21 Alternatives for Birthday Cake That Are Still Sweet

Whether birthday cake just isn't your thing or you're looking for a lighter option, these b-day cake alternatives are all sweet swaps.

Published July 12, 2023

Skip the traditional sheet cake and try one of these birthday cake swaps for a fun dessert twist on your big day. Whether you're not a fan of the traditional cake and frosting or you're just looking for something a bit creative for your celebration, there's a birthday cake alternative that fits your style and taste.

Donuts Are a Fan Favorite


It's a simple birthday cake alternative, but it's no less delicious. A stack of your favorite donuts is still sweet and somewhat cake-like, but it's somehow more fun. Mix and match your favorite icings and fillings or stick to a stack of classic glazed donuts to make your birthday wish come true.

Cheesecake Is Rich & Elegant


Does it still count as cake if there's cheese in it? Cheesecake dominates the dessert world, so it's a bit surprising it hasn't completely taken over the birthday game as well. Rich, creamy, and not too sweet, cheesecake will still hold all your birthday candles in place.

Bake Birthday Cinnamon Rolls


Forget about brunch. Cinnamon rolls were made for birthdays. Serve them in a baking dish or stack them on a cake plate. No matter how you serve them, cinnamon rolls might become your new birthday tradition.

Let Ice Cream Steal the Show


Why is ice cream always cast as the birthday sidekick? It should be the hero of birthday desserts! Skip the cake and amp up your ice cream game with a full sundae bar or a selection of ice cream cones that will make everyone forget about traditional birthday cake.

Skip the Frosting Overload With a Naked Cake


Naked cakes - cakes with little frosting on the outer layers - became a wedding must-have a few years ago. Now they're having their moment in the birthday party department. If you recoil from the idea of birthday cake because of the extra-sweet frosting, a naked cake is perfect for you. It's still a little sweet but much more subtle, and it looks so elegant on your dessert table.

Cookies Are Affordable & Perfect for a Crowd


If you're hosting a large group for your birthday celebration, cookies will satisfy everyone's sweet tooth and help you stick to your party budget. Plus, you can serve an assortment of cookies to make sure there's something for everyone on your guest list. Birthday funfetti cookies are probably a must, though.

Watermelon Is Your Solution for a Low-Cal Cake


Watermelon cakes are still sweet without all the added sugar. They're a great option if you're gluten free, dairy free, or trying to lower your carb count. You can still top them with fun birthday frostings like yogurt, whipped cream, or cream cheese frosting. A drizzle of honey, zest of lime, or a few chocolate shavings might make it even sweeter - and cuter.

Craft an Elegant Dessert Board


If you're hosting an elegant birthday gathering and can't decide on the featured dessert, a creative dessert board will have all your guests flocking to the table. Layer your favorite candies, cookies, chocolates, and miniature desserts for a sweet spread that feels high end. Swap traditional cake candles for elegant tapers on your table.

Crepe Cakes Are Light & Delicate


Crepe cakes are essentially a tower of delicate crepes stacked with layers of fluffy filling - think cream cheese or whipped cream - and topped with your favorite fruit or sweet sauce. They stand as tall as a traditional cake, but they offer a unique dessert experience. Pop your birthday candles into a crepe cake and enjoy this elegant alternative on your big day.

Chocolate-Covered Fruit Is Sweet & Safe


If you're working with a few dietary restrictions for your birthday soiree, fruit is your best friend. Bananas, pineapple, strawberries, and apples covered in any assortment of chocolate and sprinkles work well with a long list of diets and still feel like a celebratory treat.

Macaron Cakes Are Trending


When crepe cakes and waffle cakes ruled the food trends a few years ago, they paved the way for the macaron cakes of today's viral foods. Macaron cakes are nothing more than oversized macarons with extra layers of chewy cookie and creamy filling, but they feel like a whole new dessert on their own. Blow your guests away with this up-and-coming cake trend at your celebration.

Birthday Brownies Are a Classic Treat


Simple, affordable, and beloved by everyone: you really can't go wrong with a stack of birthday brownies. Top them with frosting, sprinkles, and ice cream for an extra-festive treat. Oh, and don't forget the candles.

Layered Desserts Are Perfect for Parties


If cupcakes aren't your thing but you still want a dessert that's easily served to a crowd, individual layered desserts might fit the bill. Whether it's parfaits or mini trifles, these single serving desserts in a cup look elegant and taste amazing.

Stack Up the S'mores for Your Bday


If your birthday falls in the summer or fall and you're hosting an outdoor party, you've just got to include some b-day s'mores. Set out the classic s'mores trio - graham crackers, chocolates, and marshmallows - but include some other fun elements to make it a special birthday marshmallow roast. Sprinkles, pound cake slices, and white chocolate pieces are a fun way to throw classic birthday flavors in your s'mores lineup.

Popcorn Cakes Are Taking Over


Have you seen the viral popcorn birthday cakes? They're sweet, salty, and cake-shaped mounds of popcorn you actually slice and serve. Shelly from Cookies & Cups has the perfect tutorial for crafting these effortlessly adorable treats.

Try a Birthday Tart for Celebratory Elegance


A fruit tart is simple and luxurious all at once, and it's a delicious choice for your birthday. For a small celebration, you might just have one fruit tart to slice and share. For a large group of party guests, individual mini tarts might be the better choice.

Stack Birthday Pancakes for a Nostalgic Day


Remember when your mom made special birthday pancakes on the morning of your big day? Recreate the excitement with a birthday stack of flap jacks for making your birthday wish this year. With a large enough stack and tons of toppings, you can still slice and serve the treat as you would a traditional birthday cake.

Puddings & Mousses Can Be a Real Treat


If you're planning for an upscale celebration, go sleek and smooth with your spotlight dessert. Elegant puddings and mousses feel light while being indulgent, and they hold a candle just as well as a dense cake. Mini mousses are in order for a large crowd, but a full-sized mold is a must for the guest of honor.

Try a Bundt for a Subtle Swap


To quote a 2000s rom-com, "there's a hole in this cake!" Bundts can be rustic, elegant, or just plain fun. The best part is there's still room for tons of candles and plenty of slices to share.

Discover What's to Love About Pavlova


Crispy, chewy, and the perfect level of sweetness, pavlova is served with a generous amount of fruit on top. This birthday cake swap will look beautiful on your table and feel like a refreshing treat after a heavy meal.

Go for Rustic With Hand Pies


Easy to serve and adaptable to your flavor preferences, hand pies feed a large party crowd and pack some serious comfort food qualities. They're the perfect birthday treat all year round. Celebrating in the fall? Serve up apple and pumpkin hand pies. Planning a summer soiree? Blueberry and cherry pies are a must.

Make a Wish on a Birthday Cake Twist


Break a little tradition on your birthday this year. Cake and frosting aren't the only desserts worth dedicating a celebration to. From warm pies to cool mousses, and everything in between, these birthday cake alternatives will help you shake up your sweets selection to celebrate another trip around the sun.

21 Alternatives for Birthday Cake That Are Still Sweet