This is a classic German Chocolate Cake made with two layers of moist and delicious chocolate cake and a rich coconut-pecan frosting. This spectacular dessert is shockingly easy to make and oh so good! A German chocolate cake on a vintage cake stand.

I remember my first taste of a German chocolate cake. It was many years ago at a friend’s house, but I still recall very clearly that sweet coconut pecan frosting and deep-dark chocolate cake. I remember savoring the chewy texture of the shredded coconut and how the sweetness lingers on your palate along with a slight bittersweet chocolate taste. As you can tell, that cake obviously made an unforgettable impression on me.

What is German chocolate cake?

German chocolate cake is an American chocolate layer cake filled and topped with a coconut-pecan frosting. It’s not called German because of its origin, but owes its name to the inventor of the chocolate that was used in its original cake recipe. In 1852, an English-American chocolate maker named Samuel German developed a formula for baking chocolate for the Baker’s Chocolate Company. The company named the product Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate in honor of him. In 1957, a recipe for “German’s Chocolate Cake” was created by Mrs. George Clay, a homemaker from Dallas, Texas. The recipe used the baking chocolate that had been introduced 105 years prior and became quite popular. Sales of Baker’s Chocolate were said to have increased by as much as 73% and the cake became a national staple. (source: Wikipedia) A German chocolate cake with a quarter of it cut out.

Why this recipe is so great:

  • Easy to make – Both the frosting and the cake are made by hand with a simple whisk and spatula so it’s a breeze to make.
  • Best chocolate cake – The cake is super moist, fudgy, and not too sweet. The texture is soft, fluffy, and tender.
  • Best coconut-pecan frosting – The frosting is wonderfully thick and rich. It’s perfectly sweet with a creamy-milky flavor and it’s loaded with chewy coconut flakes and crunchy pecans.
  • Great make-ahead dessert – This cake keeps really well and can be made 2 days in advance.
  • Here are some reviews:

“I have made this 2 times now and it is the best German chocolate cake out there! You will not be disappointed if you make this.” – Melissa

“I made this on Sunday for our dessert, expecting there be some leftover for Monday, but… nope… it was devoured. So delicious.” – Diane

How to make German Chocolate Cake:

(the ingredient amounts are listed in the printable recipe card further below)

picture collage of how to make german chocolate cake and frosting

  1. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla.
  2. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Then add in the hot water and whisk until smooth.
  3. Divide the batter into two greased 9″ cake pans. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.
  4. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, sugar, and egg yolks. Add the butter and cook over the stovetop until thickened. Stir in the shredded coconut, chopped pecans, and vanilla extract. Let cool for 30 minutes before spreading on cake.

Expert tips:

  • Divide the batter evenly – Try to divide the batter as evenly as possible between the two cake pans so they’re both done at the same time. I actually measure by weight to ensure both my cakes are the same.
  • Prepare the custard for the frosting – Make sure to cook your custard until it thickens. This will take about 10-12 minutes, but be patient and wait until it reaches a pudding-like consistency or your frosting won’t be thick enough.
  • Trim the cake tops – If your cakes are rounded on top, trim the domes so you get nice flat layers.

A slice of German chocolate cake on a white and gold plate.

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Did you make this recipe? Please kindly leave a comment with your star rating below.

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German Chocolate Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 29 reviews
  • Author: Lily Ernst
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 45 min
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 12-16
  • Category: dessert
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: American


This is a classic German Chocolate Cake made with a moist and delicious chocolatey cake and a rich coconut-pecan frosting.



  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (65g) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (250ml) hot water


  • 1 cup (250ml) evaporated milk
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup (114g) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cup (115g) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup (125g) chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease two 9″ round cake pans with non-stick baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, milk, vanilla, and eggs.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  5. Slowly add in the hot water and stir until the batter is well combined.
  6. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared baking pans.
  7. Bake for 30-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting. Trim the top of the cakes if needed.
  8. In a medium saucepan, stir together the evaporated milk, sugar, and egg yolks. Add butter and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency (about 10-12 minutes).
  9. Remove from heat, stir in the coconut, pecans, and vanilla. Let cool for 30 minutes.
  10. Spread half the frosting on one cake, top with the other cake, and spread the remaining frosting on top.


Leftovers can be tightly covered and stored at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Cake recipe from Cooking Classy and frosting recipe from Betty Crocker.

This is a classic German chocolate cake made with layers of moist and delicious chocolate cake and a rich coconut and pecan frosting. Easy and made-from-scratch recipe.