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!
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:
- Moist chocolate cake
- A caramelly coconut pecan filling
- 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!
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:
- 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).
- Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Next, add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until well combined.
- Finish by slowly whisking in the boiling hot water. You’ll know it’s ready when the batter looks runny.
- 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.
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.
Don’t worry that it seems thin; it thickens up considerably as it cools.
Take it off the heat and stir in the vanilla, chopped pecans, and coconut flakes.
Transfer to a bowl and leave it to cool (you can stick it in the refrigerator to speed this up).
Look how thick and caramelly it gets after chilling. Try not to eat it all by the spoonful!
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!
It’s assembly time! You’re minutes away from enjoying decadent eggless German chocolate cake:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
More vegan cakes to try
Vegan German Chocolate Cake
- 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup natural cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup neutral flavored oil (I used avocado oil)
- 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling hot water
Coconut Pecan Filling
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup vegan butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 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
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.
- 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!
Freeze – This cake freezes well if needed, though I prefer to cut slices, wrap them well and freeze for a quick freezer dessert!
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.
Gluten free – Make my Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cake as the base layer to make this recipe gluten free.
Using your recipe to have a cake made as a surprise retirement party cake for my hubby. Our baker will be buying the vegan butter; what brand would you suggest?
One of my favorite brands to bake with is Earth Balance butter. Hope this helps!
Thank you! I was thinking that bc it holds together better than Mioko for something like this 😊
You are welcome!
I made this cake for my moms 74th birthday as it’s her favorite cake and we’re vegan. She loves it so much – said it was the best German chocolate cake she had ever had! I agree, it’s insanely good! We are making it again this weekend for a birthday party along with the regular chocolate cake and I’m going to try the gluten free chocolate cake recipe for the first time. Thank you for these amazing recipes!!!
I found this recipe on the internet while trying to find a cake that fit the bill for my dairy, soy, gluten intolerant kiddo. I used gluten free flour and almond milk. It was perfect and everyone loved it! Lack of dairy (or top 8 allergens) does not mean lack of flavor and deliciousness! My older non-food allergy tween said it’s the best cake she’s EVER had. Thank you for a great recipe!
Hi Mollie! I’m so glad your children loved the cake! I agree that lack of dairy does not mean lack of flavor! I’m so glad my recipes can be enjoyed by so many! Thanks for sharing your terrific feedback!
I love this cake! Made it 2x, and made again last night for Christmas and freezing!
Hi Janet. I am so glad that you love the cake! Thanks for your great back and happy holidays!
To do it sugar free, what can I use to substitute them? It’s for a person who follows an hypoglycemic diet.
Hi Belinda. Unfortunately, you won’t achieve the same results with sugar substitutes. You could try using coconut sugar or date sugar in place of the granulated sugars, but I can’t say if they’ll work well or not. Sorry I couldn’t be more help!
Does this need refrigeration?
Yes, it’s best to refrigerate the assembled cake before or after serving.
Very excited to be making this cake for my family. We can’t do soy milk so can I substitute with almond or coconut milk? Many thanks!!!
Yes. You can substitute any plant based milk. Enjoy the cake!
Thank you so much for this recipe. This cake was amazing!!! My uncle said this is the very best German choc cake he’s tasted (including those with dairy). We love it! Cant wait to try your other vegan recipes!
Can this also be used for cupcakes too?
Yes, it can! Happy baking!
This is the best German Chocolate Cake ever! I’ve made it several times and no one believes it’s vegan. The taste is amazing! Thank you so much for your recipes. I’m going to make your lemon cake next.
Hi Michelle. You are welcome! Your positive feedback is so uplifting! Thank you for sharing! Enjoy the lemon cake, and happy baking!
I have baked your vegan chocolate cake numerous times for my sister in law with dairy and egg allergies and it’s always a hit! Tried this for my husband’s birthday and it may be all of our new favorites!! Thanks for wonderful, easy to follow, and consistent vegan recipes!!
Hi Kara. How wonderful that the cakes are a hit, and that your husband loved. his birthday cake! I’m thrilled that you are finding my recipes delicious AND easy to follow! Thanks for your wonderful feedback! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!
Thank you for such a successful vegan cake experience!!
We also love your other recipes, such as vegan pesto. thanks so much.
Hi Julianne. How wonderful that you are using and loving my recipes! I’m so glad! Thank you for taking time to share your wonderful feedback!