German Chocolate Cake

Homemade German Chocolate Cake is always a favorite. Two layers of tender chocolate cake topped with a decadent coconut pecan frosting. What’s not to love?

This classic, delicious cake is an all-time favorite dessert! Soft, moist cake topped with a delicious frosting – it’s right up there with our classic chocolate cake and flourless chocolate cake.

Slice of German Chocolate Cake with coconut pecan frosting

birthday must-have

Growing up my mom would often make me a German chocolate cake for my birthday – because it was my favorite dessert.

The ooey-gooey coconut pecan frosting just gets me every time. Truth be told, I could just eat it by the spoonful, but it’s even better when it’s paired with chocolate cake!

I’ve tried some versions that have chocolate frosting around the outside of the cake, but that’s a little overboard in my opinion. The cake is plenty sweet with all that delicious frosting. However, if you do want to add chocolate frosting to yours, go for it!

No matter how you have it – no one can deny how great it is!

Why is it called German chocolate cake? Believe it or not, but it was not brought to American by German immigrants.

American baker, Samuel German, developed a type of dark baking chocolate for the Baker’s Chocolate Company. The brand name of the product, Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate, was named in honor of him. And that is where the cake’s name comes from.

Tips for making frosting for German Chocolate Cake

How to make it

CAKE. I prefer to use a chocolate cake made from scratch, but you can use a boxed cake mix if you prefer.

Just prepare the cake as directed on the box in two 9 inch round pans and let the two layers cool completely before frosting (be sure to use room temp ingredients).

FROSTING. To make the frosting, combine evaporated milk, sugar, and egg yolks in a heavy saucepan. Whisk till smooth, then add a cube of butter. Cook and stir over medium heat till thick.

Add your vanilla, flaked coconut and chopped pecans. Toasting the pecans first is tasty, but not required. Stir till well combined, then cool completely. (Frosting will continue to thicken as it cools.)

German chocolate cake frosting process pics

Frosting + Storing

After both your cake and frosting are cool, place one layer of cake on a plate stand and spread half of the frosting to the edges of the cake. Add the remaining layer of cake, then spread the rest of the frosting on top. Serve immediately or cover.

How to store? This cake keeps really well, and will last for 2-3 days at room temperature if you cover it tightly. A large cake dome works the best. It is actually even more moist the second day because the yummy coconut pecan frosting soaks into the cake. Seriously delicious!

It can also be refrigerated for 4-6 days.

Can it be made in advance? Yes! As mentioned above, we actually love it better the second day after the frosting has soaked in a bit.

German chocolate cake close up pic

Changing it Up

This cake can be made with a variety of frostings, but what’s classic for this dessert is the coconut pecan frosting. As mentioned, you can add chocolate frosting too, but we love just as it is. Other ways to make this treat, include:

  • CUPCAKES. Just follow box directions or batter to cupcake liners to be ¾ full and bake for 16-19 minutes at 350.
  • SHEET CAKE. Spread batter into a greased 9×13 dish and bake for 25-35 minutes (or until top springs back to the touch or a toothpick comes out clean). Then frost.
  • MORE LAYERS. Just split the batter into more round pans if you are wanting to add another layer. You may need to increase the frosting too.

Slice of german chocolate cake on a plate
We hope you love this classic dessert as much as we do! It’s so flavorful and perfect for any get together or holiday.

For more yummy treats, check out:

German Chocolate Cake Recipe

5 from 16 votes
Homemade German Chocolate Cake is always a favorite. Two layers of tender chocolate cake topped with a decadent coconut pecan frosting. What's not to love?
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Calories 611 kcal
Author Lil' Luna



  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Spray two 9" round cake pans with non-stick spray. Place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of each pan. Spray parchment.
  • Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and oil. Beat with a hand mixer till well combined. Slowly pour in the boiling water and beat till smooth.
  • Divide batter between two pans. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Cool for 8-10 minutes, then invert onto cooling racks. Cool completely.
  • Spread half of the frosting onto one of the cakes. Add the second layer, then spread the remaining frosting on top.

Coconut Pecan Frosting

  • Whisk together milk, egg yolks, and sugar in a heavy saucepan. Add the butter. Cook and stir over medium heat till thickened, about 10-12 minutes.
  • Let cool for about 10 minutes, then stir in the vanilla, coconut, and pecans. Cool completely before frosting cake.

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About Kara

Hi! I'm Kara from Creations by Kara, and I'm addicted to creating pretty and yummy things. I love sharing home decor ideas, DIY projects, tasty recipes, and simple tips! I hope that I am inspiring women everywhere to use their creativity to build a better life.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    You will love this classic cAke. Made with perfection and a frOsting that puts it over the top.

  2. 5 stars
    I despIsed cocOnut as a child but fell in lOVe with it as a teen. Since then i gravitate towards coconut recipes. This german Chocolate cake dOes not disappoint. Thanks for sharing.

  3. 5 stars
    Why is German chocolate cake so good?! I love the frosting & love it in the middle! It’s so soft & always gone so fast!

  4. 5 stars
    My all time favorite cake is German Chocolate! This was so moist and the frosting was AMAZING! i could of eaten the whole cake by myself!

  5. 5 stars
    My husband WHOm I made the cake for finished off the kids plates and had another piece after doing the dishes. So I guess he kinda liked it.

  6. 5 stars
    I had my doubts about this cake because the batter was straight liquid, but WOW this is good cake! ? This is now my go-to recipe for chocolate cake.

  7. 5 stars
    Is a 1/2 butter, 1 stick, a cube?
    I did use your cake recipe for my husband’s cake last wknd but not the frosting. The cake was delicious!

  8. Hi! I just wanted to clarify something before I tried this recipe. It says to add boiling hot water to the batter after mixing it together. Won’t the eggs start forming semi chunks in the batter as the hot water gets added?

    1. The eggs shouldn’t form chunks in the batter if the boiling hot water is added slowly to the cake batter mixture. The reason the water is hot is because hot water helps to create a deeper, more rich chocolate flavor. Hope this helps!

  9. 5 stars
    My gosh this cake is delicious! Definitely a must-try. Is it bad that I had it for breakfast? (it’s just THAT good)

  10. 5 stars
    My Dad’s all time favorite before he moved to Heaven. I made him a German Chocolate Birthday cake every year
    for over 50 years. This is exactly the same recipe! Thank you.

    1. Oh I love this so much!! I’m so happy you found the recipe, for nostalgic purposes too! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Does this make enough frosting to cover the entire two layer cake? Or should I double it just to be certain. OR- is the icing sweet enough that doubling it would be overkill? Thanks so much, I can’t wait to make this on Friday!!!!

    1. I personally think it that is, but that’s if you are putting it on the top of each cake and layering. If you want to spread it all around the sides too (or if you really love lots of frosting), you can certainly double the recipe. You may not use the full doubled amount, but that way you can spread it as thick as you like! Sounds like you may have made the cake already… hope it turned out well and you enjoyed the recipe! 🙂

  12. In order to make a Real German Chocolate Cake you must use a cup of coffee not just plain water.