★★★★★

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?

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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. Aimee,
    I have been browsing the internet for a coconut cake and found your recipe. I am so excited to try it. The reason I have been looking for a coconut cake is this week my husband and I were in Grand Lake Colorado (beautiful) and I had the most amazing ice cream. It was coconut ice cream with raspberry swirls and oreo cookies. I really wish I had gotten 2 scoops. So any way, I make and sell cake pops and I am always looking for new ideas and I thought that the combination of my ice cream flavors would make an amazing cake pop. Wish me luck!

  2. Can i use heavy whipping cream in place of the butter to get an all white pure cake, because butter gives a slight yellow tint and i’m looking to get a pure white cake

    1. If you beat the butter for 3-5 minutes it becomes very pale in color. I’ve never used whipping cream in place of butter so I can’t say how that would work.

  3. I already bought heavy whipping cream for another recipe, will it be ok to use this as well for frosting on this cake?

  4. Thanks , so after you put in the milk at the end , do you actually beat for another 3 to 4 minutes. I did and it was fluffy but turned out dense – thanks again

    1. You do! I can’t think of why else it would be dense 🙁 So sorry it didn’t turn out for you!

  5. The cake turned out really good, but it was dense instead of light and airy, is it suppose to be dense? I did use cake flour like you suggested but I was wondering if I used all purpose flour would that help?

  6. This is one of my most favorite cake ever! Coconut is the best flavor. I would love to try it at home. Thanks for the easy to follow recipe.

  7. Amie, ty for sharing this recipe. I have it in the oven right this moment. Fathers Day gift for my wonderful husband. I hope I didn’t goof by using coconut milk in place of the milk. I couldn’t resist. I had some on hand so I went for it. The batter was so white and so silky looking. I may use this recipe for a wedding cake Im making next month. Thank you again and GBY. 

  8. This is very very yummuy!!! I got a big refreshment after taking it.Thankyou for this awesome recipe.

  9. Hi, would I have to add anything if I wanted to put in a box of instant pudding mix with the batter?

  10. Do you think this recipe would still work if I used less sugar – 1 cup instead of 1 3/4 cup?

  11. Hi!  When I added in the dry ingredients it was a bit dry and felt never really turned into a creamy cake like batter until I beat in the egg white mixture.  Consequently there were  teenie lumps in the final batter.  Is that normal?  I used the paddle attachment on mixer versus the whisk attachment.  Think that would have made a difference?

  12. Try putting a pineapple filling in the center. That is the way my mom always made it. It was and is my favorite cake after 66 years. Thanks for the memories. Like you we are empty nesters and would never each a big cake. But cut recipe down and make or freeze half and ice half only. For food. Get the cook Book by Betty Crocker that is called ( dinner of 2). It will help you get a start. I’ve had mine now for over 46 years and fell back on it when the time came.

  13. I’d love to make these as cupcakes. If you have, how many does it make and what time/temp did you use. Thank you!

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