We propose stratified volume diffractive optical elements as a new type of diffractive optical element that is capable of functioning as a high-efficiency grating in applications with requirements not suited to traditional holographic or diffractive optical techniques. In this approach, diffractive optical fabrication methods are used to construct an optical structure that emulates volume grating behavior. We discuss the diffraction properties of stratified volume diffractive optical elements and compare them with those used previously in both volume holographic optical elements and stratified volume holographic optical elements. A systematic design process is then presented for deriving structure parameters. We illustrate this process by designing a prototype stratified volume diffractive optical element to meet the operational specifications for a beamscanning element in a spaceborne coherent wind lidar. We use numerical simulation to assess the performance of the prototype element, including sensitivity to fabrication errors.