If you're not a fan of traditional sponge cake or are looking to switch things up this year, look no further: we've collated our favourite birthday cake alternatives which are fit for the occasion, whether you're looking for a genius cupcake idea, celebratory cheesecake or stunning meringue wreath to surprise someone with.


For more birthday treats see our collections of birthday cakes and party food recipes. Also our reviews section for plenty of gift ideas, such as the best hampers, letterbox gifts, baking gifts and more.

For more brilliant birthday inspo, discover our collection of kids' party recipes. We also have our guide to the best stand mixers to help you create flawless bakes.

1. Birthday cupcakes

Birthday cupcakes on a cake stand

A fresh batch of cupcakes is a top idea if you're throwing a party with multiple guests. Serving up to 12, cupcakes are studded with sprinkles for a multi-coloured look which screams birthday.

Find more birthday inspiration with our cupcake collection, including our impressive vanilla cupcake bouquet.

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2. Funfetti cheesecake

A vanilal cheesecake topped with sprinkles served on a green cake stand

Birthday cheesecake, anyone? Whip up our simple 'funfetti' cheesecake for a loved one's birthday – it's great for getting the kids involved, too, using just seven ingredients with no cooking required.

See more cheesecake recipes with our cheesecake collection as well as our no-bake cheesecakes and chocolate cheesecakes.

3. Salted caramel & hazelnut banoffee pie

Salted caramel & hazelnut banoffee pie

While technically not a cake, who could possibly resist a birthday banoffee pie? Especially when it's amped up with crunchy hazelnut praline, salted caramel and muscovado whipped cream. You won't look at banoffee pie the same way again.

Fruity, nutty or chocolatey, decked out with pastry, meringue or crumble, a sumptuously sweet pie is sure to impress a loved one on their birthday. See more inspiration with our collection of sweet pie recipes.

4. Meringue wreath

Clementine, cranberry and pistachio meringue wreath on a black serving board

Sing 'Happy Birthday' as you present this epic meringue wreath to a loved one. A fun and lighter finish to a birthday meal, you can also experiment with flavours depending on the season and preference (e.g. swap cranberries for raspberries, pistachios for walnuts).

Discover more fabulous ways with meringue with our best meringue recipes, from Eton mess cheesecake to brown sugar pavlova with fruit.

5. Profiteroles


Who needs birthday cake when there's profiteroles? This 1970s dessert sees featherlight choux pastry stuffed with cream and drizzled in chocolate sauce. It's a classic for a reason, and we see nothing wrong with recreating it for a birthday alternative.

Profiteroles require effort to make, but the results are always worth it – see our double chocolate profiteroles with salted caramel cream and raspberry, white chocolate & pistachio profiteroles for more inspiration.

6. Cookies & cream fridge cake

Cookies and cream fridge cake decorated with oreos

Oreo lovers, this one's for you: layer up cookies with a simple cream mixture and you're left with a visually stunning fridge cake. It takes just 20 minutes and it's best left overnight for the cookies to soften, making it a nifty make-ahead treat.

If no-bake desserts are a big thing in your household, check out the rest of our fridge cake recipes.

7. Ultimate lemon meringue pie

A lemon meringue pie on a white plate with a large slice cut out on a separate place

Switch things up a little by substituting a classic lemon cake for lemon meringue pie. It's one of our top-rated desserts with more than 400 star ratings, so you can be sure the results will be good. Also discover an easy bake that makes a stunning centrepiece dessert with our lemon drop chilli loaf cake recipe.

Lover of all things lemon? See the rest of our lemon desserts recipes including a lemon roulade and our ever-popular lemon drizzle cake.

Chocolate sandwich cookie ice cream cupcakes displayed on a cake stand

If the sound of chocolate, cookies and ice cream is 'tick', 'tick' and 'tick', get involved with these cool cupcakes. Aesthetically pleasing yet surprisingly easy to make, you only need a handful of ingredients for this one.

Find more dazzling ice cream creations with our ice cream dessert collection.

9. Macarons

Colourful macaroons

If you're feeling up to the challenge, replace a standard sponge cake with these picture-perfect macarons. You could even present them on a cake stand with other bakes as part of a birthday afternoon tea.

Set your sights on impressive bakes with our collection of showstopping cake recipes, including chocolate ganache drip cake and rainbow cake.

A giant cookie in a skillet topped with marshmallows, pretzels and nuts

If the thought of a traditional sponge leaves you a little uninspired, how does a giant cookie sound? A crowd-pleaser of a cookie, you can adapt this recipe with their favourite treats like marshmallows, pretzels, nuts, toffee or fudge.

We also have our next-level chocolate chip cookies for finessing your cookie-making skills.

11. Lemon drizzle mille crêpe cake

Stack of pancakes with each layer covered in lemon cream

A quirky alternative for lemon drizzle fans (who eat nothing but lemon drizzle for their birthdays) – stick a few candles into a pretty lemon drizzle crêpe cake and voila! All their birthday needs are met.

Find more fun twists on lemon cake with our lemon drizzle recipes.

12. Salted caramel brownies

Tower of salted caramel brownies

If you're not too sure what to bake for someone's birthday, brownies are always a fail-safe idea. Particularly these gooey squares, amped up with a layer of salted caramel running through the centre of each bite.

For more brownie ideas discover our collections of easy brownie recipes and kids' brownie recipes.

13. Waffles with banana & salted caramel sauce

Waffles on a plate, topped with bananas, ice cream and toffee sauce

If cake is off the cards, whip up these sweet waffles for a luxurious birthday brunch. Smother with fried bananas, vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, and let the waffles do the talking.

If you like the look of this, you'll love the rest of our sweet waffle recipes, including a decadent batch of chocolate orange waffles.

14. Double choc peanut butter cookies

Cookies with bottles of milk

What could be more suitable for a birthday treat than a batch of warm gooey double choc cookies, served with glasses of milk for dunking? It's a solid way to round off a luxurious birthday meal with friends.

Try more cookie creations with our top 10 cookie recipes, including our sweet and salty white chocolate & pretzel cookies.

15. Chocolate trifle

Chocolate brownie trifle in a clear trifle case on a grey table cloth

Why reserve trifle for Christmas when you can enjoy it all year around? This trifle is a chocolate lover's dream, layering shop-bought brownies with Irish cream, chocolates and custard.

Dive into our trifle recipe collection for more inspiration – how does banoffee trifle sound?

16. Puff pastry cinnamon rolls

Puff pastry cinnamon rolls in pan with icing

Surprise the pastry lover in your life to the ultimate birthday treat: a box of cinnamon rolls. This recipe cuts corners by using puff pastry so it's easier and quicker to make.

We love the idea of replacing a standard sponge cake with a sweet bake – turn your hand to making our Chelsea buns or cardamom buns.

Three chocolate-chip ice-cream sandwiches on plates

If cake isn't their thing, chocolate-chip cookie ice-cream sandwiches sure will be. Simply bake a batch of cookies and use two of them to squish into shop-bought ice cream – you'll never look at cookies the same way again!

Feel free to adapt this recipe with their favourite ice cream or cookie flavour.

18. Doughnut muffins

A batch of doughnut muffins dusted with sugar presented in a cardboard box

Turn your hand to baking these sugar-dipped cupcakes for a sweet treat with a twist, best served straight from the oven and onto the table with a cuppa.

See our traditional doughnuts or our collection of muffin recipes.

19. Baked camembert with bacon-wrapped breadsticks

Baked camembert surrounded by bacon wrapped breadsticks

Those without a sweet tooth, fear not: trade a birthday cake for a celebratory baked camembert, taken to the next level with bacon-wrapped breadsticks for dunking.

We have plenty more cheesy treats for all manner of occasions: see our baked camembert dough ball platter and pull-apart garlic rolls with baked camembert for inspiration.

20. Grazing platter

One large grazing platter

Prefer savoury to sweet? Ditch the sweet treats all together in favour of a next-level grazing platter, complete with savoury winners such as chorizo, olives, baked cheese and nuts.


See more grazing platter ideas with our best platter recipes, including an epic breakfast pancake platter and seafood cocktail platter.

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