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11 Birthday Cake Alternatives

Birthday cupcake topped with multi-colored-candles.

Traditional birthday cakes are a welcome sight during special celebrations. But not everyone likes cakes. So why not spice things up and surprise your guests with a creative birthday cake alternative?

We’ve got these unconventional and fun birthday cake alternatives for a memorable celebration.

Related: Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies RecipeTypes of Ice Cream | Strawberry Cream Cheese Crepe Recipe | Types of Cake Decorating Tools | Types of Cheesecakes

1. Chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip cookies in a wicker tray.

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Being over 80 years old, chocolate chip cookies are perhaps the most popular and preferred cookie. They are one of the most common treats and baked goods available in almost any store whether it is the premade dough or the cookies themselves. If they are being made at home, they can take 20 to 60 minutes to make, longer if they are being made from scratch. To add a more birthday-feeling to them, add some rainbow sprinkles, before or after baking, or some icing/frosting.


  • Easy to make or buy
  • Very popular and favored
  • Great for large parties


  • High in saturated fats

2. Brownies

Brownies with birthday candles and a Happy Birthday greeting.

A classic dessert choice, brownies are a great choice for people who love chocolate. They are just as popular but older than chocolate chip cookies, being over a hundred years old. Baking them from scratch can take between 30 and 60 or more.

The main varieties are fudgy or cakey, depending on their thickness. Simply adding some icing, chocolate chips, rainbow sprinkles, and even some icing can make them perfect for a birthday party, but make sure no one there has a nut allergy if nuts are in the brownies.


  • Usually more filling than other choices
  • Many different recipes available online and in books
  • Variety of toppings and add-ins


  • High in fat and cholesterol

3. Waffles and ice cream

Colorful ice cream on waffles with colorful mats and plastic spoons.

So popular and loved by many that they have restaurants specifically named and famed for them, waffles have been around for hundreds of years. Today, they can be made from scratch, dry mixes, and by heating up pre-made, frozen.

There are dozens of different things able to add to waffles, but it is agreed that having a hot waffle with a scoop of ice cream on top is one of the best ways as a dessert. Add some sprinkles, fruit, chocolate syrup, butterscotch, nuts, and/or maple syrup and enjoy this birthday breakfast cake.


  • Quick and simple
  • Has more calcium than fat, sodium, or cholesterol


  • Can take long if there is only one waffle maker or toaster

4. Crepe cake

Tiramisu crepe cake on cake tray against gray background.

Crepes are a super thin pancake that was created by the French. Normally it is folded or rolled and either topped or filled with a variety of ingredients including whipped cream, fruit, different syrups, custard, or jams. It can also be prepared as a lunch or dinner by being served with cheese, ham, eggs, mushrooms, and more.

For one of the best birthday cake alternatives, multiple crepes are stacked on top of each other and have some kind of thin filling between each crepe. Any of the sweet ingredients above would be better, and several can be used together.


  • Multi-flavored ‘cake’
  • Can be sweet or savory


  • Can take longer than other alternatives because each crepe must be made individually before being stacked

5. Jello cake

Jello cake topped with strawberries and blueberries.

The sweet gelatin that almost everyone has eaten at some point or another has been around for over the last one hundred years. It is considered one of the healthiest desserts and also one of the easiest desserts to make. All one has to do is put the mixture in a bowl with water, mix it, and put it in the fridge until it is ready.

To make it more birthday-appropriate, make one flavor, partially fill the mold, and put it into the fridge. Then make another mixture (different color), pour some into the mold, and refrigerate. Repeat the process until the mold is filled. When finished, there will a multi-colored and multi-flavored jello cake.


  • Simple and easy
  • Healthier than the other alternatives


  • Not suitable for vegans

6. Tart

Tarts on a pyramid served on a plate.

Another dessert that originated in France, tarts, has been around for over 400 years and is extremely similar to pies. Some differences between them are that they are not as deep as pies, they stand up on their own, and are not covered with the dough which leaves their filling exposed.

Fruit tarts are one of the most popular types of tarts, but some other kings are jam, meringue, custard, and chocolate. For birthday parties, different mini tarts are perfect. Otherwise, a single 8 to 9-inch tart, the standard size, is ideal.


  • Many different varieties and flavors
  • Can be healthy or sweet and sugary


  • Takes more time than others

7. Cheesecake

Colorful candles on a cheesecake.

Currently one of the thickets desserts out there, cheesecake is most likely the unhealthiest, or one of the unhealthiest, desserts out there. The modern recipe for cheesecake has been around for over 600 years, although the first mentions to similar recipes can be dated about 1000 years before that. Today, many countries have their own ways of preparing them, but some of the most popular flavors are strawberry, lemon, chocolate, pumpkin, key lime, and toffee. By themselves, they are a great alternative.


  • Easy to make or buy
  • Many different flavors


  • High in fat, cholesterol, and sodium

8. Pie

Homemade organic apple pie beside apples and forks on wooden table.

Probably the oldest dessert in history, pie has been around since before 2000 BC, though mainly the savory variety. Pie as a dessert came a few hundred years later. Now there are dozens of different kinds of dessert pies and hundreds of different recipes. The most common fillings are fruits, meringue, pecan, sweet potatoes, chiffon, and cream. Like cheesecake, pies are great by themselves for a birthday celebration, but many people like it with scoops of ice cream when it is warm, like waffles.


  • Simple and easy to make
  • Goes great with ice cream


  • Can be unhealthy depending on the type of pie

Approximate cost: filling- 2 to 5 dollars; crust- 1 to 5 dollars

Here are some crust examples on Amazon.

9. Macarons

Colorful macaroons with birthday candles on a white plate against blue background.

Popular, macarons, also known as macaroons, have been around since the 16th century. They are confectionery filled with buttercream, jam, or a ganache and are easy to recognize by their usually colorful appearance. These can be difficult to make for those who are inexperienced in baking but are easy to find premade online and in some stores.


  • A classic and sweet dessert
  • Popular in France, Japan, Switzerland, and the US
  • Colorful and cute


  • More difficult to make from scratch

10. Cinnamon roll cake

Cinnamon roll cake with a candle beside an empty sticky note on wood background.

A very popular sweet roll originally from Sweden and Denmark, using cinnamon rolls as an alternative to a traditional birthday cake is less common than the other alternatives. However, it is recently becoming popular to bake them normally, stack them in a tower, and then pour the icing over all of these rolls. Because of this, it is another great option for small or large parties.


  • Very simple to make
  • Easily found online or in stores


  • Less healthy compared to other alternatives

11. Ice Cream Cake

Chocolate truffle ice cream cake with a lit candle on the sliced piece.

We saved the best for last. What can be more awesome, festive, and self-indulgent than combining your two favorite desserts together? The result is the showstopping ice cream cake. Make your vegan friends and guests temporarily forget their names by serving this creamy frozen dessert.


  • Easy to make
  • It’s like serving two desserts in one.


  • It’s too sweet to be a healthy option.

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