Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

March 17, 2017

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These Coconut Cupcakes are topped with a creamy coconut buttercream frosting and then sprinkled with shredded coconut. These are incredibly easy to make and are perfect for summer barbecues and potlucks! 

Coconut Cupcakes with coconut buttercream frosting garnished with edible flowers

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

These coconut cupcakes are one of my all time favorite cupcakes. Who knows, maybe I say that a lot but these would definitely make it to the top five.

Yeah, I have a hard time picking favorites. I need to share a post with all the cupcake recipes I’ve made in a collection because I’ve shared so many cupcake recipes. You can never have too many to choose from!

These coconut cupcakes are soft and fluffy and perfectly moist. I even dare say they’ll likely be one of the best cupcakes you’ll ever taste!

They are perfectly coconutty (but don’t worry, there aren’t little shreds of coconut in the batter, I saved that for topping. It’s just a naturally coconut-flavored cupcake made with coconut milk and coconut extract). These are simply Heaven in cupcake form.

And don’t even get me started on the coconut buttercream frosting! So dreamy. I actually made these a few weeks ago, I got ahead with recipes to share and now I just have to sit here and stare at them and wish so badly I could reach through the screen and grab another.

Guess I’ll just have to make them again soon, it’s got to be someone’s half birthday right??

coconut buttercream frosting in bowl

Coconut Cupcakes Ingredients

For the coconut cupcakes, you’ll need:

  • Cake flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs
  • Coconut extract
  • Vanilla extract
  • Canned coconut milk
  • Shredded unsweetened coconut

And for the coconut buttercream frosting, you’ll need:

  • Butter
  • Powdered sugar
  • Coconut extract
  • Canned coconut milk

Coconut Cupcake with coconut buttercream frosting topped with shredded coconut and pink flower

How to Make Coconut Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven and place cupcake liners in muffin tin.
  • In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt and baking powder.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in egg, egg whites, and extracts.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture into the butter mixture, then divide batter evenly between muffin cups.
  • Bake coconut cupcakes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let cupcakes cool before frosting them, then dip tops into shredded coconut.

How to Make Coconut Buttercream Frosting

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until light and fluffy.
  • Add powdered sugar, coconut extract and coconut milk and mix until fluffy.

Coconut Cupcakes with coconut buttercream frosting on wood platter

Can I Use Cream of Coconut Instead of Coconut Milk?

No, cream of coconut contains much more fat and would alter the texture of the cupcakes.

Is There a Cake Flour Substitute I Can Use?

If you don’t have cake flour, you can use the cake flour substitution, which is 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour + 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Just note that if you don’t use cake flour your cupcakes won’t turn out as light and fluffy!

Can I Turn These Cupcakes Into a Cake?

If you’d like to make a coconut cake, I recommend following my coconut cake recipe instead of trying to turn these cupcakes into a cake. I also have a coconut sheet cake recipe, if you’re looking for something that’s even easier!

Coconut Cupcake with coconut buttercream frosting on plate

Tips for the Best Coconut Cupcakes

  • Whatever you do, do not add more coconut extract than the recipe calls for. It’s powerful stuff and can easily overwhelm the other flavors.
  • You may need to add an extra tablespoon of coconut milk to the coconut buttercream frosting to thin it out.
  • I prefer topping my cupcakes with unsweetened coconut, but if you can only find sweetened shredded coconut that’s fine. Your cupcakes will be very sweet though!

Coconut Cupcakes on wood platter

More Cupcake Recipes You’ll Love:

More Coconut Desserts to Try:

4.62 from 13 votes

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

My favorite coconut cupcakes ever! They're soft and fluffy, perfectly moist and they're brimming with sweet coconut flavor. The perfect treat for any occasion!
Servings: 12
Prep25 minutes
Cook20 minutes
Cooling1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 45 minutes


Coconut Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups (198g) cake flour*
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups (160g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (155ml) canned coconut milk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (115g) shredded unsweetened coconut

Coconut Buttercream Frosting

  • 14 Tbsp (198g) butter, at room temperature (preferably 8 Tbsp unsalted 6 Tbsp salted)
  • 3 cups (380g) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp coconut extract, to taste
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp (45ml) canned coconut milk


For the cupcakes:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper cupcake liners, set aside. 
  • Sift cake flour into a medium mixing bowl. Add in baking powder and salt and whisk 20 seconds to evenly distribute.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together butter and sugar until very pale and fluffy. Mix in egg then mix in egg whites one at a time. Blend in coconut extract and vanilla extract. 
  • Add in 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until combined then blend in 1/2 of the coconut milk, mixing just until combined. Mix in another 1/3 of the flour mixture, then mix in remaining 1/2 of the coconut milk (again mixing just until combined after each addition). Finish by mixing in the last 1/3 of the flour mixture. 
  • Remove bowl and scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula and fold gently just until evenly incorporated. Divide batter among paper lined muffin cups filling each cup about 2/3 full.
  • Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean about 18 - 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes on wire rack. 
  • Pour coconut into a small bowl. Once cupcakes are cool frost with coconut frosting, then immediately after frosting each cupcake dip tops in coconut to fully cover. Store cupcakes in an airtight container.

For the frosting:

  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream butter until pale and fluffy. 
  • Add in powdered sugar, coconut extract and 2 Tbsp coconut milk and mix until pale and fluffy, while adding in another 1 Tbsp coconut milk to thin if needed.


  • *Scoop flour from container using a measuring cup (while being careful not to pack flour) and sweep top using a butter knife. For best results use a kitchen scale, I highly highly recommend them.
  • *Also note that if you don't have cake flour, you can use the cake flour substitution, which is 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour + 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Just note that if you don't use cake flour your cupcakes won't turn out as light and fluffy! 
Nutrition Facts
Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream Frosting
Amount Per Serving
Calories 531 Calories from Fat 279
% Daily Value*
Fat 31g48%
Saturated Fat 22g138%
Cholesterol 69mg23%
Sodium 188mg8%
Potassium 192mg5%
Carbohydrates 60g20%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 45g50%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 665IU13%
Vitamin C 0.6mg1%
Calcium 42mg4%
Iron 0.9mg5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.


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  • Penelope Monsanto

    I love coconut cakes, and cupcakes and have been looking for an authentic tasting one, as opposed to artifical flavor. This one is pretty good; moist and almost fragile. I had to add 9 more minutes from, my 9 minutes. The frosting was too thin with 2 tablespoons of coconut milk, but the flavor is spot on. There must be something I did wrong. So good with black coffee.

  • Sue

    Is it possible to replace some of the cake flour with coconut flour?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I don’t think the cupcakes would come out quite the same unfortunately, I would stick with just the cake flour.

  • carol norris

    Made these cupcakes 14 not 12. Cooked 18 minutes – not done, added 2 minutes mot done in the middle added 2 minutes – overdone.
    Now what?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Sorry to hear that! If they seem dry you can place them in an container with some bread slices (just don’t touch the bread to the cupcakes or it can make the surface soggy) and let them rest for a few hours.
      Are you sure the proper amount of flour was added?

  • Nish

    Absolutely delicious, for the first time I have tried cupcakes with coconut milk. Your recipe is very moist. It’s the best cupcakes I have ever eaten in my life.👍👍👍👍👍😊😊😊😊

  • Caroline

    I found these cupcakes to be quite dense and not as moist as I had hoped. I did omit the shredded coconut but I think that would have dried them out even more.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Sorry to hear that, these cupcakes should come out light and fluffy. One thing that could help to make them even fluffier is to whip the egg whites separate then fold into the batter at the end. And they definitely shouldn’t be dry, be careful not to over-bake.

  • Camille

    The texture of this cupcake was unbelievable… I hope I can replicate it another time. Toasted coconut flakes make a very nice topping. These cupcakes were a big hit at our bbq. :)

  • XL

    Hi there — I’d love to make this recipe but when I measure 1.5 cups of cake flour it’s only 170 g. Did you actually weigh out 198 g of cake flour when making this recipe? I’m wondering if I should use 170 or 198 g — thanks!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      It is 198 grams because I used scoop and level method. I both measure in cups and weigh each baking recipe :)