German Chocolate Cake

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    A rich German chocolate cake with a smooth, sweet and nutty caramel-like frosting. This decadent cake is the ultimate treat!

    I am obsessed with this dessert! It’s moist, fluffy and is coated in the absolute best coconut pecan frosting. It’s the perfect dessert for chocolate lovers, along with my chocolate turtle poke cake, better than anything cake, Texas sheet cake and Neapolitan chocolate cake.

    german chocolate cake recipe

    One of my family’s all time favorite cakes is German chocolate cake. My mom would make it for every birthday and it brings back some really fun memories growing up. We made this recipe for my Dad’s birthday about a month ago and it was loved by all! I LOVE, love, love the coconut pecan frosting! I could eat it by the spoonful! Literally. I love it so much I even found an excuse to make German chocolate brownies and cookies too. :)

    For this recipe, I bought the cake mix instead of making it from scratch (shhh)!! I didn’t have all the ingredients and honestly find the mix to be quite tasty. The frosting is the real show stopper. DO NOT skip on making it! It’s definitely the best part and the canned stuff just doesn’t compare.

    What makes German chocolate cake different?

    You might be wondering how German chocolate cake is different than regular chocolate cake or devil’s food cake. The main differences are the sweetness, texture and type of frosting used.

    German cake is made with German chocolate, which has a sweeter flavor, while chocolate or devil’s food cake is typically made with unsweetened chocolate. German cake also has a fluffier and less dense texture than other chocolate cakes.

    The biggest difference is the frosting. It’s has a distinct coconut pecan flavor, while the frosting on chocolate cakes typically vary anywhere from a meringue to a chocolate buttercream.

    german chocolate cake frosting


    The frosting is the best part of this cake! There are two different types used: 1.) a coconut pecan frosting and 2.) a chocolate buttercream frosting. Don’t skimp on making either…they seriously take this German cake to the next level!

    Coconut pecan frosting:

    • Egg yolks
    • Sugar
    • Evaporated milk
    • Butter
    • Vanilla
    • Fresh flaked coconut
    • Pecans

    Chocolate buttercream frosting:

    • Butter
    • Sugar
    • Unsweetened cocoa powder
    • Semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
    • Vanilla
    • Heavy cream or milk
    • Salt

    How to make German chocolate cake

    1. Bake cake. Make cake according to box directions and let cool.
    2. Make coconut frosting. In a large pan over medium heat, combine egg yolks, sugar, milk, butter and vanilla. Constantly stir until mixture thickens, about 12 minutes. Add coconut and pecans and stir until thick enough to spread. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
    3. Make chocolate buttercream frosting. Place butter in large bowl and beat with electric mixer. Slowly add in powdered sugar, cocoa powder, melted chocolate and vanilla. Then add heavy cream as needed to thin out consistency.
    4. Frost the cake. Frost center of cake with coconut frosting. Then frost sides with chocolate buttercream frosting.
    5. Serve and enjoy! Enjoy with a cold glass of milk!

    TIP: I piped on some of the chocolate buttercream around the edges to make it look a little more festive. I used a 1M frosting tip to make the design. Haven’t frosted a cake or cupcake before? Check out this tutorial.

    german chocolate cake recipe

    Does it need to be refrigerated?

    You can store the cake at temperature if preferred. I used a glass cake stand (with a lid) to store mine. Just make sure you’re storing it in some sort of airtight container. It will keep at room temp for a couple of days. You can also refrigerate it to extend it’s shelf life. It’ll last about 3-5 days in the fridge.

    Can it be frozen?

    If you are planning on making the cake in advance and freezing, I’d recommend only freezing the baked cake layers. Just make sure the layers have cooled completely, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

    When you’re ready to enjoy, simply thaw in the fridge overnight. You can make your frostings the day of, or a couple of days in advance and store in the fridge until ready to frost your cake.

    german chocolate cake recipe

    German Chocolate Cake Recipe

    Course: Dessert
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: German Chocolate Cake
    Prep Time: 30 minutes
    Cook Time: 25 minutes
    Total Time: 55 minutes
    Servings: 12
    Calories: 662
    Author: Jamielyn Nye
    A rich German chocolate cake with a smooth, sweet and nutty caramel-like frosting. This decadent cake is the ultimate treat!


    • 1 box German Chocolate Cake (plus ingredients listed on box)

    Coconut Pecan Frosting:

    • 3 egg yolks
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cup evaporated milk
    • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 1/2 cups flaked coconut (make sure it’s fresh)
    • 1 cup pecans (chopped)

    Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 4 ounce bar semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (melted)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 to 2 Tablespoons heavy cream or milk
    • Pinch of Salt


    • Make cake according to directions and allow to cool.
    • For the coconut frosting: Combine egg yolks, sugar, milk, butter and vanilla in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until it has began to thicken, about 12 minutes. Add in coconut and pecans and stir until thick enough to spread. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
    • For the chocolate buttercream: Place the butter in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer. Slowly add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, melted chocolate, vanilla and salt. Add heavy cream as needed to thin.
    • Frost the center of the cake with the coconut frosting and the sides with the chocolate buttercream frosting. Enjoy with a cold glass of milk!


    Calories: 662kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 396mg | Potassium: 360mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 55g | Vitamin A: 595IU | Vitamin C: 0.7mg | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 3.6mg

    german cake slice

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