Best German Chocolate Cake Recipe & 4 Fun and Healthy Twists

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German chocolate cake is a classic treat — after all, who doesn’t love sinking their fork into a multi-layer mound of cocoa-flavored goodness? And there are tons of different ways to bake it. Do you go double or triple layer? Super rich and decadent or more health-conscious? No matter what you’re looking for, there’s a chocolate cake for you. Here’s a roundup of the best German chocolate cake recipe options to try.

Decadently Delicious Takes on the Traditional Classic

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Upgraded German Chocolate Cake from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Let’s kick things off with an indulgent upgrade on the classic. This recipe goes for the “naked cake” decorating style, so you can see the signature coconut pecan filling in between the layers. It also uses unsweetened cocoa powder instead of sweet German chocolate — but don’t worry, it has more than enough chocolate flavor.

You’ll start with a super moist and chocolatey cake base featuring natural unsweetened cocoa powder, espresso powder, sour cream, oil, eggs and buttermilk. Once you’ve mixed that up, it’s time for the star of the show: coconut pecan filling. You’ll whip up this delicious addition using evaporated milk, butter, brown sugar, pecans, vanilla and, of course, coconut. And to top it all off, don’t forget the layer of chocolate buttercream frosting.

German Chocolate Cupcakes from Preppy Kitchen

In the mood for a miniature treat? This recipe for German chocolate cupcakes combines all the flavors of the classic full-sized cake with the cuteness of cupcakes. And to bring this dessert to the next level, you’ll core the cupcakes and pipe in a surprise filling of creamy chocolate ganache with a hint of bourbon. You can skip the bourbon if you’ll be serving these to kids. And the recipe notes that while pecans are the traditional nut, chopped walnuts or macadamia nuts make a great topping, as well.

Low-Fat, Keto and Paleo Twists on German Chocolate Cake

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Light German Chocolate Cake from Health

Want to bake a lighter version of German chocolate cake? Check out this recipe that promises to match the flavor of typical German chocolate cake recipes, but with significantly lower calories and saturated fat. To lighten up the ingredient list, you’ll swap egg whites for the whole eggs and oil for much of the butter. You’ll also use low-fat yogurt and fat-free evaporated milk. There’s still a lot of added sugar in this recipe (it is cake, after all!), but if you’re aiming to cut down on saturated fat, this may be the German chocolate cake for you.

Keto German Chocolate Cake from Big Man’s World

If you’re following a keto diet — or you’re just trying to cut down on carbs and added sugars — this recipe aims to deliver a moist, fluffy and flavorful German chocolate cake that’s also keto-friendly. You’ll use liquid Stevia for sweetness, and rely on almond flour for the bulk of the cake base. For the frosting, you can choose a keto-approved granulated sweetener like monk fruit, allulose or erythritol. Unsweetened coconut flakes, cocoa powder and chopped pecans deliver the classic flavors you’re looking for here. If you’re cool with artificial sweeteners and looking for a low-sugar option, give this keto cake a try.

Paleo Gluten-Free German Chocolate Cake from Paleo Running Momma

If paleo is your thing — or you’re simply avoiding gluten or dairy — this recipe offers a grain-free, dairy-free and paleo-friendly German chocolate confection. You’ll use maple or coconut sugar for the sweetener and coconut milk, ghee or coconut oil for the fats. A mix of almond and tapioca flours round out the cake base. This recipe doesn’t skimp on the added sugars or saturated fat — but it does achieve a delicious chocolate taste and satisfying texture without any gluten or dairy.