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German Chocolate Cake

This made from scratch German Chocolate Cake with a homemade coconut pecan icing is sheer decadence. It consists of a triple layer chocolate cake that’s frosted with a gooey rich homemade icing that everyone will love.

Coconut Pecan Icing And German Chocolate Cake


Best German Chocolate Cake Recipe

This version of the classic German chocolate cake filling and icing recipe is my own, but I wanted to take time to pay homage to the man named Sam German who created the cake we all love. Sam German invented it, and I’ve included his original chocolate cake recipe, too. It does take some patience to make this cake from scratch, but it’s well worth it in the end.

Coconut Pecan Icing And German Chocolate Cake

How to Make Homemade German Chocolate Cake and Coconut Pecan Icing Recipe

I think this coconut pecan icing recipe would taste great on shoe leather. It’s richness could successfully turn the most mundane chocolate layer cake into a masterpiece. This cake is guaranteed to be gone before sunrise.

  • Ingredients you’ll need to make easy German Chocolate Cake: All purpose flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, butter, buttermilk, large eggs, granulated sugar, water, 4 ounces Baker’s German Chocolate.
  • Ingredients you’ll need to make Coconut Pecan Frosting: Butter, light brown sugar, granulated extract, flaked coconut, chopped pecans, evaporated milk, corn syrup, salt, large egg yolks, vanilla extract.
  • Kitchen tools you’ll need: A stand mixer or a hand mixer, 8 inch cake pans, measuring cups and spoons, nut chopper or sharp knife and cutting board, cooling rack, medium saucepan, large spoon, large bowl, medium bowl, sheet pan for toasting the pecans.
  • What’s the traditional icing used to frost a German Chocolate Cake? The icing used is a rich and gooey conglomeration of pecans and coconut plus sugar, butter, evaporated milk, corn syrup, salt and vanilla.
  • How is this different from the original frosting? The traditional coconut-pecan icing recipe used for this classic cake is typically made with all granulated or white sugar. I like to use half of each kind of sugar to expand the flavor profile just a bit. As usual, this recipe is my own and reflects the depth of flavor and color that brown sugar gives to this icing giving it a caramel taste.
  • I do stray from the original German chocolate cake by adding cocoa powder to the batter. It’s purpose is to give a boost to the chocolate flavor.
  • Is it necessary to toast the pecans for the icing? I highly recommend taking the time to toast the pecans prior to adding them to the icing. Let them cool, then mix them into the frosting.
  • It’s imperative that the icing cool to room temperature before attempting to frost the cake or it will result in a gloppy mess. The cake layers must also be completely cooled.
  • How do you store German Chocolate Cake? After assembling the cake and frosting the layers chill it in the refrigerator for several hours. This will allow the icing to firm before enjoying a piece with a tall glass of cold milk. You can keep this cake covered and chilled for up to 1 week.


Coconut Pecan Icing And German Chocolate Cake


More Southern Cake Recipes to Make

Where did German chocolate cake originate? The history of this classic cake is fascinating. Contrary to popular thought, German chocolate isn’t from Germany. It’s named after Sam German an American, who developed a sweet baking chocolate for Baker’s Chocolate Company in the mid-1800’s. He further increased the popularity of German chocolate with his own famous original chocolate cake recipe. Mr. German’s chocolate cake was topped with a delightful combination of gooey pecans and coconut which has successfully won the hearts of chocolate lovers for generations. Other chocolate cakes and desserts to make:




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Coconut-Pecan Icing And German Chocolate Cake
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5 from 10 votes

German Chocolate Cake and Coconut Pecan Icing

Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Cooling Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour
Course: Cakes, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: coconut-pecan-icing-and-german-chocolate-cake
Servings: 16 servings (may vary)
Calories: 574kcal
Author: Melissa Sperka


  • Icing:
  • 3/4 cup salted butter
  • 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 large egg yolks beaten
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup toasted pecan pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • Cake:
  • 1 4 oz package Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 large eggs separated
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk


  • To toast the pecans, lay in a single layer on a standard cookie sheet. Toast in a 350°F oven for 6-8 minutes, then cool.
  • Icing - In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high, melt the butter with the milk, granulated and brown sugar, corn syrup and salt.
  • Cook until the sugars have dissolved, then lower the heat to medium.
  • Whisk 1/4 cup of the warm liquid into the egg yolks to temper, then whisk the egg yolks into the saucepan.
  • Cook over medium stirring until thickened around 12-15 minutes. The consistency should coat the back of a spoon like a thin pudding. [Tip: The icing will thicken more as it cools]
  • Remove from the heat and add the vanilla, toasted pecan pieces and coconut. Pour into a bowl and cool to room temperature to thicken before frosting cake.
  • Yield: filling and icing for 1 (9) inch 3-layer cake, 9 x 13-inch sheet cake or 24 cupcakes
  • To make the cake: Oven preheated to 350°F. Cover the bottoms of 3 (9-inch) round pans with waxed paper; and spray sides with cooking spray.
  • Microwave the chocolate and water in a large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 min. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
  • Beat egg whites in small bowl with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; set aside.
  • Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy.
  • Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla.
  • Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition.
  • Add egg whites; stir gently until well blended. Pour into prepared pans.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Immediately run small spatula around cakes in pans. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes then remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. 
  • Spread the coconut-pecan filling and icing between the cake layers and onto top of cake. 


The recipe makes enough icing to frost the cake completely, if desired.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 574kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 142mg | Sodium: 363mg | Potassium: 156mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 51g | Vitamin A: 773IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @melissassk or tag #melissassk!




  1. Hi Melissa, was wondering why you mentioned unsweetened cocoa powder in your beginning paragraphs but I don’t see it listed in the ingredient list or cake instructions. Don’t want to miss anything! Thanks.

    1. Hi Christina, it’s there. I do stray from the original German chocolate cake recipe by adding cocoa powder to the batter. It’s purpose is to give a boost to the chocolate flavor. It’s also fine if you don’t use it as reflected in the original recipe.

  2. Hi! I was wondering if the light corn syrup is completely necessary for the frosting? (This is the only German chocolate frosting recipe I’ve seen where it calls for it) If so, are there any substitutes?

  3. I made the frosting today for my boyfriends birthday. His grandma used to always make it for him so the pressure is on! I picked your recipe because of the butter and brown sugar…I accidentally boiled at the first step and wonder if that made it thicken early. Idk how it will spread yet but I need to stop taste testing so there will be enough left to frost the layers! Delicious! Thanks for posting!

    1. I’m sure there are other recipes you could follow with those ingredients. This recipe is designed to make just as it is.

  4. 5 stars
    I made this last week for my birthday and it was without a doubt the best cake we have ever eaten!!! Thanks so much for the post. Keep them coming!

  5. 5 stars
    Hello Melissa! I’ve NEVER made a German Chocolate Cake before, and would love to try this for the holidays! I was led to your recipe because I like the way you use both brown/white sugars in the ingredients for the frosting. Will the ingredients above be enough to also frost the sides? If not, how much should I increase each ingredient? Thank you!

    1. Absolutely yes, there’s enough frosting for the entire cake. The combination of those sugars gives the frosting a greater depth of flavor, hope you enjoy!

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