German Chocolate Cookies — An EASY recipe for soft, chewy, fudgy chocolate cookies that are topped with a rich and creamy pecan coconut frosting! If you love German chocolate cake but don’t want to deal with layering and frosting an entire cake, these cookies are PERFECT! Great for holiday cookie platters, Valentine’s Day, or ‘just because’! They’re a Crumbl Cookies copycat and I promise that this homemade version is BETTER!
Table of Contents
- Easy German Chocolate Cookies Recipe
- Fun Fact: Copycat Recipe!
- Ingredients in German Chocolate Cookies
- Frosting Shortcut Tip
- How to Make German Chocolate Cookies
- More Cookie Baking Recipe Tips
- Make-Ahead Instructions
- Recipe FAQs
- Storage Instructions
- German Chocolate Cookies Recipe
- More Easy Chocolate Cookie Recipes:
Easy German Chocolate Cookies Recipe
These German chocolate cookies are reminiscent of a classic German chocolate cake, but recreated in cookie form complete with fudgy chocolate cookie base, a nutty-coconut German chocolate topping, and dotted with drizzled melted chocolate. There’s a trifecta of goodness going on!
Fun Fact: Copycat Recipe!
I designed this recipe after enjoying a Crumbl Cookies German Chocolate Cookie that was very similar to how my homemade version tastes. And let’s face it, homemade always tastes better!
The base cookie recipe comes from my Quadruple Fudgy Chocolate Cookies. I love this cookie base because it’s packed with chocolate so the cookies are ultra fudgy without being overly sweet. The texture is soft and chewy, but also perfectly light and not too dense which is a good thing since the topping, or German chocolate frosting, is just that.
The frosting is a classic German chocolate cake frosting made with sweetened shredded coconut and chopped pecans. It’s a boiled frosting recipe that’s made on the stovetop — and yes, you have to boil the frosting since it contains egg yolks. It’s more labor intensive than my typical cookie frostings, but the rich and creamy results are worth it! See my Tip below for a shortcut.
And because I can’t resist a little extra chocolate, I whisked together a quick chocolate ganache drizzle to top the cookies with. The drizzle is optional but it’s a lovely touch.
German chocolate cake cookies are the perfect “anytime” cookie when you have a chocolate craving.
Make them whenever you need a fast yet impressive cookie recipe like Valentine’s Day or for Christmas cookies. Actually, the coconut in the frosting makes me think of Easter and springtime, but German chocolate cookies also make an unexpected addition to holiday cookie trays!
Ingredients in German Chocolate Cookies
If you’re a regular baker, I bet you already have most of the ingredients on hand already. This is a very straightforward recipe with no specialty items required.
Gather the following ingredients to make German chocolate cookies with coconut pecan frosting:
For the cookies:
- Unsalted butter
- Light brown sugar
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Instant chocolate pudding mix
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips
For the German chocolate frosting:
- Evaporated milk
- Granulated sugar
- Egg yolks
- Unsalted butter
- Sweetened shredded coconut
- Chopped pecans
- Vanilla extract
Frosting Shortcut Tip
If you don’t have the time or desire to make the frosting from scratch, use your favorite store-bought German chocolate cake frosting, sometimes called called Coconut Pecan Frosting. I won’t tell!
For the optional chocolate drizzle:
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Heavy cream
Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.
Ingredient Tip: Pay Attention to the Milk
This recipe calls for evaporated milk, NOT sweetened condensed milk. The two small cans look nearly identical and are sold side-by-side at the grocery store. Evaporated milk is creamier than regular milk, but it’s still fairly thin and pourable in consistency.
Sweetened condensed milk is very sweet, almost like a thick syrup, and doesn’t resemble regular milk at all.
Use evaporated milk!
How to Make German Chocolate Cookies
The coconut pecan frosting adds extra prep time to these German chocolate cake cookies, but if you make it while the cookies are baking you can pop it into the fridge until you’re ready to frost the cookies. This way, you can frost the cookies later in the day if you’re short on time right now!
Make the cookies:
- Using a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, beat together the softened butter, egg, granulated sugar, and brown sugar, and then add vanilla extract to the wet ingredients.
- Add the pudding mix, cocoa, and beat to incorporate the dry ingredients.
- Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and beat to incorporate the flour mixture.
- Add the chocolate chips and beat to incorporate.
- Scoop the cookie dough into 2 to 3-tablespoon sized balls with a medium cookie scoop and place them on a large plate.
- Step 7: Bake the cookies on prepared baking sheets on the middle oven rack at 350 degrees f.
- Remove them and let them cool properly before adding the frosting.
Make the German chocolate frosting:
- Add the shredded coconut and chopped pecans to a large skillet over medium heat. Stirring often, heat the coconut and pecans until the coconut is lightly golden in color and you can smell the pecans.
- To a small saucepan, add the evaporated milk, granulated sugar, egg yolks, and butter.
- Heat the evaporated milk mixture over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then keep at a gentle boil for 10 minutes. It will coat and cling to the back of a spoon.
- Stir in the toasted coconut and pecans and the teaspoon vanilla extract.
The shredded coconut and pecans will toast up very quickly (5 minutes or less). Stir them constantly and do NOT walk away from your skillet because coconut can go from golden brown to burnt in seconds!
Frost and garnish the cookies:
- Spread the frosting over the cooled cookies. Make sure they are cooled or it will melt!
- To make an optional chocolate drizzle for the cookies, heat the chocolate chips and heavy cream for 10 seconds in the microwave in a medium bowl, stir, then repeat until the chocolate chips are melted.
- Drizzle the melted chocolate ganache over the icing.
If you’re in a rush, scoop the frosting out of the bowl using a small cookie scoop, then plop it onto the cookies and spread it out with a butter knife or the back of a spoon. Frosting each cookie takes about 15 seconds using this method!
More Cookie Baking Recipe Tips
- Chilling the dough: Don’t skip this step because the cookies will bake thinner, flatter, and be more prone to spreading.
- Individual mounds: Chill the dough in individual mounds of dough and not in the bowl. It’s too hard later on to chisel out rock hard, crumbly dough. Save yourself the headache and chill as I am directing you to do.
- Bake time: Take the cookies out of the oven as soon as the edges are set and the centers are just barely set. You want the cookies to be soft and fudgy, so try not to overbake them. Watch the cookies, not the clock! Depending on the exact size of your cookies, how cold they were going into the oven, and your oven, baking time will range. It’s up to YOU to decide when they’re done!
- Cooling the cookies: You MUST let the cookies cool to room temperature before adding the frosting. If you try to frost warm cookies, the frosting will melt!
- Frosting shortcut: If you only want to make the chocolate cookies from scratch and don’t have time to make a scratch frosting as well, buy your favorite store-bought German chocolate cake frosting instead. This Betty Crocker is my go-to.
You have three options for making this recipe in advance. You can make just the raw cookie dough in advance, make both the baked cookies and frosting, or fully assemble the cookies and store them for later.
Raw cookie dough: The raw cookie dough can be made up to 48-72 hours in advance and chilled until ready to bake. Or, scoop the cookie dough into balls and freeze for up to 3 months before baking.
Partially assembled: You can also bake the cookies and store them at room temp, and make the frosting and store it separately in the fridge. Then, frost the cookies just before serving them.
Fully assembled: You can also bake and frost the cookies and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. I’m comfortable storing frosted items at room temperature, but if you’re not, place the cookies in the fridge instead, noting that they’ll dry out quicker.
You’ll want to use unsweetened natural cocoa powder like classic Hershey’s. Don’t use anything that’s sweetened, or is for making hot chocolate or hot cocoa. You want unsweetened cocoa powder intended for baking. You don’t need to use Dutch-processed cocoa powder. It’s more expensive, harder to find, and not necessary for this recipe.
Yes you do. Make sure to buy instant pudding mix and not the cook and serve kind!
You also can’t use sugar-free pudding mix in this pudding cookie recipe. Don’t ask me why, sugar-free instant pudding mix just doesn’t deliver the same results.
Also note that Jell-O has changed their packaging and a 3.9-ounce box of Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix may look a little different than you remember.
I always buy the brand name so can’t comment on how store brands work. Sometimes they are a bit smaller or larger. An ounce or so either way shouldn’t likely matter though.
If you love the sounds of these cookies but can’t find pudding mix in your area, I suggest using these Hot Chocolate Cookies as the base chocolate cookie recipe (minus the marshmallows and hunks of chocolate in the center).
And then making the German chocolate topping and melted chocolate drizzle, as written.
I used semi-sweet chocolate chips in the cookie dough, but you can use milk or dark chocolate chips if desired. If you only have a chocolate bar on hand, simply chop it up finely and use that in place of chocolate chips.
Note that chopped chocolate will melt in more of an ‘oozing’ fashion and chocolate chips stay more intact and melt, but are less ‘messy’. In my original Quadruple Chocolate Cookies, I use both. In this recipe I used just chocolate chips since there’s a lot going on!
I recommend scooping the cookie dough into 2-3 tablespoon-sized balls. You can use a medium cookie scoop for this.
Yes, you almost always need to line cookie sheets with something. It makes things neater, cleaner, and I am partial to Silpat liners since cookies spread less on the mat. The silicone surface is a bit tacky or rubbery and the cookie base has something to ‘grip’ onto and they spread less.
I do have a recipe for Devil’s Food Cake Cake Mix Cookies. You can certainly use that base (skip the M&Ms), and then top with German chocolate frosting and a chocolate drizzle.
In the Refrigerator: These cookies will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days, noting that they’ll dry out over time. I’m fine keeping them at room temp, but choose whichever method is best for you.
In the Freezer: These cookies will keep airtight in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can freeze the fully assembled cookies, or freeze the raw cookie dough, baked cookies, and / or frosting separately.
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German Chocolate Cookies
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
- ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- one 3.9-ounce package instant chocolate pudding mix, (not sugar-free and not ‘cook & serve’)
- ¼ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
German Chocolate Frosting
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 egg yolks from large eggs, discard or use white for another purpose
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut, toasted if desired
- 1 ¼ cups chopped pecans, salted or unsalted, based on preference
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Chocolate Ganache, optional
- ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon heavy cream, half-and-half may be substituted
- Cookies – To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl and electric mixer) combine the butter, sugars, egg, and beat on medium-high speed until creamed and well combined, about 4 minutes.
- Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate, about 30 seconds.
- Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flour, baking soda, salt, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.
- Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the chocolate chips and beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.
- Using a medium cookie scoop, make the cookie dough balls using about 2-3 tablespoons of dough per cookie dough ball, which makes approximately 20 to 24 equal-sized mounds of dough. Roll between your palms to form smooth balls, and flatten slightly.
- Baking – When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F.
- Line two baking sheets with Silpat Baking Mats (or parchment paper; or spray the baking sheets with cooking spray) and place about 8 to 10 cookie dough balls per sheet, evenly spaced; do not crowd.
- Bake for about 10 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just set, even if slightly undercooked and glossy in the center. Don’t overbake which is easy to do with dark cookies. Cookies firm up as they cool. Tips – Bake the cookies until they're done and the baking time could range from 8 to 13 minutes or so, depending on how big or small the dough balls are, your oven, your climate, your baking sheet material, etc. Watch your cookies and not the clock when determining doneness.
- Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet while you make the German Chocolate Frosting.
- German Chocolate Frosting – As a timesaving tip, feel free to use one or two tubs of store bought Chocolate Pecan Frosting. Frost the cooled cookies as desired.
- However, if you're making the frosting from scratch, to a small saucepan add the evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, butter, and heat over medium heat. Tip – Make sure not to confuse evaporated milk with sweetened condensed milk; select the former not the later. Regular milk should not be substituted.
- Once it begins to boil, boil it a medium boil for approximately 10 minutes, or until the syrup coats the back of a spoon.
- Add the coconut, pecans, vanilla, and stir to combine. Tips – If you're toasting the coconut, do so in a dry skillet for a minute or two, or as long as it's necessary for it to lightly toast before adding it here. Be careful though because coconut burns fast due to the high sugar content. I personally don't bother toasting it, but you can if desired.
- Evenly spread the frosting, as desired, over each cookie. Tip – Make sure cookies are sufficiently cooled before you add the warm frosting so it doesn't just melt more and slide right off.
- Chocolate Ganache, optional – To a medium microwave-safe bowl, add the chocolate chips, heavy cream, and heat in 10 to 15-second bursts, or until chocolate can be stirred smooth. Tip – Don't try to do it too quickly or the chips won't melt and will simply burn.
- Using a small spoon, evenly drizzle a bit of chocolate over the top of each cookie before serving.
- Cookie base adapted from my own Quadruple Soft Fudge Pudding Cookies
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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