The Best Coconut Cake Recipe

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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.

Fluffy Coconut Cake Recipe

I am a huge fan of coconut layer cakes. Tender cake with layers of vanilla frosting and loads of coconut. Does it get any better than that?

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.

What You’ll Need

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

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!

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.

Easy Dessert Recipes

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Coconut Cake Recipe

4.64 from 544 votes
By: Aimee
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!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 26 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 16 minutes
Servings: 16 servings

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 package cream cheese, softened to room temperature 8 ounce
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
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Instructions 

FOR THE CAKE:

  • Whisk together the egg whites and 1/4 cup of the buttermilk in a small bowl until slightly combined. Set aside.
  • 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.
  • 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 13×9- bake cake in greased and floured 13×9 dish for 35-38 minutes. Frost as directed.
  • Try our coconut cupcakes for a portable treat!

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 527kcal, Carbohydrates: 82g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 14g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 45mg, Sodium: 231mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 62g
Course: Cake
Cuisine: American
Did you make this recipe?Mention @shugarysweets or tag #shugarysweets!
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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. At what temperature is Cake in 9×13 pan baked & at
    what temperature? Also temp & time to bake 8” or 9” cake
    layers. I didn’t see this info in the recipe. Maybe just missed it?

  2. 5 stars
    This is one of the best coconut cake recipes that I have tried. Thank you for sharing! My family said,
    “Mom, this is the best coconut cake!” Thank you again!

  3. Made this cake for my husband since he’s a big fan of coconut. It was powered Dr except it was a little too sweet for me. Next time I will decrease some of the sugar and switch some of the sweetened coconut flakes for unsweetened.

    1. 5 stars
      This was the best cake I’ve made in years! The only difference i made was I used half coconut extract and half almond. Sooo Amazing! Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. I’m not sure what went wrong but make the cake following complete instructions and the cake mix was sooo thick could not spread into a pan so had to thin it out. Anyway, had someone try it without frosting and it was hard and dense. Too bad looks great in photo but doesn’t taste good at all.

    1. I have had the same results. Batter was very thick and had to be spread with a spoon. I followed the recipe and checked it twice but the finished cake was so dense that it was difficult to cut. The only thing good about this recipe is the frosting. Scrape it off, throw the cake away and find another cake recipe that is light and moist!!

4.64 from 544 votes (517 ratings without comment)

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