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
4.95 from 100 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 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 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 three 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, 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).

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.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

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657 Comments

  • Erica

    What a wonderful recipe! I tried this along with several others including Ina’s, FoodTV and Taste of Home and this is my fave. I am wondering what you would suggest to make it even lighter. it’s already perfect– just wanting tweak a bit for a wedding this weekend. I went down 1/2 c sugar and used coconut cream along with 2 9In pans at 28m. Any suggestions?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      In step 3 you could try whipping the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then mix in the oil. This should incorporate a bit more air for a slightly fluffier cake. Also use canned coconut milk rather than coconut cream – coconut cream has more fat and will weigh down the cake.

  • Val

    Is it possible to substitute cake flour for AP flour and exclude the coconut extract if I’m unable to find it?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      You could use the all purpose flour and cornstarch substitute it would be about 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour and 1/3 c cornstarch. Just keep in mind the cake will be more dense with this sub. And the coconut extract is highly recommended if you want that coconuty flavor otherwise it will be more of a vanilla cake.

  • Patty

    This cake is so moist and delicious !! This is my second time making it .Everyone loves it . Thank you so much for the recipe !

  • Melanie Soles

    I make these into individual Bundt pans and topped with dyed green coconut and jelly beans for Easter. Made 75 of them this week. The recipe doubles beautifully.
    I wish I could show a photo. One friend said it was the most delicious cake ever. I followed recipe completely except use splashes of milk to thin the icing a bit. I’ll never use another recipe. Now trying to figure out a variation for Mother’s Day! Many of your recipes have been my “go to’s”! Thank you! Mel

    • B’rea

      Ok Mel…. Thank you so much for your post for the mini Bundt’s. How long do you bake and would the basic recipe make about 35 mini Bundt’s?

  • Kathleen Arrowood

    This cake is AMAZING!!! My family always asks for this for any and all occasions! It is a little time consuming to make but well worth the effort! I have probably made this cake over 15 times and love it! I have frozen the layers so I could take on family vacations and it comes out perfect.

  • JH

    Let me preface this by saying I am NOT a very skilled baker, but this recipe is so great! I’ve made it 3 times recently, once as a ‘practice’, once for my FIL’s retirement, and then everyone raved about it so much that I just baked another one yesterday for a family birthday. The recipe is fool proof and the cake is incredible. So light, moist and flavourful. The first 2 times I changed nothing, this third time
    I doubled the coconut extract for a little extra coconut flavour. The cake is perfect!

  • Elina

    I absolutely loved your coconut cupcakes and was hoping to make a small, 2-layer coconut cake; so I was wondering if there was any way to turn this 3-layer cake baked in three 9-inch pans into a 2-layer cake baked in two 6-inch pans?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I would probably try to halve the recipe. Then fill pans 2/3 full, if there’s any extra batter you could make a few cupcakes.

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