This is the best coconut pecan frosting recipe! This iconic German chocolate cake frosting is creamy, gooey and has a delicious buttery/caramel flavor with an amazing chewy texture from the toasted pecans and toasted coconut.

I make German chocolate cake for my birthday every year — mostly for this German chocolate frosting! But not to worry, you don’t need to make a cake just to enjoy this frosting. You can eat it sandwiched between two double chocolate chip cookies, or on vanilla ice cream. This coconut pecan frosting is used to make my famous 7 Layer Bar Cake, German Chocolate cupcakes and German Chocolate brownies.

A saucepan with fresh made German Chocolate Cake Frosting in it.

Why This Recipe Works

  • We toast the coconut and the pecans. Doing so accentuates the flavor of the coconut and the pecans and provides better texture (especially regarding the coconut).
  • The pecans are finely chopped to ensure even distribution throughout the frosting.
  • You can use heavy cream or evaporated milk to make this frosting.
  • This recipe uses a fool-proof technique that guarantees success.

Ingredients

Ingredients used to make coconut pecan frosting, on a white textured background.
  • Heavy cream: This gives us the creamy base to the frosting. (Added with the sugar and egg yolks is how that gooey texture is created.)
  • Unsalted butter: Butter is an important ingredient because with the sugar, cream and vanilla we’re essentially using the building blocks of caramel. (If using salted butter, reduce the amount of salt you add to the recipe.)
  • Vanilla extract: Cream, butter, sugar + vanilla: We’re essentially creating a caramel-like frosting.
  • Toasted pecans: I recommend toasting the pecans a bit in a saute pan or on a sheet pan in the oven, just to bring out a bit of their nutty flavor.
  • Toasted coconut: Yes, you definitely must toast the coconut. Follow my easy instructions on how to toast coconut
Overhead photo of German Chocolate Cake Frosting in a glass cup with toasted coconut and pecans around the perimeter of the cup.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk the cream, sugar, egg yolks, and salt. Set over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally.  
  1. Bring to a low simmer and cook until slightly thickened.
A saucepan with yellow thickened mixture in it, against a white background.
  1. Remove from the heat and add the butter, vanilla, toasted coconut and pecans. Mix to combine. Set aside to cool to room temperature. The frosting will thicken as it cools.

Recipe Tips

Toast the coconut!! If you don’t, the frosting’s texture and consistency will not be the same.

You don’t have to toast the pecans, but I usually do and I recommend doing it to accentuate their nutty flavor.

This coconut pecan frosting recipe makes enough frosting to frost in between each layer of a three layer 8-inch cake. It doesn’t have enough to put on the outside of the cake, but traditionally, German chocolate cakes don’t have the coconut pecan frosting on the outside. However, I like to add a chocolate buttercream frosting to the outside of my cakes every so often.

This recipe makes enough to frost 28 German chocolate cupcakes.

Storing

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 week. Remove from the fridge an hour prior to frosting your baked goods to allow it to come to room temperature and be more spreadable. 

Steps to Assemble a German Chocolate Cake

If you’re making this frosting for a German chocolate cake — in 3 layers — here’s how I’d assemble the cake: Cake, coconut pecan frosting, cake, coconut pecan frosting, cake, coconut pecan frosting.

If you’re using a chocolate buttercream frosting, you can frost around the sides of the cake and then use a piping bag to pipe around the edges of the top layer. You can also do a naked cake with just the German chocolate cake frosting without the chocolate buttercream — honestly, it’s that good! 

A small glass jar full of German Chocolate Cake frosting with a spoon sticking in the jar too.

FAQs

How long can you keep coconut pecan frosting in the fridge?

I recommend storing coconut pecan frosting in the fridge for 1 week. See my list of ways to use coconut pecan frosting above to find more creative ways to eat this delicious frosting!

Does coconut pecan frosting need to be refrigerated?

Yes. Do to the cream in the mixture, the frosting will need to be stored in the fridge until using it all the same day as making it.

How do you thicken coconut pecan frosting?

The frosting will thicken when the sugar is added. This is because the building blocks of this recipe are the same as in caramel, so it will create a thick caramel-like texture.

A wooden spoon full of coconut pecan frosting with the saucepan of the remaining frosting in the background.

Did you make this recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Click here to leave a rating and review, or scroll below the recipe card and do so there. 

A saucepan with fresh made German Chocolate Cake Frosting in it.
Print Review
5 from 3 votes

Coconut Pecan Frosting

It's easy to make coconut pecan frosting from scratch. And let me just tell you, this is THE BEST homemade German chocolate cake frosting ever! We use sugar, cream, and egg yolks to create the creamy base then add butter (makes it so yummy), toasted pecans and toasted coconut to get the iconic frosting flavor we all love!
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Servings: 1 serving

Ingredients
 

  • 1 cup heavy cream - or evaporated milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter - cubed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pecans - toasted and finely chopped
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut - toasted

Instructions
 

  • In a medium saucepan whisk the cream, sugar, egg yolks, and salt. Set over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally. 
  • Bring to a low simmer and cook until slightly thickened.
  • Remove from the heat and add the butter, vanilla, toasted coconut and pecans. Mix to combine. Set aside to cool to room temperature. 

Notes

This frosting may appear fairly thin but will thicken as it cools. 
Coconut: Toast the coconut! If you don’t, the frosting’s texture and consistency will not be the same.
Pecans: The toasted pecans aren’t as important, but definitely helps with the flavor.
Store: This frosting can store in an airtight container for 1 week. Before using the frosting remove from the fridge an hour prior to frosting your baked goods to allow it to come to room temperature and be more spreadable.
This recipe will frost 24 German Chocolate cupcakes.
Half this recipe to frost these German Chocolate brownies
Will frost a 3 tiered 8 inch German Chocolate Cake. (Will only frost in between layers, can keep the sides bare like in this Traditional German Chocolate Cake, or you have the option to use a chocolate buttercream to frost the outside edges of the cake). 

Nutrition

Calories: 4180kcal (209%)Carbohydrates: 309g (103%)Protein: 29g (58%)Fat: 330g (508%)Saturated Fat: 181g (905%)Trans Fat: 4gCholesterol: 1156mg (385%)Sodium: 1766mg (74%)Potassium: 1287mg (37%)Fiber: 18g (72%)Sugar: 282g (313%)Vitamin A: 7169IU (143%)Vitamin C: 4mg (5%)Calcium: 351mg (35%)Iron: 8mg (44%)
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: German
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