German Chocolate Cake

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

This classic, delicious German Chocolate Cake is a best-loved dessert! 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.

A birthday must-have

Growing up my mom would often make me a German Chocolate Cake for my birthday – because it was my favorite cake recipe.

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 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 as is.

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, German Chocolate Cake was not brought to America 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 originates!

How to make German Chocolate Cake

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.

DRY INGREDIENTS. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

WET INGREDIENTS. 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.

BAKE. Divide batter between two pans. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

COOL. Let it cool for 8-10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto cooling racks. Cool completely.

Frosting for German Chocolate Cake in pot.

frosting for german chocolate cake

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, 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. 

Measure the flour. Scooping packs the flour too tightly and may result in too much flour, leading to a dry cake. Instead, use a spoon to scoop the flour into a measuring cup and level it off. 

Room temperature ingredients. Use room temperature milk and eggs so they incorporate better with the other ingredients.

Don’t overbake. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. If the outside of the cake is cooking faster than the inside, tent a piece of tin foil over the top to keep it from getting too crisp.

Don’t overmix. Too much air can get trapped in the batter and overdevelop the gluten which leads to a tougher cake. Combining the flour mixture in a separate bowl, then adding it to the wet ingredients helps ensure everything is combined without overmixing. 

Don’t peek. It can be tempting to open the oven door to check the cake, but this can cause the cake to sink. Only check the cake when nearing the end of the suggested bake time.

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.  

Easy German chocolate cake recipe on white cake stand.

Variations

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 it just as it is.

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.

Add the coconut frosting in a variety of ways:

  • Pipe it on top.
  • Slice the cupcake in half and add frosting in the middle and on top.
  • Scoop out the center and fill it with the frosting.

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

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.

It is actually even moister the second day because the yummy coconut pecan frosting soaks into the cake. Seriously delicious!

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.

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

Freeze the frosting in a separate container. Be sure to thaw the frosting and stir it before assembling the cake. 

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. Unwrap the cake before thawing so that the frosting doesn’t stick to the plastic wrap.

This classic cake is filled with chocolate flavor, and we hope you love this classic dessert as much as we do! It’s so flavorful and perfect for any get-together or holiday.

German Chocolate cake slice on white plate.

Try these other tasty chocolate cakes:

German Chocolate Cake Recipe

5 from 28 votes
Homemade German Chocolate Cake is always a favorite! With tender cake layers and coconut pecan frosting, it's decadent and delicious.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Frosting 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 12
Calories 611 kcal
Author Lil’ Luna

Ingredients

Frosting

  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 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.

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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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Comments:

  1. 5 stars
    Thanks for a complete recipe from scratch. I will often short cut and use a box mix, but when I can I love making things all the way from scratch.

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