German Chocolate Cake

Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 12 slices

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This German Chocolate Cake is made with rich, chocolate cake layers, coconut pecan frosting and chocolate ganache for an impressive chocolate cake that will wow your chocolate lovers!

german chocolate cake whole with pecan frosting and chocolate ganache

Recipe first shared on Spend With Pennies.


We’re smack dab in the middle of January and I’m here with a luscious German Chocolate Cake recipe ๐Ÿ˜‰

But sometimes I struggle with getting back to routine after the holidays, and cake always helps. Especially if it’s chocolate!

I’m sharing tons of tips and tricks to make this your best German Chocolate Cake yet, including tips to make ahead and freeze, so be sure to skim through the post below to ensure success!

And if you’re a chocolate fanatic like myself, you might also enjoy my ultra popular The Best Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe, this Crockpot Hot Chocolate, or my Grandma’s Hot Fudge Sundae Cake!

What’s in a German Chocolate Cake?

This German Chocolate Cake is made up of three different components, but sometimes only the first two are used. I like to add the chocolate ganache because it adds a bit more chocolate flavor and the drizzle is fun!

  1. Three layers of chocolate cake
  2. Cooked coconut pecan custard frosting — the trademark of the German Chocolate Cake, and not as hard to make as you might think!
  3. Chocolate ganache — just for a little extra chocolate! I like to pour it over the top cake layer before adding the rest of the frosting, because it makes fun drips and really makes it extra special.
german chocolate cake whole with one slice cut on white plate
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What’s the difference between German Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Cake?

There is just one difference between other types of chocolate and “German” chocolate, and that is that German chocolate is typically a bit sweeter.

Interestingly enough, German Chocolate Cake was actually developed by an American named Samuel German, and has nothing to do with Germany. He created the type of German chocolate that was traditionally used in the recipe.

Nowadays, most German Chocolate Cake recipes are made with whatever type of chocolate you have on hand. This means it’s easy to enjoy any time of the year! (And no need for fancy imported chocolate ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

This chocolate cake recipe is one I originally adapted from Hershey’s, and it’s one of my favorites!

It’s rich and chocolatey without being overly sweet, it’s incredibly moist and it’s the perfect complement to the sweet coconut pecan frosting.

How to store German Chocolate Cake:

German chocolate cake can be left at room temperature for several hours until you serve it, but any leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator for the best results.

german chocolate cake on white plate on white background with one slice being pulled out

How to refrigerate cake:

You can store this German Chocolate Cake in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 4-5 days.

How to freeze cake:

It can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months — I prefer to slice it and freeze the slices in a large airtight container, that way I can pull out a slice or two when the cravings hit!

How to prep this German Chocolate Cake ahead:

If you know me at all, you know I love any recipe that can be made or prepped at least somewhat in advance.

Toddlers make life unpredictable, and I’m never guaranteed an hour or two when I really need it. With make ahead recipes, I can choose to make them when I don’t have a child hanging off my leg ๐Ÿ˜‰

I prefer to make my frosting the day I’m assembling, but cake freezes perfectly, so I’ll often bake my cake layers a few weeks before I need them, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and they can be frozen up to 3 months.

slice of german chocolate cake on white plate on white background

The best part is you don’t have to thaw frozen cake to assemble! It is actually easier to frost when it’s frozen.

You can make the entire cake the day before you need it, and just store in the refrigerator. If you choose to frost the sides, you don’t even need to cover it, and the cake will actually slice more easily when chilled.

More chocolate desserts you’ll love!

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German Chocolate Cake

5 from 4 votes
This German Chocolate Cake is made with rich, chocolate cake layers, coconut pecan frosting and chocolate frosting for an impressive cake that will wow your chocolate lovers!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Dessert
Servings 12 slices
Calories 708.64cal



  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour fluffed and levelled
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup hot coffee or water


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 100 grams dark chocolate about ¾ cup chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream



  • Lightly grease and flour three round 8″ cake pans, tapping firmly to remove any excess flour once coated. Set the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and oil until combined.
  • Add milk, eggs and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  • Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and baking powder and whisk until combined.
  • Slowly stir in hot coffee until batter is smooth — it will be thin.
  • Divide evenly between prepared pans and bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick in the center comes out dry or with moist crumbs. Set aside to cool completely.


  • In a medium saucepan, whisk together cream, sugar and egg yolks until combined.
  • Add butter, and cook over medium heat, whisking often, until thickened, about 5-10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla.
  • Let cool completely to room temperature (to a spreadable consistency) before frosting cooled cakes — if you need to cool quickly, pour into a clean bowl and place in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes, stirring often.

Ganache & Assembly

  • In a small pot, melt chocolate and cream together over low heat, stirring often. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Top with ⅓ of the coconut pecan frosting.
  • Repeat with remaining two layers, spreading chocolate ganache on the top cake layer and letting set completely before topping with remaining frosting (optional: you can reverse the order, and spread remaining frosting on top cake layer, then spread and drip the ganache on top). Let chocolate cool completely before slicing.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 708.64cal | Carbohydrates: 79.74g | Protein: 7.61g | Fat: 42.71g | Saturated Fat: 18.16g | Cholesterol: 132.69mg | Sodium: 443.31mg | Potassium: 330.73mg | Fiber: 5.11g | Sugar: 57.51g | Vitamin A: 743.32IU | Vitamin C: 0.22mg | Calcium: 88.94mg | Iron: 3.27mg
Keywords german chocolate cake

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Reader Interactions


  1. Dina janicky says

    The only problem I ran into is that the recipe for the frosting is not enough! I had to make 2 batches. Other than that, I loved it.

  2. Holly says

    How thick is the custard frosting? Would it hold its shape if it were piped on top, or is it too fluid to pipe?

    • Holly says

      I ended up making the cake, but the custard frosting had the consistency and coloring of applesauce, which doesnโ€™t work well for piping. How did you achieve the light, milky coloring in your custard frosting?

  3. Jennifer says

    I noticed you put the nutritional information at the end of the recipe. I have but one question: What is a serving SIZE? I looked the information over several times and couldn’t find the actual size of the serving.

  4. Debbie says

    I made this yesterday only I was a bit lazy. Instead of the round pans, I made it in a 9 X 13 pan and baked it for 30 min. It turned out wonderfully! I used a buttercream icing and my family is gobbling it down. Thanks Ashley! A great recipe once again!

  5. says

    Hey Ashley.. I baked the German Chocolate Cake and it was absolutely mouth watering.. one of my best cakes. Thanks for this awesome recipe โ™ฅ๏ธ

    • Leslie says

      Can you use the German chocolate baking bar instead of regular chocolate in the ganache and cake recipe?

      • The Recipe Rebel says

        Hi Leslie, you would not be able to replace the cocoa powder in the cake for the baking bar, but it should work for the ganache. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

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