The Very Best German Chocolate Pie

November  2, 2022
10 Ratings
Photo by MJ Kroeger
  • Prep time 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • makes one 9" pie
Author Notes

If you’ve ever deliciously fantasized about what would happen if a German chocolate cake—with its requisite fudgy, coconut pecan filling, and a nutty, buttery pecan pie—had a baby, today is your lucky day. German Chocolate Pie is for all the chocolate, pecan, coconut lovers in the house and I am hoping there are many. It is fudgy, rich, and dense, with an otherworldly texture from the deeply toasted pecans and shredded coconut. The pie’s chocolate flavor comes from melted chips, but also from a bit of cocoa powder, as I wanted a pronounced chocolate flavor, but without adding sweetness—thankfully, the powder perfectly delivers.

Although a German chocolate cake marries coconut and pecan with evaporated milk, here everything is held together with sweetened condensed milk, as it makes for a fabulously fudgy and milky, yet smoothpie filling. And although it can be sweet, the aforementioned cocoa powder really tempers anything that one might find cloying. Moreover, the SCM manages to give off all the wonderfully chewy, slightly gooey vibes of the evaporated milk cake filling, but all in streamlined pie form.

Some parting words about your pecans: please deeply toast them as it really helps the flavor sing. And as for the coconut, I call for sweetened in the filling for its texture and moisture (the unsweetened can be a little dry) but if you’d prefer to use the unsweetened stuff, by all means go for it.

Finally, the cream cheese crust here is far more forgiving and easier to work with than its all-butter brethren and I like to think it adds a little tang to the sweet situation that is this pie. Moreover, assembling and blind baking the crust is truly the lion’s share of the work here. The pie filling itself is easy-peasy to assemble and will take you all of 5 minutes (if that). If you are a German chocolate cake lover, and I am one, you’ve just met your new favorite pie—and if you’re one of those pecan pie-or-bust, kind of Thanksgiving peeps, brace yourself this November cause there’s a new kid in pie-town. —Jessie Sheehan

What You'll Need
  • Crust
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, chilled, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
  • Filling
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped, plus more for sprinkling, optional
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • Whipped cream, for dolloping
  1. Crust
  2. Combine the vinegar and water in a small container and place in the freezer.
  3. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Rub the cream cheese and butter into the dry ingredients until pea-sized clumps form. Sprinkle the chilled vinegar and water over the bowl, a little at a time, and toss the dough with your hands in order to evenly distribute the liquid. Knead the dough in the bowl a few times until it comes together in a solid mass. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
  4. Remove the disk from the refrigerator and lightly flour a work surface. Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle, occasionally turning the dough clockwise. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate and press the dough up the sides of the pie plate, so that once you crimp its edges, the fluted design rests above the top of the pie plate (there is enough dough to do this and it will keep the crust from shrinking when you blind bake it). Prick the bottom with a fork and transfer to the freezer for one hour.
  5. Heat the oven to 425°F. Crumple up a piece of parchment paper and line the frozen pie crust with it. Fill with pie weights, uncooked beans, or rice. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the pie from the oven. Remove the parchment and pie weights; cool the crust until it reaches room temperature.
  1. Filling
  2. Reduce the heat to 350°F. Whisk together the butter and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Add the sweetened condensed milk and whisk to combine. Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, and whisk to incorporate. Add the vanilla and salt. Fold in the chips, pecans, and coconut with a flexible spatula.
  3. Transfer the filling to the cooled crust and bake for 45 to 50 minutes until just set—a slight jiggle in the center is okay. Cool to room temperature on the counter, about 2 hours, before serving—or, chill it and serve cold with dollops of unsweetened whipped cream. Store the pie in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Gilder
  • Carolyn
  • Jessie Sheehan
    Jessie Sheehan
  • Kelly Vaughan
    Kelly Vaughan
Bio: Jessie Sheehan is the author of The Vintage Baker and Icebox Cakes. Her new easy-peasy baking book, Snackable Bakes, hits shelves in spring 2022. She contributes to the Washington Post, Bon Appétit, Food Network, and the Kitchn, among others.

32 Reviews

Amy W. December 16, 2022
I have made this recipe 5 times since it was first posted. I have always loved German Chocolate and this one did not fail. Everyone gobbled up each pie. I actually had a hard time finishing each piece I ate because it was so rich, but only because it was so rich, and I don't cut small pieces. I did have an issue with the crust being too tough a couple of times I made it, but that could just be my own handling of the dough. But that caused me to switch it up and this last time I made it for family I made a nutty pecan and graham crust for it, and I have to say it upped the game. It was delicious, and the emphasis is on "was." Thank you for so many great recipes that are family favorites.
Masi'sMothi76 December 16, 2022
Amy, your Graham sub sounds better… standard crust (9 crackers, 1/4C pecans, 1/3C butter, 1/4C sugar and pinch of salt). Does this sound right, do I add, remove ingredients? Thanks!
Amy W. December 17, 2022
Masi, I like it really nutty, so I use 3/4 c nuts, 2 TBS brown sugar, 2 TBS flour, 1 cup grahams (about 8 grahams) 1/4 tsp cinnamon, pinch of salt and 1/4 cup of butter, melted.
ladymeshel November 25, 2022
I made this pie for Thanksgiving at my husband's request. I used unsweetened coconut & 100% cacao chips instead of semisweet chocolate chips & it was delightfully dark, delicious, & decadent.
Jessie S. November 25, 2022
Yay! Love the changes u made and glad u enjoyed!
Pear December 4, 2022
Did you melt the chocolate chips? I got a reply to this in the "question" section that said the chips would melt when baked, but they don't melt in chocolate chip cookies. The description says the chocolate flavor comes from the melted chips.
Jessie S. December 6, 2022
U don’t melt the chips - u fold them into the pie filling and they get “melty”
But don’t melt, if that makes sense.
Gilder November 24, 2022
Made this for Thanksgiving. It was really good! I used an extra deep pie plate and the filling filled it. It is sweet, but if you like sweet and German chocolate, I think you’ll enjoy this pie. It’s a keeper for me.
Jessie S. November 25, 2022
Happy to hear it’s a keeper!
Carolyn November 16, 2022
If I left the coconut out would it disturb the cake/pie ratios of the other ingredients, in other words will it make a difference in the end product? It sounds wonderful as is but I have a coconut averse person in my world.
Jessie S. November 16, 2022
i fear it might, as it definitely contributes texturally and adds heft, as it were, to the filling . . .
Carolyn November 16, 2022
Thanks, I was afraid that would be the case. Appreciate your answer!
rox L. November 17, 2022
Can't she just increase the pecans to balance the coconut elimination
Jessie S. November 18, 2022
Great idea, but I would just be afraid that you’d lose the moisture and chewy toothsome texture that the coconut provides.
Nikkitodd16 November 16, 2022
Can I make a sugar free version? If so do you think coconut sugar would work? I make a version of a German Chocolate Cupcake with coconut sugar for my brother in law who is a diabetic.
Jessie S. November 16, 2022
gosh that sounds lovely - but I've never done it before, so I don't think i can vouch for whether it will work.
Nikkitodd16 November 17, 2022
Thank you.
TinaI November 16, 2022
Sounds fabulous! My 2 favorite flavors combined!! I’m trying this for Thanksgiving
Jessie S. November 16, 2022
yay! so happy to hear.
Anita S. November 16, 2022
Hi I am gluten intolerant - do you think this crust would work if I use Bob's Red Mill gluten free pie crust flour? I have found that things that have dairy in them - like the French yogurt loaf cakes, are very forgiving with gluten free high quality flour. I am tasting this pie/cake while reading the recipe - can't wait to try it. If you do not think a GF flour would work, how about a crustless pie? Thanks!
Jessie S. November 16, 2022
I do think a GF flour would work as long as u have a brand that has worked in pie crusts in the past, as I’ve never tried it. But sounds like you’ve got a brand you like! Bob’s!
Nita November 23, 2022
I have Celiac Disease and I'm planning to make a gluten free version with my GF flour blend. Cream cheese is a great addition in GF baking. I use cream cheese and butter in my biscuits and it works beautifully. I use many Bob's Red Mill GF products but I find their (and most other brands) all-purpose flour to be a little gritty. That's usually becasue of the rice flour. I use some finely milled Authentic Foods GF rice flour in my blend but the base ingredient is sorghum flour. It's also from Authentic Foods. I've been baking GF for about ten years and their products have made a huge difference in the quality of my GF baked goods..
Jessie S. November 23, 2022
thanks for sharing!
Grit29XX$$% November 16, 2022
Still too sweet. Maybe it's the coconut. Also, in the gentlest spirit, "tampers" is not a word. Maybe you mean "tempers." A tamper is a power compaction tool.
Jessie S. November 16, 2022
Did you try it? Or does it look like it’ll be too sweet to you based on the ingredient list? And thanks re: tempers!! That is a typo!!!
ksevans13 November 16, 2022
I mean, if we wanna lean into policing diction, "tampers" is definitely a word. The verb "to tamper" means to fiddle, interfere, or mess with. But honestly, that way madness lies.
Andrea November 16, 2022
……those who cook, know.
Jessie S. November 16, 2022
thanks for leaning!
ksevans13 November 16, 2022
Jessie S. November 16, 2022
right you are!
rschaff November 16, 2022
This looks delicious. I am safe in assuming that for the filling, the 1/4 unsalted butter is 1/4 cup?
Kelly V. November 16, 2022
That's correct! The recipe has been updated to clarify the measurement.