This German Chocolate Cake is made with a rich, moist chocolate cake, chocolate ganache drizzle, and coconut pecan frosting. It’s a showstopper that the chocolate fanatics will love!

I’ve always loved chocolate and coconut, from coconut macaroons, chocolate macaroons to these chocolate fudge ripple coconut bars, but German Chocolate Cake is one of my favorite ways to get my fix!

german chocolate cake whole

What is German Chocolate Cake

German chocolate cake is made up of three different components (but sometimes only the first two are used): chocolate cake, coconut pecan frosting, and a simple chocolate ganache!

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 in a traditional German Chocolate Cake  recipe.

This chocolate cake recipe is originally from Hershey’s, and it’s one of my favorites! It’s rich and chocolatey and moist without being overly sweet, and it’s the perfect complement to the sweet coconut pecan icing.

How to Make German Chocolate Cake

This homemade chocolate cake comes together in three steps!

  1. Cake: Start by baking the chocolate cake layers (per recipe below).
  2. Frosting: Prepare the cooked coconut pecan frosting, the trademark of the German Chocolate Cake!
  3. Ganache: Some people use chocolate frosting in addition to the coconut pecan frosting, but I prefer dark chocolate ganache as it adds a little more chocolate flavor without making the cake overwhelmingly sweet. It’s super easy too. Follow the recipe below to make it with 2 simple ingredients and no mixer.

This from scratch recipe makes three 8″ round cake layers, for a tall and impressive cake. However, you can easily bake this cake in a 9×13″ pan and spread the frosting over the top in a single layer. A 9×13″ cake is great for potlucks and parties!

german chocolate cake with slice

What is the Difference Between German Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Cake?

There is really only one difference between the two: chocolate! German chocolate is typically a bit sweeter than normal chocolate.

Because they are nearly the same, most recipes these days are made with whatever type of chocolate you have on hand.

How to Store It

For best storage of this German Chocolate Cake, put it in an airtight container or zippered bag. Whether popping it in the fridge or freezer, it will stay nice and fresh!

  • Fridge: It can be stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
  • Freezer: It can 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!

slice of german chocolate cake

Delicious Cakes and Desserts

german chocolate cake whole
5 from 15 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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German Chocolate Cake

This German Chocolate Cake is made with a rich, moist chocolate cake, chocolate ganache drizzle, and coconut pecan frosting.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 12 slices



  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ¾ cup all purpose flour fluffed and leveled
  • ¾ cup cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup hot coffee or water


  • 1 cup cream or evaporated milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup pecans finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 100 grams dark chocolate (about ¾ cup chopped)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream



  • Grease and flour three 8" round cake pans, tapping firmly to remove any excess flour once coated. Turn the oven to 350°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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
5 from 15 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 713 | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 132mg | Sodium: 442mg | Potassium: 343mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 58g | Vitamin A: 749IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Cake, Dessert
Cuisine American

Cake recipe adapted from Hershey’s

Slice of German chocolate cake on a plate with a fork and a title
Slice of German chocolate cake on a plate with a fork and German chocolate cake with writing


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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


  1. If I wanted to make a 9×13 cake, would you still use the ganache? And pour the ganache over the top of the cake, cool, and then use the coconut frosting over that?

    1. Hi Marina, I would bake them at the same temperature for about 15-18 minutes. Check to see if they are done, by inserting a toothpick into the center to see if it is done.

  2. Your ingredients list is unclear. It states 3/4 cup of cocoa. Did you mean cocoa powder? I can make a cup of cocoa with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and use 3/4 of it? Or do you mean 3/4 cup of cocoa powder? Big difference here!