How to Make a Cake with Zebra Stripes on the Inside!

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Today I'm going to demonstrate how to make a cake with zebra stripes on the inside! This is such a fantastic surprise-inside cake and a fun alternative to a traditional chocolate and vanilla marbled cake.

By the way, I did not invent the zebra cake. I'm not sure who did--but if you google zebra cakes, you'll see all kinds of recipes that point to basically the same outcome--very cool looking zebra slices! You'll see that part in just a second.

Learn to make a Zebra Cake with Stripes on the Inside! Free Tutorial by

First, let's talk batter-- You'll most often see chocolate and white zebra cakes, but for a fun twist, you can tint your batter with coloring gels to create all sorts of unique combinations of colorful stripes!

We went the boxed cake route and bought a box of Duncan Hines Devil's Food Cake, and a box of Duncan Hines French Vanilla. We chose these because they don't have pudding in the mix (like Pillsbury & Betty Crocker, which can be a little thick for this project--although I love them for anything else).

We prepared the batter for each cake mix separately and found the batter to be just the right consistency. If the batter is too thick, the effect will be more difficult to achieve. If they batter is very thin, it may spread too quickly.

(*** If you would like to try this cake with a scratch recipe, you can choose your favorite white or yellow cake recipe and then divide it approx. in half-- you can stir approximately 3 tablespoons or so of dutch processed cocoa powder into one of your bowls of batter to create chocolate batter.

Now, let's make a zebra cake!

We started with our two bowls of cake batter....

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Then, we poured ¼ cup of vanilla batter into the middle of our 8" pan.  It will spread a little bit.  Then...

Learn how to make a zebra cake in this step by step cake tutorial! Free My Cake School cake decorating tutorial!

Measure out a ¼ cup of chocolate batter and pour it in the center of your vanilla batter.

Learn how to make a cake with zebra stripes on the inside! Free My Cake School cake decorating tutorial!

Repeat this process, continuing with ¼ cup scoops of alternating flavors, each flavor of batter dropped into the center of the previous circle of batter. The batter is thin enough that it does not take long at all for the batter to spread and push out a little bit.

Learn How to Make a Zebra Cake in's free Cake Decorating Tutorial!

Continue the process until your pans are approximately ⅔ full.  (We had a couple of cups leftover, which we used to make extra cake layers for another time.)

Look how pretty!...

Learn How to Make a Zebra Cake in's free Cake Decorating Tutorial!

This beautiful striped batter is ready for the oven!

Learn How to Make a Zebra Cake in's free Cake Decorating Tutorial!'s where it would have been nice of me to take a picture of the baked layers.  They look exactly like the above picture, only...baked. :0)

I assembled my fat two layer cake as I always do...the bottom layer right side up, and the top layer top side down (with buttercream in between).  I'm sure that the zebra effect would look pretty no matter how you stack your layers.

After crumb coating my cake with vanilla buttercream, I used a Wilton star tip 21 (one of my faves) to do a reverse shell pattern with my medium consistency buttercream.

I always love a nice reverse shell border, but I now like them even better when piped vertically!

You can see that I staggered mine a bit so that neighboring lines fit nicely together.   Is it just me or does my cake look like it's wearing a snuggly buttercream sweater?! (Find out more about reverse shell borders in our tutorial on How to Pipe with a Star Tip!)

Learn how to make a cake with zebra stripes on the inside! Free My Cake School cake decorating tutorial!

Okay, time for the big reveal! (I said a little prayer after all of that piping that the zebra stripes actually  would be there when we cut into the cake!)

Whew! It worked! I couldn't be happier with the outcome. I LOVE these zebra print cake layers!

Learn to make a zebra print cake (pattern on the inside) in this free cake decorating tutorial by! Online cake tutorials, cake recipes, and more!

It's always nice to have a hidden surprise inside of the cake! If you haven't tried this method already,  make sure to put it on your cake "bucket list". It's so much fun, and looks much more complicated than it actually is, which I love!

*An update~ When this tutorial was first created, the sizes of standard box mixes were larger (around 18.5 oz). Now, they are 16.5 oz. We tested the zebra cake again with the new smaller size and still had great results.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope that you enjoyed the tutorial!

Learn how to make a cake with zebra stripes on the inside! Free My Cake School cake decorating tutorial!

Did you know that we also have a leopard print (on the inside) cake video tutorial? It's one of our favorites! Leopard Print Cake Tutorial

How to Make Leopard Print on the Inside of a Cake! Online Video Tutorial!

Or if you are just looking for a good old fashioned Marble Cake recipe, we have just the one! It's good to have options!

The most DELICIOUS Marble Cake Recipe from Scratch! Moist and flavorful recipe by Online cake tutorials, recipes, cake videos, and more!

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  1. Today I'm doing a chocolate and raspberry zebra cake for my birthday party on Saturday. Will the cake keep for two days?

  2. Hi Sara- If you are using a raspberry filling/anything perishable, you'll want to refrigerate. I refrigerate anything with fruit fillings. No problem to refrigerate for a couple of days, it will be fine!

  3. Hi Melissa, I would like to do this cake from scratch and my FAVORITE chocolate cake recipe is your Classic Chocolate Scratch recipe. I don't have a favorite vanilla but was thinking of trying the Classic White Cake in your recipes section too. Would these recipes work or would they be too thick?
    Another question - I would love to do this print inside the purse cake and make a brown and white zebra stripe flap on the outside of the purse.
    Would these hold up to that too? Ill either cover in white chocolate ganache or fondant. Thank you.

  4. Hi paintmycake, we have not tried using those recipes for the zebra stripe cake so I can't say for sure, but I think they will work. We have had many people try this with scratch recipes and have success, I just don't know what recipe they used. The two recipes will hold up to fondant....and the zebra stripe flap on the outside of the purse would not add too much weight. I am assuming that you are using the "purse cake" on the site. It only has a small amount of carving so I think the recipes will be fine, and you will be chilling the cake before you carve.

  5. Wonderful, I've just been asked for an Africa cake from my nephew for his birthday, since we are going to South Africa a few days after. I have more or less got the outside decoration sorted, but this will just blow their minds when they cut it! Great tutorial and thanks!

  6. Hello, Thank you for the info. I want to make this cake but it will be the bottom of a two tier cake. I wanted to know if just box cake mix without adding the pudding would hold the top tier? Thank you