowl of buttery shrimp with garlic bread for dunking.

Seasoned Boiled Shrimp

Make a Cajun-inspired cocktail sauce and then serve this 3-minute seasoned shrimp recipe for dunking.

It's a great snacky dinner to serve with other fun munchies for the family.

Boiled Shrimp
Caraway seeds and bay leaves season the boiling water for the most delicious boiled shrimp. This method makes easy peel and eat shrimp for serving with shrimp cocktail.
5 from 43 votes
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A serving dish filled with boiled shrimp with caraway seeds.

Shortbread Pecan Pie Bars

What's a holiday without a dessert?

For the busiest nights, these shortbread pecan pie bars could be made ahead and are the perfect crunchy ending to your meal.

Shortbread Pecan Pie Bars
These rich and chewy shortbread pecan pie bars have a crispy cookie crust, a gooey caramel center, and salty pecans all over the top. Slice up a square to share with friends for fall entertaining.
4.96 from 41 votes
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A stack of shortbread pecan pie bars on a cake plate for serving.

Bread Machine King Cake

You can make the dough for this easy king cake right in your bread maker and finish it in the oven!

Bread Machine King Cake
Let the good times roll with this easy bread machine king cake recipe with a sweet cinnamon filling and creamy vanilla glaze on top. Who will find the baby and be crowned King of the party??
4.98 from 43 votes
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A braided King Cake has been sliced to show the cinnamon swirl filling. It is decorated with purple, green, and yellow sprinkles.

New Orleans Bread Pudding

Serve this New Orleans bread pudding with a warm drizzle of creamy bourbon sauce for a decadent Mardi Gras dessert.

New Orleans Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
This New Orleans bread pudding is adapted from Emeril Lagasse's classic dessert recipe to be made easier for beginner bakers at home. A golden brown and crispy bread pudding with a vanilla bourbon custard is dotted with golden raisins and drizzled with warm bourbon sauce over the top.
5 from 1 vote
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A baking pan of bread pudding sits next to a small dish with one serving that has a drizzle of the bourbon sauce over the top. The pitcher of bourbon sauce sits to the side.
A photo collage shows 4 of the easy recipes for a family-friendly Mardi Gras dinner.

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