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Homemade German chocolate cake is always a favorite! With tender cake layers and coconut pecan frosting, it’s decadent and delicious.

Soft, moist cake is topped with a delicious frosting – it’s right up there with our Classic Chocolate Cake and Flourless Chocolate Cake.

Slice of German Chocolate cake on white plate.

WE All Love it!

German chocolate cake is the perfect cake recipe for all chocolate and coconut lovers.

We love it for so many reasons, including:

  • THE FROSTING! The ooey-gooey coconut pecan frosting just gets us every time. You can eat by the spoonful!
  • CROWD PLEASER. This recipe is so delicious and so popular, that it’s a hit anytime it’s made.
  • MAKE AHEAD. This cake can be made and stored 2-3 days ahead of time, which makes it great for holidays.

What Is German Chocolate Cake?

Believe it or not, German chocolate cake was not brought to America by German immigrants.

American baker, Samuel German, developed a type of dark-baking chocolate for 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 originates!

How to make German Chocolate Cake

This German chocolate cake recipe is traditionally two layers and topped with the signature coconut pecan frosting.

To make the cake layers:

  1. PREP. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two 9″ round cake pans with non-stick spray. Place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of each pan. Spray parchment.
  2. DRY INGREDIENTS. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. WET INGREDIENTS. Add the milk (or buttermilk), eggs, vanilla extract, and oil to the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl and use an electric hand mixer). Beat until well combined. Slowly pour in the boiling water and beat till smooth.
  4. BAKE. Divide batter between two pans. Bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. COOL. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 8-10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto cooling racks. Cool completely.
Coconut pecan frosting in a pan on the stove.

German Chocolate Frosting

This is my favorite part! The traditional topping is this German chocolate frosting filled with coconut and pecans.

HEAT. 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.

COMBINE. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then stir in the vanilla extract, coconut, and pecans. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before adding to the cake.

FROST THE CAKE. Place one layer of cake on a plate stand and spread half of the frosting onto one of the cakes. Add the second layer, then spread the remaining frosting on top.

Cake Tips

  • Extra moist cake. Add 1-2 tablespoons of sour cream or applesauce to the cake batter. 
  • Room temperature ingredients. Use room temperature milk and eggs so they incorporate better with the other ingredients.
  • Box cake. I prefer to use a Chocolate Cake made from scratch, but you can use a boxed cake mix if you prefer. Prepare the cake as directed on the box in two 9-inch round pans (be sure to use room temp ingredients). Cool the layers completely on a wire rack before frosting.
  • Toast pecans. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and spread the chopped pecans in a single layer. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until aromatic and browned.  Fold toasted chopped pecans to make a coconut pecan filling.
Layered chocolate cake recipe on white cake stand.

Variations

Other ways to make this treat, include:

Cupcakes. Mix up the cake batter and make about 24 cupcakes. Fill each liner ¾ full and bake for 16-19 minutes at 350°F.

Sheet cake. Spread the batter into a greased 9×13 dish and bake for 25-35 minutes (or until the top springs back to the touch or a toothpick comes out clean). Frost.

More layers. Split the batter into 3 round pans. Since you are adding another layer you may wish to increase the frosting amount.

Slice of German Chocolate cake being dished out.

Storing Info

Make ahead of time. As mentioned above, we actually love it better the second day after the frosting has soaked in a bit. This is a perfect cake to make in advance.

STORE. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for 2-3 days. A large cake dome works the best. It can also be refrigerated for 4-6 days.

FREEZE. Freeze the cake layers and frost separately. Cool and wrap each layer with plastic wrap, then wrap them together with aluminum foil.

Freeze a fully decorated cake. Place the entire cake in the freezer. Once solid, wrap it with plastic wrap and again with foil. Freeze for 2-3 months.

German Chocolate cake slice on white plate.

For more Cakes:

5 from 106 votes

German Chocolate Cake Recipe

By: Lil’ Luna
Homemade German chocolate cake is always a favorite! With tender cake layers and coconut pecan frosting, it's decadent and delicious.
Servings: 12
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Frosting: 10 minutes
Total: 1 hour

Ingredients 

Frosting

  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. 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 a toothpick inserted in the 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. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before adding to cake.

Video

Notes

MAKE AHEAD + STORE. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for 2-3 days. A large cake dome works the best. It can also be refrigerated for 4-6 days.
FREEZE. Freeze the cake layers and frost separately. Cool and wrap each layer with plastic wrap, then wrap them together with aluminum foil.

Nutrition

Calories: 611kcal, Carbohydrates: 79g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 31g, Saturated Fat: 18g, Cholesterol: 112mg, Sodium: 499mg, Potassium: 373mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 57g, Vitamin A: 440IU, Vitamin C: 0.5mg, Calcium: 146mg, Iron: 2.5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
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About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Recipe Rating




53 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this for a co-worker’s birthday. I tripled the recipe to make a full sized sheet cake. Amazing! Everyone raved and now I have been asked to make a smaller cake for another co-worker’s husband’s birthday. This is my go to recipe for chocolate and German chocolate cake.

  2. 5 stars
    The best chocolate cake ever! I made it for my son’s birthday and now my other son asked me to make it for his birthday!! Love it!

  3. 5 stars
    This is so rich, fudgy and super decadent! Kids super love this version of German chocolate cake. We are having this again tomorrow and they can’t wait!

  4. 5 stars
    I had never heard of a German chocolate cake but I am glad I found this since this is so much better than just a regular chocolate cake.

  5. 5 stars
    I made these for the first time yesterday and it turned out great! Really appreciated the variations provided and decided to go with cupcakes. For the frosting, I didn’t have evaporated milk so I used a 1:1 ratio of unsweetened coconut milk and it turned out great!