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...

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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. Hi Yashira, We usually prefer to use a doctored cake mix or a scratch recipe that is not so soft when making a tiered cake. I think you will be fine to use a regular cake mix without pudding added if your dowels are stable and the weight of the top tier is fully supported on the dowels and not the cake below. Here is a link to Melissa's tie stacking video in case you would like to watch it,

  2. Thank you so much Bebe for your quick response. I was going to use a doctored cake mix and it has pudding and sour cream. My next question is just take out the pudding and keep the sour cream? Thanks.

  3. Hi Yashira, We have only made the zebra stripe cake using a cake mix without pudding in the mix, such as Duncan Hines. As in the instructions, the cake batter should be somewhat thin so it will spread out more easily. Unfortunately, I can't say if adding sour cream would make it too thick.

  4. wah!!! I like this cake, I will make this cake on my son's birthday, which is helding in next week.

  5. Hi Holly, It should work fine, just divide the batter as evenly as possible. Stir approximately 3 Tablespoons or so of Dutch Processed Cocoa into one of the bowls for the chocolate. What I cannot remember is how thick the batter of the Marble Cake is, hopefully it is not too thick so the batter will spread out more can jiggle the pan a bit to coax the batter into spreading.

  6. Is the cake baked on the middle oven rack?
    This recipe is great! So impressive!
    Will this work when making a baked Alaska? I think it would look really great with chocolate and lemon sorbet layers on top of the zebra layer,, mounds of meringue topping browned/torched and obviously taste delicious too!

  7. I used 1 box cake mix and tinted half of it. Each half baked to a height of 1 inch! What did I do wrong?

  8. Hi Lori, I am sorry you had a problem. You say you used 1 box of cake mix and divided it. We used 2 boxes of mix, 1 chocolate and 1 white. Since you only used 1 box you did not have enough batter in the pan for it to rise to the correct height. I hope you will try the recipe again another time.