Decadent chocolate cake, a sweet caramel pecan coconut filling, and rich chocolate buttercream make up this super dreamy Vegan German Chocolate Cake. This cake is incredible and undetectably vegan!

Close up on a frosted chocolate cake with a pecan caramel sauce on top.

Calling all chocolate, caramel, and coconut lovers! This Vegan German Chocolate Cake is for you.

Every decadent German chocolate cake​​ recipe comes with three delicious layers:​​

  1. Moist chocolate cake
  2. A caramelly coconut pecan filling
  3. And chocolate frosting

Every slice is loaded with sweetness and just the right amount of chocolate. While Vegan Chocolate Cake is rich and chocolatey, German chocolate cake tastes more like caramel and is always super moist. It’s a real indulgent dessert that would be welcome at any celebration or around the holidays!

Fork cutting into a slice of frosted chocolate cake.

German chocolate cake vs. regular chocolate cake

Did you know that German chocolate cake doesn’t actually come from Germany? The recipe was invented in the United States by the baker, Samuel German!

German chocolate cake is moist, sweet, and rich. Sounds like a regular chocolate cake, right? The major difference between the two is that German chocolate cake has a layer of caramel-like coconut pecan filling on the inside and on top. It’s also traditionally made with a little less cocoa powder, allowing more room for the coconut and pecan flavors to shine through.

How to make vegan German chocolate cake

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

To start, bake the two layers of chocolate cake:

  1. Pour the soy milk and apple cider vinegar together in a bowl. Leave it for a few minutes to curdle (this acts as a substitute for buttermilk).
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Next, add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until well combined.
  3. Finish by slowly whisking in the boiling hot water. You’ll know it’s ready when the batter looks runny.
  4. Pour the batter into your cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Prepare the coconut pecan filling and chocolate frosting while you wait for the cakes to cool:

Whisk the coconut milk and cornstarch together in a bowl or measuring cup.

Whisking milk in a glass measuring cup.

Melt the vegan butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Next, add the sugars and coconut milk mixture. Stir until it’s bubbling and looks like a thin caramel.

milk, butter, and brown sugar in a black saucepan.

Don’t worry that it seems thin; it thickens up considerably as it cools.

a thin golden brown sauce in a black saucepan.

Take it off the heat and stir in the vanilla, chopped pecans, and coconut flakes.

coconut shreds and chopped pecans in top of a caramel sauce in a black saucepan.

Transfer to a bowl and leave it to cool (you can stick it in the refrigerator to speed this up).

a brown caramel liquid with pecans in a black pot.

Look how thick and caramelly it gets after chilling. Try not to eat it all by the spoonful!

A spoon stirring a thick caramel sauce with pecans in a glass bowl.

The vegan chocolate frosting is a breeze to make:

To make the frosting, beat the butter in a bowl until it looks creamy. Add the cocoa, powdered sugar, vanilla, and soy milk. Mix until everything is combined and the frosting looks fluffy. Yum!

Whipped chocolate frosting in a glass bowl.

It’s assembly time! You’re minutes away from enjoying decadent eggless German chocolate cake:

  1. To the first layer of chocolate cake, add a smooth layer of chocolate frosting on top. Spoon on half of the coconut pecan mixture and spread it into a smooth layer. 
  2. Stack the second cake layer on top. Spread some frosting on top and over the sides of the entire cake. Pipe some frosting around the top of the cake, if desired.
  3. Spoon the rest of the coconut pecan filling on top, then slice and enjoy! The cake is a little messy when sliced right away. For cleaner pieces, refrigerate the whole cake for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
A layer of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and a pecan caramel sauce on top.

Can it be made gluten free?

Use my Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cake as a base layer to turn this into a vegan and gluten free German chocolate cake. The coconut pecan filling and chocolate frosting are both naturally gluten free.

Tips and substitutions

  • Is the frosting too thick? Stir in another tablespoon or two of soy milk. 
  • Is the frosting too thin? Keep adding powdered sugar until you have a spreadable frosting.
  • Decorating – To help contain the coconut pecan mixture on top of the cake, use a piping bag to pipe some frosting in a circle around the edge.
  • Make it ahead of time – Feel free to bake the cakes, frosting, and filling 1 to 2 weeks ahead of serving. Wrap the cakes in plastic and refrigerate or freeze. Store the frosting and filling in covered containers in the fridge.

Freezing chocolate cake

The unfrosted baked cakes freeze very well on their own when wrapped in plastic. Alternatively, you can freeze the assembled slices and enjoy them as a quick freezer dessert later on!

Close up on a frosted chocolate cake with a pecan caramel sauce on top.

More vegan cakes to try

Close up on a frosted chocolate cake with a pecan caramel sauce on top.

Vegan German Chocolate Cake

Decadent chocolate cake, a sweet caramel pecan coconut filling, and rich chocolate buttercream make up this super dreamy Vegan German Chocolate Cake. This cake is incredible and undetectably vegan!
5 from 1 vote

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

Coconut Pecan Filling

Chocolate Frosting

  • 1 cup vegan butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup natural cocoa powder
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons unsweetened soy milk, as needed

Instructions

For the chocolate cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray two 8-inch round cake pans with oil. I also line them with a circle of parchment paper for easy removal.
  • Measure 1 cup of soy milk and add the tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to it. Stir and set aside to curdle.
  • In a large bowl (I use my stand mixer with whisk attachment), add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk well to combine.
  • To the bowl with the dry ingredients, add the oil, applesauce, vanilla and milk/vinegar mixture. Mix on medium speed, either with a hand mixer or a stand mixer, until well combined. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  • Lower the speed and slowly pour in the boiling hot water, continuing to mix until combined. The batter will seem runny, which is correct.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bake for 35-37 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. After 10 minutes of cooling in the pans, carefully invert the cakes onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

For the coconut pecan filling

  • In a glass measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the coconut milk and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the vegan butter over medium heat, then add the brown sugar, granulated sugar and coconut milk/cornstarch mixture and stir to combine. Stir for 5 minutes. It should be bubbling and look like thin caramel. It will thicken as it cools.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, chopped pecans and coconut flakes. Allow it to cool completely before layering.

For the chocolate frosting

  • Make sure your vegan butter is softened but not at all melted. If it's melted the frosting will be runny and not work.
  • Add the vegan butter to a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer (or stand mixer with whisk attachment) for about 2 minutes, until creamy.
  • Sift in the cocoa powder if clumpy and add the powdered sugar, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of soy milk. Beat on low speed until the powdered sugar starts to incorporate, then increase the speed and beat for 3-4 minutes, until well combined and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • If the frosting is too thick, add another tablespoon or two of soy milk. If it's too thin, add additional powdered sugar until you have a spreadable frosting.

Cake assembly

  • Place one cake layer on your cake stand or plate. Smooth a thin layer of chocolate frosting over the cake layer, then spoon half of the coconut pecan mixture on top, spreading it into a smooth layer. Leave 1/2 inch between the filling and the edge of the cake.
  • Stack the second cake layer on top, then spread chocolate frosting over and on the sides of the whole cake. I also piped some frosting in a circle on top, which helps contain the coconut pecan mixture.
  • Spoon the rest of the coconut pecan filling on top of the cake. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Freeze – This cake freezes well if needed, though I prefer to cut slices, wrap them well and freeze for a quick freezer dessert!
  2. Make Ahead – Feel free to bake the cakes and make each frosting ahead of time, up to 1-2 weeks ahead of when you plan to serve it. For the cakes, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze. Store the frosting and filling in covered containers.
  3. Gluten free – Make my Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cake as the base layer to make this recipe gluten free.

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 16 servings, Calories: 596kcal, Carbohydrates: 84g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 30g, Saturated Fat: 14g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 1g, Sodium: 390mg, Potassium: 312mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 65g, Vitamin A: 712IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 68mg, Iron: 3mg

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