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.

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

Coconut Cake Recipe

4.64 from 543 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.

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Posted on May 11, 2022

Comments & Reviews

  1. I made this cake for Christmas for a friend I didn’t taste it but she absolutely loved and asked me to make
    It again . I believe I used buttermilk added some additional coconut to the cake and used a small amount of coconut extract
    I gonna try it again tomorrow for their birthday

  2. Absolutlly delicious!!! I did not have butter milk and replaced with vanilla yougurt…(I took the chance) It was very soft and simply delicious. Thank you for the recipie.

  3. I followed the directions to a “T”, it had great coconut flavor for sure, sooo good. However the texture was a bit different. The best way I can describe it is a mix between a pound cake and an angel food cake. It was very dense like pound cake but the texture is anglefood cake. My husband loved it, but not sure I would make it again or not based on the texture

  4. This cake turned out perfect! My mom wanted a coconut cake for her birthday so I tried this recipe and everyone loved it! The texture of the cake was delightful and the flavor was wonderful. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  5. The cake was extremely dry. It had a good flavor but just too dry to eat really. I was disappointed after all the work to make it. The icing was good.

  6. I followed the directions, but the cake turned out very dry and not much flavor. It was a beautiful white cake, but not what I was looking for in a coconut cake.

  7. I baked in 13 x 9 pan for recommended time. Came out very dry. I would recommend checking doneness around 26-29 minutes and go from there. I had to poke holes and pour cream mixture to moisten cake. The frosting and coconut saved the cake. It was still very good.

  8. 5 stars
    My stepson wanted a coconut cake for his 21st Birthday. I have never liked the texture of coconut cake, but I found this recipe and decided to give it a try. I used 2 rounds pans instead of doing a sheet cake… and used the Crème of Coconut in place of buttermilk…. I was not sure at first, but it turned out great. Gets better every day… although disappearing fast. Love the recipe. First coconut cake I enjoyed.

  9. Worst experience of making a cake. Used round pans and it spilled over into oven and caught on fire. Followed directions and this was an epic fail.

      1. I look forward to trying this recipe. I assume I use a mixer to beat the egg whites prior to adding the buttermilk. Is this correct? Thanks.

  10. It didn’t say in the receipe to whip the egg whites. Should that be done before adding the creme of coconut? My cake is dense and edges are somewhat hard. Did not overcook. Cake is for bingo at club so giving the cake away anyway. Hopefully it tastes ok. It smelled wonderful while baking.

    1. They sure can. Just remember they will take less baking time, perhaps 12 – 15 minutes or so. Just watch them and they will turn out perfect!

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 4 stars
    I love this cake, it is very rich and delicious. Thanks for the recipe. I will make again and again.

  14. 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.

    1. Almond plus the vanilla is a match made in Heaven to me! I use this combination in a great number of recipes, but to answer your question..,Yes!, by all means, swap out the almond for coconut extract!

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