We’ve teamed up with Zatarain’s® Smoked Sausage to bring the flavors of a New Orleans Mardi Gras to your kitchen, no matter where you’re celebrating. On the menu: flavor-packed, crowd-friendly dishes starring Zatarain’s Andouille Smoked Sausage, classic cocktails, and plenty of good tunes to get the party started.
It’s been two years since New Orleans has been able to truly celebrate Mardi Gras: filling the city’s streets with parades, dancing, and merry-making like it has for over a hundred years. But now, Carnival is officially back, and the party has already started, so it’s time to revel in all the season has to offer.
With roots in Christian traditions, Mardi Gras is an annual weeks-long extravaganza that’s considered a final hurrah before the austerity of Lent. Those lucky enough to be in New Orleans find jam-packed restaurants and bars, busy streets brimming with costumed revelers looking to see and be seen, and families and friends gathered to stake out parades. It’s like a fantastically dressed tailgate with the entire city (and then some) in attendance.
Of course, not everyone can make it down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, but that’s no reason not to join in the festivities with drinks, food, and an epic playlist to get everyone dancing. Here, we’ve got your guide to everything you need to bring Mardi Gras to your door, wherever you are.
A flavorful feast
No Carnival experience is complete without the food, and there’s no place that does flavor quite like New Orleans. During Mardi Gras, the best dishes are the ones that serve a crowd, so when you’re planning your menu, think flavorful and satisfying—then bust out the biggest pot you have. All you need are a few key ingredients, like garlic, onions, a little bit of cayenne, and Zatarain’s Smoked Andouille Sausage, and you have the basis for any number of dishes, from a Creole-Seasoned Seafood Boil to Crock-Pot Jambalaya.
Set the Bar
There are many things New Orleans is known for doing well, but creating a number of classic cocktails might be near the top of the list. For your own bar menu, consider shaking up a few of those iconic sips, like the Sazerac, the Vieux Carre, and the Hurricane. If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic option or two, this collection of our best booze-free sips has plenty to choose from.
Shake that brass
You know a parade is coming down the route by the sound of a high school band’s drumline. Recreate the experience by queuing up a playlist filled with brass bands and danceable local sounds, like Jon Batiste’s “Freedom” and Rebirth Brass Band’s “Do Whatcha Wanna,” or keep it traditional with anything from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Remember to dance along with the Mardi Gras Indians, too; these groups, also known as Black Masking Indians, show off their hand-made, beaded and feathered suits with an early Mardi Gras morning appearance. Hear them on the classic 1976 eponymous album from The Wild Tchoupitoulas.
Break out the decorations
Throughout Carnival, it’s hard to drive through many city streets in New Orleans without seeing some purple, green, and gold bunting or striped flags hanging from local homes. When the pandemic canceled parades in 2021, many homeowners started the “house float” tradition, where they decorated their homes to look like full-blown parade floats. If you go that far, we commend you, but for smaller-scale decoration ideas you can opt for festive purple, green, and gold accents, like feathers, beads, sequins, glitter, masks, linens, and tableware.
Look the part
One of the most vibrant parts of Mardi Gras is the joyful explosion of costumes, and this is the time to really let your imagination run wild. Locals love to dress up on Mardi Gras Day (this year it’s March 1) in particular; the streets swell with people showing off their costumes, from ones that took weeks to hot glue and sew to random amalgamations of shiny and colorful pieces. Whether your idea is whimsical and weird or a satirical commentary on the political news of the moment, all costumes are welcome and encouraged.
A sweet finish
There’s no better way to end a Mardi Gras meal than with a king cake (it’s also a great accompaniment to morning coffee). Historically only available in New Orleans during the weeks of Carnival, these purple, green, and gold confections become synonymous with all kinds of gatherings here, like office meetings, parties, and school events. But don’t worry, these days king cakes travel well, and there are several bakeries that can easily ship them beyond the city boundaries. If you’re looking for traditional brioche or filled options, consider Haydel’s Bakery or Gambino’s Bakery. Breads On Oak will ship a vegan king cake. And if you’re really looking to impress, consider the many-layered, king cake-inspired Doberge cake from Debbie Does Doberge.
How will you be celebrating Mardi Gras this year? Tell us in the comments!
From a spicy, shareable Creole-Seasoned Seafood Boil to Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo, your favorite Mardi Gras recipes are a cinch to make at home with help from our partner Zatarain’s® Smoked Sausage. Their Andouille and Cajun-Style Smoked Sausages—made with 100 percent pork and fully cooked for easy meal prep—are a flavorful addition to red beans and rice, jambalaya, and so much more. (Psst: These sausages also make a tasty main dish all on their own.)