That Zest Life

Sopapilla Cheesecake ~ King Cake Edition

King Cake is the dessert of February in my house. While many people think that Mardi Gras is one weekend a year, the parades actually start a month before the actual day in New Orleans. You can get King Cake everywhere and people bring them to parties the entire month. While I love King Cake, my favorite version is always the cream cheese variety. Flaky with flavors of cinnamon and vanilla, I love the creaminess of the center. But King Cake is hard to actually make! So now discover this mashup of Sopapilla Cheesecake and King Cake.

Now I know you may be thinking… it’s the last day of February why post this now? Well it was my 30th birthday AND Mardi Gras this week and my beautiful friends threw me a themed party. New Orleans forever has a part of my soul after living there for 7+ years so I love putting green, purple and gold on things. This Sopapilla Cheesecake is honestly for any celebration you have in life. Just change the color of the toppings! This dessert is always a favorite anytime that I bring it somewhere.

cheesecake bars

Tricks for the Best Sopapilla Cheesecake

My family has made this dish a LOT. It’s an often requested dessert for birthdays and holidays. I remember one year, my brother and I were making it for my dad’s birthday in my aunt’s home and we asked for 1.5 cups of sugar. As we start eating it, we realize that it’s insanely sweet. After discussing what we had done, we realized that she had handed us a 1.5 cup measuring cup, so we had inadvertently added 50% more sugar! While there are many things that you could do to mix this up, I really don’t recommend adding more sugar! But also, it was totally edible. Don’t be afraid to try new things and make mistakes! It’s not going to be awful!

What’s In the Topping?

Traditionally, you would mix the cinnamon and sugar together for the topping. In this Pillsbury recipe, you can see the step by steps for the process with this variation. The top looks incredible as the butter and sugar caramelize to form a crunchy crust. I do like it this way! For this King Cake version, I knew that it was going to be covered up by the large amount of sprinkles, so I put it in the cream cheese. I really liked the depth of flavor in the cream cheese with sugary topping. You can put the cinnamon wherever you’d like it or leave it out altogether if you don’t like it!

When I made this King Cake version, I knew I was going to have to be mindful of the sprinkle situation. When cut into bars, if they hadn’t adhered to the pastry, then the sprinkles would go everywhere when I cut it! Plus, the color and vibrancy of the sprinkles was really important to King Cake look. I was afraid baking the sprinkles would affect this. The best way I found around this is to brush the topping with butter again to make it sticky and then add the sprinkles. I worked in sections for each color, packing on maximum sprinkles to get that true King Cake color scheme. I just love how beautiful they came out! I can imagine this would also be perfect with green and red for Christmas.

new orleans king cake

Baking the Sopapilla Cheesecake

Believe it or not there are some things that will help your sopapilla cheesecake come out even better! First thing is you want a really good dish. This recipe calls for a 9×12 pan and I love this Wilton pan because not only does it have a lid which is perfect for parties, but it is glass so you can use it for many recipes. Many a casserole has been baked in mine! The glass also lets you see how the bottom of the cake is doing. You don’t want a perfectly flaky top with a still raw bottom!

Even if you don’t have a glass pan, you can still avoid raw bottoms by baking this dessert on a low rack in the oven. If you put it too high then the top will cook long before the bottom. Of course, this will vary oven by oven so your mileage may vary. I have a very old apartment oven so this was key for my sopapilla cheesecake coming out like I’d hoped!

But what about a diet version?

I know I usually give you tricks to making this Whole30 or Keto or Vegetarian, but not this time! I am not really a dessert person and I firmly believe in the 80/20 rule where you let yourself have treats on occasion. Life is not just about being skinny, but enjoying the moments and celebrating your life. This dish is part of the 20% of my zesty life where I treat myself to something amazing. There will be healthy desserts in the future, but this one is all about Fat Tuesday.

If you do make a version that conforms to your diet, I would love to hear about! Rate this recipe below and tell me what you did and what you think. I’d also love to see your beautiful creations! Tag me on instagram and show off your colorful dessert! I hope you live your zest life with this one.

Sopapilla Cheesecake King Cake Edition

A delightful cross between a King Cake and Sopapilla Cheesecake, these bars are dangerously easy to make, but perfect to whip up for your Mardi Gras party.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: easy king cake recipe, king cake recipe pillsbury, pioneer woman sopapilla cheesecake, sopapilla cheesecake puff pastry
Servings: 1 9×12 pan


  • 9×13 pan


  • 2 8oz rolls pillsbury crescent dough, seamless
  • 2 8oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • cups sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • purple sprinkles
  • green sprinkles
  • yellow/gold sprinkles


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
  • Take one can of crescent dough and place into pan, making sure to cover the entire bottom. If your crescent dough has seams, press the seams together to seal them.
  • In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, 1 cup of the sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Spread over crescent dough in pan, creating an even layer.
  • Lay the second crescent dough over the top of the cream cheese mixture. If your dough has seams, lay it on a cutting board first to press the seams together.
  • Pour ¼ cup of the melted butter over the top and make sure the entire top has butter on it. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup of sugar.
  • Bake for 25 minutes on the lower rack in your oven, until top is browned.
  • To decorate: Working in sections, use a pastry brush to brush on butter and top with generous amounts of sprinkles until entire top is covered. Let cool completely and refrigerate.
  • Once cool, slice into bars and serve at room temperature.

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