★★★★★

The Best Coconut Cake Recipe

The most delicious, from scratch, white cake recipe is used to create this perfect Coconut Cake! Soft, moist crumb with a cream cheese coconut frosting!

Love coconut desserts? You MUST try our samoa truffles. Similar to the girl scout cookie, these truffles are packed with coconut, caramel, and chocolate flavor! Or give our coconut biscotti recipe a try!

Moist slice of coconut cake on a silver plate with a fork.

Why this Recipe Works

No matter the time of year, this easy coconut cake recipe is bound to be your new favorite layer cake.

  • Moist: whether you like that word or not, it describes the perfect texture of a cake!
  • Coconut Flavor: we’ve added coconut to the cake and the frosting. Want more? Use cream of coconut in place of the buttermilk!
  • Soft Crumb: by using just egg whites, you’re going to love this soft and tender crumb that still holds up to mega piles of frosting!
  • Coconut Frosting: using our favorite cream cheese frosting recipe, we’ve added coconut! You can use toasted coconut if you prefer.
Forkful of coconut cake with a slice on a silver plate.

Ingredient Notes

  • Egg Whites- for today’s white cake you won’t be using the egg yolks. No worries though, save them and make a batch of homemade lemon curd. FYI- my Lemon Coconut Cake recipe is the perfect solution for using that creamy curd.
  • Buttermilk- I originally was making this recipe with whole milk, because I never have buttermilk on hand. But now that I can make my own buttermilk substitute, I always use buttermilk in my white cake recipe!
  • Want more coconut flavor? Swap out the buttermilk for cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez). This is NOT coconut milk. Coconut milk brands vary in fat content and were not giving consistent results. The Cream of Coconut works perfect. Worried? Use buttermilk!
  • Extracts- I use a combination of vanilla extract and almond extract. If you’re able to find coconut extract, use that in place of the almond!
  • Cake Flour- don’t even try to use all-purpose flour here. You’ll get an entirely different texture of cake. Use my tips on how to measure flour for best results!

How to Make Coconut Cake

Using my white cake as a guide for today’s recipe, this was the perfect starting point. Be sure to follow directions carefully!

  1. Wet Ingredients: combine the egg whites with some of the buttermilk in a bowl. In a mixing bowl, beat room temperature butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
  2. Dry Ingredients: in a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  3. Combine: Add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture. Beat in the egg white mixture and finally, beat in the remaining buttermilk. Fold in coconut.
  4. Bake: I use two 9-inch cake pans for this recipe. Use a generous amount of baking spray (this is the kind with flour in it, made for baking), or use parchment paper. You could also use homemade cake release.
  5. Assemble: Place one cake layer on a cake stand. Add a large amount of frosting to top and smooth with an offset spatula. Top with second layer of cake. Apply frosting to entire cake.

To add the coconut flakes or shredded coconut to the top and sides of cake, place cake stand on a baking sheet (to help catch excess coconut). Fill hand with coconut and press gently into sides of cake. Repeat until desired amount of coconut applied. ENJOY!

Slice of coconut cake on a silver plate with one forkful taken away.

Tips and Tricks

  • Start with room temperature butter and egg whites. The eggs are easier to separate when they are cold, then let your egg whites come to room temperature with the butter.
  • Use sweetened shredded coconut for best results! Feel free to toast the coconut for the outside of the cake if you prefer. Sweetened coconut is more moist than unsweetened, which helps today’s cake texture.
  • Cream Cheese– for the frosting make sure you choose block cream cheese, not cream cheese spread.

Coconut Sheet Cake

Slice of coconut cake baked in a 13x9 with a bite removed.

Sometimes you don’t want to make a layer cake, but you also crave homemade coconut cake. In that case, make it in a 13×9. Same great recipe, just easier!

A few tips:

  • Be sure to grease and flour your 13×9 baking dish, or use our homemade cake release.
  • Bake for 35-38 minutes, until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Do not overbake as it tends to dry the cake out.
  • Use cream of coconut (not cocout milk) for more coconut flavor, to replace the buttermilk.

More Classic Cake Recipes

Yield: 16 servings

Coconut Cake Recipe

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 26 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 16 minutes

The most delicious, from scratch, white cake recipe is used to create this perfect Coconut Cake! Soft, moist crumb with a cream cheese coconut frosting!

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE:

  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

FOR THE FROSTING:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 packages (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut

Instructions

FOR THE CAKE:

  1. Whisk together the egg whites and ¼ cup of the buttermilk in a small bowl until slightly combined. Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, vanilla and almond extracts for 2 minutes on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Beat in egg white mixture until fully blended. Add in remaining milk and beat for 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Fold in coconut.
  3. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with baking spray. Pour batter into pans and bake in a 350 degree oven for 26-28 minutes. Remove and cool completely on wire rack.

FOR THE FROSTING:

  1. Beat butter and cream cheese for 3 minutes using whisk attachment on an electric mixer. Add in powdered sugar and heavy cream. Beat an additional 4-5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  2. To assemble, place one layer of cake on a cake stand. Add a large amount of frosting to top and smooth with an offset spatula. Top with second layer of cake. Apply frosting to entire cake. To add the coconut to the top and sides of cake, place cake stand on a baking sheet (to help catch excess coconut). Fill hand with coconut and press gently into sides of cake. Repeat until desired amount of coconut applied. ENJOY!

Notes

  • Buttermilk- I originally was making this recipe with whole milk, because I never have buttermilk on hand. But now that I can make my own buttermilk substitute, I always use buttermilk in my white cake recipe! Want more coconut flavor? Swap out the buttermilk for cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez). This is NOT coconut milk. Coconut milk brands vary in fat content and were not giving consistent results. The Cream of Coconut works perfect. Worried? Use buttermilk!
  • Extracts- I use a combination of vanilla extract and almond extract. If you're able to find coconut extract, use that in place of the almond!
  • Cake Flour- don't even try to use all-purpose flour here. You'll get an entirely different texture of cake. Use my tips on how to measure flour for best results!
  • Start with room temperature butter and egg whites. The eggs are easier to separate when they are cold, then let your egg whites come to room temperature with the butter.
  • Use sweetened shredded coconut for best results! Feel free to toast the coconut for the outside of the cake if you prefer. Sweetened coconut is more moist than unsweetened, which helps today's cake texture.
  • Store frosted cake at room temperature in a cake saver. Or freeze leftover cake in airtight container for up to 3 months.
  • 13x9- bake cake in greased and floured 13x9 dish for 35-38 minutes. Frost as directed.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 527Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 231mgCarbohydrates: 82gFiber: 2gSugar: 62gProtein: 4g

*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

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Posted on May 11, 2022

Comments & Reviews

  1. I made this cake today and it’s delicious. I didn’t make the icing, I used my from scratch German Chocolate Icing instead. I sifted my cake with the baking powder & salt. I also used a 1/2 tsp more of vanilla extract. Thank you Aimee for this recipe!

  2. Made this for a group gathering. Was so fabulous that it has been requested several times for birthdays, etc. the sub of the coconut cream was the jewel on the crown of this cake. Used a mix of toasted and fresh coconut on the outside. Took it to the next level.

  3. Hi, this cake looks Heavenly and I would like to bake it. I have a question, why would you add almond extract to a coconut cake? Could you substitute coconut extract for almond extract? Thank you, V.T.

  4. my 94 year old Mother said this was the best coconut cake that she ever had. she gets one Every year for her birthday

  5. Made the cake and it failed!! So disappointed! Went Buy recipe exactly! Cake had a sugary crust, failed in the center, not sure what happened , Took a lot longer to cook as well??

    1. I found that the egg whites need to be whipped to stiff peaks and then folded into the rest of the batter. Otherwise you get a sucken dense cake.

  6. This is the best coconut cake recipe. I made this and it was awesome. Sending lots of love from Tanzania, East Africa.

  7. Excited to make this for Easter…can Thai coconut cream (like used in curry) be used instead of cream of coconut? Coco Lopez contains sugar and thickeners, coconut cream (not milk) does not.

    1. Update: Made cake with Thai coconut cream – fabulous! Cake light and airy, and held up to cream cheese frosting like Aimee mentions. This recipe is a keeper!

  8. I made this cake and it was incredible!!! It was so good, I’m going to use this as a base for vanilla cupcakes (minus the coconut) and lemon cupcakes!! Thanks for sharing!

  9. If I left out the shredded coconut in the cake batter, could I use this as a base for a regular white almond cake?

  10. I followed this recipe to a T and my cake totally failed it’s sunk it took way more than 26 minutes to cook very disappointed

    1. I also thought I followed the recipe, and my cake sunk too. Aimee, could you give us a reason this cake would fall? What are we doing wrong? Should there have been adjustments for high altitude, none were given in the recipe. The pictures looked sooo yummy, I also was very disappointed and want to know why it would do this.

      1. When baking, there should always be adjustments for high altitude. Unfortunately I have no way to test for that, as I live at sea level. Most people who live at high altitude will usually google adjustments.

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