German Chocolate Cake


This is the only German Chocolate Cake recipe you’ll ever need, I dare say it’s perfect in every way! The cake is deliciously rich and chocolatey and it’s covered with that irresistible sweet and sticky, coconut pecan topping we all crave.

Slice of German Chocolate Cake on a marble plate set over a marble surface.

The Best German Chocolate Cake Recipe!

I love when holidays draw closer because that means there’s definitely going to be some amazing desserts around! Amazing desserts like this homemade German Chocolate Cake!

All we need in life is chocolate cake, right? Chocolate cake has a way to my heart and whoever discovered chocolate is my hero.

Truly though, this easy German Chocolate Cake is one of those desserts that’s so good it should become a tradition in your home for a yearly holiday like a birthday, Easter or Mother’s Day.

It’s four layers of total bliss!

What is German Chocolate Cake?

Contrary to the name of this easy chocolate cake recipe, German chocolate cake is actually an American invention. German chocolate cake is a layered chocolate cake that’s topped with a rich coconut pecan frosting.

The secret ingredient in German chocolate cake batter is boiling water — it’s crucial that you include it in this cake.

This is one of those cakes that’s been around since 1852, and I have the feeling it’s not going anywhere. It’s just one of those perfectly delicious classics that you’ll want to make again and again.

In other words, add this one to the recipe book because you’re going to love it!

Whole two layer German Chocolate Cake on a marble cake stand with a light blue wooden background.

German Chocolate Cake Ingredients

  • Granulated sugar
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Baking powder and baking soda
  • Salt
  • Whole milk and canned evaporated milk
  • Eggs and yolks
  • Vanilla
  • Canola oil and butter
  • Shredded sweetened coconut
  • Pecans

Close up image of German Chocolate Cake showing two chocolate cake layers, and two layers of german chocolate icing made from coconut and pecans.

How to Make German Chocolate Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cake pans.
  • Whisk together the dry ingredients.
  • Mix in milk, eggs and vanilla then blend in oil.
  • Blend in boiling water and beat.
  • Pour into prepared pans and bake until set, about 30 minutes.
  • Cool and frost.

How to Make German Chocolate Cake Icing

  • In a saucepan mix egg and evaporated milk.
  • Mix in sugar to dissolve.
  • Add butter and cook mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  • Remove pan from heat, add in vanilla, coconut, coconut and pecans.
  • Cool until just warm then spread over cake.

German Chocolate Cake with slice take out. Shown from a side angle.

Will Sweetened Condensed Milk Work in the Icing?

No, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk are two completely different ingredients. Make sure you’re using evaporated milk to make the coconut pecan frosting.

Tips for the Best German Chocolate Cake

  • Because the coconut icing is so rich, I left the sides of my cake bare. But feel free to add frosting to the sides if you wish!
  • Be sure to buy sweetened coconut flakes for the German chocolate cake icing.
  • Whole milk is a must in this cake. It makes the chocolate cake extra moist and adds flavor.

German chocolate cake slice.

I got this recipe from Robyn Stone’s amazing new cookbook, Add a Pinch: Easier, Faster, Fresher Southern Classics.

Her new cookbook is filled with fresh takes on classic family-friendly recipes – all of which are straight forward and easy to follow and the end results look truly delicious!

I highly recommend this cookbook! If you’d like to read more about this cookbook or to buy a copy for yourself you can follow this link HERE.

German Chocolate Cake

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German Chocolate Cake

4.93 from 13 votes

This is the BEST German Chocolate Cake! It's perfectly rich and chocolatey and no one can resist that sweet and sticky coconut pecan topping. A delicious cake for any occasion!

Servings: 14
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes


  • 2 cups (248g) all-purpose flour (spoon and level to measure)*
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (68g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (236) whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canola oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup (235ml) boiling water

Coconut Pecan Frosting

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cups (295ml) evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (113g) salted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (172g) sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup (106g) chopped pecans, toasted


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 9-inch round cake pans then line bottom with a round of parchment paper. Butter parchment then dust pans lightly with cocoa powder or flour and shake out excess. Set aside.

  2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

  3. Add the milk, eggs and vanilla and using an electric hand mixer beat on medium speed until combined. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the oil. 
  4. With the mixer still on low, carefully and slowly pour in boiling water and mix until well combined, about 2 - 3 minutes. Pour batter into prepared cake pans.
  5. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 - 35 minutes. Let cakes cook 10 minutes then invert onto wire racks to cool completely. 
  6. Once cool spread about 1/3 of the frosting over one layer of cake. Top with the second layer of cake and frost only the top of the cake with the remaining frosting.
  7. For the frosting: in a large saucepan whisk together egg yolks and evaporated milk until very well combined. 

  8. Add in sugar and whisk to dissolve sugar. Add butter and cook mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture has thickened, about 10 - 12 minutes.
  9. Remove pan from heat, add in vanilla, coconut, coconut and pecans. Let cool until just warm then spread over cake.

Recipe Notes

  • Recipe source: adapted from the Add a Pinch cookbook
  • *If you scoop and level to measure flour (like I do) then only use 1 3/4 cups flour.
Nutrition Facts
German Chocolate Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 578 Calories from Fat 252
% Daily Value*
Fat 28g43%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Cholesterol 104mg35%
Sodium 437mg19%
Potassium 340mg10%
Carbohydrates 77g26%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 58g64%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 390IU8%
Vitamin C 0.5mg1%
Calcium 133mg13%
Iron 2.2mg12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: German Chocolate Cake
Calories: 578 kcal
Author: Jaclyn



  • Kim: Hello. If I want to frost the sides of the cake, would I need to double the recipe? August 7, 2019 at 5:44am Reply

  • Taylor S: Going to make this soon! Looks divine. Did you use natural or dutch-processed cocoa? I know it makes a difference with the acidity. Thanks! July 15, 2019 at 10:50am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Natural cocoa. Unless a recipe list “Dutch” cocoa and stats just “cocoa” then I’d always go with natural unsweetened cocoa. Hope you enjoy :)! July 15, 2019 at 2:53pm Reply

  • Jane: Awesome recipe! Was a little nervous about the thin consistency of the batter but I trusted the process and so so very happy with the result!!! 100% will use again July 3, 2019 at 3:46pm Reply


  • Paul Holcomb: Worst cake recipe ever
    Followed recipe to the letter and batter was like soup, added another C of flour , baked for 1 hour and cake was still runny in the middle June 15, 2019 at 10:19pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Sorry it didn’t work out for you. The cake portion is based on a classic that’s been around for many many years that you can find all over the internet, so chances are something was accidentally left out or mismeasured. June 15, 2019 at 11:36pm Reply

      • Paul Holcomb: Nothing was missing measured, everything was fine until I added 1 C boiling water, the liquid to dry ingredients in this recipe have to be wrong June 16, 2019 at 5:49am Reply

        • Kay: Adding an extra cup of flour is what screwed you. The batter is very runny, but if you just put it in to bake it comes out perfect. Next time trust the process ;) June 27, 2019 at 1:02pm Reply

      • LaTanya: This recipe sounds like the Black Magic Cake recipe that I have and its excellent. I could not imagine that this cake is bad!! and I can’t wait to try it! Baking is an exact science, people have to realize that.Thanks for the recipe! July 25, 2019 at 10:17am Reply

  • Isaiah Reese: Having trouble making coconut pecan frosting. It is very runny. I’m scared I didn’t let it thick enough but I stirred for at least 15 minutes. Another concern, should I have had heat going from first mixing egg yolks and evaporated milk because i did not start until after I put butter in. Any tips?

    Thanks, Isaiah June 8, 2019 at 9:58pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Sorry to hear that! It sounds like you did heat with the butter at the right time so that shouldn’t be the issue. In the future the best way to fix it would probably be to thicken with a few teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with a few teaspoons of water. June 10, 2019 at 11:39pm Reply

      • Isaiah Reese: Thank you for replying. My Aunt and I went back over everything I did and we truly believe that since I used the frozen flaked coconut, it may have defrosted i too frosting making it very watery? So we started over, dried out the coconut in oven best we could and the frosting came out perfect and it was a big hit at potluck!!

        Thanks, Isaiah June 11, 2019 at 7:16am Reply

        • Jaclyn: So glad you were able to pin point and resolve the issue :). June 11, 2019 at 7:37am Reply

  • Ashley: The best recipe ever! So so moist and absolutely delicious! I will Be making this again! June 7, 2019 at 7:15pm Reply

  • Michelle: Made for my mother’s 80th Birthday celebration. Fabulous – thanks for sharing! March 14, 2019 at 10:57am Reply

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