What is a King Cake & When Do You Eat It?

Cake. Is there anything like it? Whether you’re a fan of vanilla, strawberry, or German chocolate cake, nothing beats the moist and delicious flavors this dessert has to offer. But what about king cake? What exactly is this type of cake, and when do you eat it?

King cake is a delicious, round pastry with a hollowed center. It’s covered in icing and purple, green, and yellow sprinkles and filled with cream cheese and/or fruit fillings. The cake is available during January only and is synonymous with “Three Kings Day” and “Mardi Gras.”

Hey! My name is Michelle. I am a self-taught baker who has enjoyed ten years of baking treats in my kitchen. I love learning everything there is to know about desserts. That said, I decided to do some research about “king cake” and what this unique dessert is all about.

Want to learn about king cake? Discover all the facts below!

What is King Cake?

A King cake is a unique sweet buttery pastry typically eaten at the beginning of January. It can be more bread-like or cakey, depending on who’s baking it.

This cake, formed into a ring, is slathered with yummy icing and covered with thick layers of purple, yellow, and green sprinkles. Inside, you will usually find a vanilla, cinnamon, or vanilla-cinnamon cream cheese mixture. There may also be fruit fillings.

However, if this cake wasn’t unique enough, one crucial feature makes it stand apart from the crowd – a tiny plastic baby hidden inside.

Yes, you read that correctly – and there’s a big reason for this – which we will discuss later in this article.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the colored sprinkles have some significance, too. The green is placed for “growth or faith,” purple for “justice and power,” and yellow for “prosperity.”

What Does King Cake Taste Like?

Although King Cake has the word “cake” in it, most people do not describe this dessert as a traditional “cake.

King Cake is more like a pastry. It’s a lot thicker than traditional cakes and does not have the same moistness or flakiness as a regular cake.

Instead, many people refer to King Cake as a Danish or cinnamon roll. Still delicious – but definitely not in the same category as most “cakes.”

History of King Cake

King Cake has an interesting history that dates back to the Middle Ages.

It began in Europe when believers baked the cake to celebrate “Catholic Epiphany,” or “Three Kings Day.” This particular day is when the three wise men brought gifts to baby Jesus, including gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The cake made its way to the United States in the 1870s when the French brought it to Louisiana. Since then, the king cake has become synonymous with “Mardi Gras” and “Fat Tuesday.”

When Do You Eat King Cake?

King cake is not available year-round. 

In fact, you can only get your hands on this cake during January, before “Ash Wednesday.”

That said, whether you want to munch on king cake to honor “Three Kings Day,” “Fat Tuesday,” or simply want to eat a peculiar slice of cake, one thing is for sure – you’ll only find this seasonal cake during January.

OK, But What About the Plastic Baby?

I know, I know – a cake with a plastic baby hiding inside can sound sort of odd.

But there are a couple of essential things to know.

For one, the plastic baby isn’t tiny – so don’t think you’ll “accidentally” eat the little guy. Basically, if your slice has a plastic baby inside of it, you’ll know.

Secondly, many people make a fun game out of finding the baby. For some, finding the baby means that they’re due to buy the next cake or throw a party in the near future. For others, it means they get to be “queen” or “king” for the day and will have luck for the remainder of the year!


Needless to say, King Cake is a unique seasonal dessert that everyone should try at least once. They may even be lucky enough to find the plastic baby inside! If you want to keep learning about this fascinating cake (or should I say pastry?), then check out the FAQs listed below.

Why are king cakes so expensive?

There are many reasons why king cakes may be expensive. For one, they’re an exclusive dessert only sold in January. Second, many details are added to the cake, such as a plastic baby and many colorful sprinkles.

Do King Cakes have babies in them?

King Cakes do, in fact, have a plastic baby hiding inside. For believers, the plastic baby is baby Jesus. For others, it’s a sign of luck and prosperity. Regardless, everyone agrees that finding the plastic baby in their slice of King Cake is a good thing!

What do the colors of the king cake mean?

King Cakes are covered in purple, yellow, and green. Not only are these colors eye-catching, but they have significance. Purple represents “justice and power,” green represents “growth or faith,” and yellow represents “prosperity.”

King Cakes Are Calling Our Name Every January!

The next time you want to try something new, consider ordering a King Cake. Just ensure you’re ordering in January, as these are seasonal “cakes” that taste and feel more like pastries.

Do you eat King Cake? Why or why not?

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Janet

    Do you have a recipe for King Cake? And frosting also?