I have a serious obsession with German chocolate everything. German chocolate layer cake, German chocolate brownies, German chocolate cupcakes…and now, German chocolate ice cream. Creamy dark chocolate ice cream and decadent coconut-pecan frosting are swirled together for my favorite ice cream flavor yet! 

This homemade German chocolate ice cream is perfect as is, but why not make it into a German chocolate Ice Cream Cake Roll? Or German chocolate ice cream Cookie Sandwiches? Or German chocolate ice cream pie with a Graham Cracker or Oreo Crust? Whatever you do, it’s going to be sweet!

Three scoops of dark chocolate German Chocolate ice cream in a white bowl with a white and blue stripe napkin to the left of the bowl.

Why This Recipe Works

  • The best homemade chocolate ice cream. When it comes down to it, this is a pretty simple ice cream, so it’s important that the ice cream base be spectacularly good. And this one is!
  • Better than store-bought. I recently had a friend tell me about how disappointed she was with Tillamook German chocolate ice cream. There weren’t enough of the good bits, she said—the coconut and pecan swirls. This ice cream, with homemade coconut pecan frosting, is here to solve that problem!

Ingredient Notes

  • Dutch process cocoa: This type of cocoa powder is less acidic than unsweetened or natural cocoa powder and has a more intense chocolate flavor. I recommend using it for this ice cream for the best chocolate flavor. You can read more about cocoa powder differences in my Cocoa Powder Guide.
  • Granulated sugar: Besides adding the necessary sweetness in ice cream, sugar reduces the freezing point of ice cream, helping it be more creamy and less icy. This is also the sugar of choice for the frosting. 
  • Whole milk: This is one of those times when I really recommend you use regular whole milk. Fat content is important for creamy ice cream, and whole milk has the highest fat content of all store-bought milk. 
  • Heavy cream: Again, this is key for getting the right amount of fat to make our ice cream creamy. This also helps our frosting to be thick and tasty. Heavy cream is interchangeable with whipping cream, but do not substitute half and half!
  • Bittersweet chocolate: In addition to cocoa powder, we’re using melted bittersweet chocolate to really drive home that rich and delicious chocolate flavor. 
  • Egg yolks: Whole egg yolks show up in two parts of this recipe; the ice cream and the sweet coconut and pecan frosting. In both the custard for the ice cream and the frosting, eggs help to thicken the mixture and also provide richness.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Make the ice cream base

  1. Combine dry ingredients. In a large saucepan, whisk together a ¾ cup sugar, ⅓ cup Dutch process cocoa powder, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Make sure there are no cocoa powder clumps. 
  2. Simmer with milk and cream. While continually whisking your dry ingredients, slowly pour in 1 cup of whole milk and 2 cups of heavy cream. Heat milk, cream, and other ingredients on medium-low and stir constantly while bringing to a simmer. Once you see bubbles begin to form on the side of the saucepan, remove it from heat. 
  3. Temper eggs. Gently beat 4 egg yolks in a small bowl. While stirring your egg yolks, slowly pour in ½ a cup of the hot liquid mixture into the eggs. It’s important to do this slowly and stir constantly to avoid scrambling your egg yolks. Once you’ve added the entire ½ cup of liquid to the egg yolks, slowly drizzle the egg yolk mixture back into your saucepan, stirring constantly. 
A collage of four photos demonstrating how to make Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream.
  1. Add chopped chocolate. Add 8 oz finely chopped bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate to the mixture.
  2. Heat custard until thick. Place your saucepan back on the stove over low heat and heat until thickened. This should take 5-7 minutes, or until the mixture reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit. DO NOT BOIL. Once it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove it from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  3. Sieve and cool custard. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl to help it be super smooth. Place the large bowl with the warm chocolate mixture on top of another large bowl filled with ice to help it cool down. Stir often, until the chocolate mixture comes to room temperature, then cover and place the chocolate mixture in the fridge for at least 4 hours, and up to 24 hours.
Four photos demonstrating how to make a rich and deep chocolate flavored ice cream.

Make the coconut pecan frosting

  1. Prep ingredients. If you haven’t already, toast and finely chop your pecans (enough for 1 full cup), and toast 1½ cups of shredded sweetened coconut. For help with toasting coconut, check out my How to Toast Coconut guide.
  2. Cook cream and eggs together. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup granulated sugar, 3 egg yolks, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Once ingredients are combined, bring it to a low simmer and let it cook until it thickens, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients. Once the mixture on the stovetop has thickened, remove it from heat and stir in ½ cup of cubed unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup toasted and finely chopped pecan pieces, and 1½ cups of toasted shredded coconut flakes. Set aside and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Top left photo is coconut pecan frosting in a glass bowl, top right photo is German Chocolate ice cream churning in an ice cream maker, bottom left photo is churned chocolate ice cream in a glass bowl, bottom right photo is coconut pecan frosting on dark chocolate ice cream.

Put it all together

  1. Churn ice cream base. Once your chocolate custard has chilled completely, pour it into your ice cream maker and churn it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 
  2. Swirl in frosting. After your ice cream finishes churning, use a large spoon or spatula to fold in the coconut pecan frosting. You only need 2 cups of frosting, so you will have some left over, or you can use all of it. For large swirls of frosting, careful not to overmix. Alternatively, you can try adding alternate layers to your freezer-safe container: first ice cream, then frosting, and so on.
  3. Freeze and enjoy. Transfer your ice cream to a freezer-safe container (I use these ones) to let it firm up for 2-4 hours. Top with leftover frosting, Hot Fudge Sauce, a chocolate Magic Shell, or enjoy as is. 
Three photos, top left is coconut pecan frosting stirred into chocolate ice cream, bottom left photo is German Chocolate Ice Cream in a white round freezer container, right photo is round scoops of German Chocolate Ice Cream in a white bowl.

Recipe Tips

You can use store-bought frosting for this ice cream recipe, but I promise the homemade is soooo worth it. 

To make this a German chocolate cake ice cream, you could try making my Small German Cake (just the cake, not the frosting), and adding in some cooled cake pieces when you add the frosting to your ice cream. Or, if you like the Baskin-Robbins German chocolate cake ice cream, which adds brownie pieces, why not add some pieces of German Chocolate Brownies?

Have patience. This German chocolate ice cream recipe can’t be rushed, because everything needs to be heated up slowly and then cooled down slowly for the best results. Especially before your churn your ice cream, make sure it chills completely in the refrigerator. 

Theoretically you can use a lot of different containers to store your ice cream in the freezer, from plastic Tupperware to metal loaf pans. I use these containers and I like them a lot. 

Make sure to check your ice cream maker manufacturer’s directions. For example, if the bowl of your ice cream maker needs to be frozen before you add custard to it to churn, you’ll want to do that the night before. Alternatively, you can freeze the bowl while your custard chills in the refrigerator for 24 hours. 

Speaking of chilling the custard, supposedly chilling the custard longer in the fridge can lead to creamier ice cream! If you’ve experimented with this, let me know in the comments

I love the texture of my coconut pecan frosting, but if you don’t want the smaller bits of nuts that tend to get mixed in, you can sieve your chopped nuts so you only get larger chunks.

Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing

Make Ahead: Since ice cream is stored in the freezer, you can make it pretty far in advance! I would say that homemade ice cream is at its BEST within the first week, so if you’re planning to make this for some sort of event I wouldn’t make more than a few days in advance. 

Storing: Store ice cream in a freezer-safe, airtight container for 2-4 months. Homemade ice cream doesn’t have the kinds of stabilizers in it that store-bought ice cream does, so it’s more prone to freezer burn after 2 months. The right container will help. 

Freezing: The right container goes a long way to keeping ice cream creamy and delicious. I like these containers. For more help in preventing ice crystals, you could also add a layer of plastic wrap touching the surface of your ice cream underneath your container lid.

The best German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream in a white bowl with a spoon scooping out some of the coconut pecan chocolate ice cream.

Recipe FAQs

What is German chocolate ice cream?

German chocolate ice cream is simply ice cream inspired by German chocolate cake. My interpretation of German chocolate ice cream is just an amazing dark chocolate ice cream swirled with the coconut pecan frosting that is traditionally featured on German chocolate cake. Most German chocolate ice creams will feature some variation of the coconut and pecan frosting elements, and some brands like Tillamook and Baskin-Robbins will include chocolate cake pieces or brownie chunks.

Does German chocolate ice cream have nuts?

The frosting used for German chocolate cake and therefore German chocolate ice cream contains nuts, so this ice cream does have nuts in it.

Is German chocolate ice cream German?

German chocolate cake and German chocolate ice cream are NOT German. They’re actually named after an American baker named Samuel German who developed a type of dark baking chocolate in 1852. The baking chocolate was later named Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate in honor of Samuel German. Then, in the 1950s, that specific type of chocolate was used to make German chocolate cake, and the rest is history!

Can homemade ice cream go bad?

When stored properly, homemade ice cream stays good for 2-4 months. After four months, it’s not necessarily that it goes “bad” as in spoils, but the texture and flavor of homemade ice cream is no longer particularly tasty.

What should I store homemade ice cream in?

Homemade ice cream should be stored in an airtight, freezer-safe container. I use these ones. If you want your ice cream to be easy to scoop, a more shallow container can help with that. Another tip for preventing ice crystals from forming on your ice cream is to lay some plastic wrap right on the surface of the ice cream, underneath the lid of the container.

Three scoops of German Chocolate Ice Cream (studded with coconut pecan frosting) in a white bowl on a white background.

More Ice Cream Recipes for an Ice Cream Maker

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German Chocolate Ice Cream in a white bowl on a white marble surface.
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German Chocolate Ice Cream

Rich chocolate ice cream is swirled with homemade coconut pecan frosting to make the most amazing German Chocolate Ice Cream!
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Chill Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 7 hours 35 minutes
Servings: 1.5 liters


Chocolate Ice Cream Base

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder - sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 oz bittersweet chocolate - or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg yolks - lightly beaten (I just use a fork)

Coconut Pecan Frosting

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


Make the Ice Cream Base

  • In a saucepan combine the sugar, salt, cocoa powder. Whisk thoroughly so that there are no clumps of cocoa powder. While whisking, slowly add the milk and heavy cream. Turn the heat to medium-low. Stir constantly and bring to a simmer. (Just when bubbles form on the sides of the pan.) Remove from heat.
  • Place the beaten egg yolks in a small bowl. Gradually stir in ½ cup of the hot liquid to the egg yolks. Slowly drizzle the egg yolks back into the saucepan, stirring constantly. Add the chopped chocolate and stir to combine.
  • Place saucepan over low heat. Heat until thickened (it should coat the back of a spoon), about 5-7 minutes but DO NOT BOIL. If you have an instant read thermometer it should read 170°F. Remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Pour the chocolate mixture through a sieve into a large bowl. Place the large bowl full of the chocolate mixture on top of an ice bath. Stir often, until the chocolate mixture reaches room temperature. Once it reaches room temperature, cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours or up to 1 day. 

While the mixture is cooling, make the coconut pecan frosting

  • 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. 
  • Once the chocolate ice cream base mixture is fully chilled remove it from the fridge. Pour into an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s directions. Once finished churning, use a large spoon or spatula to fold the coconut pecan frosting into the ice cream. You can also layer ice cream and frosting in your container. Transfer the mixture to an airtight freezer-safe container and freeze for 2-4 hours to help firm up again. Enjoy!


The full batch of coconut pecan frosting makes roughly 2 1/3 cups of frosting or so. You can definitely fold all of the frosting into the ice cream. I opted to do only 2 cups worth, and then used the remaining frosting to spoon overtop. 
This ice cream will bet at its best flavor and texture for 1 month but will last 2-4 months in the freezer. 


Calories: 5254kcal (263%)Carbohydrates: 399g (133%)Protein: 54g (108%)Fat: 400g (615%)Saturated Fat: 226g (1130%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 30gMonounsaturated Fat: 116gTrans Fat: 3gCholesterol: 1586mg (529%)Sodium: 1657mg (69%)Potassium: 2535mg (72%)Fiber: 30g (120%)Sugar: 353g (392%)Vitamin A: 10408IU (208%)Vitamin C: 4mg (5%)Calcium: 816mg (82%)Iron: 18mg (100%)
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: German
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