It’s the sweetest part of any birthday celebration for kids: dessert! But what happens when your little one isn’t a fan of cake, or when the parents want to step outside the box? Whether you’re going for a “wow” factor, simply trying something new, or are hoping for a slightly healthier alternative to birthday cake, there are lots of fun options to try.  

You can prepare a large-scale confection ahead of time to follow the tradition of a cake, or set up stations that allow the kids to interact with their dessert and choose their own toppings. Happily, many of these recipes are inherently or adjustable to egg-, gluten-, and/or dairy-free, so if your motivation is seeking an allergy-friendly cake alternative, we’ve got plenty of those here, too. 

At the end of the day, all that really matters is serving something sweet and taking an opportunity for guests to sing their hearts out for the child of honor. Below are some of our favorite non-cake ideas for kids’ birthday parties. (Looking for a traditional cake? Check out these birthday cakes for kids!) 

Rice Krispie “Cake”

MineCraft Rice Krispie Cake for a children's birthday party 

Photo: And Next Comes L

It acts like a cake, and can be decorated like one, too. But when they bite into this (no forks needed!) Rice Krispie treat non-cake, they’re in for a real treat. Probably the best part about these is how easy they are to make at home. Shown and linked here is a Minecraft theme recipe, but you can do anything with a Rice-Krispie-style cake, from puppies to princesses. 

Pancake Stack Birthday Dessert

Pancake stack birthday dessert for a kid's birthday party

Photo: King Arthur

A birthday breakfast, brunch, or sleepover party requires something morning-themed. Take your kiddo’s love of pancakes to new heights with a pancake “cake” featuring a fat stack of pancakes layered with thick whipped cream and bursting with celebratory sprinkles. Serve OJ mixed with seltzer to create a bubbly brunch atmosphere the kids will absolutely adore. 

Cupcake Birthday Dessert for Kids

Cupcake kid's birthday dessert 

Photo: Ruffles and Rainboots

There are so many benefits of serving cupcakes at a kid’s party! Cupcakes allow you to offer a variety of flavors so every guest gets something they like. They’re simple to serve and clean up with no knife needed. Serve ‘em up classic style on a platter or cake plate, or arrange them into a shape that fits the theme and decorate the tops with one congruous frosting design. No matter how they fit into your party plans, cupcakes are always a good idea. 

Kids Birthday Cake Pops

Kid's birthday cake pops 

Photo: Sugar Spice & Family Life

A phenomenon made popular in recent years thanks to their availability at your favorite national coffee shop, these cuties are simple to make and can be purchased from a local bakery. Cake pops are pretty, easy to hold by even the smallest fingers, and despite being a fun sweet treat, they end up equaling out to much less sugar per kid, so if that’s your goal, they’re the one to beat. 

Ice Cream Cone Birthday Cupcakes

Cupcake in an ice cream cone kid's birthday dessert

Photo: Baking a Moment

If you’re looking for an extra-creative way to serve cupcakes, pop ‘em in a cone! Especially if you have an ice cream lover but serving the real thing feels daunting and messy, these are a compact and cute alternative to traditional birthday sweets.  

Kids Birthday Donut Tower

Birthday donut tower cake alternative

Photo: Instagram/fiftywithkids

You don’t need any baking chops or a hefty budget to pull off a birthday sweets centerpiece that will blow their minds. Just stack up a couple dozen donuts and stick a candle on top. Day. Made.

Chocolate-Dipped Fruit

Chocolate dipped fruit kids birthday dessert 

Photo: Cooking With Karli

Serving up far less sugar than cake and most other alternatives (yet just as much fun), chocolate-dipped strawberry (or mixed fruit) skewers are easy to make and yummy to eat. Add sprinkles or colored chocolate to fit any theme.  

Crepe Kids Birthday Cake

Crepe birthday cake alternative for a kid's birthday party 

Photo: Natasha’s Kitchen

Elegant enough to serve to adults, but also a hit at a kids’ party, this layered delight alternates thin French pancakes with a rich and creamy frosting that will bring joy to mouths big and small! Top with your kiddo’s favorite berries as shown, or decorate like a more traditional birthday cake with frosting and sprinkles.  

Yogurt Parfait Healthy Cake Alternative

Yogurt parfait healthy birthday cake alternative for kids 

Photo: Candy Direct

If you’re serving kids 5 and up, a yogurt parfait bar where they can add and layer their own ingredients is interactive and rewarding. But avoid a mess if serving toddlers or a big crowd when you create individual cups ahead of time with granola, vanilla yogurt, and fruit tied up with a pretty spoon. You can add maple syrup or sprinkles on top to make these feel more festive. It’s a delicious and lower-sugar way to celebrate the day!

Birthday Ice Cream Sundaes 

ice cream sundae bar kids birthday cake alternative

Photo: The Kiwi Country Girl

Like the yogurt parfaits, it's host's choice whether you’d like to make these ahead or let the kids go nuts preparing their own. Either way, they’re a bright and colorful birthday sweets option that feel both nostalgic and fresh at any kid’s birthday party. 

Designer Birthday Cookies

 Bluey themed cookies for a kids birthday party

Photo: Sophia’s Cookie Creations

A phenomenon that’s taken off in recent years, parents (and kids!) everywhere can’t get enough of these themed sweets. Most are pricey, so it’s perfectly acceptable to pair a platter of these beauties with some fresh fruit and call it dessert.

Birthday Snow Cones or Ices 


Kids birthday cake alternative sno cone

Photo: Studio DIY

Anything sweet and icy is a welcome throwback for the millennial parent. Yes, they still make those awesome individual Italian ice cups that come with a little wooden spoon! Serving them on a cute platter totally elevates them to birthday dessert status. And, you can go over the top by making shaved ice snow cones with sprinkles (and even whipped cream!) in pretty dishes. 

Chocolate Chip Birthday Cookie Cake 

Kids birthday cake alternative: Giant cookie cake

Photo: Sally’s Baking Addiction

Your little cookie monster will delight in a fresh, thick, chewy cookie cake dressed up with frosting in their favorite color or flavor. We love this simple-to-bake masterpiece that brings on the ooh’s and aah’s with minimal effort on the baker’s part.

Melon Birthday “Cake”

Kids birthday cake healthy alternative: melon cake 

Photo: My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear

Whether it’s a first birthday party and you just don’t feel ready to go all-out with the refined sugar, or your family is watching sugar intake for any other reason, a literal fruit cake is a beautiful, refreshing, and delicious alternative to traditional birthday cake. 

Kids Birthday Party Candy Bar 

Birthday dessert: Candy bar for a child's birthday party

Photo: Party Delights Blog 

There’s nothing more exciting to kids than a candy shop, so bring the goods right to them and make their day. Provide little baggies and ties for them to compile their custom assortment of sweets and watch them go ham on this gorgeous setup.

Popcorn Birthday Cake

Kids birthday cake made of popcorn

Photo: Cookies & Cups

Talk about a break from tradition! This sweet-and-savory birthday cake alternative is positively popping with your kiddo’s favorite snacks and will be as exciting to munch as it is to look at.

Birthday Rainbow Waffle-wiches

Birthday dessert for kids: Waffle sandwich with sprinkles 

Photo: Woman’s Day

A cute, yummy handheld dessert that kids and adults will both enjoy. These are the perfect centerpiece to your dessert table, especially for summer birthdays or brunch parties.

Spumoni Ice Cream Cake

Ice cream cake for a child's birthday

Photo: Delish

One of those rare ice cream cakes that contains almost no cake at all, you can serve this up to a crowd and it’ll be pure bliss for everyone. All those layers of ice cream peppered with cherries and topped with a thin chocolate shell? Yes, please.

Birthday Brownie Stack

Birthday cake alternative for kids: Brownie stack

Photo: Louise’s Kitchen

Chocolate lovers unite: Sometimes a big ole pile of brownies brings the biggest of smiles. Stack them up and add a topper or other little themed details as shown here, and enjoy the easier serving and cleanup that comes with this non-cake idea.

Birthday Pie for Kids

Birthday pie for a kids birthday party 

Photo: Sprinkles for Breakfast

This pie is like a party in your mouth, and your pint-sized party guests will love it. Be ready to share the recipe, because all adults present will want that, too!

More Birthday Party Inspiration:

About Jenny Studenroth Gerson

Jenny Studenroth Gerson is an Atlanta-based lifestyle journalist and novelist (Let Me Let You Go, 2020). Her work can be seen in publications including HuffPost, Cosmo, and WSJ, among many others. Jenny has researched thousands of baby names, combed through hundreds of nursery designs, and curated dozens of baby shower guides, making her absolutely the mom—and writer—you want to talk to when planning for Baby. When not meeting deadlines, she is chasing toddlers or chugging coffee—or both! Find her on Instagram @ourlifeinrosegold for mom hacks and more.

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