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close up of german chocolate cake on a blue patterned plate with cake in the background

Classic German Chocolate Cake Recipe

How to make Authentic German chocolate cake with coconut pecan frosting and creamy chocolate swiss meringue buttercream. A true labor of love but so worth it!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cake, chocolate, coconut, pecan
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 24 servings
Calories 645kcal


  • Stand Mixer
  • Whisk Attachment


For the German chocolate cake

  • 4 ounces Baker's German Chocolate melted
  • 4 ounces water warmed
  • 4 large eggs (yolks and whites separated) room temperature
  • 12 ounces All-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter softened
  • 14 ounces granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces buttermilk
  • 4 ounces vegetable oil

For the coconut pecan filling

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 10 ounces granulated sugar or brown sugar for a richer flavor
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter
  • 7 ounces flaked coconut
  • 7 ounces pecans chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 8 ounces fresh egg whites
  • 16 ounces granulated sugar
  • 24 ounces unsalted butter softened
  • 4 ounces Baker's German chocolate melted and cooled to 90º
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Prepare three 8"x2" cake pans with cake goop or another preferred pan spray.

For the cake

  • Melt your chocolate in a heatproof bowl in 15-second increments until just melted. Do not overheat or you could burn your chocolate. Add your warm water to the chocolate and whisk to combine.
  • Place egg whites in a bowl with the whisk attachment and whip until you reach firm but moist peaks. They shouldn't look broken or crumbly. Set aside.
  • Combine buttermilk and vegetable oil and set aside
  • Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy in color
  • Add in your egg yolk while mixing on low, letting it mix in fully before adding in your last egg yolk.
  • While mixing on low, add in your melted and cooled chocolate and vanilla and mix until combined.
  • Mixing on low, add in 1/3 of flour mixture, then 1/3 of buttermilk. Repeat two more times with remaining flour and buttermilk.
  • Gently fold in your egg whites until blended.
  • Pour your batter into your prepared pans and bake immediately for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out from the center clean. Let cool before frosting.

For the coconut pecan filling

  • In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together milk, egg yolks, and vanilla over medium heat until blended.
  • Add in your butter and sugar and continue to cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken (about 12 minutes). Whisk continuously or you risk overcooking your eggs. The mixture will be thick and golden brown when it's ready.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat and fold in your coconut and pecans. Cool to a spreadable consistency.

For the German chocolate buttercream

  • Bring 2" of water to a boil in a medium saucepan then reduce heat until it's just simmering. Place your metal or glass mixing bowl on top. The bowl should not be touching the water.
  • Place egg whites and sugar in the bowl and whisk occasionally to dissolve the sugar and keep the egg whites from cooking. Once the mixture reaches 110ºF or you can no longer feel any granules of sugar in between your fingers, it's ready
  • Place the bowl on your stand mixer and whip on high until you reach VERY stiff peaks. The tips should stand straight up when you touch them and the meringue should feel very thick and dense.
  • Place a large bag of ice under the bowl as you're mixing to cool the meringue down.
  • Reduce the speed to low. Slowly add in your butter in small chunks, then your salt, melted and cooled chocolate and vanilla extract.
  • Increase the speed back to high and whip until the color is light and fluffy. Give it a taste, if it still tastes buttery, keep whipping
  • Reduce the speed to low again and then drizzle in your cooled chocolate and vanilla and mix until smooth.



Serving: 1serving | Calories: 645kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 27g | Cholesterol: 80mg | Sodium: 201mg | Potassium: 152mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 48g | Vitamin A: 944IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 1mg