King Cake Cupcakes (Easy Version)

king-cake-cupcakesEvery year before Mardi Gras, I think: this year, I’ll make a king cake. If you’re not familiar with the king cake, it’s a traditional treat associated with Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the day before the somber, reflective season of Lent begins. King cake involves brioche and a filling of some kind, and because I do so little work with yeast, I always decide to forego the king cake for another year.

This year, I went an easy, semi-homemade route for these king cake cupcakes. They’re adapted from a recipe that I found at Crave. Indulge. Satisfy., and I would definitely do a few things differently next time, like waiting for them to cool completely before glazing them with icing, and greasing my cupcake tins instead of using paper liners (because warm cupcakes + glaze icing + paper liners = a gooey mess). The recipe below is written how I’d recommend you bake it, based on my trials last night. To me, they taste like a delicious Pillsbury treat (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but if you’re going for a more traditional king cake flavor, you’ll want to bake the real thing.


  • 6 tubes PillsburyTM crescent rolls
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • Purple, yellow, and green sugar sprinkles


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 12-count cupcake tins.

In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans; set aside.

Unroll one tube of crescent rolls at a time and divide the rolls into four rectangles. Press the perforated edges together to seal.

Place 2 tablespoons of filling down the center of each rectangle, leaving a border around the edges. Fold the top of the rectangle down toward the middle, then fold the bottom of the rectangle toward the middle, letting the dough overlap. Fold the right side in toward the middle, then the left side.

Place rolls spiral-side up in cupcake wells and bake for 18-22 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans, then remove to wire racks.

Once cupcakes are cool, make glaze; combine powdered sugar and milk in a medium bowl and mix until completely smooth.

Working with about 3 cupcakes at a time, pour glaze over cupcakes and sprinkle with purple, yellow, and green sugar. If you try to glaze all of the cupcakes at once, the glaze will harden before you can get the sprinkles on. Continue glazing and sprinkling until all of your cupcakes are done.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Makes 24.


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