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Zebra Cream Pie Recipe: A Layered Chocolate and Vanilla Cream Pie (+Video)

Are you looking for a dessert to make your special friends or family feel loved? Try this recipe for Zebra Cream Pie. Not only is it fun layering chocolate and vanilla cream into a dark chocolate crumb crust, but it’s fun to eat, too.

Zebra pie with slices to show interesting layers

Some time ago, I read about a zebra cake on The Whimsical Cupcake. My mind started imagining a pie using a similar technique.

Apparently, God was in a creative mood when he made zebras. Seems that every zebra has a unique, one-of-a-kind stripe pattern comparable to our thumbprints.

How many layers does it take to make a Zebra Cream Pie?

Like zebras, every time I put this pie together, it looks a little different.  But it doesn’t matter. The taste is the same.

In the same way that chocolate and vanilla-swirled ice cream tastes mostly chocolate, this pie also tastes mostly chocolate.

You can see in the pictures below how the number of layers makes a difference in the final appearance. Take your pick. I think more layers make the pie look more zebra-like.

Baker’s Note about the layers

Nine or ten layers seem to be the limit. Try to do more and your layers, at least some of them, will be so thin they are indistinguishable.

Also, if you try to cut the pie before it is well-chilled, the layers will blur along the cut edges. It won’t affect the taste, of course, but the “zebra” stripes won’t be well-defined.

The best crust for this pie

Pie crust of any kind is good in my book, especially a flaky pastry. However, the general consensus for chocolate cream pie seems to swing towards a crumb crust.

Pre-made pie crusts are generally not my thing. But a store-bought chocolate crumb crust makes this pie so much easier. A store-bought crust also getting a slice of pie out of the pan cleanly much easier than a homemade crust.

If you can’t find a pre-made chocolate crumb crust or you would rather make it yourself, try this Chocolate Cookie Crumb Crust Recipe from Serious Eats.

With their recipe, you don’t need graham crackers (not usually found out my house). You probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry.

The Dutch chocolate and salt contribute to an unforgettable taste treat. You’ll want to eat the cookie crumbs all by themselves.

whole zebra pie with a slice coming out of it

Why I like to use a blender and a microwave to cook the cream filling

The cream filling goes together quickly in the blender. When cooked in the microwave, the result is a lump-free, silky-smooth texture in 6-7 minutes.

If the custard is not thick after 6-7 minutes, keep cooking. Microwaves vary wildly.

Also, remember that the cream filling will get much thicker as it cools. If the hot cream mixture coats the spoon heavily, then the pudding is thick enough.

Of course, you can cook the filling on the stove if you prefer. A double-boiler setup helps to avoid scorching the custard. Watch it carefully and stir constantly.

Be sure to allow adequate time for the pie to chill or the layers won’t be distinct when you slice it.

How to make the cream filling in a microwave

using a blender to combine ingredients for the filling
Combine milk, sugar, flour, egg yolks and salt in a blender. Blend until smooth.
transferring cream mixture from blender to microwave-safe bowl for cooking
Pour cream mixture into a microwave-safe glass pitcher or bowl.
microwaving cream mixture
Microwave milk mixture on HIGH for 5 minutes.
whisking pudding as it cooks
Whisk briskly after 5 minutes and every minute thereafter. If you forget to stir and pudding cooks completely, whisk it as well as you can. Then push the pudding through a sieve to ensure there are no lumps.
adding butter and vanilla to cooked cream
Add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Whisk.
adding melted chocolate to one half of pudding mixture
Divide the cooked filling in half. Add melted chocolate to one of the halves.
Allow the filling to cool about 5-10 minutes. Proceed to assemble your pie.

***Baker’s Note about the filling

The chocolate filling tends to get thicker than the vanilla as it cools. If it becomes difficult to spread, whisk in an extra teaspoon or two of milk.

How to assemble Zebra Cream Pie

layered vanilla and chocolate cream filling
Pour half of the vanilla custard into the bottom of the prepared pie shell. Spread it across the bottom and up the sides. Then pour half of the chocolate cream on top of the vanilla layer. Pour it into the middle and lightly spread it to the edges. Leave a margin of vanilla around the outside.
Repeat this process using half of the remaining vanilla pudding for the next layer, then half of the remaining chocolate. Each time, pour the cream into the middle and carefully spread it leaving a small area of the previous layer showing. At the point, the layers or cream pastry will be in a mound and look like there is not enough filling for the pie.
spreading out the custard
Cover the pie with plastic wrap. Use your flat hands to carefully level the layers moving the cream toward the edges of the pie. Leave the plastic wrap in place and chill for 4 hours.
a slice of Zebra Cream pie ready to eat
When ready to serve, cover with sweetened whipped cream and finely-chopped chocolate.

Plan ‘B’

If you think you have hopelessly messed up the layers, use a knife perpendicular to the pie to gently swirl the cream filling.

Chocolate and Vanilla Swirled Pie

Cover with whipped cream and call it “Chocolate and Vanilla Swirl Pie.” It will look like you planned it that way from the beginning, hopefully.

What would you like to read next?

Pin the picture below to save for later.

pinterest image of Zebra pie

Did you try this recipe and enjoy it? Consider helping other readers (and me) by returning to this post. Leave a rating on the recipe card itself underneath the picture. Although always appreciated, comments aren’t required.

If you have a question or tip to share, please leave it in the regular comments after the recipe so I can answer back. Or, email me privately: paula at

Thank you for visiting!

slice of Zebra Cream Pie

Zebra Cream Pie

Yield: 10 slices
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 28 minutes

This layered chocolate and vanilla cream pie is nestled in a chocolate crumb crust. Directions are for cooking the cream filling in a microwave oven.


  • 1 prepared chocolate crumb crust (I use store-bought)

Cream Filling:

  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped Cream Topping

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • Finely-chopped chocolate for garnish (optional)


Cream Filling:

  1. Melt bittersweet chocolate in a 4-cup glass bowl by microwaving at 50% power for 2 minutes. Stir once after one minute. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Add milk, sugar, flour, salt, and egg yolks, (in that order) to a blender. Blend 5 seconds and pour into a 2-quart glass microwave-safe bowl.
  3. Microwave 5-9 minutes on HIGH. After cooking 4 minutes, whisk until it is smooth, then every minute thereafter until cream mixture heavily coats a spoon. Remember that it will get thicker as it chills. (If not thick, keep adding time until it thickens. Microwave ovens vary wildly.)
  4. Pour the pastry cream through a strainer only if you see lumps.
  5. Add butter and vanilla, whisking until smooth.
  6. Pour half of the hot filling into the bowl of melted chocolate. Stir until smooth.

Assembling the pie: (See the video to watch this in action.)

  1. Pour half of the vanilla batter into the pie crust, carefully spreading it across the bottom and up the sides of the crust.
  2. Add half of the chocolate filling on top by pouring into the middle, carefully spreading it over the top of the first vanilla layer. Leave a margin of vanilla filling around the outside. Work fast before the cream can cool too much and thicken.
  3. Continue alternating flavors, adding half of the remaining filling to the center of the pie. It will begin to make a mound.
  4. When all filling is used, cover with plastic wrap. Use your hand to gently push the cream filling from the center toward the edges until it's flat. Be careful not to disturb the rings. Chill at least 4 hours before serving.

Sweetened Whipped Cream:

  1. Beat heavy cream and vanilla extract until the cream starts to form soft peaks.
  2. Add confectioners sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Use immediately or store in the fridge for 2-3 hours
  3. Cover with sweetened whipped cream and chopped chocolate. Slice and serve.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 545Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 106mgSodium: 389mgCarbohydrates: 69gFiber: 3gSugar: 42gProtein: 9g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Updated December 2019

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Tuesday 21st of June 2011

I love this idea! I've made zebra cake before, but I'm more than a little obsessed with pastry cream so this is perfect for me. My husband just saw your photo and said, "You've got to make that!" Done deal.


Sunday 19th of June 2011

Oh, this is a stunner. And what a plus that you can make it w/o turning on the oven.

Chung-Ah @ Damn Delicious

Saturday 18th of June 2011

This pie has such great color contrast. Looks gorgeous. Well done!


Saturday 18th of June 2011

I love this. I always wanted to make the cake but just never have. I think I would like the pie better over the cake anyway and I'll have to give this a try. :) Love the first picture!


Saturday 18th of June 2011

Genius! And I love the name :)