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 7 votes
Yield: 12 cookies
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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. 

Recipe Ingredients

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. 

Flour: all purpose flour. I use KAF which has an 11.7% protein content.

Salt: fine sea salt. If using table salt, halve the amount.

Vanilla: pure vanilla extract – the good stuff! It’s the main flavor in the vanilla dough.

How to make Zebra Cookies: two ways 

There’s the striped version which you see in the first photos on this page, this requires stacking, rolling and then stacking a few times to create the many thin layers (this method is in the video above the recipe card). The second method, a spiral design, you’ll see step by step photos of here: you’ll do just a bit of stacking but then roll up the dough into a log (like a cinnamon roll).

Once you’ve made the dough, divide it in half (I use a scale to weigh the dough then divide it).

Put one of the halves back in the mixer and add the flour, then turn the mixer on to combine (we’re doing the vanilla first so we don’t get black cocoa on the vanilla dough). Wrap that half in cling wrap.

Then put the other half in the mixer and add the black cocoa, mix until combined then wrap that half. Let the doughs chill for 30 minutes or up to an hour.

Roll out one of the doughs to a large rectangle that’s about 13 x 9 inches.

Roll out the other dough to the same size.

Stack the two doughs on top of each other – I tend to brush them with water. then roll them out further to ensure they’ll stick together.

Slice the dough in half and stack them. Then brush with water again and roll the doughs out again to a 13 x 9″

Roll the dough up into a log, as tight as you can so you don’t get holes in the cookies.

Then wrap in plastic wrap. If you like you can leave it round or you can straighten out the sides (I do this by pressing down on four sides of the dough with a chopping board) to make a cuboid.

Let it chill for about an hour, until firm then use a chef’s knife to slice the dough into cookies that are about 1 cm thick.


  • 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, brush a very thin layer of water to get them to stick. 
  • If the dough can be 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 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! 



Zebra Cookies

Striped shortbread like cookies made with vanilla and black cocoa dough.
Yields: 12 cookies
5 from 7 votes


  • 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.

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Recipe Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I regret to say that I made these today and mess them up:( I didn’t flour the countertop very much at all, so my dough just stuck terribly and got broken up when I tried to lift it up to do stack #1. I tried my best and arranged the pieces of black cocoa cookie dough over the white dough, and I still got some layers, but they just weren’t very defined. After my messup, I kinda just gave up, so they weren’t pretty, but they did taste good! I can see myself making these again, and they would totally be gorgeous if I hadn’t messed them up.

  2. I’m super excited to make these, but I don’t see a link to the video that is referenced–am I missing something? 🙂 Thanks!

  3. I felt the recipe was not well written especially in terms of the layering. It took 3 hours to make 12 cookies plus refrigerating time . The cookies looked beautiful but the taste was nothing special I have to say.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!