German Chocolate Cake


Did you know that the German Chocolate Cake is not really from Germany?

After all, coconuts are not really native to Germany so it does seem odd that this cake is named as such.

This classic cake has some history but not what you may think.

It is actually named after the brand of chocolate manufacturer called Germans.

So technically this cake is called a German’s Chocolate Cake.

The recipe for the cake was listed in a Texas newspaper back in 1957 and from then on….the rest is history!

I’m not sure why that story intrigues me so much, and certainly I delight in telling it!

Now you too can be a pastry history buff when you serve this cake to your guests!

Not only is German Chocolate Cake delicious with the combination of moist chocolate cake, coconut pecan filling and chocolate buttercream; but it is also a conversation piece!

Decorate yours to look like the Game of Thrones Kings Chair and well, the conversation will go on all night!


*It is fine to leave the yolks out of the recipe if you are concerned about using egg yolks in your desserts however they do help to thicken the mixture. Rest assure that by cooking the mixture to 170°F you are now in the safe zone for egg custards

4.8 from 5 reviews
German Chocolate Filling Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This is a Building on Recipes project so be sure to have your chocolate cake & buttercream recipes prepared ahead of time then proceed with the German chocolate filling recipe listed below
It is fine to leave the yolks out of the recipe if you are concerned about using egg yolks in your desserts however they do help to thicken the mixture
Rest assure that by cooking the mixture to 170°F you are now in the safe zone for egg custards
Serves: 3 cups
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk ¾ cup (234g)
  • Salt ½ teaspoon (3g)
  • Unsalted Butter 8 tablespoons (113g)
  • Egg Yolks 2 (36g)
  • White Chocolate 4ounces (¾cup) (113g)
  • Sweetened Flake Coconut 1½ cup (135g)
  • Lightly Toasted Pecan Pieces 1 cup (110g)
  • Vanilla Extract 1 teaspoon
  1. In a medium heavy bottom sauce pot combine the condensed milk, salt and butter together.
  2. Stirring constantly over medium - high heat until butter is melted.
  3. Add the egg yolks and melted white chocolate and continue stirring constantly to avoid burning the mixture (sweetened condensed milk burns very easily)
  4. Cook until the mixture reaches 170°F on an instant read thermometer and then add the toasted pecans, coconut and vanilla extract.
  5. Cool completely before using, or refrigerate until needed up to 1 week
  6. If you are adding the buttercream (or caramel sauce) to the filling wait until it is completely cooled
  7. Begin by adding 1 cup of buttercream to the German Chocolate filling then add ¾ cup cooled ganache to the remaining buttercream
  8. Assemble the cake as shown in the video.
Keep the filling and any cakes or pastries made with this filling in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

German chocolate filling must stay refrigerated due to the egg yolks in the recipe. The cake or pastries made with German Chocolate filling can stay at room temperature for up to 4 hours.
*Note- My original recipe used evaporated milk and added sugar. For those who wish to use evaporated instead of sweetened condensed milk, use ¾ cup evaporated milk + ½ cup granulated sugar and proceed as the recipe is written above by adding the evaporated milk & sugar to the butter mixture.

I felt by using the condensed milk this time, it gave a much stiffer mixture- since in the past the filling was slightly loose as a cake filling. It is your preference to do it any way you like

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  1. Awesome post.I noted this down from ua old blog .it said its fine if egg yolks r left out or I must hv read d troubleshooting comments n must hv noted it down.dun rem.but just to double check it fine if egg yolks r left out in d filling?if yes wat r d other changes to b made.

  2. Hello,
    The German Chocolate Cake receipe is amazing I am sure whoever tries this receipe for the first time will never fail. It’s explained in such a way by Gretchen that we do not require to give a second thought, Nice work Gretchen you are a wonderful person who share your knowledge so openly with people around the world.

    I have one question, your receipe is perfectly fantastic, but for me can I skip the yellow yolk and what can be used instead of yellow yolk in German filling.
    Kindly suggest some option in place of yellow yolk I know the taste will differ.
    Please suggest.

  3. Gretchen,

    You already explained to me the transition of Woodland Bakery Blog to Gretchen’s Bakery and that you had to legally give up the whole Woodland Bakery Blog brand. I’m just wondering if you have the videos saved ANYWHERE? I seriously loved those, or do you know any other website/location where the videos can be found?


  4. Good evening Miss Gretchen! I was wondering if you might guesstimate at how many cupcakes this recipe would yield? I love to bake during the holidays (been pretty mediocre until I was directed to your blog!) and I would love to share the yummies I make with my co-workers, however cupcakes would be much easier than a sliced cake. My plan was to bake the batter into cupcakes, core out a hole, then fill it with the German’s chocolate filling, and of course load it up with the chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream. Thank you for all your help!

  5. Hi Gretchen,
    Me, question again.
    Whenever the recipe says “sweetened flake coconut” I have tried a couple times and I did not like the taste with some chemical or maybe artificial ingredients in it. What brand do you get? I only can find unsweetened at WHOLE FOOD, but I know it may not work to the recipe you stressed.
    Thank you for the help all the time. XOXO

  6. Hi Gretchen…love to watch your videos …makes me want to get baking! Just a quick question…how many servings will three 7 in cakes serve?

  7. Hello Gretchen!
    I can’t what this winter season has in store for us here in Maryland, and what gretchens bakory has in store for me.My birthdays coming up the 15! It’s almost 2 weeks away, and guess who is making the cake/whole dessert? What cake or desert do YOU reccomend for me to use? I was thinking the Ferrero cake, but I honastly Need help choosing out of all the wonders on your blog! Thank you so Much anyway!

  8. I can’t tell you how this was perfectly orchestrated. I needed a great German chocolate cake for a bday on Dec 2nd. I can’t wait to try this one.

  9. So are you filming your videos by yourself now???? So who is editing the videos anyway? You are doing such a great work Gretchen and I can tell you are really trying and working hard. keep going!!! Hugs, Victoria-

  10. Hello, have you taken down the video? I can’t seem to find it anywhere. I was really looking forward to making this cake for Christmas but am afraid to try without the video. Oh well, I guess I can make your delightful Caramel Apple Cake again, I made it once for the family and it was a great hit! Anyway love your blog, youtube channel old and new, keep up the great work.
    Lots of hugs from France.

    1. HI Ayana! the video is embedded right here on this blog post? Are you not seeing it? The nice thing about the blog is that the video and written recipe is right here together on one page. Let me know if it is not view-able though, since I view everything on my desktop, and many use phones and devices.

      1. I couldn’t view it before but I can now! The link to the video above the written recipe didn’t appear. All’s good now, thanks for your quick reply.

  11. This cake is soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good!!!! I think it is the best cake I have ever eaten. Will be making this one again for sure! Lots of steps but worth the effort for sure.

  12. Hi Gretchen!
    You say to add the vanilla extract to the filling but you didn’t put it in your list of ingredients. How much vanilla extract do I need to add? Also, is it okay to add the vanilla extract once the mixture cools? I made this filling a few hours ago and just now realized I didn’t put the vanilla in because you didn’t mention the amount. Thank you!

  13. Hi Gretchen…..can whipped cream be used for this cake instead of buttercream? will it taste just as good?

    Also regarding coconut flakes…is it fresh coconut or the dried flakes we get in packets? Also I could find only unsweetened coconut flakes. How can I sweeten it?


    1. of course! You can use whatever you prefer! (the filling is quite sweet already, so you may prefer the unsweetened coconut- if not you can add some granulated sugar to the mixture upon cooking about ¼ – ½ cup)

  14. You are just THE MOST ADORABLE baker lady in the whole world. I wish you a great start of 2016 and much health and success!

  15. Hi Gretchen,

    Is there a substitute for pecans? Pecans are very expensive and hard to find in the region I stay. Would sliced toasted almonds work?


  16. I made this recipe yesterday for a friend. He sent me a text saying this the BEST cake he has EVER had! Trust me he is picky too! I now have to make another one so I can taste it! Love your recipes!!!!!

  17. hi GRETCHen

    what is the substitute for egg yolks ? or can we ommit the egg?

    pls suggest me i wann try this recipe for vegan cake

    stay happy and healthy !!!

  18. Aloha Gretchen ! I made this German chocolate cake ,that’s wa amazing cake.I brought this to church and they said the same thing that this is the best cake they ever have.Thank you so very much.I really appreciate it.

  19. Hi Gretchen,
    Are there other options for the chocolate cake layer? Can i use your chocolate pound cake recipe? or the chocolate sponge cake recipe?


  20. can i use whipped cream and decorate it with ganche like the way you did? my family doesn’t like buttery icings =(.

  21. Gretchen, I made this for my brother-in-law’s 50th birthday. Each year I make him the old school German choc cake from inside the green wrapper. I made a 3 layer and 2 doz cupcakes. I used the exact recipe you gave and decorated with chocolate 5’s and 0’s instead of the “thrones” decs. The cake was the hit of the party! Ive never made anything that was so pretty and so tasty at the same time. Thanks very much for what you do!

  22. Just made the cake, did everything except the Game of Thrones chocolate on top. It was a little challenging to make the chocolate drizzle down the sides, as I had to re-heat the ganache to make it liquid, and I was afraid that it would melt the frosting if it got too warm. My suggestion would be to pop it in the freezer at this point to help with this. Also, I think that not adding buttercream to the filling should be considered, as I would prefer an authentic color and the full mouth-feel of coconut and nuts. Anyhow, it is quite impressive (and expensive!) and I am looking forward to serving it for a birthday party.

  23. Hi Gretchen! Im making this for a surprise birthday celebration. Can I use this recipe for a two 8″ pan or two 10″ pan? Or should u double the recipe? Thank you!

  24. Hi gretchen! Love your recipes! How long can I keep the mixed batter sitting before I put into the oven? I have a small oven and can put only one pan at a time. Thanks!

  25. Hi Gretchen! I love to follow your recipes and how you decorate cakes ,i would like to learn more secrets and techniques about how to make my cakes stands out and look beautiful. I would like you to teach me how to make stabilized buttercream. Thank you

  26. CRAZY GOOD! I made this for Mother’s Day 2017, and your recipe was out of this world. I made two 8″ layers and split them horizontally. I added a scoop of buttercream (as per your suggestion) to the filling. This was the first time I made your Swiss Buttercream and it was scrumptious! Chocolate cake recipe will give my
    all-time-favorite recipe a run for it’s money.
    All of the flavors were absolutely delectable!
    Great job, Gretchen. I’m glad that I’m on your team!

  27. I LOVE your Red Velvet Cupcakes, but they come out a little cripy on the sides. It i bake 18min there not ready but it i do 19 they are cripy. They are delicious but what am im doing wrong?

  28. Hi question..after taking out a cup of the Swiss meringue buttercream for the German chocolate filling….then HOW MUCH GANACHE do we pour into the reamaing buttercream to make it chocolate buttercream? Thanks in advance!

  29. Hello beautiful, I just finish making your delicious German cake for my work. I was supposed to bring the cake tomorrow. However they ask me if I can bring the cake next week. I was wondering if I can freeze it … I am worry about the custard.. can I freeze it? Also I will like to say thank you for all RecipeBook you did ! Merry Christmas to you and your family! I am a big fan!

    1. Hi Sure you can freeze it, just wrap well, then thaw out in the refrigerator overnight (unwrapped)
      Custard CAN be frozen but isn’t as great on the thaw as it can have a lot of moisture and be almost watery
      Thank you! Merry Christmas to you too!

  30. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!! I made it for my brothers birthday and he said I could make one anytime! And your buttercream is soooooo good! Oh man, I have made a lot of recipes on YouTube, but this was the best.

    Thank you again!

    Can I still sign up to receive emails and stuff from you? And where would I do that?

    1. hi Kristen! thank you so much too!! Spread the word so people can find out about me! 😀
      I will add you to the email list! Check your spam box just in case it goes there!

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