King Cake Donuts

If you've ever woken up with an undeniable King Cake Craving (henceforth referred to as KCC), but you're a displaced New Orleans native, and the nearest worth-your-time carnival cake is 500+ miles away, this post is for you.

If you're currently a New Orleans resident, close your computer and go (run!) to Haydel's, because this post will likely make you cringe. 

I know this isn't like the real thing. I knowwww. But hear me out- if you're a former Louisiana-child, you'll understand when I say that, come late-January, the unavoidable KCCs begin. 

You'll also understand, then, the disappointment you feel knowing that the only chance you'll get a slice of King Cake this season is if your local Whole Foods Market bakery department is feeling especially festive that week. 

It's been 5 years since I've lived in New Orleans, so I've learned to get creative when the KCC hits. I'm also: a) too impatient to wait for bread to rise b) lazy. Enter: King Cake Donuts.
Although I guess 'King Cake Cinnamon Rolls' would be a more accurate description. Whatever. I like donuts better. 

The process to make these is incredibly simple, and your friends will super impressed. They'll have no idea how little effort you put into them!


  • 1 Package of Cinnamon Rolls (Yep! That's right! Most of the work is already done. You can honestly just stop at this step, and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done)
  • Purple, Yellow, and Green Sanding Sugar
  • 1 c. Confectioner's Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 T. Water (warm water will be easier to mix, but it'll work either way)
  • Optional ingredients: piping bag, cooling rack, plastic baby


Open the package of cinnamon rolls. Be sure to cringe while pushing your spoon against the cardboard seam, then laugh at yourself for overreacting at the underwhelming 'pop'.

Unroll each of the cinnamon rolls until they're all lil' dough snakes. You may need to carefully use a knife to cut your own spiral, then unroll.

Twist the dough snake, and knead the two ends together to make a donut-like (see?!) ring. Place on a lined cookie sheet.

Repeat for the remainder of the dough, and bake according to your package instructions (I usually bake mine for a minute or so less so they're a little dough-y).

While the cinnamon rolls are in the oven, mix the powdered sugar, vanilla, and water with a fork until smooth.
* I recommend adding a little bit of water at a time, as you likely won't need the entire tablespoon. You'll want the icing to be slightly thick, as it'll melt a bit when hitting the warm bread, and you don't want it to get runny. We weren't able to get a decent picture of this, so you'll just have to use your imagination. 
** If you're feeling extra lazy, just use the icing the package comes with (no judgement here)

After the rings are out of the oven, move them to a large plate, or cooling rack (I recommend putting wax paper underneath for easy cleanup).

While the bread is still hot, pipe/spoon the icing over the top of the ring. Quickly sprinkle the purple, green, and yellow sugar in whatever pattern tickles your fancy.



That's it. Seriously.

It may not be the real thing, but when you've got KCC, missing your cajun home, or just need a festive dessert that requires minimal effort, it'll do the trick.