German Chocolate Cake - The Southern Lady Cooks

German Chocolate cake is one of my favorite cakes.  The frosting makes the cake.  This is a great cake to serve to guests and family will love it, too. The original recipe came from an early seventies Progressive Farmer Southern Country Cookbook. I have made a few changes over the years.   I used to make this cake when my children were young and we lived on the farm. It has always been a favorite.  You might also like our recipe for old-fashioned brown sugar pie.

German chocolate cake simple ingredients:

4 ounces or 1/4 pound package German’s Sweet Chocolate

White Granulated Sugar



All-Purpose Flour


Baking soda


Vanilla extract

The German Chocolate can be found in most grocery stores in the baking section. It is usually a 4 ounce bar. Also if you do not have buttermilk you can easily make this simple substitution. I know some people don’t like to buy a container of buttermilk so this is great to use!

Now for the delicious frosting you will need:

White Granulated Sugar

Evaporated milk




Pecans, chopped (can use walnuts, too)

Vanilla extract

As you can see the frosting and the cake both take eggs, which someone asked if that included the egg whites. Yes.. you use the entire egg, I would specify if it was different.

I recently remade this cake so we could update the photos and it is wonderful! My entire family agrees this cake is a definite keeper.

Full printable recipe in recipe card below. 

German Chocolate Cake - The Southern Lady Cooks


German Chocolate Cake - The Southern Lady Cooks

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Print Recipe
5 from 6 votes

German Chocolate Cake

Easy cake your family will love.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Frosting15 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Cake, Dessert
Cuisine: American, German
Keyword: German Chocolate Cake
Servings: 8 servings
Author: The Southern Lady Cooks


  • 4 ounces or 1/4 pound package German’s sweet chocolate You can get this at most groceries in the baking section. It is a 4 ounce bar like a candy bar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coconut Pecan Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup butter 8 tablespoons
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups coconut
  • 1 cup pecans chopped (can use walnuts, too)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Melt chocolate and water on top of the stove in a pot and cool. Cream butter, sugar and eggs; beat well. Add cooled chocolate and water, flour, salt, soda, buttermilk and vanilla extract mixing well with mixer.
  • Spray three 9 inch cake pans. Divide the batter between the 3 pans (comes out to about 2 cups per cake pan). Bake layers in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool about 10 minutes and remove from pans. Frost with Pecan Frosting.

Coconut Pecan Frosting Directions

  • Beat eggs and add to milk, sugar and butter. Cook on medium heat about 12 minutes until bubbles and begins to thicken. Stir constantly because it will burn easily.
  • Remove and add nuts, coconut and vanilla extract. Mix well and let cool. Spread on tops of cake layers.


You can double this frosting if you like a lot.
Don’t forget to pin German chocolate cake.
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Recipe Rating


  1. This looks delicious! Sweet or unsweetened coconut?

    1. The Southern Lady says:


  2. I received this recipe in your newsletter and knew it would be perfect for my next Church potluck. Everyone loved it! Came home with an empty pan. I love your website and magazine. Keep up the good work!5 stars

  3. Can this sit at room temp, or must it be refrigerated? Looks great!

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      I like to keep mine in a cool place.

  4. My grandmother, Mamaw Dotson, used to make these for our birthdays when we were children & people paid her to make them as well 🙂 So glad to have made this, as I never got her recipe & wished I had after she passed away 🙂 Brings back loving memories! THANK YOU SOOO MUCH!5 stars

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      You are very welcome!! Glad you found it 🙂

  5. marcelalynn says:

    His could you ad adapt this to cupcakes?

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      I have not tried making cupcakes but if I did, I would just add the batter to cupcake pans as usual. You might cut the time about 10 minutes. Just keep checking on them.

  6. Cathie Walsh says:

    Can this be made in a sheet pan for easier transporting?

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      Yes, Cathie, you could do that.

      1. Brenda Wendling says:

        Will the also work in 9×13 cake pan? We’re having a German themed church ladies dinner.
        And this was my favorite cake baked for me for my birthday when I was a little girl.

      2. The Southern Lady says:

        I’ve never made it in a 9X13, so I can’t advise but I think it would work fine. You’ll need to adjust the bake time. Thanks!

  7. Thank u so much for all your recipes ….. I simply am glad that I came across your website !5 stars

  8. So many precious memories from my childhood, I will be making this for my daughter and husband this Christmas! Oh the memories!!! I wanted this recipe from scratch… no boxes for me..thank you!5 stars

  9. My favorite cake…one will be waiting for me in Heaven

  10. Can this be made in a 9×13 pan?

  11. I am German but unfortunately I´ve never heard of this recipe before – it is so delicious. Thank you for sharing

    1. Sherry Rogers says:

      Its not actually from Germany.The name comes from the brand name of choc.Germans choc.

    2. Haha i’m im Germany and enjoying this This cake recipe and, how America too! Lol. The layers ist The German Part!!!

  12. Debbie Stringer-Jarvis says:

    Ohhh! My Momma used to make this cake when I was little…about 50 years ago. So darn good. I’ve made it a few times but never as good as Mommas touch!

  13. Linda Roberts says:

    I’ve made this cake for the last 30 years, one of my favorites and one that I get many requests to make for other family and friends.

  14. melinda clemons says:

    My all-time fav cake. My mom is 83 y/o and still bakes me one for my birthday and at Christmas.

  15. Linda Elandt says:

    Thank you for a wonderful memory. My mom was making this back in 1964 ish. Wasn’t a cakemix then.

  16. wanda f grubbs alexander says:

    Can you mke this if you dont have buttermilk.I have everything but.

    1. Linda Roberts says:

      I make my own buttermilk also….It’s such a waste to buy it, unless you’re gonna use it for something else.

  17. Can you use 2 percent or whole milk in the icing recipe?
    I do not like the taste of evaporated milk. Thank you!

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      Yes, you can.

  18. Cynthia Swart says:

    Thank you for this recipe. One of my Aunt’s used to make this for my brother. I have been looking for this recipe for some time. I plan to make for him the next time our famlies get together.

  19. Marsha Joy Baker says:

    My oh my oh my! I think I’m melting into a puddle under my chair.;} That cake looks divine! Thanks for sharing – I sooo love homemade gc cake!

  20. Oh my! My all time favorite cake….even more so than red velvet cake! Headed for my daughter’s home…may just bake one there. I have been known to make just the icing and eat it by itself…..when I was younger and the pounds did not pile on as easily…lol.

  21. Susan Wheeler says:

    Oh yea! My favorite! This has been my birthday cake for over 30 yrs! This is a pic from last year, March 1st, I was home with my mom and dad for my birthday. Never better! Like yours, it has to be three layers!! Sent from my iPad

  22. Martha Highfill says:

    Glad to get this receipe, mine is not in good shape and it was handed down from my Aunt and we always loved her German Chocloate Cake, especially at Christmas, brings back good memories, i grew up in Alabama, thank you for passing it on, Martha Highfill.

  23. Martha Linn says:

    My all time favorite cake. I have one made now. I double the icing recipe so it is really good.