Gluten-Free King Cake!

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img_3014x[Update 3 Dec 2009: I’m linking this recipe to this week’s Party Food Theme at The Gluten-Free Homemaker’s “What Can I Eat That’s Gluten-Free?”

I first learned of King Cakes while living in Texas, though I think it’s more common to find around New Orleans, LA. It is a traditional pastry treat baked for Christmas and Mardi Gras, but other celebrations as well.

A fun tradition of the King Cake is the little toy baby (representing Jesus) that is baked inside (or slid in after baking). The person who gets a slice of the cake with the baby inside it is obliged to bring a King Cake to the next celebration. The tradition makes it a fun food item to offer at a party. The pastry itself also makes a great breakfast treat Christmas morning or New Year’s morning.]

I’ve been searching for a gluten-free king cake recipe for weeks now, and just couldn’t find one. With Mardi Gras only a few days away, I came to the conclusion that I was going to have to make my own recipe. I was a little nervous about making a gluten-free yeast bread, but I think I got lucky because it turned out better than I expected. That’s assuming I can still remember what a king cake is supposed to taste like. This is basically a breakfast pastry shaped into a ring. I made two small cakes out of this recipe and tried a different filling with each. Some king cakes have no filling at all, but I like the extra flavor of the fillings.

Gluten-Free King Cake


2 (.25 oz.) packages of active dry yeast
1/2 Cup warm water (100 – 110 degrees F)
1/2 Cup + 2 tsp white sugar
1 Cup milk
1/4 Cup butter
2 eggs
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2-1/2 Cups brown rice flour (super-finely ground)
1 Cup potato starch
1/2 Cup tapioca flour
2 tsp xanthan gum

Brown Sugar Filling (makes enough for two small king cakes):

1 Cup packed brown sugar
1 TBSP cinnamon
1/2 Cup melted butter
1/2 Cup pecans, chopped (optional)

Cream Cheese Filling (makes enough for two small king cakes):

1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract


2 Cups powdered sugar, sifted to remove lumps
1/4 Cup orange juice
1 tsp butter flavor
1 tsp almond flavor
1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. img_30012In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 Cup of warm water (100-110 degrees F/45 degrees C) with 2 tsp of sugar. Stir it lightly and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, heat the milk in the microwave, so it’s hot but not boiling (1-2 minutes). Add in the butter and stir until it’s melted. Once the yeast has stood for 10 min. and foamed up, pour the milk mixture into the large mixing bowl with the yeast mixture. Mix in the eggs, 1/2 Cup sugar, salt and nutmeg.
  3. In a separate large bowl, mix the brown rice flour, the potato starch, tapioca flour and xanthan gum. Then, add the flour mixture to the yeast/milk mixture and mix thoroughly. The dough should start to pull together, but it will be sticky. img_3003
  4. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn it a few times to coat the dough with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and set in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours.
  5. To make fillings, simply combine ingredients and mix well.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  7. Once the dough has risen, divide it into two equal portions and turn each half of the dough out onto its own sheet of parchment paper lightly dusted with a gluten-free flour.  img_3006
  8. Place a large piece of plastic wrap on top of one of the dough balls and start to roll it out to a large rectangle about 16 inches long. Place your filling of choice along one long side of the dough, then begin rolling it up like a jelly-roll.  Use the parchment paper to help lift and roll the dough until it is a long skinny roll. Turn the dough, so that the seam is on the bottom. Now shape the roll into a ring, pressing the ends together.
  9. Slide the parchment paper along with the dough onto a cookie sheet and place into the oven. (If  you don’t have parchment paper, use wax paper to roll out the dough, but place the ring of dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet.) Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let the cake cool slightly on a wire rack. img_30071If inserting a plastic baby or trinket, make a small cut on the top of the cake and place the baby inside. Press the cake back together. The cut in the cake should be covered up by the frosting and colored sugar.
  10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 for the second ball of dough.
  11. Make the frosting by combining the ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour the frosting over the slightly cooled cake and immediately decorate with colored sugar sprinkles (green, purple and gold!).img_3013img_3018
Categories : Holidays, Recipes



[…] time I really use tapioca is in a mix of gluten-free flours. I use tapioca flour in my recipe for King Cake. I know we’re no where near Mardi Gras, but this makes a nice breakfast pastry, […]


I have never heard of king cakes! This sounds like a great party recipe. Thanks for the idea!


Thank you for the recipe and idea.


I’ve never heard of king cake. It looks great, and the pictures are helpful. Thanks for sharing it.


Your king cake looks great. I know it’s delicious. Makes me think of the festive spirit of holiday dinners at MIL’s house. We always have the “poppers” where you open the poppers; find the prizes, the riddles, and the crowns; and then read the riddles out loud and then wear the crowns. Fun.



I made this recipe (after a bit of experimentation) for a church Mardi Gras party here in New Orleans. I was the only gluten-free person there, but the cake disappeared (despite two other bakery-bought king cakes also being present).

The changes that I made were:
(1) substitute 1/2 cup of the brown rice flour with sweet rice flour AND
(2) substitute 3 egg yolks for the 2 full eggs

# 1 was a substitution of necessity as I ran out of brown rice flour and had no time to go to the store. This change produced a better tasting batter, however, with a much more “king cake-like” consistency than the trial run that I did with the original recipe.


Ken – Great! Glad to hear it worked well for you. I’ll have to try it next time with the substitutions you made. Thanks for the feedback.


[…] our French toast, roasted acorn squash, baked sweet potatoes, my Banana Coffee Cake recipe, and my King Cake recipe. This weekend I added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon to my recipe for gluten-free beignets, and fried them up […]


I’ve always wanted to make a king cake, but I’ve never tried it!! This really makes me want too! Thank you SO Much for sharing this on my roundup this week! YUM!


I just made these and they are awesome! I made my own colored sugar (rather than buying it) – such a cinch! Just 1/2 cup sugar and then a few drops of the desired color. Squish it all up in a ziploc bag, and there you have it 🙂

Rather than brown rice flour, I used a baking mix I created, but I really think the brown rice flour would work just fine too. For the sugary filling, I spread it across almost the entire area of dough (just not within an inch or two of the edges) and rolled it up. It made it more like a cinnamon roll on the inside. I did not change any of your proportions, and I think it is perfect the way you have it.

Thanks for sharing! Two years ago I started the tradition of making a King Cake on or around epiphany (Jan. 6), and was feeling sad thinking I wouldn’t be able to do it this year since I’m eating GF. You made my day – and my 3.5 year old son’s day too. He helped with the decorating.


[…] joined Aneliese for a morning tea party and ignored the list for a few minutes. We then started our King’s Cake together, I measured, she poured. I spread the flatbread, she sprinkled the poppy seeds. She held […]


April – Thanks for sharing your comments. I’m so glad it worked out for you. I really appreciate you sharing your own modifications and tips!


Thank you for this! I am Gluten Intolerant and have been “Gloof” as my family calls it for about 3 years now and we just found out that my husband has Celiac. We live in South Louisiana and with Mardi Gras comes a plethora of King Cakes in the local groceries and bakeries. This is my husband’s favorite treat and also his first year being Gluten Free…I look forward to making this for him in a few weeks!!!


Melissa – Glad to help. I’d love to hear if the recipe works out for you.


Love your King Cake recipe. Not easy to find gluten free recipes for celebrations like Mardi Gras.
I posted a link to your recipe on my recent Mardi Gras blog post.
Have a great day,


Thanks for link love, Karen. If you like the King Cake recipe, you may like my beignet recipe, too.


You just made my day! I have been looking for a bakery that sells gluten-free king cakes for my 5 yo GF boy! You can’t live in South Louisiana without king cake! Hopefully this recipe turns out great! I’m running to Rouse’s right now to buy my gluten-free ingredients!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!
(Pronounced lay-say lay bon ton roulay)
(Let the good times roll!)


Good luck, Candice! I hope it works out for you. What’s Mardi Gras without a king cake?


I live in Texas and learned of these here as well. I’m going to attempt this for 3 Kings Day on Friday. My son is GF and LOVES the King’s Cake tradition. I’m concerned though that I won’t be able to find the Potato Starch. Is there anything else I can substitute for it?


You may be able to find potato starch in the grocery stores if they have a kosher section or a natural foods section. If not, you should be able to substitute with corn starch, tapioca, or arrowroot. Hope you and your son enjoy it!


I found the Potato starch at my wholefoods. We made it and EVERYONE who tried it loved it. Thank you for the recipe. 🙂


Autumn – Yay! I’m so glad it worked out for you. Thanks for letting me know.


I just have a box of the King Arthur GF AP flour. Can I use this instead of all the flowers and xanathan gum listed or can I only sub for this mix for tbe brown rice flour & I need to get potato starch, tapioca flour & xanthan gum?




Marissa – I haven’t used King Arthur’s GF All-Purpose flour for this recipe. However, based on the ingredients, I would think that it would do well to substitute for the flours. BUT, you will still need to add the xanthan gum. I don’t believe that King Arthur’s GF AP flour blend includes xanthan gum. Even just the small amount that is in the recipe is what helps hold it all together, and make it manageable enough to roll out. Good luck!


I tried out this king cake recipe and plan to bring to our church’s Shrove Tuesday Pancake dinner for two of our members who are gluten sensitive. I love this recipe. It is better (more moist and the crumb more tender) than a traditional recipe made with wheat flour. I like to heat it before serving as it the brown rice flour makes the cake a little stiff when cooled – similar to how leftover rice gets hard. Next time I am going to try with King Arthur’s GF flour as mentioned above and see if that works as that is easier to find at my local store. One question: do you think this would freeze well? Thank you for the recipe!


Pier – Thanks for taking the time to add your comments. I’m so glad the recipe worked well for you! I always appreciate hearing from people who still eat gluten. It’s been so long, I’m not sure my taste buds can even remember what food with gluten tastes like. Heating up gluten-free baked goods is one of the first things I learned when we started this gluten-free life. If not fresh, heated or toasted is best. I’ll be anxious to hear how it works with King Arthur’s GF Flour. I have not frozen a King Cake myself, but have had other readers say that they have with good results. Just be sure to seal it up tightly. Thanks again, and good luck!


Working on mine now…slightly scared (as I always am when trying out new gluten-free recipes). I’m hoping by “sticky” you mean “almost like a batter”. I’ll update once I have a finished product.


Sticky, yes. Very sticky. Difficult to roll. Better with 2 people. But it tasted pretty darn yummy and I’d say that’s what really matters. Great recipe!


Made this for Mardi Gras today! Thanks for the recipe! We subbed coconut milk and coconut oil for the milk and butter so it was dairy free too! Turned out great!


Lauren – Yay! So glad it worked out for you. Thanks for sharing your sticky success story. 🙂


Patricia – Thanks for sharing your dairy-free modification. I will definitely try that next time!


Hello all! I have been experimenting with king cake for a while since I live in Cajun Country. I only just started on a GF diet, so I was super excited to find this GF king cake. While making king cakes I have found that often the sugar/cinnamon mixture melts out in the oven or bursts through the dough. To fix this all you need to do is add in a stiffly beaten egg white to the filling before you spread it. Thanks for the recipe.


Hey thanks, Maggie! I haven’t had that problem with the cinnamon filling, but thanks for posting your results – and solution!


I am going to make the king cake and I was wondering if I could substitute the tapioca flour and the brown rice flour with an all purpose GF flour? I don’t think I can afford to get both of the flours. I want it to still come out good so I was going to make sure it would be okay to substitute the all purpose for both flours. I would appreciate the feedback thank you for your time.


Katherine – I haven’t tried it myself, but I do think you should be able to substitute those flours for an all-purpose GF mix. I think most all-purpose GF flours include those flours. The King Arthur brand has worked for me for other recipes.


Thank you I really appreciate the advice but I found the Tapioca flour it just so happened to be some in my moms fridge but I am going to use that and coconut flour and see how it turns out.


Ok, I havent tried this yet but I think I may for a Masquerade this weekend, but I wanted to tell the person who wasnt sure they could afford both flours to try an asian mart or market, or a farmers market. We can find both flours for about $2 a piece at those places.


Great, Cora! Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas.


Hi! I am thinking on making this vegan, but do you think it could work without eggs? Maybe flaxseed egg? Thank you!


Ana — Thanks for stopping by. I haven’t tried the recipe with flaxseed to replace eggs, so I can’t say for sure if it will work. But, I don’t see why it wouldn’t. You probably already know the substitution ratio, but just in case you need it: 1 Tbsp of flax seed meal + 3 Tbsp water for each egg is the usual substitution, so double it for this recipe. If you do give it a try, please let us know how it turns out. thanks!


I’m from Louisiana and Mardi Gras and King Cakes are HUGE here! Recently (about 2 months ago) I found out I was gluten sensitive so I’ve cut out everything with gluten and I’m really missing my king cakes!! So thank you so much for sharing this!! And question… All I have is gluten free flour mix, which I know is made up of all those flours, but do you know how much gluten free flour is use instead of having to go out and get all those different flours?


Cassie — You can use 4 cups of a gluten-free flour mix to replace the rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour. Some flour mixes also include xanthan, so you may be able to omit or adjust the amount of it, as well. You might also want to read some of the comments on the recipe. Some readers have commented on some ingredient substitutions that worked for them. Good luck!


[…] King Cake from Celiac Family ~ gluten free, vegetarian (Heather shares two choices of fillings for her King […]


Heather, I’ve included your terrific King Cake recipe in my latest roundup on All Gluten-Free Desserts. I think folks are going to love it and the other choices, as well as be ready to look forward to Spring celebrations. Mardi Gras is March 4 this year … a little closer to warmer weather, perhaps? 😉



Shirley – Thanks for including my recipe in the roundup. I don’t know about warmer weather, though. Punxsutawney Phil just indicated we have six more weeks of winter to come. 😉


[…] Gluten Free King Cake: Celiac Family (my kids are allergic to gluten, so we’ll be trying out this GF version!) […]


[…] King Cake at Celiac Family […]


Thank you for sharing this recipe! Love it!

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