How to Make a Volcano Cake (With Smoke and Flowing Lava)

Candace has a broad range of interests that keep her head filled with strange facts, such as experimental cooking, games, and mad science.

This volcano cake is smoking hot!

This volcano cake is smoking hot!

Looking for a recipe that will really wow your guests? This active volcano cake—complete with smoke and flowing lava—won't disappoint. The steps in this guide are easy to follow, so even amateur cake makers can tackle this mountain. You bake the cake, decorate it, and then simply add the effects. Easy peasy!

This volcano cake recipe is doubly good because it combines the moist taste of molten lava cakes with an erupting volcano for a one-of-kind lava cake experience.

Volcano cakes are perfect for luaus, dinosaur parties, fire-themed parties, science-themed parties, or just for parties in general. Kids will love it and adults will definitely enjoy it, too.

So get ready to erupt your next party with a volcano cake!

How hot is this cake?

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

1 hour

40 min

1 hour 40 min

3 cakes (30 to 45 servings)

Here are the basic volcano cake ingredients.

Here are the basic volcano cake ingredients.


  • 3 boxes cake mix, any flavor
  • approximately 9 eggs, see the cake mix boxes for exact count
  • approximately 2 cups oil
  • 1 to 2 cans condensed milk, sweetened
  • 4 containers cake icing, 3 chocolate for the outside of the cake
  • 1 package toffee or other brown candy pieces like peanut butter chips, optional
  • 1/2 container Hershey's chocolate powder, optional
  • Crumbled cookies, optional
  • Cake picks, plastic figures, or any other decoration
  • 1 package strawberry glaze
  • 1 to 2 pounds of dry ice

Instructions for Making the Cake

  1. Combine the cake mixes, eggs, and oil together. You will follow the directions on the box of your specific cake mix. Some mixes might have different ingredients. But basically you will combine the ingredients and then mix.
  2. If you are using the same type of cake mix for all 3 layers, they can all be combined in the same bowl. This helps because you can make the bottom layer bigger than a normal cake and the top layer smaller than a normal cake.
  3. If you are using different types of cake mix for different layers, mix each of them separately.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (or the recommended temperature on your cake mix).
  5. Oil three cake pans very well so the cake won't stick. Try to use one big pan, one medium pan, and one small pan. This will make shaping the cake much easier.
  6. Pour the cake mix into the pans. The pan for the bottom layer should have the most cake if you just have one type of mix.
  7. Bake the cakes for approximately 25 minutes. Remove the top two layers. Leave the bottom layer in the oven.
  8. Poke holes into the top of the middle and top layer of cake. Use the handle of a teaspoon or the end of mixer. The holes should be between 1/4 and 1/2 an inch wide.
  9. Pour the condensed milk into the holes and all over the top of the cake. You should use at least one full can of the condensed milk. This will give the cake the moist, molten taste and texture.
  10. Put the two layers back into the oven for 10 more minutes or until they are done.
  11. Remove all three layers when they are done. Use a toothpick or a fork to check them. Stick the fork or the toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out without any cake sticking to it, the cake is ready.
  12. Allow the cakes to cool for at least an hour. 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours to cool would be ideal.

Decorating the Cake

  1. You will need something to put the cake on. A sturdy piece of cardboard works great. The back of a poster picture frame is what was used for this cake. If you have a large tray, you can put the volcano in it. This may be better if you need to transport the cake or if you are concerned about the lava flow.
  2. Cover the cardboard or whatever you are using. Butcher paper or brown wrapping paper will look the best. Tape it down on the back side to keep it from sliding and messing up the cake.
  3. Spread aluminum foil under the bottom layer leaving excess on the sides. This will act as a barrier or moat for the lava to keep it from making a mess everywhere.
  4. Gently remove the cakes from the pans and stack the layers on the board.
  5. Find a tall, narrow cup to use for the lava. I recommend using a plastic cup since there will be dry ice in it. If you use a glass for the lava, there is a small chance that the dry ice could freeze the glass making it more susceptible to shattering.
  6. Cut a hole in the middle of the cakes big enough for the lava cup to fit in.
  7. Ice in between the layers of the cake to make the cake secure and to hold the layers together.
  8. Use a knife to shave off the cake to form the mountain shape. Round the edges and trim off excess. You can use the bits of the cake from the hole you cut earlier to fill in any gaps.
  9. Make sure you put your lava cup into the cake before you start adding the icing to the outside.
  10. Heat the chocolate icing in the microwave for about 30 seconds to 1 minute stirring halfway through. You want the icing warm enough that it can be poured onto the cake like a liquid.
  11. Carefully pour the icing over the cake. Icing the outside of cake this way will make it look even more like a volcano with ridges of hardened lava. It will probably take 2 to 3 containers of icing to cover the volcano. You can drizzle it into the lava cup a bit just to cover the edge and disguise it.
  12. Sprinkle bits of the toffee and/or peanut butter chips around the volcano to look like dirt and rocks.
  13. Add any other decoration. Palm tree cupcake pics or other luau-themed cake decorations look great. You can also use paper umbrellas or plastic dinosaurs. You can make your own edible palm trees with toothpicks and dried kiwi slices.
  14. Roll up the excess aluminum foil close to the base of the cake. This will help catch the lava as it flows down the mountain.
  15. You can use cocoa powder or crumbled cookie bits to look like dirt. You can pour them around the base of the volcano to cover up the aluminum foil. They will also absorb the lava some as it flows down. If you have any of the cake left from the cup hole, you can crumble it to cover the aluminum foil and to look like dirt.

Watch the Cake Erupt!

Adding the Effects

  1. It is best to test the lava before you try it in the cake. You can just use a small amount in a short cup. Put the cup in a bowl to catch any that flows over the edge.
  2. You will need to water down the glaze to make it the right consistency to flow down the cake. If you don't water it down any, it will bubble in the cup when the dry ice is added, but it won't roll down the sides very much because it will be too thick.
  3. In a bowl, mix equal parts water with the glaze. Stir them well. Test a bit in the small cup. Heat it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Add in a piece of dry ice. If it bubbles over and flows easily, then it is the right consistency. If it doesn't, mix in a bit more water till it does flow well. You may also need to heat it more. The warmer it is, the more effective the dry ice will be.
  4. When it is time to present the cake, heat the glaze in the microwave until it is warm to the touch.
  5. Put several pieces of dry ice into the lava cup. Use tongs or wear gloves to touch the dry ice. Don't use your bare hands. Dry ice is safe to use, but it can give you a frostbite-like burn if you touch it directly.
  6. Carefully pour the lava into the cup until it is brimming over the edge. It should instantly start smoking and bubbling as soon as it touches the dry ice.
  7. The lava will bubble and smoke for several minutes. If you want to keep the effect going, add more lava and pieces of dry ice as necessary.
  8. The lava will flow down the mountain, but it won't be a huge flood unless you pour way too much into the cup. If you are worried, have towels handy to quickly catch any excess. You can put the cake into a large pan or tray to catch any lava flows if you want to.
  9. When you are done admiring the active volcano, start cutting and serving the cake to your impressed guests. Spoon some "lava" over the cake pieces to make the cake even more moist and delicious.

Another Volcano Cake Method

Volcano Cake Alternative Methods

  • The layers of the cake don't have to be the same cake flavor. You can use different types of cake. You can use two kinds or even three. Chocolate cakes or red velvet cakes are suggested mainly because they match the volcano coloring, but feel from to choose your favorite cake type.
  • You can make a smaller volcano. The 3 full cakes is recommended for the optimal volcano appearance. But you can use just 2 boxes of cake mix or even use just one cake and cut it to form the volcano.
  • If you are looking for an easier method to form the volcano, you can use a bundt cake or even an angel food cake. The cup for the lava will fit inside the hole in the cake without having to do much of any cutting and shaping (check out the video to the right to see how it would work). I would suggest making one flat cake and one bundt cake. The bundt cake (or angel food cake) can sit on top of the flat cake to give the volcano a bit more breadth.
  • The molten step of this volcano cake recipe can be left out if you prefer. Just eliminate the steps where you poke holes in the cake and pour in the condensed milk. This just makes the cake more moist and gooey like lava.
  • You could leave off the special effects (dry ice and bubbling lava) and just make a molten cake. The condensed milk will make the cake "melt in your mouth" moist. You can add strawberry glaze or chocolate syrup or even caramel syrup to the top for even more of a molten taste. There are also several recipes to make molten cakes that actually have a gooey chocolate center.
  • You can substitute a red-colored Jello that hasn't congealed for the strawberry glaze (again see the video to the right). It won't be as flavorful, though. The steps to mix the Jello and to water down the glaze are about the same, so one isn't really easier than the other. It is an option for anyone who can't or doesn't want use glaze.
  • If you don't want to deal with lava flows, you can skip the lava altogether and just use dry ice for a smoking effect. You will still need the cup in the middle of the cake. Just add a few pieces of dry ice into it and pour in warm water to make the smoking effect.

Volcano Poll

© 2012 Candace Bacon

Let your comments erupt.

Mizan on May 09, 2020:

I thought the cake would be cooked on volcano! :)

GreenMind Guides from USA on October 07, 2015:

Wow this looks delicious! This is a really cool hub and a great topic. Smart advice and I learned a lot. Thanks for this excellent hub!

Candace Bacon (author) from Far, far away on July 22, 2014:

SamitaJassi - Thank you!

Elena and Shraddha - Thanks! Good luck on your project. Hope it turned out well.

Elena and Shraddha on June 18, 2014:

Thanks for the awesome recipe! We will definately use this for our S&E project (Thanks for the A+)! The facts and tips are really helpful. Congats on HOTD.

Samita Sharma from Chandigarh on October 17, 2013:

Very cute! I like it hub and video. Thanks for sharing. Good thing I stopped by on your hub and got these great idea. :D

Candace Bacon (author) from Far, far away on January 15, 2013:

Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed it.

gfcampbell - Hope your nephew's birthday was amazing!

Ishwaryaa Dhandapani from Chennai, India on January 13, 2013:

An amazing hub filled with wonderful videos, detailed instructions and handy step-by-step photos! Your volcano cake looked incredible! Belated congrats on the hub of the day! Way to go!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up & pinned

torrilynn on November 26, 2012:

I think that it is cool on how you can make this cake. Interesting. Voted up.

gfcampbell on November 14, 2012:

Awesome!!!! My newphen's birthday is Sunday. He will be 30 and totally surprised. Awesome! Awesom! Awesome

Candace Bacon (author) from Far, far away on October 13, 2012:

Robie Benve - Thanks so much! I'm glad your kids loved it. Maybe they will get a chance to try it one day.

Purple Perl - Thank you! It was tons of fun to make.

Lemon - Thanks!

Trish303 - Hope your boys get a chance to eat it. Thank you!

Brenda from Springfield, MO on September 03, 2012:

My boys would love this. Grate hub thanks.

Lemon on August 10, 2012:

I follow recipes. I think it is quite beautiful. also interesting.

Esther Shamsunder from Bangalore,India on July 08, 2012:

Best fun cake recipe ever! Will bake this!

Great pictures and step by step instructions, thanks! Congrats too!Vote up!

Robie Benve from Ohio on July 02, 2012:

I watched you video with my children and they are both asking for the volcano cake for their birthday now! What a fun cake!

Great job and a well deserved hub of the day!

Candace Bacon (author) from Far, far away on July 01, 2012:

@ Simone Smith - Wow! Thanks so much for the praise. It looks so much cooler in person. You should definitely make it!

@ Thelma Alberts - Thanks you! My husband and I worked hard on this one. (That's him in the video).

@ ktrapp - Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! The eruption is my favorite part. And the cake tastes very good, especially with the "lava" on it.

@ randomcreative - Thanks! I filled up my camera's memory card on this one!

@ rosika - The effects look more difficult than they really are. Dry ice is amazing stuff. Thanks for the fabulous comparison to tv chefs!

@ pstraubie48 - I'm sure kids would love this cake. My nieces and nephew saw this and were thrilled. It would make learning about volcanoes much more interactive and exciting. Thanks!

@ subscribing - Thank you!

@ Radikum - I guess it is the tops when they are combined then! Thanks!

@ RTalloni - This is for sure a fun party cake. Thank you!

@ Hui (?) - Thanks!

@ dreamer18 - Glad to introduce you to it. Thanks!

@ DreamerMeg - Thanks so much! Check your grocery store for dry ice. A lot of them carry it year round.

@ Riverfish24 - Thank you!

@ denisemai - Thanks!

@ livingpah2004 - Thank you!

@ QudsiaP1 - Spectacular parties are my specialty. Thank so much!

@ zsobig - Thank you!

@ DzyMsLizzy - Thank you very much! I hope you get a chance to make it. It is a fun cake to watch (and eat!).

@ mary615 - It was a bit of work, but it was worth it! Thank you!

@ rebeccamealey - It would be great for a lot of different things. It is a surprisingly versatile cake. Thanks!

@ WryLilt - That's a good idea and I wish I could. Since it is a video hub, the video has to be at the top. I have discovered that I can change the video thumbnail, though. Thanks!

@ gramarye - Thanks! Those buttons get playful sometimes.

@ HawaiiHeart - Dry ice is awesome stuff. It is great to eat, but watching it is better. Have you seen real volcanoes?

@ TrahnTheMan - It is crowd pleaser for kids. And the adults love it to. Thank you!

@ prasetio30 - Thank you and thanks for sharing it!

Candace Bacon (author) from Far, far away on July 01, 2012:

I am so honored to have had this hub chosen for the contest and for HOTD! Thank you everyone! That's so exciting!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on July 01, 2012:

I had never seen like this before. I'll share with student. Thanks for share with us. Voted up!

TrahnTheMan from Asia, Oceania & between on July 01, 2012:

There's a lot of love in this recipe and I KNOW about a zillion kids who are going to be in awe of this cake at the next birthday party! Thanks for sharing!

HawaiiHeart from Hawaii on June 30, 2012:

I like the idea of the dry ice. This would definitely be a super cool cake for a party. It would be so much fun to both make it and eat it!

gramarye from Adelaide - Australia on June 30, 2012:

Great hub - I'd share it on facebook if I could find the share button!

Susannah Birch from Toowoomba, Australia on June 30, 2012:

Can I suggest creating a "Made For Pinterest" image with a photo and the title of the hub - placing it at the top right of the hub. You'll probably get lots of pins on this one!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on June 30, 2012:

Wow! What a cool cake. This is about the coolest thing I have seen in awhile. It would be good for so many events from Halloween parties to science class projects!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on June 30, 2012:

My goodness! I am speechless. You really took a lot of time and effort to complete this volcano cake. Good Job. I voted it UP, etc. and shared.

Congrats on HOTD.. you deserve it!

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on June 30, 2012:

WOW!! What an awesome and creative idea! Great instructions and video as well. Congratulations on a well-deserved Hub of the Day!

I'm definitely saving this recipe, as well as passing it along to my daughter.

Voted up, awesome, interesting, funny and shared here and of FB!

Sophie from United Kingdom on June 30, 2012:

Great, very detailed hub, thanks for sharing this!

QudsiaP1 on June 30, 2012:

Cocopreme, I am SOOOO going to show up to your party when you throw the next one because I know it will be an absolute blast! :P

Milli from USA on June 30, 2012:

So cool! Congratulation on HOTD!

Denise Mai from Idaho on June 30, 2012:

Whoa. That's awesome!

Riverfish24 from United States on June 30, 2012:

fabolous hub! Congrats..

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on June 30, 2012:

Wow! Just how creative can you be? This is an absolutely fantastic idea. I think I am going to have to try this out. Now, can I buy dry ice round here?

dreamer18 from San Diego, CA on June 30, 2012:

Never heard this kind of cake. Voted up!

Congratulations on Hub of he day!

Hui (蕙) on June 30, 2012:

A lot stuff, and the hub is nice!

RTalloni on June 30, 2012:

Very cool recipe. :)

Congrats on your Hub of the Day for a fun party cake!

Radikum from Maryland on June 30, 2012:

that's cool! I like volcanoes but I love cake!

subscribing on June 30, 2012:

Hey! Congratulations on your Hub!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on June 30, 2012:

This is quite a cake!! Kids would love it if one were brought into the classroom. The instructions are clear and seem easy to follow. Thank you for sharing your special cake with us. Congratulations on hub of the day, too.

rosika on June 30, 2012:

This is more than just amazing....I was so amazed watching it done by chefs in TV, but I can't believe that you were able to make it at home...Thanks for sharing! I will definitely try it!

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 29, 2012:

Wow, what an impressive recipe! Thanks for all of the details photos, video, and instructions. This was definitely deserving of a recipe contest prize. Congrats!

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on June 29, 2012:

What an amazing colossal volcano cake! You didn't miss a detail and not only does it look fun to make and watch erupt, but I bet it tastes pretty good too. I spent so much time entranced by watching the video when you posted this yesterday that I ran out of time to comment. So I'm thrilled to see that it won a weekly recipe contest prize --very, very deserving!

Thelma Alberts from Germany on June 29, 2012:

AWESOME! The video, the photos, everything. Thanks for sharing. Voted up!!!!!!!!!!!AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Congrats for your win;-)

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on June 29, 2012:

There are no words that can adequately express the awesomeness of this recipe. The Video with such detailed instructions, the tips, the photos, the fun facts.... I just... I'm speechless.


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