Coconut Cake

Published December 23, 2018. Updated July 19, 2019

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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!

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Coconut Cake
4.91 from 111 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


Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 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).


  • 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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  • Sunny

    Thank you so much for sharing this amazing cake recipe! It was delicious and the crumb texture was perfect! I would love to make a vanilla-white cake version for a birthday party. Do I substitute coconut milk with just regular milk and what other adjustments do I need to make?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I think you would want to mimic the same amount of fat and whole milk doesn’t have quite as much so you would need to blend whole milk with a little heavy cream. I haven’t done the math but maybe around 1/4 to 1/3 cup. Then just more vanilla in place of coconut extract.

  • Alett

    I’ve made this cake for my birthday 2 years in a row. It’s my absolute favorite cake. It stays moist even after a week. I won’t suggest altering any of the ingredients. It’s just perfect the way it is.

  • Amanda March

    I made this as a wedding cake. It was simply delicious and I followed the recipe to the letter. The groom said that it was the most delicious cake he had ever eaten. I made 1 and 1/2 times the amount of batter and it made 2 eight inch layers plus 2 six inch layers and I stacked all of this. The crumb of this cake is perfect! The coconut flavor is light and not overwhelming at all. I sifted in some corn starch (about a tsp/cup) to the powdered sugar in the frosting to give it a bit more stability. I will use this recipe many times.

  • Theola Thornton

    Will this cake crumble when you slice it can I substitute a half cup of cake flour to plain flout

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      It shouldn’t crumble. I recommend leaving the recipe as is for best results.

  • Sherry Franken

    I used a can (13.5 oz) of coconut instead of 1 1/3 cups by mistake. Can I correct this?

  • Theresa Blumberg

    This cake is light due to the addition of the egg whites. I filled with lemon curd between the layers which was a delicious combination.
    My problem was icing the cake. I could not use a spatula. The cake kept peeling away onto the icing. I finally had to paste it on with my hands…a mess! I persevered then covered the mess with coconut. Not pretty but delicious.

  • Lili M

    This is my favorite coconut cake. It does have a few steps but it comes out so light and moist. It is not super heavy or extremely sweet. I recommend prepping your ingredients so it is easier at time to mix. also used my stand up mixer then my hand held for the egg whites. I made just 2 layer cake so cooking time did take about 30 minutes. Will conitnue making this for special occasions!