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a slice of german chocolate cake slice on a white plate.
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4.49 from 79 votes

German Chocolate Cake

An incredible homemade German Chocolate Cake made from scratch with layers of moist and delicious chocolate cake and topped with the best coconut and pecan frosting! A crowd pleaser, for sure!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake, dessert, german chocolate cake
Servings: 12
Calories: 667kcal


Cake batter

Coconut-Pecan Topping

  • 12 ounce evaporated milk (1 can)
  • teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cups granulated sugar
  • 4 egg yolks beaten
  • ¾ cup butter unsalted
  • 2⅔ cups sweetened coconut shredded or flaked
  • 2 cups pecans , coarsely chopped


Cake Batter

  • Prep the oven and pans: Preheat the oven to 350°F. You will need 3 cake pans, each 8 inches in diameter. Cut out 3 parchment paper circles that will fit inside the cake pans. Spray the bottom of the cake pans with cooking spray, this is so the parchment paper sticks to the pans. Place the parchment papers inside and spray more cooking spray over the parchment paper.
  • Make your cake batter: In the bowl of your mixer, add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Using the paddle attachment mix everything until well combined on low speed. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. With the mixer still on low speed, slowly add the coffee and continue mixing until everything is well combined and smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula and mix as needed. Pour the batter into the 3 prepared pans, equally.
  • Bake the cakes: Transfer the pans to the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until baked through. Your cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Coconut-Pecan Topping

  • Make the topping: In a medium heavy saucepan combine and whisk the butter, evaporated milk, vanilla, sugar, and egg yolks. Cook on medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly so mixture does not burn. You’ll notice the mixture thicken as it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in coconut and pecans. Cool to room temperature.

Assemble The Cake

  • Assemble and finish the cake: Once the layers have cooled off completely, cut off the dome part of the cake so that each layer is flat on top. To assemble the cake, place one cake on a serving platter and spread about 1/3 of the frosting evenly. Repeat with the 2nd cake layer and frosting, then place the last cake and spread the rest of the topping.
  • Chill and serve. Refrigerate the cake for about an hour before slicing into it and serving.



  1. Always use room temperature ingredients when baking cakes.
  2. You can also make this cake in two 9 inch cake pans and then cut each one in half so you'll end up with a 4 layer cake. Alternatively, you can use a 9x13 inch pan as well and cut in half to have a 2 layer cake.
  3. If you're out of buttermilk or prefer not to use it, although I strongly recommend it, you may use 1 cup of milk plus 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Stir the two together then let it sit for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes you'll notice your milk is curdled, which is what you're looking for. You may also substitute with ¼ cup of milk and ¾ cup of yogurt.
  4. The coconut pecan topping uses evaporated milk instead of just regular milk because you end up with a creamier consistency, and it also has less fat content than cream. Evaporated milk is just milk where half the water has been boiled off.
  5. If you are looking to get those nice flat layers, you can gently cut the domes off with a sharp knife. This will help form the perfectly even layer that you’re looking for.
  6. Refrigerate the cake after you're done assembling it, it will set and the topping will harden as the cake sits in the fridge.
  7. The coffee is added to this chocolate cake because it adds depth to the flavor of the cake. The coffee will actually enhance the chocolate flavor. Although there is a cup of coffee in this cake, you will not taste the coffee.
  8. I prefer to cover the cake and then refrigerate it. You can also leave it on the counter if it’s covered, but I would recommend keeping this cake in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  9. I recommend freezing just the cake, without filling. Tightly wrap cooled individual cake pieces in plastic and then place in a freezer bag for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 667kcal | Carbohydrates: 85g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 133mg | Sodium: 499mg | Potassium: 419mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 62g | Vitamin A: 591IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 151mg | Iron: 3mg