Italian Rainbow Cake

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Italian Rainbow Cake is sweet and scrumptious, bearing the green, white, and red colors of the Italian flag. This layered Italian flag cake has a delightful almond taste and is so moist it will melt in your mouth.

italian rainbow cake.


With rich layers of chocolate and a decadent raspberry filling, this colorful dessert is a fun way to brighten your kitchen and treat your taste buds.

italian rainbow cake ingredients.

Italian Rainbow Cake

This beautiful tricolor dessert is layered to resemble the Italian flag. Some people slice the cake into small bars and call them Italian rainbow cookies.

The two names for these Italian Christmas cookies are essentially interchangeable. 

The almond flavor of this cake is absolutely heavenly, and is enhanced even more by the richness of chocolate and the light sweetness of raspberry jam.

Every bite of this Italian cake is a delicious rainbow explosion!

While this rainbow cookie cake recipe takes a bit of time to put together, it’s a dessert that is definitely worth the time and effort!

Most of the time for this recipe is actually spent chilling the cake layers in the refrigerator, so you’ll be surprised to find that the whole process is much easier than it looks.  If you love Italian desserts be sure to check out my Cannoli Shells with Filling.

If you love other types of cookies as much as these Italian Christmas cookies, try my Christmas Sugar Cookies or Christmas Pinwheel Cookies next!

cake batter in bowl
  • Unsalted Butter – Let butter soften at room temperature before combining with the almond paste. And, be sure to use unsalted or the flavor won’t be the same!
  • Almond Paste – Break the paste into small pieces, so that it can combine easily with butter.
  • White Cake Mix – Any white cake mix will work just fine!
  • Almond Extract – Add for flavor. Imitation can be used as well.
  • Gel Food Coloring – The color of the cake — made with green, yellow, and red/pink food coloring — is meant to resemble the Italian flag.

    Adjust the hue of the cake layers by adjusting the amount of food coloring and/or the specific color. You can even leave the “yellow” layer dye free.
  • Seedless Raspberry Jam or Jelly – The fruity layer should be thin and subtle, so be sure to use something seedless.
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips – Melt these down to make the chocolate spread that goes between cake layers.
baked cakes in italian colors

Tips and Tricks for Italian Rainbow Cake 

  • Use Room Temperature Ingredients. Pull your dairy and eggs out of the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before starting this recipe.

    This allows the ingredients to combine more easily into the batter, resulting in a better overall texture.
  • Mix Batter Until Smooth and Fluffy. Almond paste doesn’t always break down easily, but try your best to eliminate as many chunks as possible.

    Breaking the paste into small pieces beforehand is the best way to get a smooth batter.
  • Cool Completely. Allow cakes to cool in their pans before removing them, as this will make them easier to remove and prevent them from falling apart.
  • Use Weights For Compression. The cakes will have some puff and an uneven surface after coming out of the oven.

    That’s ok! Once you stack and compress them under the added weights, they will press flat and more compact.

    A heavy cast iron pan or canned goods should do the trick!
spreading jam on rainbow cake

Kitchen Tools You Will Need

  • Stand mixer or large mixing bowl with hand mixer for whipping up your batter
  • Baking Sheets lined with parchment paper – For this recipe, I use 3 quarter-size sheet pans (approximately 9×12 inches).
  • Offset Spatula – This spatula has so many uses and is perfect for smoothing the cake layers in the sheet pans.
compressing stacked cakes.

Italian Rainbow Cake FAQ

How do I store Italian rainbow cake?

These Italian Christmas cookies can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Can I make Italian rainbow cookies without almond paste?

I don’t recommend taking the almond paste out – it’s the key ingredient in this recipe. Combined with the almond extract, the almond paste is what gives the Italian rainbow cake bites their unique flavor.

Is marzipan the same thing as almond paste?

No, these two ingredients are not the same and should not be used interchangeably. 

While both are made from almonds and sugar, marzipan is sweeter and more candy-like. Almond paste is coarser and typically used as a baking ingredient. 

top view of italian rainbow cookies

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slice of italian rainbow cake.

rainbow cookie cake closeup.

Italian Rainbow Cake

Donna Elick
Italian Rainbow Cake is a colorful, delicious treat. Sliced into bars, this rainbow cookie cake recipe is known as Italian rainbow cookies.
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 20 minutes
chill time 4 hours
Total Time 5 hours 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Method Oven
Servings 14


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces almond paste, broken into small pieces
  • 4 cups white cake mix, 2 (16.25 oz.) boxes
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • food coloring gel, green, yellow, and red/pink
  • 2/3 cup seedless raspberry jam or jelly
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon shortening


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray 3 quarter-size sheet pans (~9×12 inches) with non-stick baking spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and almond paste until smooth (some small bits of almond paste may remain, but try to break them down as much as possible to combine with the butter.)
  • Add cake mix, eggs, milk, and almond extract to the bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until the batter is well combined and fluffy.
  • Separate the batter into three bowls (about 3 ⅓ cups of batter per bowl).
  • Color each batter with food coloring to make green batter, yellow batter, and pink batter.
  • Transfer each bowl of batter to a separate sheet pan. Use an offset spatula to spread into an even layer. Place pans in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, until the cakes are cooked through and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs. Halfway through baking time, rotate the pans for even baking.
  • Remove pans from the oven and transfer to cooling racks. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans.
  • Next, we will stack and compress the cakes. Leaving the green layer in its pan, use an offset spatula to spread the raspberry jam, carefully remove the yellow cake layer from its pan and place it on top of the green layer. (Turning it upside down right onto the green layer is probably the easiest.) Be sure you remove the parchment paper from the yellow cake and spread more raspberry jam on this layer. Repeat to stack the pink layer on top of the yellow layer.
  • Wrap the three layers and bottom pan tightly in plastic wrap. Next, place one of the empty sheet pans back on top of the wrapped cake. Place a heavy cast iron skillet or several canned goods on top of the pan to weigh it down. (This will compress the layers together.) Transfer this “package” to the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  • Remove the cake from the refrigerator, and remove the weights, the top pan, and the plastic wrap.
  • Place a fresh sheet of parchment paper over a large cutting board and turn the full cake out onto the cutting board so that the green layer is on top. Remove the parchment from the green cake layer.
  • In the top of a double boiler (or in the microwave), melt the chocolate chips and the shortening together until fully melted and smooth.
  • Pour half of the melted chocolate onto the green cake “top” and use a large offset spatula to spread it smoothly to cover the top of the cake.
  • Place the cake into the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes, or until chocolate is set.
  • Flip the whole cake over and repeat spreading the remaining melted chocolate over the top of the cake (the pink layer). You can make swirls or decorations in the chocolate if you wish.
  • Chill until the top layer of chocolate is set.
  • Slice straight down each side to form four straight edges to the cake. Cut into pieces and serve.

Donna’s Notes

Store cake in an airtight container in a dry, cool place, for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
Adjust the hue of the cake layers by adjusting the amount of food coloring and/or the specific color. You can even leave the “yellow” layer dye free.
The cakes will have some puff and an uneven surface after coming out of the oven. That’s ok! Once you stack and compress them under the added weights, they will press flat and more compact.
Almond paste and almond extract are used in this recipe.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 691cal | Carbohydrates: 89g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 120mg | Sodium: 523mg | Sugar: 53g | Fiber: 4g | Calcium: 254mg | Iron: 4mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Italian Christmas cookies recipe.

Originally published November 2022

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    1. Hi Beverly,
      That would be in step 8. I see it is missing from the instructions and will fix it now, thank you!
      TSRI Team Member,

    1. Hi Charlotte,
      That would be in step 8. I see it is missing from the instructions and will fix it now, thank you!
      TSRI Team Member,

    1. Hi Becky,
      That would be in step 8. I see it is missing from the instructions and will fix it now, thank you!
      TSRI Team Member,

  1. Any tips for preventing cracking when slicing the cookies? My last batch the chocolate didn’t adhere to the top & the previous batch it all cracked and came off during slicing. Any help is appreciated!

    1. Cut it frozen. I use a ruler to measure my pieces to be about 1 1/2 in by 3/4 in. Then I cut it frozen. If you put the TOP of one cake on the bottom of the waxed paper when you flip it, the chocolate sticks better. The same for the last cake. Put the TOP of the cake on the top facing out. The bottom of the cake has the waxed paper and that might cause the chocolate not to stick. That’s why I put the top down and spread the jam on the bottom side which had the waxed paper.

  2. Hi, I’ve been making a version of the rainbow cake for years. I do not use almond paste. I make 3 layers of cake with 2 boxes of white cake mix. Evenly distributed (coloring two) in 3 cake pans. I use greased parchment paper on bottom for all pans. I use almond extract in the mixes and once cakes are done I add an almond flavored sugar syrup to add to the cakes before assembling. I also use both raspberry and apricot jams. One layer raspberry and one apricot.

    I also make my cookies with both flavors of jam. People beg for my cookies and cake.

    A easy solution to cutting your cookies, they should be chilled from the fridge and cut into large chunks ( like the whole cookie cut into 1/3 or 1/4) sections so you can keep cutting section on their sides. Takes the pressure off the top chocolate when pressing into the cookie to cut them. Also wipe the knife between cuts and use the thinnest knife you own.
    Hope these tips help.

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