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Coconut Pecan Frosting

This coconut pecan frosting is sweet and creamy and ready in under 15 minutes. It’s a favorite topping for German chocolate cake, but tastes amazing with all kinds of cakes, brownies, and cookies!

coconut frosting in white bowl
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German Chocolate Frosting

If you haven’t tried coconut pecan frosting, aka German chocolate frosting, then you are in for a treat! It’s a delicious caramel flavor with crunchy nuts and pecans mixed in. Sounds decadent, right?

This frosting is often used to decorate German chocolate cake, which is why you’ll sometimes see it referred to as German chocolate cake frosting. 

Unlike buttercream or cream cheese frosting, this one is cooked on the stovetop. It combines evaporated milk, sugar, eggs, and butter which simmer together until the mixture is thick and golden. Once you try it, you’ll be hooked!

coconut pecan frosting in pot


Here’s everything you’ll need to make this homemade pecan studded frosting.

  • Evaporated milk: This is milk with the water boiled out of it. It is unsweetened and contributes to the creamy texture.
  • Granulated sugar: Because the milk is unsweetened, we need to add a bit of sweetness to the frosting.
  • Large egg yolk: You can freeze the leftover egg white in a zip-top freezer bag to use the next time you make meringue or an omelet!
  • Vanilla: I use pure vanilla extract.
  • Butter: I use unsalted butter so I can control the amount of salt. You can use salted if that’s all you have. Your finished frosting will just have a slightly saltier taste.
  • Shredded coconut: You can opt to toast the coconut first before adding it to the frosting.
  • Pecans: I use whole pecans and chop them myself or you can use the prechopped ones.

How to Make Coconut Pecan Frosting

This recipe is ready to use in just 15 minutes! It’s so simple to make too. Just heat and stir!

  1. Simmer: Simmer evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolk, butter, and vanilla in a small saucepan. Make sure you stir everything frequently, as you don’t want the mixture to catch on the bottom of the pan and burn. Let everything simmer together for 8 – 10 minutes until the consistency has thickened and turned a light caramel color.
  2. Stir: Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut and pecans. 
  3. Cool: Let your frosting cool slightly before using it to decorate your cakes or cookies. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
  4. Drizzle: For added flair, try drizzling some melted semisweet chocolate over the top. 


Here are some tips for making your coconut pecan frosting even more special!

  • Toast the coconut for a deeper coconut flavor. To toast coconut, pour into a dry pan and cook over medium heat for 3 – 5 minutes until the coconut is starting to turn golden brown. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
  • Toasting the pecans before you add them to the frosting adds a nuttier flavor and more crunch. To toast the nuts, add them to a dry pan and heat on medium heat for 2 – 5 minutes until they start to smell fragrant and have lightly darkened.


How do you thicken coconut pecan frosting?

Make sure you cook the frosting until the excess liquid has evaporated and the mixture has turned a light caramel color. It should thicken up on its own. If it doesn’t thicken for some reason, try adding a tablespoon of powdered sugar before storing the mixture in the fridge. The sugar and the chilling process should help to thicken it up.

How do you store this frosting?

The frosting will keep up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge, or you can freeze it in an airtight freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. It’s a great frosting to make ahead.

Allow the mixture to come to room temperature before using it to decorate your cake or cookies.

What is a German chocolate cake?

German chocolate cake is made with melted chocolate (instead of cocoa powder). The cake is named after Sam German who worked for the Baker’s Chocolate Company and invented sweet baking chocolate which was originally used to create this chocolate cake recipe. The perfect German chocolate cake frosting is usually a coconut pecan frosting!

How much icing does this yield?

This recipe should make approximately 2 cups of coconut pecan frosting. If you need more to ice a 2 layer cake or 3 layer cake and the sides you might want to double the recipe.

coconut frosting in white bowl

Favorite Ways to Use Frosting

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coconut frosting in white bowl

Coconut Pecan Frosting

5 from 9 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
This coconut pecan frosting is sweet and creamy and ready in under 15 minutes. It’s a favorite topping for German chocolate cake, but tastes amazing with all kinds of cakes, brownies, and cookies!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 24


  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ounces butter (4 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4-1/2 cup chopped pecans , more as desired


  • Combine the evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolk, butter and vanilla in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-heat, stirring frequently. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened and turned a caramel color. Be careful not to burn.
  • Remove from heat and stir in coconut and pecans. Allow the frosting to cool slightly and thicken.
  • Spread frosting on cooled cake, brownies or cookies. Drizzle with semisweet chocolate if desired.


Roasting pecans: To bring out the pecan flavor you can roast them beforehand. Simply bake in the oven at 350°F for 3-5 minutes or until lightly toasted. 
Storage: Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Let sit at room temperature to soften before frosting. 


Calories: 76kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 24mg | Potassium: 44mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 83IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: German

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