★★★★★

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. I tried your coconut cake recipe but mine is breaking up. It is crumbly. What did I do wrong please? The taste is good though. Thanks

  2. I am extremely excited about making this. I would like to use coconut powder…might try it but can I use 2% and coconut milk for this?

  3. This is a great cake. The only thing I would add to the directions is to chill the cake before cutting! This was my first time making a coconut cake and I didn’t know it would crumble when cut unless I chilled it. After a few hours in the fridge it was even better.

  4. I made the coconut cake today. Followed the directions exactly. It looked beautiful when I took it out of the oven . I just went to check it and both cakes fell in the center! So upset as it is a costly cake and was for our friends birthday. Don’t know if I should throw it away or make the frosting and cover it up.

      1. Aimee, I too was excited to make this coconut cake. The problem is that I try to use less sugar in anything I make. I made the cake using Swerve that is supposed to be like sugar but without the calories. So, the cake itself turned out tasting great. The fluffiness and overall appearance was skinny not fluffy. When I made the frosting, it had a crunch gritty texture. I thought I needed to mix it more, then let it sit for awhile but the grittiness never went away. I threw the frosting away. But, with that said, I had this cake, although it was skinny, made a fabulous strawberry shortcake with fresh strawberries and the coconut taste made it better. If anyone has the thought of throwing away a cake, try use the moment to use it for something else.

        1. Baking definitely is a science, when you alter amounts of ingredients it can change the texture. Way to turn it into something delicious though!

  5. Hi, so your recipe looks so yummy and I want to make it for my family’s Christmas gathering, but I would like to make it a 6 layer. Can you give me the ingredients measurements if you have them. Thanks in advance.☺️

  6. I made this cake several times and have received RAVE REVIEWS. You have a fantastic recipe here. Being I didn’t have cake flour, I used all purpose flour and removed 2 T flour and added 2 T cornstarch for every cup of flour required. Was sssssoooo moist and delicious. Even people that didn’t like coconut ate it and took some home. lol. Thanks for your help or us.

      1. i made this for our daughter-in-law’s baby shower as coconut cake is her favorite. It was beautiful and SO delicious! i baked the layers a couple of days before, wrapped in parchment, then press and seal wrap, foil and froze. i pulled them out the morning of the shower, made the yummy foraging and iced the layers. The cake was moist. She loved it!

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