Preparing to celebrate Mardi Gras? From oysters to crawfish boulettes to beignets, these finger foods are an easy way to offer up a taste of New Orleans to friends and family.
Served alongside New Orleans comfort food classics such as gumbo, jambalaya and red beans and rice, cornbread is the quintessential companion to many Southern dishes. Bake the bread in muffin form for individual portions that are perfect for a barbecue or buffet.
Oysters on the Half Shell
New Orleans is the oyster capital of America and chefs have devised endless ways to prepare the city’s iconic shellfish. Fried and raw are two simple, crowd-pleasing ways to prepare this delicacy. Serve fried oysters with a spicy cocktail or tartar sauce. A dash of lemon and hot sauce is a great complement to raw oysters.
Related: Learn how to safely shuck oysters
Crawfish boulettes are essentially seafood meatballs -- boulettes means "little balls" in French -- that contain both the sweet flavor of crawfish tails and a spicy Cajun seasoning kick. Serve the golden brown bites with tarter, cocktail or rémoulade sauce, a popular Southern condiment made with either a mayonnaise or an oil base.
Related: Make homemade rémoulade sauce
Natchitoches Meat Pies
This dish from northern Louisiana is one of the state's official foods. Similar to empanadas, these savory pastries are filled with meat, such as ground beef or pork, onions and bell peppers, along with plenty of garlic, cayenne pepper and black pepper for flavor.
Po’ Boy Sliders
Po’ boys are submarine sandwiches served on New Orleans-style French bread known for its fluffy center and flaky crust. Filled with fried seafood (traditionally, fried oysters or shrimp), lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise, this humble sandwich is simple to construct and serve to a crowd.
Named for the round Sicilian bread it’s served on, this submarine-style sandwich features layers of Italian cold cuts, cheese and olive salad. Prepare the sandwiches the night before to let the olive salad and meats marinate overnight to ensure that French Quarter flavor.
Unlike traditional Maryland crab cakes, New Orleans style crab cakes are relatively hearty, made with fresh blue crab meat, chopped onions and plenty of bread crumbs to hold the cakes together. Serve with lemon wedges or lemon rémoulade sauce to add a bit of zesty flavor.
No New Orleans spread is complete without fried chicken. But not your run-of-the-mill fried chicken, the kind of flavorful fried chicken that has an audible crunch. To make the ultimate fried chicken, follow eHow Food expert Josh Ozersky’s foolproof tips.
These sugar-dusted confections are the official state doughnut of Louisiana. Traditionally made with deep-fried choux paste, these mouthwatering French pastries are best enjoyed fresh out of the fryer and topped with plenty of powdered sugar.
Comparable to coffee cake, this ring-shaped Mardi Gras pastry is as rich in history and tradition as it is in flavor. Most often associated with the indulgence of fat Tuesday, Louisiana-style king cake cake is covered with a glaze icing and aptly colored sprinkles.