This Zebra Cake features stripes of vanilla and chocolate cake in two layers, with a rich and creamy cookies and cream frosting. A box cake mix helps to keep this decadent cake simple and easy enough for anyone to make.
It’s so completely delicious and fun, and comes with a lot of ooohs and aaahs when you serve it!
Easy Zebra Cake Recipe with Cookies and Cream Frosting
This fun Zebra Cake is the perfect example of a cake that looks fancy but is actually super easy to make. The black and white zebra stripes don’t require any fancy techniques or equipment. It’s really just a matter of layering the two cake batters on top of each other.
And to keep things even easier, this chocolate and vanilla cake recipe begins with a box cake mix. I switched up the added ingredients just a bit but all you’ll need is milk, oil, and egg whites! Plus some cocoa powdered to achieve the chocolate stripes.
Flavor-wise the star of this cake is the cookies and cream frosting. The cake itself is moist and flavorful with a subtle chocolate flavor. The frosting, though, is very rich and decadent, where the Oreo and cream cheese really shines.
There’s just a handful of ingredients needed to make this marble layer cake, since we’re starting with a box cake mix.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
For the Cake
- White cake mix – Starting with a box cake mix makes this zebra cake even easier. The brand doesn’t matter.
- Whole milk – This adds density, fat, and most importantly, extra flavor.
- Vegetable oil – Keeps the cake nice and moist.
- Eggs – Gives structure to the cake. We use just the egg whites, not the yolks, in this recipe.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder – For the chocolate color and flavoring.
For the Frosting
- Oreos – Plus extra mini Oreos for garnish.
- Unsalted butter – Softened to room temp.
- Cream cheese – Softened to room temp.
- Powdered sugar – Sift first to avoid any lumps in the frosting.
- Heavy cream – Stabilizes the frosting.
- Vanilla extract – For flavor.
How to Make Zebra Cake
Though it looks quite elaborate, this zebra cake is quite easy to make. You can definitely take this same technique and experiment with other colors and cake flavors, too.
(Scroll down to the printable recipe card for details and measurements, and don’t miss the video below.)
- Prepare the pans. Spray the cake pans with cooking spray, line with a circle of parchment paper, and spray the parchment paper as well.
- Make the batter. Combine the cake mix, oil, milk, and egg whites. Transfer half to a separate bowl, then add the cocoa powder to half and stir to combine.
- Create the zebra effect. Add 1/4 cup of white cake batter to the center of each pan. Add 1/4 cup of the chocolate batter to the center of the white batter. Repeat until all the batter is used.
- Bake. Bake at 350F for 22 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
- Make the frosting. Crush the Oreos to crumbs. Cream together the butter and cream cheese, then slowly add the powdered sugar. Once combined, add the heavy cream and vanilla. Whip until light and fluffy. Add the cookie crumbs.
- Frost the cakes. Cut the domes off the cakes so each one is flat. Place one cake on a serving platter and spread a cup of frosting over the top. Add the second cake and frost the top and sides lightly. Chill for 1 to 2 hours. Add another layer of frosting to the cake, then decorate with the rest and add mini Oreos.
What If My Batter Doesn’t Spread in The Pans?
If the batter doesn’t spread as you layer it into the pans, you can tilt the baking pans until it fills out the bottom. This will not mess up the zebra design.
Can I Use Different Frosting?
If you don’t want to make the cream cheese frosting, you can use pretty much any frosting you want since the real wow factor of the cake is when you cut it to see the pretty zebra design inside. Other frostings that pair well with the vanilla and light chocolate flavor are chocolate buttercream, vanilla buttercream, peanut butter frosting, or strawberry frosting.
When it comes to decorating your cake, feel free to get creative by adding other fun toppings like more crushed Oreos, chocolate sprinkles, chocolate shavings, or a melted chocolate drip. NOTE that the frosting recipe does make enough to generously frost the cake with plenty leftover to decorate as you see fit. If you just want to frost the cake without decorating it, you can cut the frosting ingredients in half.
Video: Zebra Cake Recipe
While this marble cake does need to be refrigerated, it is best served at room temperature. It’s fine to sit out on the counter to come to room temperature, enjoy, and then return to the fridge. Of course, you can also enjoy it cold.
Make Ahead and Proper Storage
- Make ahead. Both the cake layers and frosting can be made a day in advance. Once the cake layers have cooled, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap at room temperature. The frosting needs to be covered and refrigerated. If you are making this ahead, I would not add the cookie crumbs into the frosting until you are ready to assemble the cake. If you add them too soon, they will soften in the frosting and will end up combining with the frosting completely making it look grey instead of speckled as shown.
- Storing leftovers. Zebra marble cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 days. Keep it in a covered container or covered with plastic so it doesn’t dry out.
- To freeze. You can also freeze the cake or slices. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and foil then freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge.
More Fun Cake Recipes:
- Hummingbird Cake
- Shirley Temple Cake
- Ice Cream Sandwich Cake
- Chocolate Swiss Roll
- Pinata Cake
- Blue Ombre Cake
For the Cake
- 1 box white cake mix
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large egg whites
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
For the Frosting
- 16 whole Oreo cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese , softened to room temperature
- 8 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 6 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- mini Oreos , for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray 2, 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Add a circle of parchment paper to the bottom and spray the top with more cooking spray, set aside.
- In a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, stir the cake mix, milk, oil, and egg whites for 30 seconds until it comes together. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Take half of the cake batter and put it into a medium-sized bowl.
- To the remaining cake batter, add the cocoa powder and stir it in until just combined.
- Working with both cake pans, add about 1/4 cup of the white cake batter to the center of each pan. Add about 1/4 cup of the chocolate batter into the center of the white batter in each pan. Keep doing this until all of the batters are used up and the cakes have an even amount of cake batter in each pan. (If you find the batter isn’t spreading you can tilt the baking pan until it fills out the bottom of the pan, this will not mess up the zebra design.)
- Bake for 22-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool completely in the pans.
- Make the frosting: Place the Oreos into a food processor and process into crumbs, set aside.Place the softened butter and cream cheese into the body of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and cream together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time until fully combined, and scrape down the sides as needed. Add the heavy cream and vanilla, and stir it in until combined. Place the mixer on medium-high speed and whip for 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the cookie crumbs and stir them in until combined. (I like to then use a spatula to mix it a little more by hand to make sure the cookie crumbs are evenly distributed.)
- Cut any doming off the cakes so the tops are flat. Put one of the cakes bottom side down onto your serving platter. Add about 1 cup of the frosting and smooth it out to the edge.
- Place the second cake top bottom side down onto the frosting. Add a thin layer of frosting over the whole cake. Place in the fridge for 1-2 hours to set up.
- Once chilled, add another layer of frosting around the whole cake. Take the remaining frosting and decorate as you wish, and add mini Oreos if desired. Cut and serve immediately.