This Coconut Cake is where the rich, creamy flavors of coconut are infused in every bite. From the moist, spongy cake to the luscious coconut buttercream, this cake showcases the versatility and beloved taste of coconut. Perfect for any occasion, from summer gatherings to festive celebrations, this cake promises to be a showstopper, enchanting your taste buds and transporting you to coconut paradise.

This recipe simplifies the baking process without sacrificing flavor or texture, using a white cake mix as the base and enriching it with canned coconut milk and eggs. The result is a delightfully moist cake that serves as the perfect foundation for the rich, coconut buttercream. Topped and decorated with sweetened coconut flakes, each slice is a visually stunning and deliciously satisfying treat.

Freshly made Coconut Cake on a cake stand with a slice out

The Chemistry of Coconut Cake

The secret to this cake’s irresistible texture lies in the balance of ingredients and the chemistry of baking. The coconut milk adds fat and moisture, ensuring the cake is tender and rich. In the frosting, the cream cheese provides a smooth, tangy base that complements the butter’s richness, while the coconut extract infuses the entire cake with a deep, aromatic coconut flavor. The powdered sugar not only sweetens the frosting but also contributes to its silky consistency.

Can I use fresh coconut milk instead of canned?

Yes, fresh coconut milk can be used as a substitute for canned milk. However, keep in mind that the fat content will vary, which will slightly alter the cake’s moisture and texture.

How do I ensure the cake layers are even?

To ensure even cake layers, use a kitchen scale to divide the batter equally between the pans.

Freshly made coconut cake

Can this cake be made ahead of time?

Absolutely! The cake layers can be baked ahead, cooled, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 month. Frost and then thaw back down to room temperature before enjoying.

How do I store the finished cake?

The finished product should be stored in the refrigerator due to the cream cheese in the frosting. Cover with plastic wrap or a cake dome, and enjoy within 3-4 days for best freshness.

Freshly made coconut cake

What is in Coconut Cake?

White Cake Mix

Provides a convenient and consistent base for the cake.

Canned Coconut Milk

Adds richness and deep coconut flavor to the cake.

Eggs

Adds both a protein (egg whites) and fat (egg yolks). The egg whites help with rising because, when foamed, little air pockets get trapped inside the egg white mixture. The water content in egg whites encourages steam while baking, which helps with gluten formation, resulting in nice and thick treats. Egg yolks have emulsifying properties that bring batters and doughs together and help them from collapsing. Unless otherwise specified, always use large eggs.

Unsalted butter

Often the main ingredient of frosting, it adds structure to your buttercream. It also adds a smooth and velvety texture. Butter melts at body temperature, so it will make your frosting have a melt-in-your-mouth sensation.

Cream cheese

Provides a unique, tangy flavor. When baked it adds moisture to your treat.

Powdered Sugar

Is just finely ground granulated sugar. It will absorb moisture in your batter or dough. It dissolves easily, ensuring a smooth texture without grittiness. Because it is so fine, it can melt quickly in the oven and spread cookies out more. Powdered sugar also stabilizes and thickens the frosting, thanks to the small amount of cornstarch it contains.

Coconut Extract

Adds a sweet tropical flavor to your treats.

Sweetened Coconut Flakes

Adds texture and a decorative touch to the finished cake.

Freshly made coconut cake on a cake stand with a slice out

Storage Tips

For optimal freshness, store the coconut cake in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 4 days. The cake is best enjoyed at room temperature, so consider removing it from the fridge and hour before serving to allow the frosting to soften slightly.

Freezing Options

You can freeze both unfrosted cake layers and the completed cake. Wrap the layers or cake in plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving (if already frosted) or frosting.

Making Ahead

Make the cake layers ahead and freeze them. This offers flexibility in preparation. The frosting can also be prepared in advance and refrigerated. Simply bring it to room temperature and give it a quick whip before frosting the cake.

Freshly made coconut cake on a cake stand with a slice out

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Why make coconut cake?

This coconut cake recipe is a celebration of flavor and texture, offering a slice of tropical bliss with every bite. Whether you’re an experience baker or new to the kitchen, this cake is sure to impress, making any occasion feel a little more special.

Recipes You May Love

Coconut Cake

5 from 3 votes
Author: Madison Reid
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Servings: 12
The best coconut cake recipe. Spongy white with deep coconut flavor wrapped up in coconut buttercream.

Ingredients 

Cake

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1 3/4 cup canned coconut milk
  • 3 eggs

Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • sweetened coconut flakes to decorate

Instructions

Cake

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  • In a standing mixer combine the cake box mix, coconut milk and eggs. Mix until combined and smooth.
  • Grease and line two 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper. Pour half of the batter into each pan.
  • Bake for 22 minutes. Remove and allow to cool before removing from the cake pan.
  • Once cool, remove the cakes from the pans. Wrap each in plastic wrap and place in the freezer to chill for at least 15 minutes before frosting.

Frosting

  • In a standing mixer combined the cream cheese and butter, beat until smooth.
  • Add the powdered sugar mix until combined.
  • Add the coconut extract in.
  • Whip on high for about 2 minutes until lighter in color and texture

Assemble

  • Place the first cake layer down on a cake board or tray, frost the top of the cake with a nice thick layer.
  • Place the second layer on top of the first frosted cake layer.
  • Frost all the sides and top of the cake.
  • Sprinkle and press on sweetened coconut flakes all around the top and sides of the frosted cake.
  • Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 615kcal Carbohydrates: 78g Protein: 5g Fat: 33g Saturated Fat: 22g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 7g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 101mg Sodium: 382mg Potassium: 165mg Fiber: 1g Sugar: 59g Vitamin A: 786IU Vitamin C: 1mg Calcium: 129mg Iron: 2mg

Have you tried this recipe?

I’d love to see it! Follow @_mrs.madi_ on Instagram and tag your photos with #mrsmadi.

Coconut cake titled