The BEST homemade German Chocolate Cake with layers of coconut pecan frosting and chocolate frosting. This cake is incredible!
A double layer German Chocolate Cake with coconut pecan frosting, with a slice taken out of it.
I think the hundreds of reviews of this recipe speak for themselves, but let me add my own testament that this German Chocolate Cake is THE CAKE that every person in my family requested for their birthday growing up. I was super lucky, being a twin, because my mom would make both of our favorites: German chocolate cake for my sister, and carrot cake for me!

What is German Chocolate Cake?

The name German chocolate cake is a little deceiving as it is not actually a German dessert and traditionally the cake is a lighter colored cake with a mild chocolate taste and the entire cake is usually covered in coconut pecan frosting.  My family’s version is a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting covering the cake and coconut frosting on top and in the center of the cake. This cake seriously can’t be beat, especially if you’re a chocolate lover!

How to Make German Chocolate Cake:

1. Make the chocolate cake: Combine dry ingredients (sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt). Combine wet ingredients (eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla). Mix together and stir in boiling water.

2. Bake at 375°F: Pour batter into prepared 8 or 9-inch round baking pans. I like to cut a round piece of wax or parchment paper for the bottom of the pan also, to make sure the cake comes out easily.

3. Make the German Chocolate Frosting: Combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, egg yolks, and evaporated milk in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a low boil over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, nuts and coconut. Allow to cool completely before layering it on the cake.

Four process photos for making German Chocolate Frosting, in a saucepan.

4. Make chocolate frosting:  Melt butter, stir in cocoa powder, slowly add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed to thin the frosting, or a little extra powder, until you reach your desired consistency. Stir in vanilla.

5. Assemble: Place one of the cake rounds on your serving stand or plate.  Smooth a thin layer of chocolate frosting over the cake layer, and then spoon half of the coconut frosting on top, spreading it into a smooth layer. Leave about ½ inch between the filling and edge of cake.  Stack the second cake round on top. Smooth chocolate frosting over the entire cake.  Spoon remaining coconut frosting on top of the cake.

Two process photos of a round chocolate cake with german chocolate frosting being spread on top.

Pro Tips:

Use room temperature ingredients. Run hot water over the eggs to bring them to room temperature. Stick the buttermilk in the microwave for just a few seconds. It really makes a difference!

Decorating cake is easy! I used a wilton 2D tip for the swirls on top of this cake, but I also love the Wilton 1M tip. I use both tips with an Ateco flex 14” reusable piping bag. Those three items right there are my favorites for cake and cupcake decorating.

A full frosted and decorated German Chocolate served on a white cake stand.

Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions:

To Make Ahead: Both frostings (coconut and chocolate) can be made ahead and placed in a covered container in the fridge. The coconut frosting will keep for 1-2 weeks, depending on the freshness of the ingredients used. The chocolate frosting will keep for 2-3 weeks. Remove frostings from the fridge an hour before you’re ready to frost the cake, to give them time to come to room temperature.

To Freeze: After baking the cake layers, allow them to cool completely, then wrap them well in plastic wrap and stick each layer in a ziplock freezer bag. Freeze for up to three months. Frost the cakes when they are frozen–they are much easier to frost this way! The assembled German Chocolate Cake can also be frozen, covered well, for 2-3 months (I recommend slicing the cake and wrapping each slice really well in plastic wrap, then placing in a freezer-safe container, for best results). Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

A slice of German Chocolate Cake served on a plate, with two layers of chocolate cake, and German chocolate frosting.

Consider trying these popular Dessert Recipes:

 FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST for more great recipes!

Recipe

A double layer German Chocolate Cake with coconut pecan frosting, with a slice taken out of it.
Prep 30 mins
Cook 45 mins
Total 1 hr 15 mins
Save Recipe

Ingredients
  

For the Chocolate Cake:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup oil (vegetable or canola oil)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

For the Coconut Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

For the Chocolate Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Heat oven to 375°F. Grease two 8 or 9-inch round baking pans. I like to cut a round piece of wax or parchment paper for the bottom of the pan also, to make sure the cake comes out easily.

For the Cake:

  • Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla and mix well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Stir in boiling water (batter will be very thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
  • Bake for 25 - 35 minutes (depending on your cake pan size. The 9'' pan takes less time to bake) or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with few crumbs. Cool 5 minutes in the pan and then invert onto wire racks to cool completely.

For the German Chocolate Frosting:

  • In a medium saucepan add brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, egg yolks, and evaporated milk. Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a low boil over medium heat. Stir constantly for several minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. 
  • Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, nuts and coconut. Allow to cool completely before layering it on the cake.

For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

  • Melt butter. Stir in cocoa powder. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed to thin the frosting, or a little extra powder, until you reach your desired consistency. Stir in vanilla.

Cake Assembly:

  • Place one of the cake rounds on your serving stand or plate. 
  • Smooth a thin layer of chocolate frosting over the cake layer, and then spoon half of the coconut frosting on top, spreading it into a smooth layer. Leave about ½ inch between the filling and edge of cake. 
  • Stack the second cake round on top. Smooth chocolate frosting over the entire cake.
  • Spoon remaining coconut frosting on top of the cake. 

Notes

*If baking at high altitude add 3 tablespoons extra flour.
Make Ahead Instructions: Both frostings (coconut and chocolate) can be made ahead and placed in a covered container in the fridge. The coconut frosting will keep for 1-2 weeks, depending on the freshness of the ingredients used. The chocolate frosting will keep for 2-3 weeks. Remove frostings from the fridge an hour before you're ready to frost the cake, to give them time to come to room temperature.
Freezing Instructions: After baking the cake layers, allow them to cool completely, then wrap them well in plastic wrap and stick each layer in a ziplock freezer bag. Freeze for up to three months. Frost the cakes when they are frozen--they are much easier to frost this way! The assembled German Chocolate Cake can also be frozen, covered well, for 2-3 months (I recommend slicing the cake and wrapping each slice really well in plastic wrap, then placing in a freezer-safe container, for best results). Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 591kcalCarbohydrates: 77gProtein: 5gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 440mgPotassium: 313mgFiber: 3gSugar: 69gVitamin A: 535IUVitamin C: 0.4mgCalcium: 118mgIron: 1.9mg

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @TastesBetterFromScratch on Instagram with #TastesBetterFromScratch!

Have you tried this recipe?! 

RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

I originally shared this recipe May 2017. Updated February 2021.

Related Posts

Share Recipe

Categories

About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I just made this cake and followed the directions as written. It turned out perfectly. When looking for recipes and reading the comments it can be rather frustrating.

    If a recipe didn’t work for you then you did something incorrectly. Maybe try it again and you will realize what went wrong.

    Why is it people choose a recipe then comment about all the changes they made? Um, at that point it’s not this recipe 🤷🏼‍♀️

    Publish your own on your own page 😁

  2. 5 stars
    This cake turned out perfect and was a hit at the Octoberfest party I took it to. I made this as a small sheet cake and as cupcakes. Both turned out great. The cake was very moist and rich. The German frosting turned out buttery and not too sweet. This will be my go to chocolate cake recipe for sure. Follow the recipe people, you will not be disappointed!

  3. 1 star
    Worst cake recipe I have ever used. I am an avid baker, and bake everything from homemade bread to cookies, and layer cakes from scratch. I always receive numerous compliments on everything I bake. One of the most important things when baking is being accurate and precise with ingredients and measurements. I didn’t even include the cup of boiling water because there is already enough liquid in this cake. An unnecessary cup of water would guarantee that this cake will NEVER bake, or be the right consistency. As others have mentioned–their cake fell apart. I’m not surprised. They most likely followed this recipe to the letter. I knew on instinct it didn’t need the cup of water, and needed a little more than 1 3/4 cups of flour if this cake was ever going to bake into anything. Mine didn’t fall apart because I omitted the water and added 2 cups flour. This “cake recipe” produced brownies. So I guess what I baked was some sort of chocolate brownie coconut chocolate icing concoction.
    Looks pretty amateur, but it tastes good according to my 8 year old, who loves brownies!

    1. Hi Sally, I’m sorry this didn’t work for you, but something went wrong in your process. This recipe has more than 1000 five star reviews from people who have had success. Depending on where you live, yes, the cake may need additional flour to account for high altutde etc. That’s pretty standard in baking. Also, the cake portion is the same recipe used by Hersheys cake for decades. The hot water is a necessary component for texture and flavor (it allows the cocoa to bloom), and most chocolate cake recipes call for hot coffee or water for the same reason.

    2. Wow! Maybe omitting the boiling water is where you first went wrong. Hard to believe an “avid” baker would be so rude to someone about baking. This cake is fantastic as written. Oh, and mine baked perfectly 🤷🏼‍♀️

  4. 5 stars
    Confession, I have never made a cake from scratch in my life and I’m 55. I’ve made and decorated plenty of birthday cakes for my kids, but the cake was out of a box and frosting from a can. They’re all grown and in their 20s now and my son loves German Chocolate Cake so I thought ok I’m going to give this a try for his birthday, worst case scenario I bomb and say I tried. Well WOW!!! I did it! This recipe is THE best German Chocolate Cake. Better than my sisters and she is known for her cakes and pies! My son loved it! SUPER moist, so much flavor, and the directions were easy to follow. I was just beaming when he ate his second BIG slice lol. I will never do cake or frosting other than homemade again. I’m inspired to keep trying new things in the kitchen! Thank you!

  5. 5 stars
    This cake was fantastic! I’ve never been much of a German chocolate cake fan but WOW! My favorite part was the actual cake! It was so moist, even after sitting all day in the fridge, uncovered. Can’t believe how delicious it was despite being short on the cocoa powder and not having buttermilk. The recommended substitution worked perfectly! Would absolutely make again! Great recipe!

  6. 5 stars
    I made this cake for a birthday. It fell apart when I tried to get it out of the pan, so I threw the pieces in a bowl to make something with later. I remade the cake and it was so delicious! The coconut filling is perfect and the chocolate frosting perfectly complements everything. Now let’s get to the cake itself. Wow. What a delicious cake! It was so moiust and perfectly chocolately. It’s simply the best chocolate cake. What I had put in a bowl earlier, my brothers devoured within minutes. It has become my go to base chocolate cake! Highly reccommend this cake to anyone looking for a great recipe!

  7. 5 stars
    Amazing! Will be my go cake from now on. I did use a back magic cake but used the coconut filling from this recipe. YUM.

  8. 5 stars
    I made this cake with gluten free flour (Great Value brand), and it turned out great! I used two nine-inch pans, and I made the frosting and filling the day before I made the cake. For me, it was a very rich cake, so we could only have small slices. I’m not sure if this depends on the type of cocoa you use. (I used Equal Exchange cocoa for the frosting and Navitas Raw Cacao Powder for the cake). Because of the richness of the cake, I think I am going to double the recipe for the coconut frosting next time. I think this will cut some of the richness of the cake. I also might not use the frosting on the top of the bottom layer as the chocolate butter cream is pretty rich. I refrigerated the cake for a few hours before I frosted it, and it frosted beautifully. I used a much thinner amount of frosting than I typically do, and I had enough leftover for the piping. For the piping decoration, I would recommend thinning out the frosting with some leftover evaporated milk, so it will pipe more easily. This chocolate cake recipe is definitely a keeper for any time you need a chocolate cake!

See More Comments