Filed under: Sugar Cookies
December 19, 2022

Zebra Cookies

Sweet, shortbread like sugar cookie laced with a black cocoa dough to produce a two toned, zebra-like effect. 

5 from 1 vote
Yield: 12 cookies
Jump to recipe
post featured image


Sweet, shortbread like sugar cookie laced with a black cocoa dough to produce a two toned, zebra-like effect. 


Okay, aren’t these cookies gorgeous?! I’ve been wanting to do a cookie like this forever and have been fiddling it with the recipe here and there for two years, but not getting it quite right until now. 

But before we begin, I want to get one thing off my chest, I just know my directions are going to suck. I’m so sorry. I’ll try my best to convey the instructions as clearly and simply as possible but I have very little faith and I beg you to watch the video because it’ll be better to see it in action. 

The general idea is this: make a sugar cookie dough. Split it in half. Make one vanilla and one chocolate (black). Then roll them out and stack them. Repeat and repeat. You’re going for a long rectangular cuboid (yes, I had to look that up).

The layering is a lot like laminating, there’s just no butter. But you’ll be layering and rolling a few times to get many little lines. You can always do less than I’ve done but the more you do the prettier the result. 

Ingredients to make this recipe 

Butter: Don’t use european butter here, or if you do add a bit more flour – like another tablespoon less the dough become too soft to work with.  

Powdered sugar: I use organic powdered sugar, made with tapioca starch. If you use the regular kind you’ll probably have a softer dough (it’s finer). 

Black cocoa: You might be tempted to use a dutch cocoa here, I have tried it and it was markedly different. Black cocoa has a distinct taste, definitely more smoky than chocolaty, but the brown of dutch didn’t yield as pretty of a design. The stark of black against white was best. 

How to make Zebra Cookies 

Instead of giving you detailed instructions here (which I attempt to do in the recipe card, although I am really not confident it makes sense, so please watch the video!!!) let me give you a general idea of what we are doing: 

Rolling out the dough, slicing then stacking it, and rolling again… then repeating until we have a lot of layers. 

We’re also shaping it into a long, rectangle. Think of icebox cookies, where you usually roll it into a long, round log then slice like a cinnamon roll. Instead we are making an, erm, rectangular cuboid, and slicing that to have square cookies. 

Here’s some things I want you to know

  • If you use a lot of flour the layers will refuse to stick together. Your rolling pin works to get the layers to stick together but it might not be successful, use water or egg white to get them to stick. 
  • If the dough is very sticky, use flour only as needed (just not too much, see above). 
  • This recipe won’t make many cookies, 12 max I think, but they are darn pretty. 
  • You’ll have leftover dough: from all the trimmings and scraps you can push them together to make a larger dough ball then roll that out to use as cut-out dough. It will give you gorgeous patterns! 
  • You will taste the black cocoa. It’ll be the first thing that jumps out at you when you bite in. 
  • These cookies last for 2 weeks at room temperature, like shortbread! 

If you try making this and they fail, I’m ok with you cursing me. Please don’t let it color your opinion of my other recipes though! 

Zebra Cookies

Striped shortbread like cookies made with vanilla and black cocoa dough.
Yields: 12 cookies
5 from 1 vote


  • 226 g or 1 cup butter
  • 120 g or 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 50 g or ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 260 g plus 65g or 2 cups flour, plus ½ cup (divided)
  • 40 g or ⅓ cup black cocoa


  • Set the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and attach the paddle. Cream the mix for 3-5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  • Add the salt, vanilla and egg and mix to combine. Add the flour and mix.
  • Separate the dough in half, preferably using a scale to be exact. Add the remaining flour (65g or ½ cup) to one of the halves. And the cocoa to the other half.
  • (I do this by taking out all the dough, weighing it then adding one half back to the stand mixer bowl, adding the flour and mixing it then transferring to plastic wrap. Then I’ll add the second half, add the cocoa, mix and wrap it).
  • Once the two doughs are wrapped, set them in the fridge for about an hour. Don’t leave
  • them more than 3 hours, they’ll dry out and be difficult to work with.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
  • Flour a work surface and roll out the vanilla dough to a large rectangle, about 12x20”. Repeat with the chocolate dough.
  • Lay the chocolate dough on top of the vanilla and slice in half lengthwise. Stack the two halves (now you have four layers).
  • Roll this stack out, using gentle but firm pressure, until it’s at least 2 inches wider on all sides.
  • Slice in half then stack those two doughs. Roll it out again, to a about an inch bigger.
  • Slice this in half lengthwise and stack them. Here you should have a rectangle that’s 12” long and 2-3 inches wide. Trim the edges so you have a neat, sharp rectangle.
  • Slice the rectangle in half (so you have two 6” rectangles) then use the rolling pin to flatten and stretch it until it’s again about 12” long and 4 inches wide.
  • Now trim any edges as needed. If you find that some of the layers are not sticking together, brush some water or egg white between them to get them to stick. Wrap this in plastic wrap and set in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  • Now preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Using a chef’s knife, slice the log at every 1 cm (these cookies are on the thicker side). So that the layers will be very clear, don’t push down with the knife, instead, use a sawing method and do it gently and carefully.
  • Place each cookie on the sheet leaving just a bit of space, they won’t spread much but need some room.
  • Bake for 12 minutes.

Did you make this recipe?

Share & tag me on instagram @buttermilkbysam


Rate + Review

What do you think of this recipe?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I just made these and they turned out great! They look beautiful. i may not have done as many layering iterations as you did, but they’re still super beautiful. i will say i had to rest the dough a few times in the freezer along the way, but that’s probably because I didn’t rest it the full hour in the fridge. My five year old picked out the recipe, and she gives it two thumbs up, even though it’s not overly sweet.

    • Sarah this is wonderful to hear! The cookies are a process (especially to get the very fine lines) so I’m impressed you and your 5yo did it! I so appreciate her two thumbs up, tell her thank you!

  2. Where can I buy BLACK cocoa? I had never even heard of it until going through this recipe – which looks wonderful, by the way. I’m anxious to try it!