Coconut Cake Recipe (Cake or Cupcakes)

This recipe makes a 3 layer coconut cream cake or 30 coconut cupcakes. These are frosted with Swiss buttercream and topped with toasted coconut!

If you’re looking for a unique and refreshing twist on the classic cake, this coconut cake recipe is it!  This delicious cake is made with fresh coconut and has a light, fluffy texture that is perfect for any occasion. This tender coconut cake is our newest obsession. Not only does it have toasted coconut on top, but it is filled with coconut cream in the cake. The frosting is Swiss butter cream. If you have never had Swiss buttercream, you are in for a treat.

And if you are more of a coconut cupcake person, no worries, this makes about 30 coconut cupcakes!

coconut cupcakes with Easter egg candy on top

Tender Coconut Cake (or Cupcakes)

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baking, cake, coconut, cupcakes
Servings: 30 cupcakes
Calories: 633kcal
Author: Bruce and Dina Miller


  • Bowls
  • Whisk
  • mixer
  • sheet pan
  • Pachment or cupcake liners


Ingredients for Toasted Coconut:

  • 14 oz bag sweetened shredded coconut

Ingredients for Coconut Cream Cake:

  • Spray oil
  • 4 ½ cups flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 sticks butter softened
  • 2 ½ cups sweetened cream of coconut well stirred
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk

Ingredients for Frosting: 

  • 9 egg whites
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 ¼ cups butter
  • 3 tbls vanilla powder
  • 3 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions for toasting the coconut:

  • Preheat the oven to 300 F. and spread shredded coconut evenly in a rimmed half sheet pan. Bake coconut for 8 minutes, then stir the coconut with a spatula. Continue baking and stirring at 3-minute intervals until the coconut is golden brown. Remove from the sheet pan and allow to cool. Watch carefully, as coconut burns easily.
    14 oz bag sweetened shredded coconut

Directions for coconut cream cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Prepare three 8-inch cake pans with spray oil and parchment rounds on the bottom.
    Spray oil
  • Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Use a whisk to stir together.
    4 ½ cups flour, 2 ½ teaspoon baking powder, ¾ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar, butter and sweetened cream of coconut until fluffy and white, about 4 minutes.
    2 ½ cups sugar, 2 ½ cups sweetened cream of coconut, 3 sticks butter
  • While the mixture is beating, seperate the egg yolks from the whites, placing them into 2 different bowls.
    6 eggs
  • Mix in the egg yolks to the butter mixture, one at a time until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, beat in 1/2 the dry ingredients, followed by the buttermilk, and the remaining dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides in between each addition, until just blended.
    2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • Using clean, dry beaters and a large clean bowl, beat the 6 egg whites until they are stiff. Fold the beaten egg whites into the batter, being careful not to deflate the whites. Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake the cakes for 30 to 35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Rotate the cakes halfway through. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack, about 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the wire racks and cool completely. Remove the parchment round from the bottom.
  • If making cupcakes, add cupcake liners muffin tins. This makes about 30, so you will need 3 muffin tins. Scoop batter with a 1/2 cup, or an ice cream scoop into each cupcake liner. Bake for about 20-25 minutes.

For the frosting:

  • Heat a pot half filled with water to a slow boil. Place the egg whites into a clean heatproof bowl. Whisk in the sugar. Place the bowl with the egg white mixture over the boiling water and whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. About 5-6 minutes.
    9 egg whites, 3 cups sugar
  • The mixture is done when a small bit is rubbed between your thumb and index finger and it is smooth.  If you feel any sugar granules whisk for two more minutes and test again. When the mixture feels smooth between your fingers, pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the whisk attachment on medium high speed. When the bowl no longer feels warm to the touch and the egg whites are stiff and glossy (about 15 minutes), begin adding the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. When all the butter has been added, turn the mixer to medium and add the vanilla powder and extract. The frosting should be creamy and silky smooth. If it seems to be too thin, refrigerate for 10 minutes and whip again.
    2 ¼ cups butter, 3 tbls vanilla powder, 3 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Level the cake layers by slice the rounded top off of each cake, with a cake level or a serrated knife. Next, scoop ¾ cup frosting on each layer. Smooth with a cake spatula and refrigerate all 3 for for 10 minutes. Now stack the layers on top of each other and spread the remaining frosting on the sides. Sit the cake in a sheet pan with sides before you add the toasted coconut. Sprinkle the toasted coconut on top and around the sides. You may have to do a sideways throwing motion.  Refrigerate cake.
  • Before serving, get cake out of the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour to come to room temperature. To slice, run hot water over a sharp knife, and slice, repeating with each slice. This will allow a smooth cut.


Can decorate with jelly beans for Easter.


Serving: 1cupcake | Calories: 633kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 342mg | Potassium: 144mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 55g | Vitamin A: 775IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

And if you are a cupcake fan, give a few of our other recipes a try!

Dina and Bruce at the Golden Gate Bridge

Hi, we are Bruce and Dina Miller. We love to cook every night. We enjoy making a few healthy dishes, and also comfort food. We love crafting cocktails too! Come take a look, we would love to share our recipes with you.


  1. Stephanie Reply

    5 stars
    Such a delicious coconut cake – soft and tasty just like a cake should be. Thank you for the tips on how to properly toast the coconut. I hope to use the recipe again on Easter and make coconut cupcakes for our holiday dessert table.

  2. Ned Reply

    5 stars
    Not only were these delicious but fun and festive to make. My kids really enjoyed making these with me. Thank you!

  3. Dana Reply

    5 stars
    These were amazing! The kiddos loved it and honestly so did the adults, haha. Definitely making these again for the holiday next weekend!

  4. Donalyn Reply

    5 stars
    This is what we will be having for Easter this year – we loved it so much the first time I tried it. Thanks for helping to make our celebration even more special!

  5. suja md Reply

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious; thank you for this fantastic recipe!

5 from 5 votes

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