German Chocolate Sheet Cake

German chocolate sheet cake

There’s something so comforting about a big chocolate sheet cake sitting on the counter to cool. Its thin single layer deserves bragging rights of great proportion, but instead it chooses to humbly whisper only of nostalgia and simple home baked deliciousness. This unpretentious cake is always the biggest of winners.

chocolate sheet cake

I recently baked a chocolate sheet cake (and fancied it up a bit) for our daughter’s end-of-season basketball party. Her team consisted of a great group of 5th and 6th grade girls, led by two downright awesome dad coaches. The Razorbacks finished their season with a strong 2nd place trophy, definitely worthy of a king-size pan of chocolate cake. Each girl was proud to eat a piece with their own name on it. :)

And while I was baking this cake for the basketball party, I was also asking myself why I don’t make sheet cakes more often. They’re the perfect answer to potlucks and parties and such, as they serve a good amount of people. Plus they’re easy to make and everyone loves them!

German chocolate sheet cake as birthday cake

So that thinking is what brought on my baking a German Chocolate Sheet Cake to celebrate my dad’s upcoming birthday. He’s probably had other types of cake on his birthday over the years, but German Chocolate is his signature request. And Mom is always up for indulging him.

I took the multiple layers of Mom’s German Chocolate Cake and humbled it into a single layer of sheet cake. The ingredients are unchanged, except I brushed a chocolatey glaze over the warm cake before spreading on the rich coconut-pecan frosting. The glaze intensified the chocolate flavor and ensured an extra moist cake. Although this recipe is a bit more involved than your basic chocolate sheet cake, its simplified form may just convince those who are intimidated to tackle the more common triple-layered German Chocolate cake.


Tell me, who’s going to give this one a try?!

This is a Happy Birthday shout-out to one amazing dad.
A dad who taught me how to work.
And especially how to play. 

Happy Birthday, Dad! 

German Chocolate Sheet Cake

Yield: 20 to 24 servings


    for the German chocolate cake:
  • 4 oz. Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • for the chocolate glaze:
  • 3 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 T. cocoa
  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 3 T. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • for the coconut-pecan frosting:
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
  • 1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. unsalted butter
  • 1 7-oz. pkg. flake coconut
  • 1-1/2 c. chopped pecans


for the German chocolate cake:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray an 11'' x 17'' sheet pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Microwave chocolate and water in large microwaveable bowl for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

In a small bowl, beat egg whites with a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition. Add egg whites and stir gently until well blended. Spread evenly into prepared pan and bake for 28 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Place on wire rack and immediately brush hot cake with chocolate glaze.

for the chocolate glaze:

Prepare the glaze while the cake is baking. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and cocoa. Add powdered sugar and milk, stirring well. Heat to boiling and then remove from heat. Add vanilla and stir well. With a large pastry brush, gently brush the glaze over the hot cake. Let cake cool completely before adding the coconut-pecan frosting.

for the coconut-pecan frosting:

In a large saucepan, beat egg yolks, evaporated milk, and vanilla with wire whisk until well blended. Add sugar and butter, and cook over medium heat for 12 minutes, or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat. Add coconut and pecans, mixing well. Let cool to room temperature and of desired spreading consistency. Then spread frosting evenly over cooled cake.



60 Responses to “German Chocolate Sheet Cake”

  1. #
    Cookbook Queen — March 15, 2013 at 9:17 am

    I think I like this even better than a layer cake because the cake/frosting ratio is PERFECT!! Happy Birthday to your dad!! :)

    • Brenda replied on March 15th, 2013 at 9:53 am

      You bring up yet another great fact about this sheet cake, Kristan! I’m completely with you there! :)

  2. #
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — March 15, 2013 at 9:21 am

    I’ve been wanting to try German Chocolate cake forever now and this is just the way to do it! Yum!

    • Brenda replied on March 15th, 2013 at 9:54 am

      Yay! Enjoy, Katrina!

  3. #
    Cookin' Canuck — March 15, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Your writing on that cake is absolutely perfect! You must have one steady hand. This is a cake that would be gone in a flash at any party!

    • Brenda replied on March 15th, 2013 at 9:55 am

      Thanks, Dara. I think that cake will be making many appearances around here – it was a hit!

  4. #
    Sommer@ASpicyPerspective — March 15, 2013 at 9:48 am

    Love sheet cakes like this and Brenda, did you do all the piping above? Girl…… impressive!

    • Brenda replied on March 15th, 2013 at 9:57 am

      Thanks, Sommer. Yes, I did. I’ve been writing on cakes for as long as I can remember. I love to admire decorated DQ and bakery cakes! :)

  5. #
    Marly — March 15, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Happy Birthday to your dad…and I’m with him…German Chocolate Cake rules!

  6. #
    Kim — March 15, 2013 at 10:35 am

    That photo of your Dad reminds me of a photo we have with my kids putting curlers in their Grandpa’s hair. The only difference? Their Grandpa was mostly bald. He was such a good sport. We miss him; thanks for the memories. I often do a German chocolate sheet cake for my husband’s birthday. It’s his favorite cake and it’s my favorite thing to give the birthday boy his druthers, but in simpler form.

    • Brenda replied on March 19th, 2013 at 9:26 pm

      So nice to hear from you, Kim. And fun to hear about your memory, too!

  7. #
    Mom — March 15, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Your Dad is going to love this post. That picture brought back lots of wonderful memories, and a feeling of thankfulness just flooded over me!

  8. #
    Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough — March 15, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Mmm, this is totally my kind of cake! Love it!

  9. #
    Blair at — March 15, 2013 at 10:52 am

    This looks amazing! One of my absolute favorite desserts, so I can’t wait to try it!

  10. #
    Dad — March 15, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Don’t you love that carpet?You girls could spill anything on it and Mom&I would not know any different.Brings back a lot of memories.Dad

  11. #
    Kelly Senyei | Just a Taste — March 15, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    German chocolate cake is one of my all-time favorite cake flavors, but I always do it in a bundt pan. I can’t wait to try your recipe! It looks fantastic!

    • Brenda replied on March 19th, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      Ooooooo…a bundt pan, love it!!

  12. #
    Lisa — March 15, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    This looks so good! Thanks for sharing your recipe – it’s a little more “involved” than my regular Betty Crocker recipe so I’m excited to try it out!

    • Brenda replied on March 19th, 2013 at 9:24 pm

      I hope you like it, Lisa!

  13. #
    Paula - bell'alimento — March 15, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    I heart German Chocolate.

  14. #
    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — March 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    I love the simplicity of a sheet cake – and who can ever say no to chocolate?

  15. #
    Amanda — March 15, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    My husband would love this!

  16. #
    Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen — March 15, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    German Chocolate is my Dad’s favorite too. Love that photo, too funny!

  17. #
    Erika @ The Hopeless Housewife — March 15, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    So smart to make this into a sheet cake and German Chocolate is the best!

  18. #
    Charlotte Moore — March 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Now that is a good sport of a dad. Cute!!!

  19. #
    Brianna — March 15, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Great recipe! I’m going to have to make this for my father-in-law who LOVES German Chocolate!

  20. #
    Cassie | Bake Your Day — March 15, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    I love this, Brenda! I grew up on my mom’s chocolate sheet cake. And now I’m craving a slice. Happy weekend!

  21. #
    Lana @ Never Enough Thyme — March 15, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    German chocolate is my husband’s favorite cake and I never make it because I’m so bad with stacking layers. Why, oh why, have I never thought of making it as a sheet cake?!? Brilliant.

  22. #
    Trish Butler — March 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Thank you for the lovely recipe. You brought tears of joy to my eyes with your picture of you and your sisters and Dad in curlers. My daughters did the same. He ended up with make up on him from time to time and fingernail polish, which he forgot and went to work that way. lol Thank you so much. Trish Butler

    • Brenda replied on March 19th, 2013 at 9:22 pm

      Such a lovely and warm comment, thank you so much.

  23. #
    Tieghan — March 15, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    I made a german chocolate cake a few years ago and you just reminded me I need to make one again! I am excited to try this!

    • Brenda replied on March 19th, 2013 at 9:21 pm

      Nice to hear from you, Tieghan – I hope you like it!

  24. #
    Sheila — March 16, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Great minds think alike! I am as I write letting a German Chocolate Cake cool…it’s one of my favorites. Great idea to make in a sheet pan.

  25. #
    nest of posies — March 16, 2013 at 9:44 am

    this looks incredible! and your sweet dad! what an awesome picture.

    i agree about your writing on the cake, Brenda it looks incredible.

    • Brenda replied on March 19th, 2013 at 9:15 pm

      Thank you so much, Kellie!

  26. #
    Paula — March 17, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Congratulations to this wonderful group of girls and their great basketball season. Happy Birthday to your Dad. He sounds amazing. Your sheet cake looks wonderful and your opening paragraph in this post is just fabulous!

    • Brenda replied on March 19th, 2013 at 9:12 pm

      Thank you, my dear! :)

  27. #
    Ali | Gimme Some Oven — March 17, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    You are such a cool mom — that cake looks amazing!!! German chocolate sounds fabulous too. :)

  28. #
    Julia — March 19, 2013 at 11:02 am

    My Dad loves German chocolate cake–I am saving this recipe for his birthday! Beautiful!

    • Brenda replied on March 19th, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      Wonderful, hope he likes it, too!

  29. #
    Rachel @ Bakerita — March 19, 2013 at 11:22 am

    You know, I’ve never had a German Chocolate Cake! I love the ice cream flavor, but I’m not realizing I’ve never had the cake version! This looks so delicious, I need to make it! Pinned.

    • Brenda replied on March 19th, 2013 at 9:09 pm

      Thank you, Rachel – it’s been a favorite in my family “forever”, give it a try!

  30. #
    Nancy @ CouponClippingCook — March 19, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    You’re so right about sheet cakes. I’m not sure why I don’t make them more often. They’re so good and the portion size doesn’t have to be big (except for the times I cut huge pieces for myself). This recipe looks so moist and delicious.

    • Brenda replied on March 19th, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      Thanks, Nancy. I’ve always liked German chocolate cake, but I was even surprised by how much our young girls liked it. They were sad when it was all gone!

  31. #
    Nicole (FoodBlogLife) — March 24, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Happy Birthday to your dad…this was my dad’s fav too. :) This looks fantastic, thanks for sharing.

  32. #
    Wendy — March 25, 2013 at 2:02 am

    Brenda I am new to your website having LOVED some of your recipes on TK. I have tried to leave comments and reviews there for the recipes I’ve tried, but to no avail. I appreciate the thoughtful recipes you’ve engineered and have always appreciated the fact they always are a hit in my house!!! Thank you and you’ve gained another follower!!!!

    • Brenda replied on March 25th, 2013 at 8:33 pm

      Thank you so much for writing, Wendy – it’s awesome to hear you’ve enjoyed some of my recipes. :) I’m sorry to hear you’ve had trouble commenting and reviewing on TK. I know that you need to be signed in (a member) to the TK site to leave a comment or review. Have you been signed in?

      • Wendy replied on March 25th, 2013 at 10:50 pm

        I have to admit Brenda that I am a 51 year young married lady with very little computer training. Most of what I know I’ve learned from my son or husband but I did sign up on TK to be able to write reviews and comments. I wrote my information down and when I enter it it doesn’t except it!! Anyway, I think the word is tech savy and that’s not me!! I will definitely continue to continue to come to your blog. I have enjoyed getting to know you and you’re family and checking out the recipes you have so carefully crafted!! Thank you Brenda!!!!

  33. #
    Donya — March 28, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Hi Brenda,

    Love your website! Would this work in a 9 by 13 dish?


    • Brenda replied on March 29th, 2013 at 7:53 am

      Hi Donya! I’m guessing that it would work, but don’t want to tell you for certain. The baking time would need to be altered, as the cake will be much thicker. And the frosting will be quite a bit thicker, too, with less surface to cover. I think a 9×13 size is a great idea – please let me know if you try it!

  34. #
    Sunny Cairns — December 7, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Thanks! This is a great reworking of a classic that I have made for years. I live in Hong Kong now, and my oven is not leveled. I have had bad luck with layer cake. This recipe was a huge hit last night when I made it for my husband’s 60th birthday party. All great men appear to favor German Chocolate Cake, it seems.

    • Brenda replied on December 10th, 2013 at 10:37 am

      This makes me smile, Sunny. Thank you so much for coming back to share this with me. :)

  35. #
    Nicole — January 31, 2015 at 8:30 am

    I made this cake last year and filtered through the internet again to find the recipe for a superbowl party this year. The recipe is FABULOUS and I love that you get the flavor of german chocolate without the mess of a “fancy” cake. Plus a sheet cake lets you get smaller pieces for those that don’t want a gigantic piece. Fussing with layered cakes take the fun out of baking for me :) Thanks for a great recipe!

  36. #
    Pam B. — March 4, 2015 at 10:32 am

    I thought it was time to let you know that THIS is my absolute go-to german chocolate cake recipe! I get raves every time I make it, however, I am not as generous as you about sharing the recipe. haha! Thank you for being nicer than me! :-D

    • Brenda replied on March 6th, 2015 at 4:58 pm

      That’s fabulous to hear – so glad you like this recipe! But please share it!! ;)

  37. #
    Louanne Mason — October 16, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    This looks great! I love to bake, but have never done German Chocolate.

    I told my Grammie I would make her any cake she wanted for her 81st birthday this weekend and this was her request. And since it’s for a party, the sheet cake will be so much easier to serve.


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