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

The irresistible cracks and crevices created in this Red Velvet Earthquake Cake are filled with ribbons of cream cheese filling, pecans, coconut, and chocolate chips, making this a sweet and easy sheet cake recipe with texture in every bite. This semi-homemade recipe starts with box cake mix and only requires 15 minutes of prep time. 

If you love all things red velvet, be sure to also check out our Red Velvet Whoopie Pies, Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Red Velvet Cupcakes!

A red velvet earthquake cake in a rectangular baking dish sliced into squares.

You don't even have to frost an earthquake cake because of the cream cheese frosting that is baked right into the cake, almost like a swirl of ooey-gooey cheesecake, that creates the signature cratered and cracked look of an earthquake cake.

Why this Recipe Works

  • No skill required! Not only is this an easy cake recipe that uses a boxed cake mix with homemade elements, but there is also no layering or decorating involved so it's perfect for a beginner baker.
  • Upping the chocolate factor. Red velvet isn't really about the chocolate, but who doesn't love a generous sprinkle of chocolate chips that melt right into the soft cake?
  • You don't even need frosting. The cream cheese swirl that bakes into the cake is essentially cream cheese frosting anyway, but without needed to fuss about spreading it onto a cooled cake.
A slice of red velvet earthquake cake on a plate in front of a glass of milk and a pan of cake.

Ingredient Notes

  • Cake mix: Use your favorite brand of red velvet cake mix to simplify things, or make red velvet cake batter from scratch. If using a mix, you will also need the eggs, oil, and water as listed on the package instructions.
  • Coconut: Shredded sweetened coconut adds a wonderful chewy texture and flavor to this type of cake.
  • Cream cheese: Room temperature cream cheese mixes much more easily and makes for rich swirls throughout the cake. We recommend using full-fat cream cheese for best results.
  • Chocolate chips: I like the combo of both semisweet and white chocolate chips, half of which are sprinkled on before baking. The other half are held in reserve for adding at the end after the cake comes out of the oven.

How to Make This Recipe

Start by making the cake mix according to the package instructions in a large mixing bowl. You can do it by hand with a whisk or using a mixer. Make the cream cheese filling in a separate bowl by beating softened cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Set aside.

Spray a 9x13-inch pan with baking spray, then sprinkle the coconut and pecans in an even layer, covering the bottom of the pan.

Pour the red velvet cake batter evenly over the coconut and pecans. Then dollop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture all over the top of the cake. You can use a knife to swirl the batters together, or just leave it like this.

Sprinkle half of the semisweet chocolate chips over the cake batter and bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean with just a few crumbs on it. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips, then cool before slicing and serving.

For the FULL RECIPE, be sure to visit Imperial Sugar's site.

Recipe FAQ's

Does this cake need to be refrigerated?

No, you don't need to refrigerate earthquake cake, although we enjoy eating it chilled. But there is enough sugar in the cream cheese filling to preserve it even when sitting out on the counter for a day or two.

Can I make this cake gluten-free?

Sure! Use your favorite gluten-free red velvet cake mix or favorite gluten-free red velvet cake recipe in place of the box mix in this recipe.

Can this cake be frozen?

Yes, you can freeze the cake whole or in individual slices for up to 3 months. Just let it cool completely, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Thaw at room temperature or overnight in the fridge before enjoying.

A piece of red velvet earthquake cake on a plate next to utensils and a glass of milk.

Recipe Tips

  • Don't swirl too much: If you want to swirl the cream cheese mixture into the cake batter, that's totally okay. Just don't go overboard swirling it too much or you won't have the same thick ribbons of cream cheese filling once the cake has baked.
  • Wait to add white chocolate chips until the end. When you sprinkle white chocolate chips on top of the cake before baking they have a tendency to toast and not give the pretty, bright white results. It's best to sprinkle them on at the end.
  • Other flavors: You can easily swap out the red velvet cake mix for another favorite flavor for a different kind of earthquake cake.

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!

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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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