Rich, fudgy-textured German Chocolate Brownies bursting with flavor, and homemade coconut-pecan frosting come together for an intense brownie delight!

Coconut is a fantastic base for a variety of desserts! German Chocolate aficionados, check out fan favorite Gooey Upside Down German Chocolate Cake! Need a recipe to impress? No-Fail Coconut Meringue Pie is a winner. Classic comfort? Grandma’s Broiled Icing Oatmeal Cake is immensely satisfying.

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homemade German Chocolate Brownies on plates with a fork

Why We Love German Chocolate Brownies

German chocolate “anything” goes over like gangbusters around here! The combination of the homemade fudgy brownies and the gooey German chocolate frosting is more than delicious; they’re simply irresistible. What makes German chocolate brownies from scratch so great? Where do I start?

  • Baker’s German Chocolate infuses homemade brownies with sweet, mild cocoa flavor.
  • German chocolate brownie batter comes together quickly and bakes up in 30 minutes or less. 
  • Better yet, the coconut pecan topping can be assembled and cooled while the brownies are baking.
  • Evaporated milk is the base of German chocolate frosting, creating a deliciously nutty and slightly caramelized flavor.
  • The iconic combination of chocolate, coconut, and pecans pays homage to the beloved German Chocolate Cake.
ingredients for The BEST German Chocolate Brownies on a counter

Ingredients Need

Specially crafted German’s chocolate baking bars are known for their sweet, mild cocoa flavor. They are the cornerstone of these easy brownies made from scratch. Paired with homemade coconut-pecan frosting, and it’s winner-winner, chicken dinner! (That sounds so good right now, too!)

For specific amounts, please refer to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.

For German Chocolate Brownies:

  • Unsalted Butter –  softened to room temperature, leaving an indent from fingertip pressure, but not to the point of an oily sheen.
  • German Chocolate Baking Bar – has a distinctively sweet and mild cocoa flavor made specifically for baking; breaking it into pieces allows for easier melting.
  • All-Purpose Flour –  Fluffed or whisked, spooned into a measuring cup, then leveled with a flat edge. Scooping with a measuring cup packs the flour, increasing volume, which affects the outcome of a recipe.
  • Baking Powder – must be fresh to give the brownies lift and enough lightness.
  • Salt – use non-iodized table salt for the best flavor.
  • Sugar – white granulated.
  • Vanilla Extract – use pure vanilla extract.
  • Large Eggs – room temperature and beaten.

For German Chocolate Topping:

  • Packed Brown Sugar – firmly packed for the proper measurement. 
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Butter, Melted – gently melt to assist in dissolving the sugar, but do overheat to the point of the milk solids separating.
  • Evaporated Milk – dense and creamy, with 60% of the water removed. Evaporated milk does not contain sugar.
  • Large Egg Yolk – should be at room temperature to avoid curdling. 
  • Vanilla Extract – adds warm aromatic notes.
  • Chopped Pecans – with enough extra for garnish. Lightly toasted pecans for the garnish bring out extra buttery notes. 
  • Shredded Sweetened Coconut – can also be lightly toasted and sprinkled as extra garnish.

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Homemade German Chocolate Brownies From Scratch

Crafting homemade German chocolate brownies is a simple process. Start by lining an 8 or 9-inch square pan with parchment paper for easy lift-out bars. Preheat the oven and gather the tools you’ll need: saucepans, mixing bowls, measuring cups, a whisk, and an offset spatula.

When you are baking, you’ll want to use the full recipe at the bottom of the page.

German Chocolate Brownies

  1. Melt butter, add chocolate, and stir; remove from heat when melted and cool.
  2. Whisk salt, flour, and baking powder together and put aside. 
  3. Combine the cooled chocolate, sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl, mix in eggs, and stir in the flour mixture until just combined. 
  4. Spread German chocolate brownie batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20-30 minutes until the center is done. 
  5. Cool completely before spreading with German chocolate frosting.

Homemade Coconut Pecan Frosting

  1. Combine sugars, butter, evaporated milk, and egg yolk in a saucepan. Heat over medium and stir until it boils and becomes thick and bubbly.
  2. Remove from heat and add the vanilla, pecans, and coconut; cool completely.
  3. Spread over the cooled brownies and garnish.
A cut batch of brownies with pecan topping

Recipe Notes/Tips

  • Metal Makes Magic: Compared to a glass baking dish, metal pans are hands down the best way to get perfectly baked brownies. Metal is durable, warms quickly and evenly, and is heat-responsive, making it a reliable choice for achieving the best brownies from scratch. 
  • Double Your Pleasure: When making these delicious German chocolate brownies in a 13×9-inch pan, you will need to double the coconut pecan frosting recipe for a perfect balance of flavor in each bite.
  • No Extra Sugar Needed: Avoid substituting condensed milk for evaporated milk. While both have the same amount of water removed, most sweetened condensed milk contains 45% sugar.
  • Toast To Taste: Lightly toasting pecans highlight the nut’s buttery nuttiness and provide a pleasant crunch. Shredded coconut can also be toasted; just keep an eye on them as they darken quickly.

How To Cleanly Cut Brownies

For clean-cut brownies, refrigerate for at least an hour until ready to serve. Take hold of the parchment paper and remove the frosted brownies from the baking pan.

Slice into portions with a sharp knife-don’t use a serrated knife.

In a hurry? Cover the pan of frosted brownies and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

German Chocolate Brownies cut on a platter

How To Store These Brownies

For optimal storage, place parchment paper between layers of German chocolate brownies and store them in an airtight container at room temperature. If keeping them for an extended period, consider refrigerating or freezing.

Pro tip: Extend the freshness of your brownies by placing a slice of bread in the airtight container with them; the bread’s moisture will help keep your brownies soft and delicious for an extra couple of days.

Refrigerate

These homemade brownies can keep up to a week in the fridge as long as they are well-wrapped.

Freeze

The best way to freeze German chocolate brownies is to individually wrap them in plastic wrap, place them in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag, and store them in the freezer for up to three months. They should thaw at room temperature in about an hour.

2 servings of brownies with pecan frosting on white plates with forks.

FAQs

What Is German Chocolate?

German chocolate is named after Samuel German, who created dark baking chocolate in 1852. It’s associated with a cake called German Chocolate Cake, featuring layers of chocolate cake with a coconut and pecan frosting, not from Germany but popular in the United States.

Can I use milk instead of evaporated milk for coconut-pecan frosting?

Evaporated milk offers a creamier texture compared to whole milk. However, you can substitute heavy cream or half-and-half to achieve a thick frosting with a similar richness.

Why does German chocolate frosting need an egg yolk?

Egg yolk is added to German chocolate frosting for its ability to help bind liquids with fat. This contributes to the overall richness and custard-like texture.

Why is my coconut pecan icing runny?

Coconut pecan icing can become runny if the ingredients are not correctly measured or if it hasn’t cooled enough. It is also important that the icing be cooked until it thickens to a pudding-like consistency. If that’s not the issue, you can refrigerate it for a short time to help it firm up.

homemade brownies on a cutting board

Variations & Substitutions

  • If you can’t find German chocolate baking bars, you can substitute them with semi-sweet chocolate baking bars.
  • You can use unsweetened coconut shreds if you prefer to reduce some of the sugar in the German chocolate frosting.
  • To save time, feel free to use any boxed brownie mix for this recipe. Although you won’t achieve the traditional German chocolate flavor in the brownies, they’ll still be delicious!
  • Additionally, make it really simple and save time using prepared German chocolate frosting in a tub.
  • Select a milk chocolate brownie mix for the most authentic German chocolate brownie flavor when using a boxed brownie mix as a time-hack.

Alternatives For Evaporated Milk

Keep in mind, you will need to choose an evaporated milk substitute with a similar fat content to thicken the frosting.

  • Heavy Cream: The most decadent substitute for evaporated milk, resulting in the thickest and creamiest coconut-pecan frosting. 
  • Half-and-Half: A good compromise between heavy cream and evaporated milk, still creamy and rich.
  • Coconut Evaporated Milk: A dairy-free evaporated milk, adding a slightly sweet and coconut-like flavor.
close up of a homemade brownie with coconut pecan topping
homemade German Chocolate Brownies on plates with a fork

German Chocolate Brownies

Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Rich, fudgy-textured German chocolate brownies bursting with flavor, and homemade coconut-pecan frosting come together for an intense brownie delight!

Ingredients

For German Chocolate Brownies:

For German Chocolate Topping:

Instructions

  1. Line a 8 or 9-inch square metal pan with parchment paper to easily remove from the pan for perfectly cut bars, set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate bar pieces and stir until melted. Remove from the heat and cool for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside. Preheat the oven to 325°F. 
  4. Combine the cooled chocolate mixture, sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Add beaten eggs; mix well. Add the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Spread batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs in the center, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.
  6. For Topping: In a medium saucepan add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter and evaporated milk. Stir to combine and whisk in the egg yolk.
  7. Let the mixture boil over medium heat stirring constantly for 3-5 minutes until it gets very thick and bubbly. 
  8. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, pecans, and coconut. Let the topping mixture cool completely before spreading over the cooled brownies. Garnish with chopped or whole pecans, if desired. 

Notes

For clean-cut brownies refrigerate at least an hour until ready to serve. Take hold of the parchment paper and remove the frosted brownies from the baking pan. Slice into portions with a sharp knife- don’t use a serrated knife.  In a hurry? cover the pan of frosted brownies and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

STORAGE:

For optimal storage, place parchment paper between layers of German chocolate brownies and store them in an airtight container at room temperature. If keeping them for an extended period, consider refrigerating or freezing.

Pro tip: Extend the freshness of your brownies by placing a slice of bread in the airtight container with them; the bread's moisture will help keep your brownies soft and delicious for an extra couple of days.

Refrigerate - These homemade brownies can keep up to a week in the fridge as long as they are well-wrapped.

Freeze - The best way to freeze German chocolate brownies is to individually wrap them in plastic wrap, place them in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag, and store them in the freezer for up to three months. They should thaw at room temperature in about an hour.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 298Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 126mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 21gProtein: 4g

Nutrition information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients used and are just estimates. We encourage, especially if these numbers are important to you, to calculate these on your own for most accurate results.

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German Chocolate Brownies photo collage