Not just for cake, this rich, nutty German Chocolate Cake Frosting is loaded with coconut, pecans, and caramel notes with a balanced sweetness that has so many uses it deserves it's own post! Pair this with my german chocolate cake recipe or use it to top brownies, fudge, cheesecake, or chocolate cookies to create a decadent dessert with amazing texture and flavor!

Love coconut? Be sure to visit some of our other popular coconut-forward posts like Toasted Coconut Pancakes or 7 Layer Bars!

A container filled with homemade coconut pecan frosting.

This German Chocolate Cake Frosting Recipe is Life Changing!

Coconut pecan frosting is probably the reason why you eat German chocolate cake, right? But what if I told you that it tastes great on other chocolatey desserts as well? Enjoying this thick and creamy German chocolate cake frosting over my delicious fudgy brownies or some chocolate cookies can change your life. 

What is German Chocolate Frosting?

Homemade German chocolate cake frosting is a light brown, slightly caramelized delicious frosting with shreds of sweetened coconut and chopped pecans throughout it. It’s so delicious, and one I'm very familiar with as a number of my family members claimed German chocolate cake as their favorite cake and traditional birthday dessert while I was growing up.

While it is easy enough to pick up a premade container of frosting from the store, using this homemade German chocolate cake frosting recipe to make your own at home is approximately 1 million times better! The flavors are more complex and pronounced, and the store-bought version just can’t compare!

Believe it or not, making this coconut pecan frosting at home is incredibly easy. It’s as simple as spending a few minutes in front of your stove and melting some ingredients together in a pot. It's perfect for a traditional German chocolate cake.

German chocolate frosting in a pot.

German Chocolate Frosting ingredients

  • White Granulated Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Evaporated Milk
  • Salted Butter
  • Egg Yolks - These should be at room temperature
  • Shredded sweetened coconut - Not unsweetened coconut flakes.
  • Chopped Pecans
  • Vanilla Extract

How to make the BEST German Chocolate Cake Frosting

  1. Cook the coconut frosting: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir and melt together your sugar, milk, butter, and egg yolks until it thickens and turns golden brown or a light caramel color. This should take about 5 minutes, and you’ll want to make sure to stir constantly so that the egg yolks don’t become scrambled eggs. 
  1. Add vanilla, coconut flakes, and pecans: Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients until they are all coated in the sweet, sticky base.
  2. Let it cool: Cool for at least 30 minutes or until it’s thick enough to spread on our cake layers. The frosting will continue to thicken and set up a bit as it cools. You can even be make it a day or two in advance and keep the frosting in the fridge until it’s ready to use.
Coconut and pecans in a pot.

How to use this German Chocolate Frosting Recipe

This frosting is so good! Because it has such amazing texture and flavor with the coconut, pecans, caramel and the perfect amount of sweetness, it is so good on a variety of desserts. Use it on top of brownies, fudge, cheesecake, cupcakes, chocolate cookies, and even donuts! Or even just dip graham crackers in it. A perfect little treat!

How to store German Chocolate Icing

Can you freeze this coconut pecan frosting?

You can freeze your extra frosting for up to 4 months in an airtight container. Just bring it back to room temperature and stir before using. This is great if you make a double or triple batch and don’t need to use all of it. Store the remaining frosting in your freezer and wait for the chance to use it.

Does German chocolate cake frosting need to be refrigerated?

A lot of people wonder if frosting needs to be refrigerated and while some do like cream cheese frosting, this frosting does not. It’s actually best if you do not refrigerate because the frosting can get too cold making it difficult to spread. If it is too hard to spread, let it sit at room temperature for about an hour to let it soften up.

German Chocolate Cake Icing FAQs

How do you thicken German Chocolate Cake icing?

If your frosting doesn’t fully thicken, you may not have cooked it long enough to evaporate out the excess liquid and get it to thicken on its own. In this event, try adding a tablespoon or two of powdered sugar as a thickening agent and chill the frosting in the fridge to see if you can get it to come together. Keep in mind that the powdered sugar may cause the frosting to taste a little different than intended.

Why is it called German chocolate frosting?

Did you know that German chocolate cake with German chocolate cake frosting isn’t German! It actually originated in America! It all started in 1852 when American baker Samuel German (who worked for Baker’s Chocolate Company) created a type of dark baking chocolate that was sweeter than the average semi-sweet baking chocolate. The company named it Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate in his honor. Now fast forward 105 years later when a Texas homemaker, Mrs. George Clay made a unique recipe with a very distinct frosting called “German’s Chocolate Cake” that got distributed to many publications and soon became a household recipe.

Does German chocolate frosting thicken as it cools?

Yes, the frosting will thicken as it cools. If it is still runny you may have not cooked the base long enough for the eggs to set. It should have a pudding like consistency. Another tip is to set it in the fridge and the cold will help thicken the frosting. If you are still having issues, try beating in a cup of powdered sugar to thicken it up.

A layer of chocolate cake with coconut pecan frosting spread on top.

More Frosting Recipes

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.

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German Chocolate Frosting

4.78 from 45 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Frostings
Cuisine American
Servings 16 servings
This rich, nutty German Chocolate Cake Frosting is loaded with caramel notes and a balanced sweetness that has so many uses it deserves it's own post! Use it to top german chocolate cake, brownies, fudge, cheesecake, or chocolate cookies to create a decadent dessert with amazing texture and flavor!


  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • ¾ cup salted butter
  • 5 large egg yolks, room temperature, beaten
  • 3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 ½ cups chopped pecans
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract


  • Heat the granulated sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk, butter, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick and golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and add coconut, pecans, and vanilla. The frosting will continue to thicken as it cools. Cool for at least 30 minutes until thick enough to spread before assembling the cake.


Calories: 355kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 148mg | Potassium: 187mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 399IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. Arlene says:

    5 stars
    My daughter and I agreed this is the best frosting we've ever tasted. Fantastic recipe and easy to make.

  2. Sharon Boggess says:

    Just made the icing a few minutes ago .Turned out Great!

  3. Cathy Lynn Gibboney says:

    5 stars
    made this and its super simple. Turns out perfect. Its my go to for get togethers. People love it!!

  4. Donna says:

    5 stars
    I love your recipe the best. It makes enough to frost the cake perfectly. I usually never have quiet enough to get it to look pretty. Thank you for the recipe...

    1. Amy says:

      You're welcome! I'm so glad you love it!

  5. Jen Snow says:

    I made the frosting and put in the fridge overnight. It absorbed all the gooey liquid. How can I thin it out to make it spreadable?

    1. Amy says:

      Add a little heavy cream and warm it up and it should thin out!

  6. Phyllis Comer says:

    5 stars
    Just made this icing its so delicious

    1. Amy says:

      Thank you! I am glad you liked it!

  7. Mandy Kay says:

    Can you use unsweetened coconut? Should I add more sugar?

    1. Amy says:

      I haven't tried it with unsweetened coconut but I'm guessing you would be just fine without adding more sugar since it's a very sweet frosting.

  8. Amanda says:

    I am so excited to use this recipe for my brothers birthday 😊

    Does this call for packed brown sugar or just loosely measured?

    Thank you!

    1. Amy says:

      Packed brown sugar!

  9. Jane says:

    Can I frost the cake with the frosting and then freeze the frosted cake to serve for a later date?

    1. Amy says:

      Yes, you can! Just be sure to let it thaw well so the cake comes back to room temperature. For the very best results, I would make the cake layers and freeze them wrapped separately, but wait on the frosting and just make that and assemble shortly before serving. You'll get the best results that way and no one will know the cake wasn't made fresh.

  10. Pam says:

    5 stars
    Absolute best. Didn’t change a thing!! Thank you!!

  11. Angie says:

    2 stars
    I made this recipe and my frosting didn't thicken. After more research every other recipe says to cook to soft ball stage witch is way longer then 5 min.