German Chocolate Cake Recipe

| February 23, 2020 | 16 Comments

German Chocolate Cake

Follow our easy, step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions to learn how to make this Classic German Chocolate Cake recipe. We’ve even stepped it up with the addition of a Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, but you can leave that off if you desire. Printable recipe included.


German Chocolate Cake, enjoy!
Our German Chocolate Cake recipe with a Coconut-Pecan filling. You can make it without the addition of our Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, but it’s so much better with both.


German Chocolate Cake,slider.

It isn’t easy, but it IS elegant.

That’s what one of the advertising pieces from back in the late 50’s said about making the Classic German Chocolate Cake from scratch. It IS a little bit “involved,” but it sure is worth the effort once you get it completed.

We’ve taken the classic version of this cake and stepped it up a notch with the addition of our Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. It’s just the way I know this cake best. You can make yours without it if you prefer. Smile.

We’ve got a small chain of grocery stores here in North Carolina that makes this cake with the buttercream frosting, and I’ve come to prefer it that way as opposed to just adding the filling between the layers and on the top. The store sells a whole cake for 12.99 as of this writing. I don’t know how they do it.

The cake isn’t actually difficult. It’s just got a few extra steps you’ll need to take to complete the layers and the filling. Little things like chopping up a sweet chocolate bar, whipping egg whites, and toasting pecans. But, if you have a chocolate lover that you’d like to impress – THIS is your cake.

I’ve never claimed to be much of a cake decorator. I don’t bake a lot of cakes, but I do love cake. I have just yet been able to figure out the proper consistency for making frosting that you can pipe and decorate with. Then, my hands aren’t very steady. Then, my hands are so warm the frosting warms up in the piping bag and doesn’t do what I want it to do. Then, I just don’t have the talent for it. Do you get the idea?

So, set aside a little extra time and make one deliciously moist and awesome German Chocolate Cake. We’ve got all the photos and steps below to help you along the way.

Ready to give it a try? Alright then, let’s head on out to the kitchen, and… Let’s Get Cooking!


German Chocolate Cake, ingredients for the layers.
German Chocolate Cake – You’ll need these ingredients to make the layers. I’ve got the ingredients for the coconut-pecan filling further down in the recipe. And, if you want to add our chocolate frosting, which is an optional addition, you can click this link to see how to make our – Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

Butter and eggs should be at room temperature before you begin.


German Chocolate Cake, sift the flour.
Let’s begin by first sifting the cake flour. The flour gets packed down during packaging and shipping, and it needs to be aerated before you measure it out. Just sift a little more than you think you need into a large bowl.


German Chocolate Cake, measure carefully.
Once the flour is sifted, measure it carefully. Spoon the sifted flour into your measuring cup, then level across the top with a knife. This will give you one level cup of flour for baking. Smile.


German Chocolate Cake, add baking soda.
Measure out all the needed flour into another mixing bowl. Then, add the BAKING SODA. Please note this is baking SODA and not baking powder. There is a difference.


German Chocolate Cake, add the salt.
Add the salt.


German Chocolate Cake, whisk dry ingredients together.
Use a whisk or a fork to mix all the dry ingredients together. Set aside for now.


German Chocolate Cake, add butter and sugar to mixing bowl.
Place the room temperature butter and the sugar into the bowl of your mixer.

I’d like to add that this is the very first time I’m using my new KitchenAid mixer. I’d wanted one for a long time, and finally bought one in the Fall of 2019. Never used it until I made this cake. Thank you for listening.


German Chocolate Cake, cream together.
Cream the butter and sugar together on Medium speed until the mixture is creamy and smooth. This will take several minutes.

Did I mention my new mixer is RED?


German Chocolate Cake, chop the chocolate bar.
Chop the chocolate bar into small pieces.

You really want to be using a Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Bar in this recipe. The cake is named after English-American chocolate maker Samuel German. German created the formula for the dark baking chocolate used in the recipe back in 1852. It’s a sweet chocolate and is the original chocolate used to make the cake.

The cake itself, was created in 1957 by a lady from Dallas, Texas. The rest as they say – is history.

It really should be called German’s Chocolate Cake and not just German Chocolate Cake. Many folks these days use a dark chocolate bar instead of the sweet German’s chocolate bar. But, the choice is always yours. I’m just the fellow sharing the information. Smile.


German Chocolate Cake, add chocolate to boiling water.
Place the chopped up chocolate in a half cup of boiling hot water. Give it a good stir until the chocolate has all melted. Set this aside and let it cool while we separate the eggs.


German Chocolate Cake, separate the eggs.
Separate the egg yolks. I always suggest that you break the egg into a small bowl first. That way, should the yolk break, you’re not going to get any of the yolk into your egg whites. I use this handy little gadget that I’ve had for years to separate the yolks from the whites. It works most of the time, but I did break one while taking these photos.

Place the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another. We’ll use the whites later in the process.


German Chocolate Cake, scrape down the bowl.
Scrape down the bowl as needed once the butter and sugar have been creamed together.


German Chocolate Cake, add eggs.
Start the mixer up again, and add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing each one in after you add it.


German Chocolate Cake, add vanilla.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl again, then add the vanilla flavoring.


German Chocolate Cake, add the chocolate.
With the mixer running, gradually pour in the chocolate syrup mixture.


German Chocolate Cake, add flour.
Once the chocolate is mixed in, we’ll start gradually adding the flour.

We’re going to alternate between adding flour and buttermilk in this order.

Add about one third of the flour.
Add half of the buttermilk.
Add another third of the flour.
Add the other half of the buttermilk.
Add the final amount of flour.

Simple enough. Let’s do it.


German Chocolate Cake, add buttermilk.
With part of the flour mixed in, I’m adding half of the buttermilk, It will only take a few seconds to work the flour or buttermilk in after each addition. You don’t want to over work the batter, just mix it enough to mix in each ingredient. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, the bottom of the bowl, and the beaters as needed.


German Chocolate Cake, prepare your pans.
With the flour and the buttermilk mixed in, let’s prepare the baking pans.

I used a baking spray that contains flour. I lightly sprayed the bottom of the pan, then I added a parchment paper circle cut to fit the inside of the pan. Press this down so it sticks, then spray the parchment paper and around the sides of the pan until they are lightly coated.

The parchment paper really is a good investment. You can purchase ready cut circles or just buy a roll and cut your own circles to fit. It makes removing the layers intact so much more dependable and easier.


German Chocolate Cake, prepare egg whites.
You’ll need a totally clean mixing bowl to whip up the egg whites in. I transferred the batter to another bowl, washed and dried my mixing bowl then put on the wire whisk. I beat the egg whites on Medium speed after adding them all to the bowl.


German Chocolate Cake, whip the egg whites.
It will take a couple of minutes to whip the egg whites up to where they will form stiff peaks. It always amazes me that egg whites alone will do this. Smile.


German Chocolate Cake, add to batter.
Place about one fourth of the whipped egg whites into your bowl with the batter.


German Chocolate Cake, stir well.
Use a spatula and stir the whipped egg whites into the batter until fully combined.


German Chocolate Cake, add remaining egg whites.
You’ll need to be more gentle with this step. Add the remaining whipped egg whites to the bowl of batter.


German Chocolate Cake, fold egg whites into the batter.
Gently FOLD the whipped egg whites into the batter. Scoop down from the bottom of the bowl and fold the batter over on top of the egg whites. Repeat this process just until you’ve incorporated the whites into the batter. You don’t want to deflate the egg whites, so you need to do this gently.


German Chocolate Cake, divide the batter.
Divide the batter between your three prepared pans.

I do this with a large spoon, placing batter in each pan as I go. Just do your best to get an equal amount in the pans.


German Chocolate Cake, add the baking strips.
I recently started using these cloth baking strips around my pans. They keep the layers from forming a dome in the middle as the layers bake. It’s a little extra effort, but the layers turn out fairly flat on top and you don’t have to worry about cutting off the dome. Of course, that means you don’t get to eat the cake scraps either, but be patient, you’ll get to enjoy the cake itself shortly.

These were made by Wilton brands and I ordered them online. You’ll find them in lots of stores that sell baking supplies. You soak them in water, squeeze them out a bit, then place them around the outside of each cake pan before placing them in the oven.

I liked them a lot. That is, until I was trying to snug one down and caught my thumb nail on part of the strip and split it about a quarter of an inch right down the middle. Ouch. It did hurt, but I lived through it. Not to worry, I’m okay.


German Chocolate Cake, baking time and temp.
Bake the layers in an oven that has been pre-heated to 350F degrees. The layers need to bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until they pass the toothpick test for doneness.


German Chocolate Cake, test for doneness.
You can insert a wooden toothpick into the center of the cake. If it pulls out clean and free of crumbs, the layer is done. If it is wet looking with crumbs, you need to bake it a minute or two longer.

Another good indication is if the layers have pulled away from the side of the pan and the center of the cake springs back when lightly pressed.

Place the cake pans on a wire rack or folded towel and let cool about 8 to 10 minutes.


German Chocolate Cake, remove the parchment paper.
After the cakes have slightly cooled, flip them over and out of the baking pan onto a wire rack. Gently pull off the parchment paper.


German Chocolate Cake, let cool.
Let the layers cool completely on the wire racks while we make the filling for the cake.


Coconut Pecan Frosting, ingredients.
Coconut Pecan Frosting – You’ll need these ingredients.

This is the frosting, or filling, for our German Chocolate Cake.

Please note that this will make enough frosting to place between the layers and on top of the cake, but doesn’t make enough to frost the outside of the cake. If that’s what you want to do, you should make a double batch of this.


Coconut Pecan Frosting, toast the pecans.
I prefer to toast my pecans first. Lightly grease the bottom of a small sheet pan and spread the pecans out in one single layer.


Coconut Pecan Frosting, baking time and temp.
Place the pecans in an oven that has been pre-heated to 350F degrees. Let them stay for only about 5 to 8 minutes until slightly toasted. Do not burn them.


Coconut Pecan Frosting, chop the pecans.
Chop the pecans when cooled. Set aside for now.


Coconut Pecan Frosting, add sugar.
Place the sugar in a medium sauce pot.


Coconut Pecan Frosting, add milk.
Add the evaporated milk.


Coconut Pecan Frosting, add eggs.
Add the LIGHTLY BEATEN eggs. Ooops, I missed that part, but I got it before they started cooking. Sorry, my bad. Smile. Now, tilt your head and tell me if that looks like a smiley face in the pot?  Is it just me?


Coconut Pecan Frosting, add the butter.
Add the butter.


Coconut Pecan Frosting, add vanilla.
Add the vanilla.


Coconut Pecan Frosting, cook until it thickens.
Place the pot over Medium heat. Stir it constantly as it heats up and until it thickens. This will take about 10 minutes. It may begin to rise in the pan as it heats up, but it will stir down so keep stirring.

Once it begins to thicken, remove the pot from the heat.


Coconut Pecan Frosting, add the pecans.
Add the chopped pecans.


Coconut Pecan Frosting, add coconut.
Add the coconut.


Coconut Pecan Frosting, stir well.
Stir everything together until fully combined. You’ll need to let the mixture cool some before placing it on your cake. Stir it occasionally as it cools and gets down to a good spreadable temperature.

If you’re not going to add our Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, you can spread this Coconut-Pecan frosting between the layers and on top of your cake and call it a day. Smile. It will be good either way you decide to finish the cake.


German Chocolate Cake, assemble the cake.
Assemble your cake: I’m going all out and using both the Coconut-Pecan for filling, and our Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. I’ve got my turntable to hold my cake, with a piece of drawer liner cut to go across the top. This holds my cake board in place while I turn the cake to decorate it.

Place the cake board or plate on the turntable, then spread a small amount of frosting over the top. This will hold the cake layer in place on the cake board.


German Chocolate Cake, add first layer.
Place the first layer on the cake board and gently press it down so it holds on the board.

Use a piping bag filled with the Chocolate Buttercream frosting and a large round tip, and pipe a circle of frosting around the outer edge of the layer. This should be about 3/4ths of an inch in height. This will create a wall or barrier to help hold in the filling.


German Chocolate Cake, add some filling
Spread a layer of the filling inside the barrier wall. Level it out.


German Chocolate Cake, repeat with second layer.
Add the second layer of cake on to the top of the first layer. Repeat the process with the barrier and the filling.


German Chocolate Cake, add the top layer.
Add the third cake layer. I like to place this one bottom up so I have a flat surface on the top of the cake to work with.


German Chocolate Cake, add the crumb coat.
Spread a thin layer of the buttercream frosting across the top and around the outside of the layers. Smooth it out fairly smooth but you don’t have to get carried away with it.

This thin layer is called a crumb coat. It helps hold any loose crumbs that might be on your cake that could get into the frosting. That way, when we apply the second layer of frosting, the crumbs are glued to the cake and don’t end up in the visible layer of frosting. Make sense?

Once you’ve applied this thin crumb coat, place the cake in your refrigerator for 30-45 minutes to let the frosting firm up.


German Chocolate Cake, apply frosting.
Apply the final layer of frosting to the top and sides of the cake.


German Chocolate Cake,smooth the sides.
Smooth out the frosting on the outside of the cake. I use a flat cake decorating tool designed just for this purpose. We don’t have to worry much about the top because we’re going to cover that with filling and more frosting.


German Chocolate Cake, decorate as desired.
Use the frosting to pipe some flowers, or in my case some “floppy flowers” around the top layer of the cake. I still haven’t figured out the right consistency of the frosting to be able to make any decorative flowers or anything else. And, my hands keep the frosting pretty warm while I’m trying to work with it. I’m sure you can do much better.

Spread a layer of the filling in the center of your flowers and finish decorating your cake as desired.

As we said at the beginning, “It isn’t easy, but it IS elegant.”


German Chocolate Cake, another view
Here’s another look.


German Chocolate Cake, enjoy!

clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon print print icon squares squares icon
German Chocolate Cake, printbox.

German Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 10-12 slices 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American, Southern


We’ve made the Classic German Chocolate Cake, and we’ve taken it up a notch with the addition of a Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. We’ll share how to make it both ways. A deliciously light and moist cake for any lover of Chocolate.



Ingredients For The Cake:
1 pkg. Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate (4oz)
1/2 cup boiling water
21/2 cups Swan’s Down Cake Flour, sifted
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Butter
2 cups Sugar
4 Egg Yolks
1 teaspoon Vanilla Flavoring
1 cup Buttermilk
4 Egg Whites

Ingredients for the Filling:
1 cup Evaporated Milk
1 cup Sugar
3 Egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/2 cup Butter
11/3 cups Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut, sweetened
1 cup Pecans, chopped


Instructions for the Cake:
Sift and measure out the cake flour.
Add baking soda.
Add Salt. Whisk dry ingredients together. Set aside.
Place butter and sugar in large mixing bowl.
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Chop the chocolate bar.
Add chopped chocolate to boiling water. Stir until chocolate melts. Let cool.
Add egg yolks to butter and sugar mixture, one at a time, beating lightly after each addition.
Add vanilla.
Add chocolate. Mix lightly to combine.
Add flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk, beating after each addition until smooth.
Beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
Add 1/4th of the egg whites to batter, mix in well.
Fold remaining egg whites into the batter.
Grease and flour 3 – 9inch baking pans. Line with parchment paper.
Divide batter between the three pans.
Bake at 350F degrees for 30-35 minutes or until done. Test with toothpick.
Place on wire rack. Let cool 10 minutes. Remove layers from pans.
Remove parchment paper. Let layers cool completely before adding frosting.

Instructions for the Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting
Place pecans in a single layer on lightly oiled baking sheet.
Bake at 350F degrees for 5 minutes. Let cool. Chop.
Place the sugar in a medium size sauce pot.
Add milk.
Add lightly beaten egg yolks.
Add butter.
Add vanilla.
Cook over Medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. About 10 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Add chopped pecans.
Add coconut. Stir well to combine.
Cool until spreading consistency is reached, stirring occasionally.
Spread filling/frosting between layers and on top.


This makes enough frosting/filling for the layers and the top of the cake. Double the batch of Coconut-Pecan Filling if you’d prefer to cover the outside of the cake. Or, see our separate recipe for making Chocolate Buttercream Frosting if you’d like to add that.

Keywords: German Chocolate Cake, Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate, chocolate bar, coconut pecan filling, coconut pecan frosting, chocolate buttercream frosting

Your Comments:  Have you tried our German Chocolate Cake Recipe?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. It will only take a minute or two for you to leave your comments in the section below. Just remember, all comments are moderated.  That just means that I personally read each and everyone before they are approved for viewing on our family friendly website. Thank you in advance for sharing.

Sign Up For Our Free Newsletter:  While you’re here, be sure to sign up for our totally FREE NEWSLETTER.  I’ll send you an Email every once in awhile to remind you when I post a new recipe, or when anything else of importance is going on around Taste of Southern.  It’s totally free, and super easy to sign up.  And, should you ever decide that you are no longer interested, it’s even quicker to unsubscribe.  How cool is that?  I’ll be looking forward to seeing you add your name to our list.  The signup box is below and you’ll also find one in the top right hand corner of each page. I hope you’ll do it today.

Be Blessed!!!


You might also like this cake: Raspberry Heart Cake Recipe

Or, maybe this:  Old Fashioned Pineapple Cake Recipe

How about this one:  Pig Picking Cake Recipe




Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Desserts

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Author of three cookbooks. "From Mama's Big Oval Table, From Mama's Big Oval Table - BOOK TWO and Carolina Christmas Sweets and Appetizers." Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (16)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Annie says:

    That looks amazing and delicious.
    Good Job !

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Annie, Thank you for the compliments on the cake. It was really good, very sweet, but really good. I do appreciate your visit today, and I’m thankful you subscribe to our Newsletter. I appreciate your support and do hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  2. Wow…what a beautiful cake! I would only dream to make this. A lot of work, maybe one day I’ll tackle this when I have more time. Will let you know for sure.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Susan, Thank you for your compliments on the cake. I do hope you might try it one day soon. It only takes an old man like myself a long time to make it. Smile. Younger folks can knock it out in no time I’m sure. I look forward to hearing how you like it. Thank you for your support of our recipes. I appreciate your visits and do hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  3. Sharon says:

    Steve, you are a jewel. You touch many lives with your newsletters with good recipes that sometimes evoke sweet memories. I am going to be making this for church soon. It looks delicious! God bless you. Prayers for you and your friends and family.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Sharon, Thank you for the smile today. I appreciate your comments. I do hope you get the chance to make the cake and that it turns out well for you. I’ll be waiting to hear how you like it. Thank you for your continued prayers for my friends and family. We all appreciate it very much. Thank you for being a subscriber to the Newsletter. I will always be thankful and grateful for your support and your visits. I do hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  4. Carole Shipley says:

    I just have to tell you that your German Chocolate Cake is the most beautiful cake I’ve ever seen. (and I’m not a true chocolate lover).

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Carole, I just have to tell you that you are now my new most favorite person. Smile. I really appreciate the compliments on the cake. I’m just playing and having fun. Wish I did know how to decorate one like the professionals do it. Smile. I appreciate you taking the time to write and for your visit. I do hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  5. Cheryl Ann says:

    Your cake is absolutely stunning!! I used to decorate cakes for my children, only problem-subconsciously-I would attempt to outdo the one before, sort of self competition which is not a bad thing in theory. Had to stop when the last cake I made involved sparklers And the Fire Department! Hung up my apron after that, to the relief of ALL involved. German chocolate is a cake I never tried from scratch–this particular cake was my Grandmother’s specialty-somehow going near it seemed like walking on hallowed ground–she passed in 93′. Maybe it’s time I give it a shot–Thank you–Your Blog is always a reminder of home. Please know, your work is greatly appreciated by the lonely misplaced Southerners around the Country. Stay Warm!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Cheryl, Thank you for your very kind compliments on the cake. I do hope you’ll make your Grandmother proud one day and give the cake a try. You can carry on her legacy with it. I sort of compete with myself too, but I promise now to stay away from the sparklers. Hope nothing serious happened. Smile. Thank you for sharing your story and for your visit today. I do hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  6. Carol Anne Everett says:

    Steve, I am SO impressed with that beautiful cake you made!! I’ve been a professional baker for over 30 years and that looks as beautiful as any professional cake I’ve seen! I LOVE this recipe – always moist and delicious! I’m keeping all of you and the ones you’ve mentioned in my prayers. Blessings – CA

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Carol Anne, Thank you for the compliment. You are way too kind though, but still, I like it. Smile. I’ve got a lot to learn about cake decorating and a long way to go to ever achieve it. It’s still “sweet” to try. At least I get to enjoy the results. It’s a good reason to keep practicing. Thank you for being a subscriber to the Newsletter and for your continued prayers for our family and friends. It’s greatly appreciated by us all. I’m glad you found us, and glad that you stopped by. Be sure to visit again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  7. Tonya says:

    Although this is dessert that takes time to make, this is a beautiful cake. German Chocolate is my aunt’s favorite cake. This looks absolutely delicious and i’m sure it tastes divine!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Tonya, Thank you for your compliments on the cake. It did take a bit of time, but it turned out great in my opinion. It’s an old recipe from around 1958, but still a good one for today. I hope you’ll try the recipe one day. Thank you for your visit. I appreciate all of your support and do hope you’ll visit with us often. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  8. Karen Miller says:

    One of my granddaughters always asks for German chocolate cake for her birthday.
    I love my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Right now have dough rising for 2 loaves of bread. I used my Kitchen Aid to mix and knead the dough since my hands can’t do that anymore. We’ll have slices of homemade bread with our homemade soup tonight. YUM!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Karen, I bet that grand daughter always GETS that cake on her birthday too. Am I right? She has good tastes for sure. As mentioned, this was my first time using my KitchenAid since I bought it. I haven’t tried to make bread with it yet, but I hope to do that before too long. It will come in handy with my hands and fingers as well. Smile. Getting old is fun. I bet yours turned out great and I hope you enjoyed that soup. It’s cold enough for some soup tonight in my neck of the woods. Thank you for your visits. It’s always great to hear from you. I do hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *