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Vegan Zebra Cake

by Kathy Przywara

Makes an 8 or 9" cake

1 1/2 cups flour**
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1  cup milk alternative
1/3 cup oil
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
1 1/2 - 2 Tbsp cocoa powder

**For gluten free:

1 1/4 cups Kathy P's brown rice flour mix
1/4 cup cornstarch or tapioca starch

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Prepare an 8" or 9" cake pan. I use Cake Release* (recipe below) and parchment, but you can also grease well and flour your pan.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. In a smaller bowl, combine the milk alternative, vinegar, oil, and vanilla. Pour the wet works over the dry works. Whisk gently until you have a smooth batter. Do not beat or overmix.

Pour half of the batter into another bowl - I use the bowl I had the wet works in. Add the cocoa powder to one-half of the batter and mix well.

Here is where the zebra stripes get formed and technique is important. I use a #16 disher (like an ice cream scoop with a sweeper). You can use a 1/4 cup measure. When using a disher, I was able to use the same one for both batters, but I don't recommend that if using a measuring cup unless you scrape it each time. Otherwise, it will just mix the batters by the end.

Starting with the white batter, put one disher of batter into the center of the prepared pan. Let the batter spread naturally, don't try to move the pan around to get it to flow. Put one disher of chocolate batter in the middle of the white batter. Again, just let it flow naturally. Don't wait a long time between each addition - just keep going with an even rhythm. Continue in this manner until all of the batter is used.


Bake at 350 °F for 25-30 min or until it tests done. All ovens are a little different, so go by doneness check and not time. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a rack. Transfer to a serving plate.


You can frost this if you wish, but it's pretty and delicious all on its own.

You can use this technique with most basic cake recipes. Search KFA's Safe Eats recipe collection for allergy-friendly cake and frosting recipes to avoid your allergens.

Kandi, a KFA member, used this zebra technique to make a rainbow-colored cake:


Just separate your batter and color it differently using natural food dyes, pureed fruit, or artificial food dyes.

*Cake Release

1 cup shortening
1 cup flour
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Mix together thoroughly. I dump everything in my stand mixer and let it go for a minute or two. Store in an airtight container. Do not refrigerate.

To use for preparing a pan, apply with a paper towel or pastry brush to the surface of the pan. A paper towel works fine for regular pans, but a pastry brush works much better on shaped and intricate pans. Be sure to get in all of the nooks and crannies.


  • This will work with non-wheat flours or flour mixes.
  • Be sure to pick a flour that has a long shelf life. Do not use a flour high in oils that will go rancid easily.
  • I wouldn't recommend brown rice flour alone since it tends to be gritty.
  • Use any solid shortening that is safe for you.

Baking questions? Looking for safe ingredients? Comment on this blog or post your questions on our Food & Cooking forum.

Kathy Przywara is the Senior Community Director for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Kids With Food Allergies (KFA) is the food allergy division of AAFA. She is known as “KathyP” on our forums and has contributed dozens of recipes to our Safe Eats® recipe collection.


Images (4)
  • Zebra Cake by Kathy P
  • Zebra Cake by Kathy P
  • Zebra Easter Cake by Kandi
  • Zebra Cake by Kathy P

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Comments (12)

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Hi Kim,

Just be sure to read every ingredient label of every thing you use. Be aware that some ingredients in your kitchen may be contaminated if you ever double-dipped. The safest thing to do is buy all new ingredients.


If you want to make a frosting/icing for this cake, you'll need to use milk and soy free shortening or margarine. Options are Earth Balance soy-free (red packaging) or coconut oil (among a few others). You can keep it simple and just do the solid fat (safe margarine or shortening), powdered sugar and tiny bit of flavoring (vanilla).  If you want to do chocolate, look for milk-free cocoa powder.  If you want to melt down safe chocolate chips, look for Enjoy Life choco chunks or mini chocolate chips.


Here are some recipes for frosting:

How to Make Allergy-Friendly Vanilla Silk Frosting


Strawberry Butterfly Cake: Allergy and Kid Friendly...

Note that Crisco and other common shortenings are made with soy oil which may not be okay for the kiddo you are baking for.


Best of luck and let us know if you have any questions~



Melanie Carver
You can use whatever brand all purpose flour they normally use.  The vinegar is whatever works. I generally use cider vinegar. For milk alternative, I recommend SoDelicious coconut beverage. Use the unsweetened. If the friend has a milk alt they use for the kiddo, just use that.
Kathy P

We make "wacky cake" all the time for our kids!


Yes - the recipe is egg, dairy & soy-free!


We use "unbleached all purpose" flour, and whatever vinegar works for your allergy set. We often use either apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.


There are lots more allergy-friendly cake recipes here:





I have been asked to make a cake for a 2 yr old who has severe dairy, egg and soy alergy, this is the first recipe I have come across, is it for defiantly free from all three? if so what flour do you use, and is the vinegar normal brown or is it white?

Kim Jackson
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