Earthquake Cake is a moist and chocolatey homemade cake that will soon be your go-to dessert dish! It starts with a chocolate boxed cake mix and we hack it up with delicious ingredients like chocolate chips, coconut, cream cheese, and pecans!

We don’t frost this cake because the frosting is basically on the inside! It explodes open and oozes delicious flavors – like an earthquake, get it!

earthquake cake hero image
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The Best Earthquake Cake!

This Earthquake Cake recipe is about to change your life. This is one of the best cakes I have ever had, and I’ve had a lot of cake in my life. It’s gooey, chocolatey, and full of tasty surprises with every bite.

With just 15 minutes of prep, it’s super easy to put together. Best of all, there’s no waiting for it to cool to add the frosting with this cake! Saving you a major step.

You are going to love this unique cake. From the big dollops of cream cheese to the crunchy pecans and coconut flakes. This is one of my all time favorite cake desserts.

What is an Earthquake Cake?

At first glance, it might just look like any other normal cake… but an Earthquake Cake is so much more! It totally lives up to its name, because just like a real earthquake, this cake shakes things up. Only, this type of earthquake is a lot more fun and delicious.

Sort of a “throw everything except the kitchen sink in” kind of recipe, it seems like there is a surprise at every bite in this cake. Every single fork full has different delicious flavors from pecans to coconut. It is full of moist chocolate cake and gooey tunnels of cream cheesy goodness.

eating Earthquake Cake with a fork


  • 1½ cups sweetened coconut flaked
  • 1½ cups pecans chopped
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix (I used Betty Crocker – do not use the ingredient amounts given on the box)
  • 1⅛ cups water (1 cup + 2 Tablespoons)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • ½ cup butter melted
  • 2¾ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla


How to Make an Earthquake Cake

In a small baking dish, sprinkle coconut and place it into the oven on a broil. Watch the coconut very carefully and take it out of the oven when it’s toasted and has turned a nice golden brown.
Pro-Tip: Coconut burns really easily and quickly! This should only take about 1-3 minutes to “toast”.

After the coconut is done, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, water, eggs, and oil. Mix on low until well combined. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract.

cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract in a bowl

Stir well until no lumps remain. Then, add the powdered sugar and stir until it is all well combined.

add powdered sugar to the mixing bowl

In the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, layer the coconut, chocolate chips and pecans.

coconuts and pecans in a baking dish

Pour the cake mix over the top.

Pour the cake mix over the top of coconuts and pecans layer

Then, dollop the cream cheese mixture over the top of the cake.

dollop the cream cheese mixture over the top of the cake

Swirl slightly using a butter knife, skewer or a toothpick.

swirl slightly over the cheese cream dollops

Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-55 minutes.
*Note: check your cake at the 40-minute mark. Depending on how hot your oven runs, and the type of baking dish you’re using (non-stick or glass) the cook times will vary slightly.
Pro-Tip: The toothpick test will not work on this cake! So, I recommend taking the cake out of the oven when the top is no longer jiggly. Mine took 50 minutes.

Baked earthquake cake in baking dish

It is best to let this cake cool before serving.

Ingredient Substitutions

Cake mix: This is where you could totally play around and have some fun with your Earthquake cake. You could make this Chocolate Earthquake Cake into anything you like. I have seen Vanilla Earthquake Cake, all the way to Pumpkin Earthquake Cake. The possibilities are truly endless!

I tend to stick with Betty Crocker brand boxed cakes, as I find they are the moistest and come in a wide variety of flavors. Personally, I’m a sucker for chocolate so I like the classic chocolate cake mix. I’ve also used chocolate fudge and German chocolate cake mixes, both of which were fantastic!

Earthquake Cake close up

How to Store Earthquake Cake

Assuming there are leftovers (which there won’t be for too long) you will want to make sure to store your Earthquake Cake in an airtight container. I like to make mine in a 9×13 dish that already comes with a lid. That way, between servings I can just pop the lid on tight to keep it nice and fresh.

You might also want to store it in the refrigerator in between servings. This will keep all of the ingredients, especially the cream cheese clumps, super fresh. I usually pop mine into the fridge, just to be on the safe side.

When you are ready to eat it, you can enjoy it right out of the fridge, but I love to pop mine in the microwave for a few seconds to get that gooeyness back!

People absolutely go crazy for this Earthquake Cake. I love bringing this to gatherings and potlucks and tallying up the number of times I’m asked for the recipe. It’s a fan favorite.

Everyone is always shocked when they find out it uses a box mix cake. It totally tastes like it’s made 100% from scratch. All of the secret ingredients make for a rollercoaster ride for your tastebuds. It’s absolutely delicious, and I can’t wait for you to give it a try.

Earthquake Cake in pan

Other Easy Cake Mix Recipes

3-Ingredient Cake Mix Cookies | Gooey Caramel Apple Dump Cake Recipe | Chocolate Cherry Dump Cake | Cheesecake Brownies | Butterfinger Cake | Crockpot Chocolate Lava Cake | Cookie Monster Cake Jars

5 from 3 votes
earthquake cake featured image

Earthquake Cake

Serves — 12
Earthquake Cake is a moist and chocolatey homemade cake starts with a cake mix! It explodes with chocolate, coconut, pecans and a cream cheese swirl!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • cups sweetened coconut flaked
  • cups pecans chopped
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix (Betty Crocker – do not use the ingredient amounts given on the box)
  • 1⅛ cups water (1 cup + 2 Tablespoons)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • ½ cup butter melted
  • cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  • Toast coconut in skillet on stove top over low heat, stirring often. This should only take a few minutes; it is done when most of the coconut is golden brown
  • In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, water, eggs, and oil. Mix on low until well combined. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, using a mixer, cream together the cream cheese, melted butter, and vanilla. Add powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Set aside.
  • Grease the bottom only of a 9×13 baking pan. Evenly spread the coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips on the bottom of the pan. Pour cake mix over the top; spread evenly. In a zig-zag motion, pour the cream cheese mixture over the top of the cake. Using a butter knife, swirl slightly.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 40-55 minutes. Do not use the toothpick technique to test this cake for doneness. If the cake jiggles only slightly in the middle, then it is done. Cooking times will vary depending on your oven as well as the type of pan you used.
  • Let the cake cool slightly before cutting. It will be gooey inside.

Nutrition Info

Calories: 709kcal | Carbohydrates: 70g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 48g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 474mg | Potassium: 338mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 51g | Vitamin A: 565IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 101mg | Iron: 3mg

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  1. 5 stars
    I’m really curious to know if instead of the coconut & pecans layered on bottom, mixing coconut pecan FROSTING with the cream cheese mixture to dollop & swirl into the cake would work out OK?
    Would anyone have thoughts on that??