You’ve probably seen it as the star on German chocolate cake, but this coconut pecan frosting can be enjoyed on other cakes and bars, too. Most classic recipes are made with butter, evaporated milk, and eggs. But this vegan German chocolate cake frosting skips them all, and uses coconut milk instead. It works seamlessly since coconut is already a highlight in this recipe!
It’s Vegan German Chocolate Cake Frosting, and So Much More!
This vegan coconut pecan frosting recipe was originally shared with us over fifteen years ago. It was paired with Isa and Terry’s vegan toasted coconut chocolate cupcakes. We’ve recently updated this recipe, and have added nutrition facts, more tips, and options in the FAQs below.
Does this Frosting Work on Any German Chocolate Cake?
It certainly does! The recipe makes enough to frost 12 German chocolate cupcakes or the tops of a two layer cake. That is, it works as the coconut pecan filling and as the top frosting on a two layer cake. If you want to use this as it on the sides of the cake, or are frosting more layers, I would double the recipe.
If Doubling, Can I Use a Full Can of Coconut Milk?
That’s what I would do! If you want to keep it precise, pour the coconut milk into a glass measuring cup. Add enough milk beverage to reach 2 cups. Pour some of the milky mixture into a separate bowl (about 1/2 cup) and whisk the starch into it. Use the remaining milky mixture in your initial heating with the brown sugar.
What Milk Alternative Should I Use?
I use unsweetened coconut milk beverage (the type in cartons) for recipes like this. But you can use your favorite milk alternative for baking. Most will work great. Terry and Isa tested this recipe with rice milk, and almond milk works great on the stove top. I’d use caution with soy milk and oat milk – some brands don’t perform well when cooked. If you have any separation, just whisk to smooth it out.
What Can I Substitute for the Cornstarch?
For a corn-free frosting, substitute arrowroot starch. In a pinch, you could use tapioca starch, but we prefer the results with corn or arrowroot.
Help, My Frosting Isn’t Thickening! What’s Wrong?
It’s possible that you passed the point of no return. Once the starch is added, Isa and Terry keep it below a boil. If not boiling, it takes about 5 to 7 minutes to thicken enough. If it does boil, you only want to bubble it for 2 to 3 minutes. Any longer and the starch will start to break down and the frosting will thin out. Keep in mind that the frosting will thicken quite a bit as it cools, and even more with the coconut and pecans added.
What else can I use this Vegan Coconut Pecan Frosting on?
In addition to German chocolate cake, you can enjoy this frosting on Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes, Dairy-Free Yellow Cake, Coconut Cupcakes, Date Cake, or Vegan Pancakes. It also makes a tasty topping on dairy-free cookies and apple slices.
Special Diet Notes: Vegan Coconut Pecan Frosting
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.
- ¼ cup plain dairy-free milk beverage
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Pinch salt
- ¾ cup canned coconut milk (regular, full fat)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cups shredded unsweetened coconut
- ½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
- In a small bowl, whisk together the milk beverage, starch, and salt.
- In a large, stainless-steel saucepan over medium heat, stir together the coconut milk and brown sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture starts to boil. Turn the heat down to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
- Whisk the milk-starch mixture, and slowly drizzle it into the coconut-milk mixture, stirring constantly.
- Stir the mixture continuously as it cooks, until it darkens and gets very thick and smooth, about 6 to 7 minutes.
- Remove from the pan from the heat and beat in the bourbon (if using) and the vanilla. Stir in the coconut and pecans until everything is coated and completely combined.
- Let the frosting cool to room temperature before frosting the cupcakes.