This Easy Pumpkin Earthquake Cake is a moist pumpkin cake recipe with butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut, and it’s one of the best fall dessert recipes! Doctored up cake mix is swirled with a cream cheese filling, making a rich, gooey pumpkin cake that’s 100% over-the-top and downright delicious.
Pumpkin Earthquake Cake is an easy fall recipe that is sure to be a crowd pleaser!
Have you heard of this? Have you eaten this? Do you want to? (Yes. Always yes.)
If you’re familiar with what it is, you know what I’m talking about when I say it’s practically irresistible. If you’re not familiar with it, let me be the first to tell you about this life changing, rich, gooey and utterly ridiculously delicious dessert.
It’s almost like pumpkin cake meets brownie meets pudding and it’s weird and wonderful all at once.
Then you add pumpkin and spice to the mix and it’s pretty much the fall dessert of all of my hopes and dreams (and hopefully yours as well).
This gooey Pumpkin Cake is one of those desserts where it’s perfectly understandable if you eat it straight out of the dish.
Absolutely no judgement on my end, especially since I’ve definitely done that before.
- This Cream Cheese Glazed Pumpkin Bundt Cake? It happened.
- This Brownie Bottom Pumpkin Cream Pie? You betcha.
- And this Oreo Chocolate Cream Pie? I couldn’t help myself.
Were they low moments? Probably. Were they also great moments? Oh yeah. Ohhh yeahhhh.
Let’s Talk About This Recipe For Earthquake Cake:
- Easy: This cake recipe begins with cake mix–doctored up cake mix so you can rest assured this pumpkin cake is flavorful, moist, and hard to resist.
- Cream Cheese: There’s nothing better than a cream cheese pumpkin cake. Honestly, I don’t know if an earthquake cake without cream cheese could even be referred to as its namesake. As the cream cheese filling bakes, the cheesecake like filling sinks to the bottom, creating cracks in the pumpkin cake.
- Butterscotch: Butterscotch and pumpkin go very well together, and it’s what makes this the best earthquake cake recipe. If you’re not a butterscotch fan (who are you?!), you can use any chips you’d like–white chocolate, semi sweet chocolate, milk chocolate, etc.
- Coconut and Pecans: Not everyone is a fan of coconut and pecans, which is understandable. So, can you make an earthquake cake recipe without coconut or nuts? Yes, you can; however, the pumpkin cake won’t have the same texture so I’d suggest substituting something for them. Use walnuts or almonds, instead of pecans, if you’d prefer. Consider adding toffee bits–it’s not the same texture as shredded coconut, but it adds an extra crunch.
What Is Earthquake Cake?
So, let’s talk about earthquake cakes for a hot second here. Namely, what are they?
- This cake gets its name because the cream cheese filling sinks a bit after the cake bakes, making the cake look a little cracked and uneven, as if it’s been through an earthquake.
- It’s so incredibly rich and gooey, it doesn’t need frosting, and all of those cracks and crevices in the cake make it visually interesting. Even if it isn’t the most perfect looking cake in the world, one bite and you’ll see that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. 😉
Basically, if you haven’t quite picked up what I’ve been putting down, earthquake cakes are pretty amazing, and this pumpkin version is top of the list. It’s incredibly easy, it feeds a crowd, and it’s full of pumpkin spice cake flavor. It’s rich and gooey, and it’s full of texture.
This recipe is based off a recipe clipped from a newspaper years ago. The original recipe was for a german chocolate earthquake cake, but because I was making a pumpkin cake version, I used white cake mix. You could easily use spiced cake mix or yellow cake mix as well.
The main ingredients for this Pumpkin Earthquake Cake recipe are:
- Cake Mix: As mentioned above, I use white cake mix for this recipe, but you can use yellow cake mix, or spice cake mix.
- Pumpkin Puree: Use pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. The two are often near each other in the grocery store, but they are not interchangeable. Pumpkin pie filling comes with lots of added extras we don’t want in this pumpkin recipe.
- Spices and Vanilla Extract: Can’t make a spiced pumpkin cake without pumpkin spices, am I right??
- Cream Cheese: Cream cheese is what gives earthquake cakes their signature cracked look, so it’s an essential ingredient.
- Oil & Butter
- Powdered Sugar & Brown Sugar
- Chocolate Chips & Butterscotch Chips: Use any kind of chips you’d prefer–white chocolate, milk chocolate, semi sweet, butterscotch, etc.
- Coconut and Pecans: If you don’t like pecans, I suggest substituting with walnuts or almonds or even macadamia nuts.
Is This A Pumpkin Earthquake Cake Recipe From Scratch?
- Technically, since we use cake mix, this is not 100% from scratch. However, the cake mix is doctored up and the rest of the recipe is made from scratch. Trust me, using cake mix in this recipe makes this such an easy pumpkin cake and it enhances the flavor and texture.
Does This Cake Need To Be Refrigerated?
- Since this is an earthquake cake with cream cheese, yes you should refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve. It can be eaten warm or cold. If you prefer to eat a warm pumpkin cake, and you’ve made this a day ahead of time, you can warm it in the oven before serving. Otherwise, I suggest serving earthquake cakes cold, especially because this pumpkin version reminds me a creamy pumpkin cheesecake.
How To Make:
As one of my pumpkin desserts, I consider this the best earthquake cake recipe. And the cherry on top? It’s such an easy pumpkin cake recipe.
- Step 1: Make The Pumpkin Cake Batter. Mix the dry cake mix with vegetable oil, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, spices, vanilla extract, and eggs.
- Step 2: Make The Cream Cheese Filling. By hand, with a hand mixer, or standing mixer, mix cream cheese, melted butter, and powdered sugar together.
- Step 3: Assembly. Sprinkle pecans and coconut in the bottom of the baking dish. Top with pumpkin cake batter, then dollop spoonfuls of the cream cheese filling on top of the pumpkin batter. Use a knife to swirl the cream cheese filling into the cake batter. Finally, top with butterscotch chips and chocolate chips.
- Step 4: Bake until the the top of the cake looks set, but the middle still jiggles when the pan is gently moved.
Final Earthquake Pumpkin Cake Tips & Tricks:
- Cake Mix: First things first, do not follow the instructions on the back of the cake mix. Due to some of the additional ingredients in this recipe, we use different measurements for some of the ingredients on the back of the box.
- Cream Cheese: For the cream cheese filling, you can either whisk the mixture together by hand, use a standing mixer, or use a hand mixer.
- Dollop: I like to dollop the cream cheese mixture over the top of the cake and then swirl the layers together, but you can also pour the the cream cheese mixture right on top and then swirl it together.
- Bake: Bake this for 35-36 minutes. While you want the top of the cake to be set, it’s all right if the cake jiggles slightly in the center when the pan is gently tapped. The cake will be gooey and rich and perfect.
- Earthquake Cake Variations: Swap out the pecans for walnuts, almonds, or macadamia nuts, if preferred. Use milk chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, semisweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, etc.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: This recipe for earthquake cake calls for a mixture of spices: cinnamon, allspice, and pumpkin pie spice. To give this a strong pumpkin spice flavor, you really need to use extra cinnamon and allspice, rather than simply using pumpkin pie spice.
After making this rich pumpkin cream cheese earthquake cake, try this Peanut Butter Earthquake Cake next!
This Easy Pumpkin Earthquake Cake is a moist pumpkin cake recipe with butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut, and it's one of the best fall dessert recipes! Doctored up cake mix is swirled with a cream cheese filling, making a rich, gooey pumpkin cake.
- 1 box white cake mix (15.25oz)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or canola)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8-1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 cup shredded coconut, sweetened sweetened
- 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips, optional
- 1/4 cup butterscotch chips, optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 baking pan.
- Sprinkle coconut and pecans over the bottom of the baking pan. Set aside.
In a bowl, mix cake mix, vegetable oil, water, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, all spice, vanilla extract and eggs together. Mix until well combined. Pour batter over the coconut and pecans.
- In a separate bowl, whisk (by hand or with a mixer) cream cheese, melted butter, and powdered sugar together. Once combined, dollop spoonfuls of the mixture on top of the pumpkin cake batter.
- Using a knife or toothpick, swirl the cream cheese and pumpkin cake together.
- Sprinkle chocolate chips and butterscotch chips on top and swirl the chips in with the cake.
- Bake for 35-36 minutes. The cake should be set on top but the center should still jiggle lightly when the cake pan is gently tapped.
- Allow to cool before serving. Due to the cream cheese in the cake, I prefer to eat this cake cold, but it can be eaten warm or at room temperature as well.
- Store leftovers in the fridge.
This post was first on Julie’s Eat and Treats, where I am a contributor.
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Oh my gosh!!! this cake looks so AMAZING I absolutely can’t wait to make it. Thank you for posting:)
You are so welcome! I hope you love it as much as we do!
Sugar free version
I modified this by using sugar free vanilla cake mix and Swerve brow sugar in the cake and using 1 1/2 cups Swerve Confectioners sugar in the cream cheese mixture. I did cheat a tiny bit by substituting a small sprinkling of toffe chips on top. Overall fabulous!
What size cake mix box do we use. 15 or 18 oz size. Thank you
Hi Doris! I used a 15 oz size. I’ll make a note of that in the recipe. 🙂 Thanks!
Can this be made ahead and frozen?
Hi Bethel, I’m not 100% certain since I haven’t frozen this recipe before, but I think that it should freeze just fine. 🙂
This was so good! I actually forgot to add the sugar to the cake part but without it it was still perfectly sweet! I also used unsweetened coconut flakes and a little less butter in the cream cheese filling. I liked these bars both hot and cold the next day.
Help! Our cake didn’t set up?!
Hey Nicole! So an earthquake cake is pretty gooey in the center because of the cream cheese filling. Do you think it was just gooey, or do you think there was something more wrong with it? It can be hard to troubleshoot without being there in the kitchen with you, but I’ll do my best! 😊
Hey, I made this cake this evening as well, but only the outside got done even though I baked it 15 min extra… I baked the undone center for another 15 min and now it is done. So next time I make it, I’ll bake it for a good hour.
Royce Ann says
Oh my, this was wonderful! I made it for a luncheon at church and it was amazing! I got so many compliments on it! I used additional white chocolate chips instead of pecans, just in case anyone had a nut allergy. Wonderful! Thanks for the recipe!
This was my first time making an earthquake cake, and pumpkin is my favorite flavor, so win-win! The cake turned out so moist and creamy and delicious! It was such a big hit in our house! I cut the powdered sugar down by half, and it was the perfect amount of sweetness for the family. Thanks for the recipe!
Courtney O says
Absolutely amazing! Thank you for the recipe. I only add in the pecans, but this is sooo good! You should make it, if you are reading this!