Gluten Free Pumpkin Earthquake Cake

Gluten free pumpkin earthquake cake with craters of cream cheese filling and butterscotch chips will become your new fall favorite dessert!

Oh. My. Goodness, y’all!! If you’ve ever had the original earthquake cake made with chocolate cake mix (or German chocolate cake mix), this gluten free pumpkin version is gonna blow you away!

What is Gluten Free Pumpkin Earthquake Cake?

If you’ve never had earthquake cake, you’re in for a real treat! Usually earthquake cake is made with a German chocolate cake mix and is loaded with coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips. Then a sweetened cream cheese mixture is dolloped on top and the whole thing is baked.

What happens in the oven is why this cake is called “earthquake.” As the cake bakes, the cream cheese bubbles up and down, creating craters and dips of gooeyness. When I first had a piece of earthquake cake, I was instantly hooked. I made it for my family and my mom said it was one of her favorite cakes ever!

I decided, for all the fall feels, to turn the original chocolate earthquake cake into a pumpkin earthquake cake and boy, am I glad I did! Honestly, it may actually be better than the original (and I’m a huge chocolate fan).

The Cast of Characters

Here’s what you’ll need to make the cake from scratch:

  • Kim’s gluten free flour blend–or your favorite store bought blend that contains xanthan gum, such as Cup4Cup (affiliate link).
  • Cornstarch
  • Baking powder
  • Buttermilk
  • Vanilla
  • Butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Pumpkin puree–not pumpkin pie filling
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Eggs
  • Cream cheese
  • Powdered sugar
  • Butterscotch chips–make sure they’re gluten free. Some brands, such as Nestle, contain barley flavoring so they are NOT gluten free. Hershey’s are, as are Aldi’s store brand.
whole pan of gf pumpkin earthquake cake


Earthquake cakes are usually made with cake mixes, just to make it even easier than ever to throw together. But I’m not one for buying gluten free cake mixes. I did once when I was first diagnosed and it was nasty (in my opinion). So I make my own cake batter.

If you want to, you can certainly use a mix. I would suggest using a gluten free spice cake mix, and the only one I know of is made by Namaste (affiliate link). Or you could use a yellow cake mix (affiliate link). If you go the cake mix route, use the add-ins called for on the box, in addition to the pumpkin and spice.

The original earthquake cake is sprinkled with pecans and coconut on the bottom of the cake, but I didn’t do either of those this time. While the pecans would play well with the pumpkin cake, I don’t feel like coconut and pumpkin are friends. At least in my world. If they are in your world, feel free to add them 🙂

Also, chocolate chips are a norm in the chocolate version of earthquake cake. Again, I’m not fond of pumpkin and chocolate being buddies so I chose to use butterscotch chips instead. But even white chocolate chips would also work well here. Just make sure to use gluten free chips, whichever ones you decide on.

pumpkin earthquake cake before baked

If you’re looking for a great new pumpkin treat to try, give this one a go! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good and how easy it is to make!!

slice of pumpkin earthquake cake

Gluten Free Pumpkin Earthquake Cake

Gluten free pumpkin earthquake cake with craters of cream cheese filling and butterscotch chips will become your new fall favorite dessert!
Print Recipe
Keywordearthquake cake, Gluten Free, pumpkin
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time55 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Servings16 servings


  • cups (385 g) Kim's gluten free flour blend (or your favorite high quality blend, such as Cup4Cup)
  • ¼ cup (30 g) cornstarch
  • tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup plus 6 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces (226 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (113 g) butter, melted
  • 3 cups (375 g) powdered sugar
  • ½ cup (85 g) butterscotch chips (or more to taste) (Nestle are not gluten free)


  • Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • Combine buttermilk and vanilla extract in large measuring cup. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the pumpkin and blend briefly.
  • With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the dry and the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry. Don't overmix. Allow the batter to sit for 10-15 minutes while making the cream cheese mixture.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the cream cheese until smooth. Add the melted butter, followed slowly by the powdered sugar.
  • Scoop the cake batter into a well-greased 9 by 13-inch pan. Dollop the cream cheese mixture all over the top of the cake and use a knife to swirl it through. Sprinkle on the butterscotch chips.
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out mostly clean.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator.


If you would like to make this with a gluten free cake mix, add the eggs, oil, etc per the cake mix box instructions.  Then add 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin and 1 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice and proceed as directed above with the cream cheese topping.  

8 thoughts on “Gluten Free Pumpkin Earthquake Cake”

  • The instructions don’t include what to do with the cornstarch listed in ingredients. I assume it goes in with the other dry ingredients and it was just missed in the instruction section, but will you please confirm? Thanks. I’m looking forward to trying this; it looks delicious!

    • I’m so sorry, Connie! They are supposed to be sifted with the rest of the dry ingredients. I am fixing that right now.

      Thank you for catching this for me 🥰

  • Kim, I made this yesterday and it was a winner!!! Shared some with the neighbors because it was so good, and they loved it too 🥰 so moist and flavorful, yum!!!

  • no instructions on what to do with the cup of buttermilk . . . i mean it’s obvious but just say’n 🙂

    made this with the modification of oat n honey granola sprinkled on the top instead of butterscotch chips and up’d the pumpkin spice a notch, everyone loved it. . . .

    you need a community manager & editor lady 🙂 get some of those hordes of followers you have to jump in and do some werk . . . as always, watch’n – cook’n – try’n to be ‘not the butthead’ when i find stuff / question or comment . . .i’m just old, slow and stoned comes with gruff n ruff . . .

    never forget i think you ARE A GODDESS . . . the pick and poke is only because i know what you are doing and just how valuable it is and wish you nothing but the greatest of success, support and exposure . . . this is cook’n for the world in the best of fashions.

    • Hahaha! I’m no goddess, that’s for sure!! And I appreciate when people point out my error because I want to fix them.

      However, I did notice in this recipe that I stated what to do with the buttermilk. First I said to mix it with the vanilla, and then in step 6 I state to alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients (the buttermilk/vanilla mixture is the wet ingredients).

      I very much appreciate you keeping me on my toes 😊

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