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Zebra Pie: Surprise Them with Unexpected Stripes (+ Video)

Preview: Zebra Pie is a fun layered chocolate and vanilla cream pie recipe in a dark chocolate crumb crust. A video is included to show you how to make the stripes.

If you are looking for a fun dessert with a familiar taste but a unique look, this zebra pie will fill the bill. Like zebras who each have a one-of-a-kind stripe pattern, this pie looks different every time you make it. 

You never know exactly what to expect. It’s part of the fun of slicing into the uncut pie.

What does Zebra Pie taste like?

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

How many layers should I make?

After reading about a zebra cake on The Whimsical Cupcake, I started imagining a pie with similar layers.

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.

Zebra pie with slices to show interesting 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.

The best crust for this pie

A store-bought chocolate crumb crust makes this pie so much easier. A store-bought crust also makes getting a slice of pie out of the pan cleanly much easier.

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 at 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

Tips for making the cream filling:

  1. Assemble the cream filling in a blender. When cooked in the microwave, the result is a lump-free, silky-smooth texture in 6-7 minutes.
  2. If the custard is not thick after 6-7 minutes, keep cooking. Microwave ovens vary wildly.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. If you try to cut the pie before it is well-chilled (3-4 hours), 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.

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 the 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.

How to assemble this Zebra Cream Pie recipe:

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.

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?

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Hope to see you again soon!

p.s. Questions or suggestions? Please email me: Paula at

Yield: 10 slices

Zebra Cream Pie

slice of Zebra Cream Pie

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.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Additional Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 28 minutes


  • 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:



Serving Size:


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


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 :)

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