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Coconut Cake

5 from 11 votes

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Moist, fluffy, and soft, this four layer Coconut Cake has the perfect amount of sweetness that is filled and topped with coconut cream cheese frosting and even more coconut. Yum! Based loosely around my Homemade Vanilla Cake Recipe, you will not be disappointed.

coconut cake recipe

Tips and Tricks for a Successful Coconut Cake

After lots of trial and error, here are my tips and tricks for making the best Coconut Cake.

Baking Pans. Regardless of how you bake this cake recipe, be sure to use lighter-colored baking pans (or glass). These are the ones I have and love. Using a darker pan will give you darker, crispier edges that don’t really have a place in a coconut cake, in my humble opinion.

Use room temperature ingredients. Believe it or not, using butter, eggs, egg whites, and buttermilk all at room temperature yields you a smoother, better-incorporated cake batter and thus a better cake.

Do not over bake. A moist cake comes with the right ingredients and just the right amount of time in the lower two thirds of the oven.

Line baking pans with parchment paper. Parchment paper is my favorite kitchen tool. Your cakes will come out with ease! I like spraying my pans with nonstick cooking spray, lining the bottoms with parchment and then adding another spritz of cooking spray on top. Works perfectly.

Cool completely before frosting. Frosting is primarily made up of butter and the butter will melt if your cakes are not cooled completely.

Love coconut? Try these other recipes: Classic Coconut Macaroons, Coconut Almond Muffins, Triple Chocolate Coconut Filled Cupcakes, Mini Coconut Cakes, and Coconut Cream Pie.

coconut cake batter

How to Make Coconut Cake

Making a layered cake can be difficult, but it really doesn’t have to be. Grease and line your pans well, follow the relatively simple directions, cool your cakes completely and you too will have delicious success!

Preheat + Prep Pans

Preheat oven. Line baking pan with parchment paper and/or spray well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Combine Dry Ingredients + Set Aside

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together to combine. Set aside.

Combine Buttermilk + Vanilla, Set Aside

In a liquid measuring cup, stir buttermilk and vanilla together. Set aside.

Combine Remaining Wet Ingredients

In a separate large bowl, mix butter, oil, and sugar together until combined. Mix in eggs and egg whites, one at a time, until the mixture becomes very light and fluffy. This process should take at least 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again briefly.

Starting + Ending with Flour Mixture, Alternate Buttermilk Mixture + Flour Mixture

Alternate adding in flour mixture with buttermilk mixture to the bowl with the egg/butter/sugar, being sure to start and end with flour. Scrape the sides and mix again to ensure a smooth batter. Fold in coconut by hand. 

Pour into Pans + Bake

Divide evenly between baking pans and smooth the top. Bake in the lower two thirds of the oven. The coconut cake will be done when a toothpick comes out clean or mostly clean with a few moist crumbs.

Cool 15-20 minutes in cake pans before trying to invert on cooling racks. Cool completely before frosting and decorating.

baked layers

How to Make Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Save, bookmark, pin and highlight this recipe!! One bite and you won’t want any other frosting ever.

Cream Butter + Cream Cheese Together

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese together with the paddle attachment until smooth. Scrape sides and mix again.

Add Powdered Sugar + Extracts

Add in powdered sugar with the extracts and mix very slowly until it starts to come together. Once the powdered sugar has worked in, increase the mixer speed and whip until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure a completely smooth frosting. Stir again if needed.

coconut cream cheese frosting

How to Assemble Coconut Cake

Slice Each Cake Lengthwise, Creating Four Even Layers

Using a bread knife, slice each completely cooled cake in half lengthwise to get four even layers.

Begin Stacking Layers, with Frosting in between Each Layer

Place one layer down on a cake stand and top with 3/4-1 cup of frosting. Spread evenly, pushing the frosting out towards the edges. Continue stacking the layers of cake with frosting together until all four layers are stacked up together with frosting in between.

Frost Top and Sides of Cake

With remaining frosting, complete frosting the cake. I like to add large dollops of frosting to the top and spread across to cover and then push excess down the sides. It’s easier to pull frosting off with an offset spatula…less crumbs that way!

Coat Entire Cake with Coconut

Once the cake is frosted, coat entirely with coconut, about 2 cups. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

coconut cake top

Coconut Cake Variations

  • 9×13 – This coconut cake will yield one 9×13 cake, bake for 30-45 minutes.
  • 8-9 inch Round Cake – This method will yield two cakes in this size. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
  • Cupcakes – This recipe will make and frost 24 cupcakes with extra frosting to spare. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Make-Ahead + Storage Directions

To save you time and from worrying, I’ve outlined how you can make a perfect Coconut Cake ahead of time!

Once your cake has been baked, cooled and cut into layers, cover them tightly with plastic wrap and store at room temperature overnight. Prepare the frosting then cover and store in the fridge overnight as well. When you are ready to assemble and decorate, set the frosting out at room temperature to soften for about 15 minutes. Give it a quick mix to loosen it up in your mixer for about a minute, then frost away!

Freeze it!

If you want to make this cake even farther ahead of time, consider freezing it! Frosted or unfrosted cake layers can be frozen up to 3 months. To thaw, transfer from the freezer to the fridge overnight and then bring to room temperature before decorating or serving.

sliced coconut cake

More Cakes to Make!

If you loved my Coconut Cake recipe you’ll love my other cakes on the blog!

The printable recipe card is below, enjoy and happy baking! 🙂

5 from 11 votes

Coconut Cake

Moist, fluffy, and soft, this Coconut Cake recipe has the perfect amount of sweetness all topped with coconut cream cheese frosting.
servings 14 servings
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 50 mins

Ingredients

For the Coconut Cake

For the Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup salted butter very soft but not melted
  • 16 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract

Instructions

For the Coconut Cake

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking pan with parchment paper and/or spray well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. (See notes)
  • In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together to combine. Set aside.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, stir buttermilk and vanilla together. Set aside.
  • In a separate large bowl, mix butter, oil, and sugar together until combined. Mix in eggs and egg whites, one at a time, until the mixture becomes very light and fluffy. This process should take at least 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again briefly.
  • Alternate adding in flour mixture with buttermilk mixture, being sure to start and end with flour. Scrape the sides and mix again to ensure a smooth batter. Fold in coconut by hand. Divide evenly between baking pans and smooth the top. Bake 30-40 minutes in the lower two thirds of the oven. The cake will be done when a toothpick comes out clean or mostly clean with a few moist crumbs.
  • Cool 15-20 minutes in cake pans before trying to invert on cooling racks. Cool completely before frosting and decorating.

For the Frosting

  • In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese together with the paddle attachment until smooth. Scrape sides and mix again.
  • Add in powdered sugar with the extracts and mix very slowly until it starts to come together. Once the powdered sugar has worked in, increase the mixer speed and whip until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure a completely smooth frosting. Stir again if needed.

For assembly

  • Using a bread knife, slice each completely cooled cake in half lengthwise to get four even layers.
  • Place one layer down on a cake stand and top with 3/4-1 cup of frosting. Spread evenly, pushing the frosting out towards the edges. Continue stacking the layers of cake with frosting together until all four layers are stacked up together with frosting in between.
  • With remaining frosting, complete frosting the cake. I like to add large dollops of frosting to the top and spread across to cover and then push excess down the sides. It's easier to pull frosting off with an offset spatula…less crumbs that way!
  • Once the cake is frosted, coat entirely with coconut, about 2 cups. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

Recipe will make:
  • 1- 9×13 cake (bake for 30-45 minutes)
  • 2- 8 or 9-inch round cakes (30-40 minutes)
  • 24 cupcakes (bake for 18-20 minutes)
Regardless of how you bake this cake recipe, be sure to use lighter-colored baking pans (or glass). Using a darker pan will give you darker, crispier edges that don’t really have a place in coconut cake, in my humble opinion.

Nutrition

Calories: 857kcal | Carbohydrates: 115g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 29g | Cholesterol: 91mg | Sodium: 468mg | Potassium: 165mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 95g | Vitamin A: 1081IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 81mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Cake, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Coconut Cake, Coconut Cake Recipe

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Recipe Rating




22 Responses
      1. Maria

        It is totally incredible but I have felt very sweet using 400 grams for the recipe. They have tried to remove sugar but it does not affect the humidity?

  1. Pamela C

    5 stars
    After trying someone else’s coconut cake recipe and it being a dry disappointment, I was looking for another one to satisfy my coconut craving. I’m so glad I found yours! It’s absolutely moist and delicious. My family’s new favorite, thank you!

  2. Kim

    5 stars
    I usually don’t leave comments on anything. But this time I have too.
    This cake is absolutely AWESOME!!
    I followed the recipe exactly. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  3. Melissa Whittaker

    5 stars
    This coconut cake is sooooooo moist and soft! I added coconut extract in the cake instead of vanilla and toasted the coconut shreds before decorating.

  4. Marie Caldwell

    5 stars
    Cake taste soooooooo good. I used cake flour instead of flour. Moist and delicious. Thank you for sharing this recipe. Now this cake will be apart of holiday desserts.

  5. Tara

    5 stars
    I love this cake recipe… By far one of the best one i found hands down…. I use this cake recipe as a base for many. Great job💖 every time i make this cake it’s a hit.

  6. Anna

    5 stars
    Such an excellent cake, 5 stars! Made it for a party and everyone raved for it. Really great coconut flavor and super moist. I used coconut oil instead of veg oil. Made 2×9″ cakes and halved the frosting as I didnt cut each cake in half and didnt frost the sides either. Otherwise I think it would have been too sweet. Frosting could use less sugar so I would start less and add to taste. This is in my favorite recipes file!

  7. Dee

    If I want to make this in 9-x13 pan do I still need the same amount of frosting or could I cut the frosting ingredients in half?

  8. Olivia

    Hi, Lauren! Really excited to try this. As we are also in quarantine, we don’t have buttermilk (I have 2%, no lemons). Could you recommend a substitute? Assuming the buttermilk is for moisture, could I use instant pudding with a 1/4 cup of sour cream to balance out the extra dry ingredients? I also have Greek yogurt. Thanks in advance! I can’t wait to have a well-stocked pantry again!

  9. Maria McGowan

    5 stars
    We love the coconut cake from The Peninsula Grill in Charleston, this was a great version to make during quarantine. It was my husband’s birthday this past week and I made it with my daughters – it was delicious! Wondering if we could freeze part of it? It is huge and there are only 4 of us. Do you think we could freeze slices of it?

    Keep the awesome recipes coming.

  10. Janice Brown

    5 stars
    Best Coconut Cake and Frosting Ever! Will be using this as my only Coconut Cake from now on. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  11. Janice Brown

    5 stars
    I made this cake on Easter. I have to say it is the BEST Coconut Cake I have ever baked. The frosting is also the best. I give it a 5 Star rating. I should have taken a picture but we were anxious to give it a taste. You won’t be disappointed.

    1. Janice Brown

      5 stars
      I made this cake last month and It was ABSOLUTELY the best Coconut Cake I have ever tasted.! Will be making it again.

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