Coconut Cake

December 23, 2018  ·  Published February 27, 2014

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This Coconut Cake is one of the best cakes you’ll ever make! It’s light and fluffy, it’s brimming with sweet coconut flavor and it’s finished with a rich and creamy cream cheese frosting.  This has been a reader favorite recipe for years and it’s one of my my families favorites!

Slice of three layered homemade coconut cake on a black plate with a black background.

The Best Coconut Cake Recipe!

I shared this coconut cake four years ago but I figured it was due time that I re-share it in case some of you may have missed out. It’s a recipe book dessert staple!

Coconut Cake Video

 

This is what I’m planning on making for Christmas dessert and I can’t wait! Some people look forward to gifts, I look forward to cake.

This cake is elegant and sophisticated yet very traditional and simplistic and it’s perfect for the holidays since it’s not only incredibly delicious but it’s so white and snowy looking.

I love that it’s like the cake you remember your grandma serving at family parties growing up. Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned recipe like this? The classics are often the best.

Finally, A Soft and Moist Coconut Cake

This will probably be one of the softest cakes you’ll ever make and you’ll also love that it is incredibly moist (because we all hate a dry cake right?). And it is layered with sweet, natural coconut flavor with every bite, which is complimented perfectly by the light tang of the cream cheese in the frosting.

Good luck saying your only going to have a thin slice. Not gonna happen with this cake. Try it and you’ll see what I mean!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa too! I hope you have the best holiday week!

Whole made from scratch coconut cake garnished with lots of coconut and set over a white marble cake stand with a black ground and a maroon tablecloth underneath.

Ingredients for Homemade Coconut Cake

  • Cake flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Granulated sugar and powdered sugar
  • Unsalted butter
  • Vegetable oil
  • Canned coconut milk (don’t use light)
  • Whole eggs and egg whites
  • Coconut extract and vanilla extract
  • Cream of tartar
  • Cream Cheese
  • Shredded sweetened coconut

How to Make Coconut Cake

  • Preheat oven and prepare cake pans.
  • Sift cake flour into a bowl then whisk with baking powder and salt.
  • In an electric stand mixer cream sugar, butter and canola oil.
  • Mix in egg yolks and extracts.
  • Blend in flour mixture in 3 additions alternating with additions of coconut milk.
  • Seperately whip egg whites with cream of tartar to stif peaks.
  • Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into cake batter at a time.
  • Pour batter into cake pans and spread even.
  • Bake until set, let cool completely then frost and finish with shredded coconut.

Single slice of easy coconut cake with a remainder of cake in the background.

Can I Freeze Coconut Cake?

You can freeze the cake layers without the frosting. To do so wrap in foil then store in an airtight container. Let thaw then frost!

More Coconut Recipes You’ll Love!

Coconut Cake
4.94 from 73 votes

Coconut Cake

This Coconut Cake is one of the best cakes you'll ever make! It's light and fluffy, it's brimming with sweet coconut flavor and it's finished with a rich and creamy cream cheese frosting.  It's been a reader favorite recipe for years and it's one of my my families favorites!
Servings: 16 Servings
Prep40 minutes
Cook20 minutes
Cooling2 hours
Ready in: 3 hours

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (360g) cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar*
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 1 1/3 cups unsweetened canned coconut milk, well shaken, at room temperature*
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature, yolks and whites separated
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 12 oz cream cheese, nearly at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 5 cups (590g) powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut

Instructions

  • For the cake:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 3 9-inch round cake pans and line bottom of each with a round of parchment paper, butter parchment paper and set pans aside.
  • Sift cake flour into a large mixing bowl, then add baking powder and salt and whisk mixture. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, blend together granulated sugar, butter and canola oil on medium speed until well combined. Scrape down bowl.
  • Add in egg yolks one at a time and mix until combined after each addition (reserve 2 egg whites), then mix in coconut and vanilla extracts. Scrape down bowl.
  • Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, blend just until combined. Add half of the coconut milk, mix just until combined. Mix in another 1/3 of the flour mixture followed by remaining coconut milk. Finish by mixing in last 1/3 of the flour mixture.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, whip 6 egg whites with cream of tartar on medium-high speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form.
  • Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold 1/3 of the egg whites into cake batter at a time and fold just combined after each addition (don't over-mix and deflate egg whites).
  • Divide batter among prepared cake pans. Spread batter into an even layer and bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 19 - 22 minutes.
  • Allow to cool in cake pan 5 - 10 minutes then run a knife along edges of cakes and invert each onto a wire rack to cool. Cool completely the cut tops to even as needed.
  • Frost top of one layer, add another layer and frost then top with last layer and frost top and sides. Place cake stand over a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle cake evenly with shredded coconut (pressing gently on sides to adhere.
  • I just did it over a rimmed baking sheet for easier clean up - not a must). Store in an airtight container in refrigerator (let rest at room temp until no longer cold before serving).
  • For the Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter with cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Mix in coconut extract. Add powdered sugar and whip on medium speed until smooth and fluffy.
  • Chill as needed if frosting seems runny (slightly runny is fine, once you get it frosted the coconut will help it stay in place).
  • Recipe Source: Cooking Classy

Notes

  • If you like the cake a little less sweet you can use 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar. Then you can even use 2/3 the frosting amount which I've done but you'll only have a thin layer of frosting.
Nutrition Facts
Coconut Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 681 Calories from Fat 324
% Daily Value*
Fat 36g55%
Saturated Fat 24g150%
Cholesterol 89mg30%
Sodium 190mg8%
Potassium 237mg7%
Carbohydrates 85g28%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 66g73%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 845IU17%
Vitamin C 0.7mg1%
Calcium 69mg7%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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555 Comments

  • Olivia

    Amazing cake, will make again! I only used 1 cup of powdered sugar in frosting instead of 5 because I like it less sweet. I hope all the other recipes are just as great! Thank you for this recipe it will stay in my archives!

  • SaintsBaker

    Sorry if I’ve asked before, but I can’t recall. If I wanted to do all whole eggs instead of whipped egg whites, could that be done? If so, how many whole eggs? Thank you in advance! Love your site! :)

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      With some experimenting yes it could be done but without testing I couldn’t say for sure. I would probably try 4, just keep in mind the cake may not be quite as fluffy.

  • abby

    made this and it tasted like eggs and was dense and not fluffy did everything that it said.

  • Kate

    Hi I can’t wait to try but I can’t find coconut extract. Can I use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil so it smells more coconuty? And if I want to make it into a 6 inch cake, do I just scale down the ingredients accordingly? Thank you!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      You can find coconut extract online if you can’t find it in your local grocery store, I recommend sticking with it for best flavor. And coconut oil should work as well, just melt it. And yes you could scale recipe for a 6 inch cake or just use extra batter for cupcakes.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Sorry I haven’t tested with fresh so I couldn’t say for sure. I know it’s not quite as thick.

  • Fran

    We loved this cake recipe! My husband asked for a coconut cake for his birthday, so I started searching for a recipe right away. This one had good instructions, which I needed. The coconut milk gave the cake a light coconut flavor (some recipes did not call for it). The icing was perfect with the cake, though my cream cheese was too soft (I bought a cheap store brand), so I ended up adding 1 T. corn starch mixed with cream to thicken it. I will make this again.

  • Chocolate Bear

    This was a great recipe, my only problem was how much granulated sugar went into the cake batter and how much powder sugar went into the frosting!

    The cake didn’t need that much sugar and the frosting REALLY doesn’t need 5 cups of powdered sugar to make more frosting mass. If you wanted more frosting you should add more of everything and not smother it in powdered sugar to create more frosting.
    I didn’t even have 5 cups of powdered sugar to add and it was easily too sweet with 1 cup. 2 cups of granulated sugar into the cake batter is more than i use for cookies and this cake is supposed to be fluffy so i used 3/4th cup sugar like I’m used to using for cakes.

    With less sugar, I thought it tasted great, you can even toast the coconut before you put it on top. This cake is similar to sponge cake/ castella cake that has been popular in recent years with how it uses meringue.

    I would love to try it with the full amount of sugar to see if I’m missing something, but it would be more than one giant bag of powdered sugar for ONE cake, when I use one bag of powdered sugar to frost many cakes. I’m very skeptical of the frosting’s amount of sugar.

    1 cup of powdered sugar was plenty for frosting for me.
    It needed more coconut and cream cheese if you want to add more powdered sugar so just double the recipe instead of strictly adding more sugar.

    Thank you for the great recipe!
    This was my first time using cake flour to bake a cake, too, and it was an amazing difference.