German Chocolate Earthquake Cake

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Try our easy-to-make, gooey Earthquake Cake, an upside-down German chocolate cake with layers of cream cheese, coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips. Perfect for any occasion, this easy dessert recipe will quickly become a family favorite.

Slice of earthquake cake with cream cheese.

Hey friends! I’m so excited to share one of my all-time favorite desserts with you today, the earthquake cake.

This cake has a special place in my heart because I first discovered it in one of my granny’s old 1990s cookbooks.

It’s a classic, but I’ve given it my own twist by using German chocolate cake mix and adding semi-sweet chocolate chips on top. Trust me, it makes this cake so good!

If you love rich, gooey desserts that are a blast to make, you’re going to adore our earthquake cake recipe.

The combination of cream cheese, coconut, and chocolate creates the most amazing layers of flavor. Plus, watching the cake crack and shift as it bakes is really neat.

I can’t wait for you to try this upside-down German chocolate cake and make it a favorite in your home too.

And if you’re into classic desserts, don’t forget to check out some of my other recipes, like coconut custard pie, fresh apple cake, and blackberry cobbler.

Slice of german chocolate cake on a stack o fplates.

Why is it called an Earthquake Cake?

The name comes from the way the cake looks after baking. The cream cheese mixture creates cracks and shifts in the cake, giving it an “earthquake” appearance.

Tips for the Perfect German Chocolate Earthquake Cake


Prevent Overflow: The cream cheese mixture can get quite bubbly as the cake bakes. To avoid any mess in your oven, place a sheet pan on a separate rack below the cake pan. This will catch any potential overflow and make cleanup a breeze.

Customize Your Mix-Ins: While I love the combination of German chocolate cake mix and semi-sweet chocolate chips on top, feel free to get creative! You can add more nuts, shredded coconut, or even white chocolate chips for a different flavor and texture.

German chocolate earthquake cake in a pan.

How to Store Leftover Cake

Refrigeration: Store any leftover earthquake cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for up to 5 days.

Freezing: To freeze the cake, let it cool completely first. Then, wrap individual slices or the whole cake tightly in plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil. The cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to enjoy it, thaw the cake in the refrigerator overnight.

Serving Tips: For the best texture and flavor, let refrigerated slices come to room temperature before serving. If you’re having it straight from the fridge, warm individual slices in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds to bring back some of that ooey, gooey goodness.

Scoop of german chocolate earthquake cake on a stack of gray plates.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Absolutely! While I love using German chocolate cake mix for its rich flavor, you can use any chocolate cake mix you prefer.

Some great options include devil’s food cake mix for a deeper chocolate flavor, red velvet cake mix, or even a classic yellow cake mix for a milder, sweeter taste.

No problem! You can use milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or even white chocolate chips instead.

Sure! Just leave them or replace with extra shredded coconut.

Two plates with a slice of earthquake cake.

German Chocolate Earthquake Cake Recipe

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Author: Kimberly
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Cool Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 20 Servings


  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
  • 13.25 ounces German chocolate cake mix, (See note)
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil, or canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 8 ounces block-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, any variety


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F, and grease a 9×13-inch cake pan.
  • Sprinkle the coconut and pecans in an even layer across the bottom of the cake pan.
    1 cup chopped pecans
    2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
  • In a large mixing bowl, prepare the cake batter according to the package directions. Carefully pour the batter into the pan, taking care not to displace the coconut and pecans.
    13.25 ounces German chocolate cake mix
    1 cup water
    ½ cup vegetable oil
    3 large eggs
  • In a separate bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract until smooth and free of lumps. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until completely combined.
    8 ounces block-style cream cheese
    ½ cup unsalted butter
    ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    3 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • Drop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture onto the cake batter.
  • Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the cream cheese mixture.
    1 cup chocolate chips
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool most of the way before serving.

Suggested Equipment


  • The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of 1 slice of cake. Actual calories will vary.
  • The water, oil, and eggs listed in the ingredients are specific to the brand of cake mix we used. Use the amounts listed on the box of mix you purchase. It may differ from ours.
  • Skip to Tips.
  • Skip to Storage.
  • Skip to FAQs.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 422kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 268mg | Potassium: 141mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 354IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition Disclaimer

Kim and John Vargo of Berly’s Kitchen and its affiliates are not dieticians or nutritionists. Any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If preferred, use your favorite online nutrition calculator to double check the amounts. Calories and other nutritional values can vary based on brand and serving size.

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