4.38 from 50 votes

Earthquake Cake

Imagine indulging in a dessert that has the perfect combination of rich chocolate, shredded coconut, crunchy pecans, and a sweet, tangy cream cheese mixture. You don’t have to imagine anymore because that’s exactly what Earthquake Cake offers! 

A pan of earthquake cake.

This moist and decadent chocolate cake gets its name from the unique, earth-shattering layers of flavors that come together in each bite. Though it may not be the most visually appealing dessert, the taste more than makes up for it.

Prepare to feel the earth move when you try this classic earthquake cake! The sweet chocolate cake mixed with the creamy condensed milk is the perfect dessert for your next family dinner or potluck!

Chocolate cake is one of my weaknesses. Add coconut and condensed milk, and I’m already there! This Earthquake Cake is a rich, decadent dessert that every chocolate fan will love. 

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    Looking for more desserts with that home-sweet-home feel? Try our Grandma’s Cinnamon Coffee Cake and enjoy a delicious, dense cake morning, noon, or night!

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    Why You’ll Love This Easy Earthquake Cake Recipe

    • Easy cake recipe. With a simple box cake mix for the base, you can have this dessert whipped up quickly. Mix, layer, and bake; you’ll have a fantastic cake to share with friends or family.
    • Mouthwatering layers. The bottom layer of this delicious cake is a blend of coconut and crunchy pecans, adding a delightful crunch to every bite. Above that, you’ll find the moist and irresistible chocolate cake layer. To top it off, a sweet and tangy cream cheese mixture creates that signature earthquake effect, with the decadent filling cracking the surface and creating a heavenly finish. If you are a chocolate lover, you will love this fun cake.
    • Texture combinations. From the chewy coconut to the velvety cream cheese, each bite brings a new experience that keeps you wanting more.
    • Versatile. You can experiment with flavors and mix-ins, such as white chocolate chips or other candy chips, to personalize your Earthquake Cake and keep it interesting, creating a new taste sensation every time.

    Looking for more desserts with that home sweet home feel? Try our Grandma’s Cinnamon Coffee Cake and enjoy a delicious, dense cake morning, noon, or night!


    The full printable recipe card with measurements and instructions is found at the bottom of the post.

    • Cream cheese: The cream cheese gives the cake its creamy, rich texture and adds a tangy note to contrast the sweetness of other ingredients.
    • Salted butter: Melted butter adds richness and moisture to the cake, ensuring it stays moist and flavorful.
    • Powdered sugar: Powdered sugar sweetens and thickens the cream cheese mixture, helping create lovely swirls throughout the cake.
    • Chopped pecans: Pecans provide a delightful crunch and nutty flavor that pairs perfectly with the chocolate and coconut components.
    • Shredded sweetened coconut: Shredded coconut adds a chewy, tropical touch to the cake, making it even more unique and delicious.
    • Chocolate cake mix: The chocolate cake mix serves as the base, offering decadent chocolate flavor and an easy starting point for this recipe.
    • Water: Water is used to mix the batter and helps create the right consistency for the chocolate cake.
    • Large eggs: Eggs hold everything together, acting as a binding agent for the chocolate cake and the cream cheese mixture.
    • Vegetable oil: Vegetable oil adds moistness to the cake, ensuring it isn’t dry or crumbly.
    • Sweetened condensed milk: Sweetened condensed milk adds another layer of sweetness and richness to the cake, making it extra indulgent.
    Earthquake cake ingredients.

    How to Make the Best Earthquake Cake Recipe

    • Step One: Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13-inch pan and set it aside.
    • Step Two: Beat your cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar with a hand mixer until smooth. We’ll use this later.
    • Step Three: Sprinkle coconut and pecans on the bottom of the baking dish.
    Steps to make Earthquake Cake
    • Step Four: In a large bowl, mix cake mix, water, eggs, oil, and sweetened condensed milk. Pour cake batter over pecans and coconut into your baking pan.
    Steps to make Earthquake Cake
    • Step Five: Spoon cream cheese mixture over batter — but don’t mix!
    • Step Six: Bake the cake for 40 minutes. You can check with a toothpick for doneness for the chocolate cake part, but some parts of the cake, like the condensed milk, will not be fully set, so don’t be alarmed! 
    Steps to make Earthquake Cake

    Equipment Needed

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    • Baking dish: I love this 9×13 baking dish because it’s great for everything in the oven.
    • Electric mixer: I love this hand mixer. It fits easily into my hand and has five speeds to make all your sweet and savory dreams come true!

    What to Serve with Earthquake Cake

    • Fresh fruit: Slices of fresh fruits like strawberries, raspberries, or kiwi not only bring a pop of color to your plate but also help balance the dense texture and sweetness of the cake. Fruit offers a refreshing contrast to the richness of the cake.
    • Ice cream: A scoop of vanilla ice cream adds a creamy and cool element to the mix. Classic flavors like vanilla or chocolate ice cream are always a hit, but don’t be afraid to try something new, like caramel or fruity sorbet.
    • Whipped cream: Light and airy, whipped cream adds sweetness without overpowering the cake’s flavors. A dollop on the side or a light layer on top can elevate your Earthquake Cake experience.
    • Coffee or tea: Earthquake Cake pairs well with a hot, aromatic cup of coffee or tea. As you bite into your decadent dessert, a robust coffee or a soothing tea sip will give a warm and comforting contrast.
    A slice of earthquake cake on a spatula.

    Variations and Substitutions

    • Try a different type of nut. You can substitute the usual pecans with either almonds or walnuts for a unique flavor. If you prefer a nut-free version, feel free to omit them entirely.
    • Swap out a different flavor of cake mix. The traditional choice is a German chocolate cake mix, but you use other flavors like a regular chocolate cake mix or a devil’s food cake mix. I’ve also seen it made with a strawberry cake mix to make a strawberry earthquake cake.
    • Add a cup of chocolate chips for extra richness. Semisweet chocolate chips or even white chocolate or butterscotch chips can work.
    • Add a pinch of cinnamon to the cake batter for a warmer flavor profile.
    • Drizzle caramel sauce over the top before serving for an even more indulgent dessert.

    Storage Instructions

    Once your cake has cooled down completely, cover it with either plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This helps to prevent it from drying out. If your cake has a frosting or a delicate cream cheese swirl, be careful not to press the plastic wrap too firmly so the design stays intact.

    It’s best to store your cake in the refrigerator. Since earthquake cake contains cream cheese, it’s important to keep it cold to maintain its quality. Your cake can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Whenever you’re ready for a slice, just remove it from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes before enjoying it.

    Can I Freeze?

    If you’ve made more cake than you can eat in a few days, you can freeze it. Just wrap individual slices in plastic wrap, then place them in an airtight container or a resealable plastic freezer bag. Label the container or bag with the date and type of cake, so you can easily identify it later.

    Frozen earthquake cake can last for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy a slice, just let it thaw at room temperature for around 30 minutes or until it’s softened to your liking.

    A pan with earthquake cake with pieces cut and one piece on a spatula.

    Recipe Tips and Tricks

    • Choose a high-quality cake mix: Since this recipe begins with a cake mix, using a good brand will set the foundation for your cake. 
    • Customize your fillings: While the traditional earthquake cake includes coconut, pecans, cream cheese, and chocolate chips, you can always get creative and mix and match ingredients. For example, you can add chocolate chips or white chocolate chips. Add some fresh fruit, like strawberries, for a different flavor twist.
    • Be mindful of the sugar amount: The recipe calls for powdered sugar when mixing the cream cheese layer. Adjust the quantity of sugar according to your sweetness preference. Start by adding a smaller amount and adjust to taste.
    • Preheat your oven and prepare your pan: This step is crucial for even baking. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13-inch pan with non-stick spray. Make sure the pan is evenly coated, and wipe away any excess spray to avoid burning.
    • Layer your ingredients: Start by sprinkling the shredded coconut and pecans at the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour the cake batter on the coconut and pecans, followed by the cream cheese mixture. Spread it evenly, but do not mix it with the cake batter. The layering creates the distinct and delicious texture of the earthquake cake.
    A piece of earthquake cake on a plate.

    What Is An Earthquake Cake?

    Earthquake cake is a delightful, moist, and decadent chocolate cake that gets its unique name from its appearance. The layers of coconut, crunchy pecans, and a sweet cream cheese mixture make this cake visually interesting and incredibly delicious.

    When you bake an earthquake cake, the chocolate cake batter puffs up around the cream cheese, causing the cake to look like it “cracks open” with various lumps, bumps, and crevices on top. While it might not be the prettiest cake you’ve ever seen, the taste more than makes up for its signature cracked and crumbled appearance.

    Origin of Earthquake Cake

    Earthquake Cake is a delightful dessert that combines the flavors of a German chocolate cake and cheesecake. This unique recipe has been enjoyed by many for its rich taste, which features layers of coconut, pecans, and a sweet cream cheese mixture. While the origin of this cake isn’t precisely clear, it’s believed to have a connection with German chocolate cakes popularized in the United States around the mid-20th century.

    A piece of earthquake cake on a plate.


    Do I need a special cake mix for this Earthquake Cake?

    No, you don’t need a special cake mix for Earthquake Cake. You can use any regular box of chocolate cake mix found in grocery stores. 

    Can I use my own homemade cake batter for Earthquake Cake?

    Absolutely! Substitute the boxed cake mix with your favorite homemade chocolate cake batter. 

    Cake Recipes

    You’ll also like Brownie Bottom CheesecakeDisappearing Marshmallow Brownies, and Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.

    Follow me on Instagram @simplystacieblog, Facebook at Simply Stacie, TikTok @simplystacierecipes or Pinterest at @simplystacie and let me know how you liked this recipe and my other recipes.

    4.38 from 50 votes

    Earthquake Cake

    Created by Stacie Vaughan
    Servings 12
    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 40 minutes
    Total Time 50 minutes
    A sweet chocolate cake mixed with condensed milk for an earth-moving dessert! Perfect for a family dinner or potluck.


    • 1 package cream cheese 8oz/250g package, softened
    • ½ cup salted butter melted
    • 3 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 cup pecans chopped
    • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
    • 1 box chocolate cake mix
    • 1 cup water
    • 3 large eggs
    • ½ cup vegetable oil
    • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk


    • Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan and set aside.
    • Beat cream cheese, butter and icing sugar together with a mixer until smooth. Set aside.
    • Spread pecans and coconut on the bottom of the baking pan.
    • In a large bowl, stir together cake mix, water, eggs, oil and sweetened condensed milk. Pour into baking pan.
    • Spoon cream cheese mixture over cake.
    • Bake for 40 minutes.



    Serving: 1piece | Calories: 589kcal | Carbohydrates: 70g | Protein: 6.9g | Fat: 33.8g | Saturated Fat: 15.6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 15.6g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 478mg | Fiber: 2.4g | Sugar: 49.8g

    The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

    Course Desserts
    Cuisine American
    Keyword cake, chocolate, chocolate cake, earthquake cake

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    4.38 from 50 votes (50 ratings without comment)

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    Recipe Rating


    1. Congratulations!
      Your post is on The Top Ten for Full Plate Thursday! Thanks so much for sharing with us and hope you enjoy your new Red Plate, I am pinning your post to our Features Board!
      Miz Helen

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    3. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

      I’ve never heard of Earthquake cake until now. My son once made a volcano cake for his son’s birthday and there was even smoke billowing out of the volcano – huge success with the kids at the party.

    4. Followed recipe to the letter and baked in preheated oven that I am very confident holds the correct temperature. At 40 minutes it was only firm at the edges, absolute soup in the middle. I left it another 5-10 minutes and took it out when a toothpick came out clean. It was very good and very moist, but I’m wondering if I should have taken it out at 40 minutes regardless. Is it supposed to set while it cools?
      Also, it’s really hard to know what to do with 1/2 cup of condensed milk without baking another recipe. Has anyone tried using the whole can?

      1. Same!!! Edges are firm. Middle looks liquidish. I don’t think it would would ever set if I allow it to cool. Goin back in for 12 more minutes. So you aren’t the only one!

    5. Lady Michigan (Blanche) says:

      1250g Is that correct that is how many oz please my conversion chart says 3 lbs that cannot be right

    6. Rosa parks says:

      can you leave the coconut out of the earthquake cake?

    7. I used coconut oil, omitted pecans, and made an interesting pattern on top. Sprinkled chocolate chips over the top, and I cut the sugar down to half. It’s beautiful and baking in the oven as I write this. The top looks like a marble cake.

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