This post was created as in partnership with Imperial Sugar. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

No fancy decorating skills are needed for this easy Gingerbread Earthquake Cake! The frosting is swirled right into the shortcut gingerbread cake batter over a layer of coconut and pecans for a cake that is bursting with holiday spice!

A slice of gingerbread earthquake cake on a plate.

Table of Contents
  1. What You'll Need
  2. How to Make This Recipe
  3. Recipe FAQ's
  4. Tips for Success
  5. Storage Instructions
  6. More Festive Holiday Recipes

This Gingerbread Earthquake Cake has craters of sweet cream cheese frosting baked right into the spiced cake batter for a perfectly imperfect look that is bursting with festive flavor and loads of texture. It’s easy, delicious, and just the thing for laid-back holiday entertaining.

I usually prefer making desserts from scratch but with the craziness of the holiday season it's always helpful to have a semi-homemade dessert as a go-to for holiday gatherings. This one uses a spice cake mix (or gingerbread cake mix, if you can find one) as the base and gets a classic gingerbread boost thanks to some molasses and ground ginger.

Earthquake cake is popular around here and I have already shared my Lemon Earthquake Cake and Red Velvet Earthquake Cake recipes, so this gingerbread earthquake cake is a Christmas spin on an old favorite!

If you are love holiday desserts that aren't cookies, you might also like our Festive Cranberry Coconut Cake, Pumpkin Roll, or Peppermint Bark Cheesecake!

What You'll Need

Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

  • Gingerbread or spice cake mix
  • Shredded sweetened coconut
  • Pecans
  • White chocolate chips
  • Molasses
  • Ground ginger
  • Water
  • Oil
  • Eggs
  • Cream Cheese
  • Salted butter
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt
Ingredients for gingerbread earthquake cake.

How to Make This Recipe

  1. Beat cake mix, ginger, water, oil, molasses, and eggs in a large bowl for 2 minutes on medium speed until combined.
  1. Sprinkle coconut, pecans, and white chocolate chips over bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Pour the cake batter over the bottom layer.
  1. Beat cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt until combined. Drop spoonfuls of cream cheese mixture over cake batter.
  1. Gently swirl into batter with a knife. You don't want to disturb the bottom layer too much, but it's not a huge deal if you do.
  2. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 55-60 minutes until done. As you can see, the frosting sinks down into the batter and everything bubbles up a bit, so it might be a good idea to bake it on a baking sheet lined with foil for easy cleanup in case it spills over in the oven a bit.

Be sure to visit Imperial Sugar's site for the FULL RECIPE and instructions.

Recipe FAQ's

Why is it called an earthquake cake?

An earthquake cake gets its name because it looks like the surface of the ground after an earthquake. The different layers in the cake create a wavy, uneven pattern, just like the ground might look after it shakes. It's a fun way to describe how the cake's layers form while baking!

Do I need to frost an earthquake cake?

You don't necessarily need to frost an earthquake cake! Its unique layers and textures make it delicious on its own. Some versions have a topping that forms during baking, like a coconut-pecan layer, so frosting might not be needed. However, if you prefer a sweeter touch or want to add a decorative element, you can certainly frost it lightly or drizzle it with a glaze once it's cooled. It's all about your personal taste!

Tips for Success

  • Don't overbake. Possibly the hardest thing about making an earthquake cake is knowing when it is done because you can't always tell with a toothpick test. Instead, try bouncing your finger on the top of the cake in a spot that doesn't have the cream cheese swirls. If it leaves a depression, the cake needs to bake a little longer. If it bounces right back, the cake should be done.
  • Bake over a foil-lined pan. Sometimes the cream cheese swirls bubble up and over the edges of the pan. You never quite know with earthquake cake. So it's helpful to bake over a foil-lined baking sheet for easy cleanup afterwards.
  • Get creative! Want even more ginger flavor? Add some chopped candied ginger to the bottom layer or some broken up gingersnap cookies!
Plates of sliced gingerbread earthquake cake.

Storage Instructions

Once the cake has cooled completely, cover it with plastic wrap and store on the counter at room temperature for 4-5 days or in the fridge for about a week. Because the cream cheese has been mixed with sugar and baked, it will be just fine sitting out for a few days. If refrigerating the cake, let it come to room temperature before serving.

You can freeze leftover earthquake cake for up to 2 months. Let it thaw on the counter for a few hours or consider warming up slices in the microwave before enjoying.

Be sure to stop by Imperial Sugar's site for the FULL RECIPE. I have partnered with them now for a few years and love their products for my baking needs!

More Festive Holiday Recipes

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.

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A close up image of a slice of moist gingerbread earthquake cake.

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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