German Chocolate Earthquake Cake

If you love chocolate and coconut, make this easy German Chocolate Earthquake Cake! With rich chocolate and cream cheese swirls, you’ll never believe this starts with a box cake mix.

A few months ago we shared our best ever German chocolate cake. It was with this cake that I fell in love with the German chocolate flavor. That can can be time consuming (although very worth it), but this is a cake you can make quickly and easily. It’s downright dangerous!

german chocolate earthquake cake with milk

German Chocolate Earthquake Cake Recipe

Cake mixes make a great start for so many different recipes. With all of the flavor varieties, the options are endless. We made this earthquake cake German chocolate style. German chocolate cake, coconut, chocolate chips…and of course cream cheese. This easy cake is great to take to parties and potlucks…or as a gift to the chocolate lover in your life!

What is an earthquake cake?

Earthquake cakes are traditionally known as a very easy cake that starts with a box cake mix. After you mix the cake in one of the many varieties available, you swirl in a cream cheese filling. This cream cheese filling bubbles up around the cake giving a very “lumpy” look to the cake. Kind of like an earthquake hit! Have you heard a different way this cake got its name? If so, I’d love you to tell us in the comments below.

How do you make an earthquake cake?

This easy cake recipe is made in two basic steps:

  1. Mix the cake mix.
  2. Mix the cream filling

Here are a few hints:

  • We used German chocolate cake mix but if you can’t find it, simply use a chocolate cake.
  • Add the ingredients stated in the recipe, not on the back of the box.
  • Spray a 9×13 baking pan, then sprinkle the bottom with coconut and chocolate chips.
  • Mix the chocolate cake part and gently spread it over the coconut and chocolate.

collage of how to make german chocolate earthquake cake

Cream Cheese Filling for Cake

To make the cream cheese filling, melt together butter and cream cheese in a saucepan. Stir it often so the milk-based mixture doesn’t scorch. Once they are melted, beat in the powdered sugar. Dollop this mixture onto the chocolate cake batter. Swirl the two together gently. (See the picture below). Dot the top with a few extra chocolate chips.

collage of how to make german chocolate earthquake cake

How to Bake Earthquake Cake

Bake this cake for about 30-35 minutes. Because of the cream cheese and chocolate chips it may be hard to tell when this cake is done. Don’t over bake the cake, but be certain the center isn’t too jiggly.

How to Serve Earthquake Cake

If you want to cut clean slices of this cake, be sure to allow it to cool completely. It’s a gooey cake with all of the cream cheese and chocolate and is a delicious mess when warm. If you’d like to serve it warm, scoop it with a spoon into bowls soon after baking and it will be more like a dump cake texture. Add a scoop of ice cream!German Chocolate Earthquake Cake in a 9x13 baking pan


Because this cake has a cream cheese layer, it’s best to store it in the refrigerator. Allow the cake to cool completely, cover it and then pop it in the fridge.

German Chocolate Earthquake Cake on a plate

Other Chocolate Cake Recipes

German Chocolate Earthquake Cake in a baking pan
German Chocolate Earthquake Cake in a baking pan

German Chocolate Earthquake Cake

4.62 from 21 votes
If you love chocolate and coconut, make this easy German Chocolate Earthquake Cake! With rich chocolate and cream cheese swirls, you'll never believe this starts with a box cake mix.
Servings 15
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9x13 pan with a non-stick spray.
  • Start by layering the coconut, chocolate chips and pecans on the bottom of your prepared pan. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, oil, eggs and water until combined. Pour the cake mix batter over the top of your layers in the pan and lightly spread around.
  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter and cream cheese on the stovetop. Pour the butter and cream cheese mixture into a large bowl and add in the powdered sugar. Using a mixer, mix together the powdered sugar and butter until a creamy consistency has been reached.
  • Spoon the cream cheese mixture over the top of the cake mix layer in your pan. Then, swirl a knife around the cake pan to create a swirling pattern between the cream cheese and cake mix. Don’t mix too much, just enough to combine the two with a pretty pattern.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  •  Cool completely before cutting if you want clean slices. If you don’t mind a dump style cake and want to eat it warm you may do so. It's delicious served with ice cream!



The calories shown are based on the cake being cut into 15 pieces, with 1 serving being 1 slice of cake. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**


Calories: 488kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 304mg | Potassium: 209mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 42g | Vitamin A: 450IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 2.3mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 488
Keyword box cake mix recipe, chocolate cake, coconut cake, cream cheese cake

german chocolate earthquake cake title image

About Julie Clark

We are Julie, Maddie, and Kinslee – a mother and daughter team sharing with you the best cakes to satisfy any need or sweet craving that you may have. Welcome to our family’s kitchen!

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4.62 from 21 votes (18 ratings without comment)
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5 stars
Can I make this cake in a tinfoil pan as I’m going to be bringing it to a family party! 😋
Thank you!!

5 stars
Sorry. I reviewed the wrong thing

Last edited 3 years ago by Lauren

5 stars
This cake is delicious! I love German Chocolate cake but this is a great substitute and very easy. My whole family loves it! I’ll make this again.

5 stars
I have made this cake several times, and it is one of my favorites.