German Chocolate Cake

Total Time

Prep: 30 min. Bake: 30 min. + cooling


12 pieces

Updated: Nov. 30, 2023
This German chocolate cake is my husband’s favorite! Each bite has crunch from the pecans, and sweetness from coconut and chocolate. —Joyce Platfoot, Wapakoneta, Ohio


  • 4 ounces German sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 5 large egg yolks, room temperature, beaten
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ICING:
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon shortening


  1. Line 3 greased 9-in. round baking pans with waxed paper. Grease waxed paper and set aside. In small saucepan, melt chocolate with water over low heat; cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Beat in 4 egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
  3. In a small bowl and with clean beaters, beat the 4 egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold a fourth of the egg whites into creamed mixture; fold in remaining whites.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 24-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  5. For the icing, in a small saucepan, heat sugar, milk, butter and egg yolks over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla. Cool until thick enough to spread. Spread a third of the frosting over each cake layer and stack the layers.
  6. In a microwave, melt chocolate and shortening; stir until smooth. Drizzle over cake.
German Chocolate Cake Tips

Can you use other kinds of chocolate to make German chocolate cake?

Perhaps one of the most interesting facts about this cake is that German chocolate is not really from Germany! German chocolate is a sweet chocolate invented by a man named Sam German in 1852 for Baker's Chocolate. The moniker stuck, and we still call it German chocolate to this day. If you can't find German chocolate, either milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate will do instead. Here's more on the different types of chocolate for baking.

Can you make German chocolate cake without buttermilk?

No buttermilk on hand? Not a problem! We share 5 buttermilk substitutes that should do the trick.

Can you make German chocolate cake ahead of time?

The cake layers for German chocolate cake can be made ahead and frozen for several months. Make the filling and icing once you are ready to assemble and serve the cake. Here are more tips on how to freeze cake if you want more guidance.

How should you store German chocolate cake?

Once the German chocolate cake is completely assembled—filling, icing, and all—you can keep it at room temperature for up to 3 days under a cake dome or in a cake keeper. This is not a cake that requires refrigeration, since the flavors will be best at room temperature. If you liked this cake, be sure to try more of our German chocolate cake recipes.

Mark Neufang, Taste of Home Culinary Assistant

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 910 calories, 53g fat (28g saturated fat), 237mg cholesterol, 511mg sodium, 103g carbohydrate (76g sugars, 4g fiber), 11g protein.