Want our top 10 essential dessert recipes?

Get our favorite classic recipes in your inbox! It’s 100% free, but we might make you hungry!

Earthquake Cake

Earthquake Cake starts with a box of german chocolate cake mix, then add in coconut, chocolate chips, pecans, and a yummy cream cheese swirl! You don’t have to frost this cake because the cream cheese mixture becomes a layer of frosting INSIDE the cake. It cracks open after baking, resulting in the name – Earthquake cake! One of the best cakes to serve for a party.
earthquake cake on white plate


Ingredients for Earthquake Cake

I’m not really sure how this cake got its name, but it’s rich with german chocolate flavor,  pecans, coconut, and the secret ingredient – a powdered sugar, cream cheese, and butter swirl layer. It’s amazing and a lot of you agree with me based on your comments!

earthquake cake in 9x13 inch pan
How To Assemble The Earthquake Cake …

Layer #1 (on the left) – chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut, and layer #2 (on the right) german chocolate cake mix

2 photos of ingredients in 9x13 inch cake pan - chocolate chips and coconut and cake batter

Pin This Recipe

Layer #3 – the swirled butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar goodness. Let’s not think about the calories.. they don’t exist :)

pot with cream cheese and butter, assembling earthquake cake
I think I overcooked mine slightly because the end result is suppose to be a bit more gooey and not completely cake-like, so be sure to watch your cooking time! But nevertheless this earthquake cake was phenomenal and was the talk of the night at our pot luck.

piece of earthquake cake on white plate

piece of earthquake cake on white plate
Please secure your belongings before baking, as you might experience some rumbling :-) And if you’re not fully convinced to make this recipe.. maybe these comments left by readers will inspire you!

“Beth, Wow!!! I tried the Earthquake Cake – Simply Delicious and so easy to make. Had company and that was the dessert we had and everyone commented that it was AWESOME. Believe me it was and so glad to get your recipes as was so easy to make and simple ingredients.” – Terri

“I made this for a poker tournament get together and it was a hit with everyone and myself… It’s not very often that I love the dessert I bake.. I just made my second cake since Saturday.. And the best thing is… It’s so easy to make..” -Missie

earthquake cake earthquake cake in glass cake pan
Earthquake Cake

Earthquake Cake

Yield: one 9x13 inch cake
Prep Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour

Earthquake Cake starts with a box of german chocolate cake mix, then add in coconut, chocolate chips, pecans, and a yummy cream cheese swirl! You don’t have to frost this cake because the cream cheese mixture becomes a layer of frosting INSIDE the cake. It cracks open after baking, resulting in the name - Earthquake cake! One of the best cakes to serve for a party.


  • 1 box German Chocolate Cake Mix (do not prepare as directed on box, prepare as directed below)
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 and 1/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup, 1 stick, unsalted butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 pound powdered sugar (3 and 3/4 cups)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Sprinkle the coconut, chocolate chips, and pecans on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Mix the german chocolate cake mix with the oil, eggs, and water using a spatula or hand mixer on low.
  5. Pour the cake mix on top of the coconut/chocolate chip/pecan layer.
  6. In a saucepan, melt the butter and cream cheese.
  7. Using a spatula or hand mixer on low, beat in 1 pound of powdered sugar until it's smooth to the butter/cream cheese.
  8. Spread this mixture on top of the uncooked german chocolate cake in the pan, and swirl into the cake mix using a knife.
  9. Bake for 35-45 minutes. It is done when it doesn't wobble in the pan if you shake it. The toothpick test shouldn't work because the cake should be more gooey in nature.
  10. Enjoy! Store any left over cake in the fridge.
(may include affiliate links)


  1. HOLY Moly, in love! So beautiful and I’m sure yummy :)

    • Haha, thanks for your sweet comment Alexis!

    • It is called earthquake when you DOLLOP the cream cheese mixture as the second layer then pour the cake batter over all, as it bakes the cream cheese erupts through the cake. Also if you use the recipe off the box of Hershey’s cocoa for deep dark chocolate cake the one that adds a cup of boiling water at the end of mixing you will never have another dry cake.

    • Great tips, thank you!

  2. This looks incredible. My mom LOVES German chocolate cake and her birthday is coming up. This may just be her new birthday cake.

  3. Haha, this is like the magic cookie bar of cake! Yummy.

  4. Yum, looks delicious! Pinning this, and thanks for sharing at my link party!

  5. Beth, I think you just completely stole my food heart. ;) This looks AMAZING. I don’t really care for coconut, but all the ingredients together, I bet I would devour this cake. I love the swirl layer on top, it gives it the most perfect touch. Thank you for sharing such a yummy recipe.

    I’d love it if you linked this up over at Living Well Spending Less for Thrifty Thursday this week! http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/category/thrifty-thursday/

  6. This looks delicious, Beth! Thanks for sharing at Marvelous Mondays. Pinning and sharing on all of the social media!

  7. Oh my goodness. I’m drooling, this looks amazing!

  8. Beth, this cake looks amazing! It includes everything I love – coconut, pecans, chocolate. Just wanted to stop by from Marvelous Mondays.

  9. This looks so delicious!! I gotta make this!

  10. Oh wow! This cake looks amazing and so easy too! :)
    Thank you for sharing at Marvelous Mondays this week.

  11. Hello, I found you through In and out kitchen link party! I just had to let you know this looks so beautiful! So good! :)

  12. Oh good heavens- that looks amazing. I’m going to have to make that – tonight.

  13. Ohhh what a delicious looking cake! It sounds so yummy with all those nuts and coconut and chocolate!!!! YUM!!!!

  14. I haven’t heard of this cake for about 18 years. Thanks for the memory. It still looks great.

  15. Beth, this looks so good! My children would think this is the best cake ever! So fun:)

  16. This looks fabulous! Pinning to try later!

  17. I had to come visit your space after seeing this beautiful cake on Pinterest. I am in love with all the flavors in the cake. Pinned it and will try it asap.
    Nice to meet you.

  18. Wow, that’s some cake!! It looks delicious! :)

  19. I love German Chocolate cake and this looks almost yummier than the traditional! I’ll be pinning this to create sometime soon – thank you for posting! Cute site by the way, I’m visiting from Living Well Spending Less link-up party.

    Nicole @ WKH

  20. Spoon…I need a SPOON!

  21. First pumpkin french toast and now this….you’ve got my sweet tooth a’ callin’. :)

  22. Looks absolutely relish!! Pinning ;)

  23. heehee, dang auto correct…. I said DE-LISH, not relish :-)

  24. Congratulations…this post has been featured on Create It Thursday #23! Thanks for sharing such a great idea last week!

  25. This is torture. I can’t cope with how ridiculously delicious this looks. AND it has coconut?? *die*

  26. If you’re not a coconut fan, what would you suggest as a replacement. I would love to give this a try.

    • Hi Scott, you could just omit the coconut. Or you could try chopped almonds or peanut butter chocolate chips. I hope you find a substitute you like!

    • Making right now! And I omitted the coconut with toffee chips , also used a devils food cake so we will see how it turns out!

  27. Beth, in noticed in the pictures that you used a dark pan. The problem with your cake not being gooey enough is the a dark pan. In a dark pan you need to adjust your oven temperature down 25*. This should help with it in the future, but make sure that you only make this change if you use a dark pan. If you didn’t use a dark pan then cut your baking time by ten minutes and place your hot pan on a cooling rack to allow air to circulate around the pan evenly. This will allow the filling to cool evenly and you will find you won’t have one spot gooey and another dryer. I have this recipe and to switch it up I add butterscotch chips about 1/3 cup, over the top of the coconut, it adds just a hint of caramel flavor that you find in a German Chocolate cake.

  28. can you omit the nuts ? my sister in law has allergy to any kind of nut.

  29. How is this if I cook it the night before we eat it?

  30. Love it! I made it for Thanksgiving yesterday, and it was a hit. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

  31. Perfect timing! I am in the mood for a new, yummy dessert! Pinned! Visiting from Freedom Fridays!

  32. I made this today with a few modifications due to family preferences. I had to comment to tell you it is absolutely amazing!! I used about 1 cup each of chocolate chips and butterscotch chips on the bottom, used triple chocolate cake mix, and then the yummy cream cheese mix just as you said. It’s suppose to be for our dessert for after lunch tomorrow, but I had to try it! Then my husband tried it, then his mom, then whichever ones of our sons caught us sampling!! I’m looking forward to everyone having a big piece tomorrow! Thanks for sharing!

  33. This sounds delicious, Beth! I almost never buy cake mixes and I know they don’t even sell German chocolate flavor here, but I’m tempted to try it with a basic chocolate mix just because it looks so darn yummy! Thanks so much for sharing an easy-but-scrumptious treat!

  34. This cake looks sinfully good, and I love how easy it is thanks to cake mix! I’m putting this on my list of recipes to try very soon. We’d love for you to share it with us at Saturday Night Fever too! The party goes until Tuesday Night :)

  35. If I had a cake mix in my cupboard I would be in the kitchen making this instead of commenting. This looks and sounds amazing. May have to pick up a cake mix the next time I go to the store.

  36. This will definitely make a rumble. It looks delicious! Thank you for linking to the In and out of the Kitchen Link Party. Hope to see you next week.

  37. As the new co-hostess at Project Inspire{d} I featured your cake tonight. I can’t wait to make it and sink my teeth into a slice! Yum!!

  38. This looks wonderful……can’t wait to make it…..

  39. Wow, talk about food porn :-) This looks fantastic. I may have to try without the coconut though. Hubby doesn’t like it, though I love anything with coconut. Thanks!

  40. Beth, Wow!!! tried the Earthquake Cake – Simply Delicious and so easy to make. Had company and that was the dessert we had and everyone commented that it was AWESOME. Believe me it was and so glad to get your recipes as was so easy to make and simple ingredients. I can fully see why this is called the Earthquake Cake…As the tummies are the Earth and it sure does shake your tummies as so yummy.. A favorite and will sure make again. Great Job, Beth!!!!! Terri

  41. I have to try this! I am a CA girl…so earthquakes are so stranger to me…but I have never heard of earthquake cake!

  42. Wow! This looks good! Tho my insanely picky self would probably leave out the coconut and the nuts haha. But it looks so so good. Pinning.

  43. Have a question. I am making this right now.. Does it need to be stored in refrigerator after eating or can it be left sitting on counter? I can’t wait to taste it. Thanks in advance.

    • To be safe you could put it in the fridge.. I don’t remember what we did.. or if there was any left over.

  44. I made this today and had a question, does it need to be stored in refrigerator ?

    • Hi Tara! To be safe you could put it in the fridge.. I don’t remember what we did.. or if there was any left over.

  45. Hey Beth, I attempted to make this amazingly delicious cake and wasn’t very successful. I followed the instructions to the T and the middle didn’t cook very well. The edges turned out delicious but the middle was almost completely like cake batter. I baked it for almost 1 1/2 hours and then decided to give up ;(( can you give me some pointers. I really really really want this yummy recipe to work out. Thanks for sharing it with everyone.

    • Hi Ema! The recipe is suppose to turn out a little gooey, but obviously you don’t want to be eating it raw. It can depend on what type of pan you baked this in, light or dark metal or glass can make a difference in the baking time and temperature. I am sorry to hear you had trouble!

  46. Just made it tonight. Oh, my word, delicious! Rich and gooey. I baked it about 35 minutes and it was done just right. Only difference I made was used a regular “chocolate fudge” cake mix, because I couldn’t find a German chocolate cake mix.

  47. This cake looks delicious! Has anyone put frosting on it? I’d like to make this for my mothers birthday cake but not sure what frosting to put on it.

    • I love chocolate frosting personally! You could always try adding frosting to a small piece and taste test it to see what you think. But I haven’t heard of anyone putting frosting on this cake.

  48. Hi Beth,
    I have made this cake hundreds of times over the years, however, I do not melt my sugar and butter together. I just mix the butter and cream cheese together then add the powdered sugar, just like a normal frosting. Then I drop it by spoonfuls all over the cake and bake it for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees. The cake will rise up over the frosting and it is always creamy and delicious. Just thought you would like another version to try. Also, make sure that you never use anything other than the full fat version of cream cheese when baking. Reduced fat and fat free have too much water content in them. Thanks for sharing your version!

  49. I’m so excited, I can’t wait to try this recipe. My grandchildren will devour it, I’m sure. I found you accidentally and I cannot wait to try any other recipes you may have.

  50. How can this be gluten free with the cake mix? It must have gotten mislabeled…

  51. This looks fantastic! I’m pretty sure it would disappear in a day in our house!

  52. I made this for a poker tournament get together and it was a hit with everyone and myself… It’s not very often that I love the dessert I bake.. I just made my second cake since Saturday..
    And the best thing is… It’s so easy to make..

  53. I can’t wait to bake this tomorrow for our annual NYE party! I have a chocolate fudge cake mix on hand, and all the other ingredients, but I am leaving out the coconut, as I am not a fan ;). I don’t have a blog yet, but I’m working on getting one started so I can chronicle all the recipes I have collected. Can’t wait to feature this one when I start!

  54. I have been making this cake for years and everyone loves it!! The only thing I do different is while the cake is cooking I melt a Milky Way candy bar in about 6oz of evaporated milk and then when the cake come out and has cooled a little I pour the chocolate caramel milk over top, you definitely don’t have to worry about the cake being dry :)

  55. I am the official birthday cake maker at work. I ran across this recipe in November and made it for a birthday in December to rave reviews. I have now made it three more times in the past week (two more for birthdays (grandson and my HR managers birthday-both of them requested this cake) and one for my husband (his weekly cake). This cake is wonderful. The texture is great, the taste is phenomenal and I have not found one person that does not like it. I am sure I will be making this cake many more times!

    • Hi Melody! I am SO glad everyone has enjoyed the cake. Thank you for taking the time to come back and let me know how much you love it!!

  56. I love recipes like this, it’s sort of a dump cake, you know when you just dump everything in the pan and magic happens! Thank you Beth!

  57. OMG this cake is the yummiest, and of course I had to have a small taste while it was still warm…WOW WOW WOW!!! Thanks!!! :)

  58. Hello,
    I saw this recipe and I want try it, but I can not buy a box German Chocolate Cake Mix (I am from Czech republic).
    What would this material could be replaced?

    Thank You very much

    • Hi Pavla! You could try substituting a chocolate cake mix, I think that would go nicely!

  59. I’ve got this in the oven right now!!

  60. My sister baked this cake at the weekend for my brothers birthday and it was delicious! I had to ask her to send me the link so I can make it for myself haha Thanks for sharing!

  61. Tomorrow I will celebrate my birthday… and guess what i’ve got in the oven right now?! Yes!!! I just wnat to try it!
    Thank yoy very much Beth ;)

  62. Thanks for the great idea, I shared it on my blog! The Earthquake Cake was a perfect addition to our EARTHQUAKE PREPARATIONS with our families. This makes earthquake prepping way more yummy! I think I’ll keep all the ingredients handy for an EMERGENCY SWEETS CRAVING too! Check it out at http://www.whymoms.com/why-moms-shake-it-up/

    • Megan, that is such a great way to incorporate this cake into being prepared for an earthquake!

  63. This cake was amazing and I will definitely make this again! Thank you so much for posting.

  64. Oh my goodness. This cake is amazing. I wasn’t site if it should be stored in the fridge. Can someone email me?

  65. The way we make it you don’t swirl the cream cheese mixture. It then falls thru the cake mix and makes a great gooey part on top of coconut!!

  66. I was wondering how this works with the chocolate chips on the bottom of the pan.  Don’t they melt and get all gooey under the cake?  Or does the cake batter kind of envelope it?  Do you think it could be altered to put the chips, nuts and coconut on top?  Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Hi Wendy! Lots of people love the original recipe. The cake does kind of seep into everything that’s on the bottom, it’s so delicious!

  67. Was wondering if you could do a bundt pan instead of the 9 x 13th and the cream cheese mixture would end up as the filling in the middle?  Anyone got a suggestion.

  68. I have been making this cake for almost 20 years and it never fails to please everyone that has eaten it. I do get tired of making it though. That said I did try it with butter pecan cake mix instead of german chocolate and it was really tasty too. Of course, I always have to go back to the original recipe for family get togethers because I think they’re addicted to this cake.

  69. Do you use sweetened shredded coconut or just regular shredded coconut? Would love to try this recipe out but I don’t want to buy the wrong coconut. Thanks :)

  70. Has anyone tried this with a cake mix other than a chocolate one? My husband does not like chocolate cake. (Chocolate IN a cake is a different story…so the chocolate chips would be jusy dandy.) And, also, when you swirl in the butter cream cheese- do you JUST swirl that just into the cake mix layer or do you cut through all the layers? Mmm I am dying to try this!

  71. Did you use sweetened or unsweetened coconut?

  72. I want to make this cake a day ahead to bring to a party.  If it is not cut should I refrigerate it or is it okay to leave it out covered?
    Also when swirling the cream cheese etc mix in do you sswirl all the way to the bottom layer or just through the cake mix layer?

    • Hi Polly! You don’t have to swirl all the way to the bottom if you don’t want to. Or you can put your knife or other utensil you’re using to swirl all the way to the bottom of the cake and swirl everything. It’s up to you! The cake is pretty adaptable!

  73. Wonder what would happened if turned the cake upside down when done cooking, to put the nuts, chips and coconut on top instead of bottom….
    i am making my third cake…everyone loved it….

  74. I made this cake almost following the recipe for a friends’ birthday. I thought a pound of powdered sugar was a diabetic coma waiting to happen so I cut the sugar down to a cup and a half and only used half the cream cheese but same amount of butter and swirled it in triple chocolate cake mix that I had on hand. I subbed half the oil with apple sauce and sprinkled oat bran on op of the other yummy stuff on the bottom also. On top I drizzled chocolate and caramel toppings. No one was the wiser that it was just a little healthier and it got rave reviews. Thx for a great ooey gooey recipe.

  75. I made this cake and I followed the recipes to the t. It was amazing and a hit with my family and co-workers.

  76. This cake sounds sooooo yummy!   
    I just am not  a fan of cream cheese and so many recipes are made with it!!  I usually cannot think of a subsitute for it, but what about using maybe peanut butter instead with this recipe?  Do you think that would work?  

  77. Made this cake yesterday, we were having out of town company…oh my, they all thought that there should be a law against anything tasting that good. It is very, very outstanding. Thank you for sharing this treasure.

  78. I’ve make this cake for many years and my family loved it. I used a French Vanilla mix instead of chocolate when I made it for work because several co-workers are allergic to chocolate. This too was a HIT! It is great using other flavors of cake mix.

  79. I really don’t like to use box cake mixes.  Can I use the dry ingredients from a typical recipe and just use the wet ingredients as you have listed them?

    • Hi there! As I haven’t done that myself, I can’t recommend it but maybe it would work! Let us know!

  80. This was a great recipe.  The hit of my office carry-in.  Thanks.

  81. I made this today for my family and it is super yummy! I love the chocolate chips and walnuts especially! But my cake didn’t look anything like yours. When I put the cream cheese mixture in, it sunk right to the bottom and even though I (tried to) spread it around with a knife it all came together in the middle… Not sure why this happened… Do you let the cream cheese mixture cool a little before putting it in the cake?!
    Thanks in advance for the answer:)!

  82. Hi, wanted to make this today for a gathering and was wondering if anyone had tried doing individual cup cake size cakes. If so how long would I bake them for? ??

  83. As I am in Australia we don’t get the cake mix you are using any suggestions for a substitute that I could use please? Thank you in advance.

  84. I made this cake yesterday afternoon for a gathering in the evening. Cake was totally cooled by then. We had mixed reactions. Some loved it. One youngster said it was “gooey.” I thought it definitely should be served warm with ice cream.
    I come from a family of dessert snobs. We all agreed it was good but not a keeper.

  85. Even though this recipe was posted a while ago, I would like to say what talent you have Beth! I don’t know if my cake would come out like yours, but I will give it a go and see what happens. 

    Check out my blog if any of you are interested, I attempted to make a summer rainbow fruit smoothie, but it is not exactly rainbow =D and I ave to mention that I am a new blogger.

    My blog is http://www.21stcenturycreativewriting.com

  86. If this includes a cake mix I don’t think it can be called gluten free. Also, please include all ingredients up front. Half way into making this only to find out I had to make a German chocolate cake mix by scratch or run to the store.

    • Hi Melissa! Yes, we’ve been having issues with pinterest labeling this recipe as gluten free and it isn’t. Our ingredients list is clear, so were you looking at the list that pinterest gives?

  87. Hi, I tried this cake for New Year’s dessert and it was yummy.  However, The coconut looked too roasted and I found it a bit difficult to remove from the pan.  Wondering if I shld have used a glass dish instead of a dark pan?  Also I kept checking to make sure I didn’t leave it in the oven to long.  Any help would be appreciated.

    • Hi Hilda! I know that dark pans cook faster – so maybe a glass pan would work better in your oven?


  89. I really think you should warn people about the pan to use AND using nonfat cream cheese.  I had to read about 40 comments before spotting the “do not use Lowe fat cream cheese” suggestion.  Of course, I’m making this cake for a church party and already had “lower fat cream cheese.”  Hoping it still turns out.

  90. I have made this cake twice now and while the flavor is good, the swirl layer sinks into the cake and it ends up looking nothing like what yours does. What did I do wrong??

  91. can you put the cream cheese mixture in the middle instead of on the top

  92. can you put the cream cheese mixture in the middle instead of putting it on top of cake

  93. Okay no one else is hesitating about a POUND of powdered sugar?? It looks AMAZING, but… Can I cut out of cut down or substitute that sugar? <3

    • Hi Suzanne! It’s really not as much as you think. 1 pound of powdered sugar = 3 1/2 to 4 cups unsifted. 1 pound = 4 1/2 cups sifted powered sugar.

  94. Mouth watering, calorie free(g), sumptuous love in a 9×13.

  95. My mother in law sent me this recipe years ago. She got it out of her newspaper.It came with a quip “He who eats too much of this cake shall surely cause the earth to quake.”

  96. I have made this cake 3 times. Each time I made sure I took it to work for sharing because this cake is so good I knew I would end up eating it all if left in my fridge. Everyone at work loved it too! So bad for you but so darn GOOD!!

  97. Pingback: Earthquake Cake - Lovers Recipes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.