The BEST Coconut Cake Recipe You’ll Ever Make!

by Ella

Coconut cake is a delectable dessert that embodies the tropical flavors of the exotic coconut. This moist and indulgent cake is a favorite for special occasions and gatherings, and its irresistible combination of rich coconut flavor and sweet, creamy frosting is loved by many. Whether you’re an experienced baker or just starting out, this article will guide you through the process of creating the perfect coconut cake. We’ll explore the ingredients, techniques, and tips to ensure your coconut cake turns out as a slice of paradise.

The Origins of Coconut Cake

The origins of coconut cake are a bit challenging to pinpoint precisely because coconut has been used in various culinary traditions for centuries. Coconut is native to tropical regions, and its use in cooking can be traced back to different cultures that have used it in various forms, including coconut milk, shredded coconut, and coconut oil. The development of coconut cake likely resulted from the convergence of these culinary traditions.


Here are some historical elements related to the origins of coconut cake:


Tropical Origins: The coconut tree, Cocos nucifera, is native to tropical regions in Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and the Pacific. These areas have a long history of using coconut in their traditional cuisines.


Colonial Influence: Coconut was introduced to European and American cuisine by explorers and colonialists. The use of coconut in cakes may have started in European or American kitchens as people experimented with tropical ingredients.


19th Century America: The popularity of coconut cake in the United States began to rise in the 19th century. It is mentioned in American cookbooks of the era, often as a layer cake with coconut-flavored icing and sometimes layered with fruit preserves.

Southern Tradition: Coconut cake became particularly popular in the American South, where it remains a favorite dessert. Southern cooks adapted and embraced coconut cake recipes, and it became a staple at family gatherings and celebrations.

Variations Around the World: Various cultures around the world have their own coconut cake variations. For example, the Caribbean has its coconut cake, often featuring fresh coconut and rum, while Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines have their own unique coconut cake variations.

Coconut cake

Coconut cake is a delicious dessert that's perfect for coconut lovers. Here's a basic recipe for making a coconut cake. You can adjust the ingredients and decorations to suit your taste:
Prep Time10 minutes
Active Time50 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
Yield: 2
Cost: $5


For the Cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

For the Coconut Frosting:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set it aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy, which should take about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract and coconut extract if you're using it.
  • Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, alternating with the coconut milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  • Gently fold in the sweetened shredded coconut.
  • Divide the cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
  • Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • While the cakes are cooling, prepare the coconut frosting. In a mixing bowl, beat the softened butter until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, coconut milk, and coconut extract, and continue to beat until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.
  • Once the cakes are completely cooled, spread a layer of coconut frosting on top of one of the cake layers. Place the second cake layer on top and frost the top and sides of the entire cake.

Baking Techniques for Coconut Cake

To achieve a delicious and moist coconut cake, it’s important to pay attention to your baking techniques. Here are some tips to help you succeed when baking a coconut cake:

Prepare Your Pans: Grease and flour your cake pans to ensure the cakes release easily after baking. You can also use parchment paper at the bottom of the pans for added insurance.

Room Temperature Ingredients: Make sure your butter, eggs, and dairy ingredients (like coconut milk) are at room temperature. This allows for better mixing and a smoother batter.

Measure Accurately: Use accurate measurements for your ingredients, especially when it comes to flour. Too much flour can make the cake dry.

Creaming Butter and Sugar: Cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy. This helps incorporate air into the batter, resulting in a lighter cake.

Eggs: Add eggs one at a time and mix each one in thoroughly before adding the next. This prevents the batter from curdling.

Dry Ingredients: When adding the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt), do it gradually. Mix until just combined to avoid overmixing, which can lead to a tough cake.

Use Coconut Extract: To enhance the coconut flavor, consider using coconut extract in addition to coconut milk. It adds an extra layer of coconut aroma and taste.

Shredded Coconut: Use sweetened shredded coconut in the cake batter. It adds flavor and texture to the cake. If you want a smoother texture, you can process the shredded coconut in a food processor to make it finer.

Baking Time and Temperature: Follow the recipe’s recommended baking time and temperature. Use a toothpick or cake tester to check for doneness. It should come out clean when inserted into the center of the cake.

Cooling: Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. This prevents the cakes from sticking to the pans.

Frosting and Decorating: Once the cakes are completely cooled, frost and decorate them. You can use a coconut-based frosting for an extra burst of coconut flavor.

Refrigeration: Coconut cake can be stored in the refrigerator if not consumed immediately. However, allow it to come to room temperature for the best flavor and texture before serving.

Tips for Perfect Coconut Cake

To achieve a perfect coconut cake, it’s important to pay attention to details and follow some key tips. Here are some additional tips to help you create a flawless coconut cake:

Fresh Ingredients: Use fresh ingredients, especially when it comes to the coconut. Freshly grated or shredded coconut will have a more vibrant flavor than packaged or processed varieties.

Properly Cream Butter and Sugar: Creaming the butter and sugar properly is crucial. Beat them together until the mixture is light and fluffy. This can take several minutes, so don’t rush this step.

Room Temperature Eggs: Use eggs at room temperature. Cold eggs can cause the batter to curdle, affecting the cake’s texture.

Coconut Milk: Shake the can of coconut milk before using it to ensure the cream and water are well combined. Use full-fat coconut milk for a richer flavor.

Alternate Wet and Dry Ingredients: When adding the dry ingredients and coconut milk, do so in several additions, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined to avoid overmixing.

Baking Strips: Consider using baking strips or wet strips around the cake pans to ensure even baking and minimize doming.

Even Layers: When dividing the batter between cake pans, use a kitchen scale to ensure that you have even layers. This helps in achieving a balanced cake.

Check Doneness: Use a toothpick or cake tester to check for doneness. It should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs but not with wet batter. Be mindful not to overbake, as this can make the cake dry.

Cooling Rack: Place the cake layers on a wire rack to cool. Allowing air to circulate under the cake helps prevent the bottoms from becoming soggy.

Crumb Coat: Before applying the final layer of frosting, do a crumb coat. This is a thin layer of frosting that seals in the cake crumbs, ensuring a smoother final layer.

Chill Between Layers: After applying the crumb coat, chill the cake for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator. This sets the crumb coat and makes it easier to apply the final layer of frosting.

Use Coconut Flakes for Decoration: Sprinkle coconut flakes or toasted coconut on top of the frosting for decoration. It adds a lovely texture and enhances the coconut flavor.

Flavor and Filling: If you like, you can add flavor to the filling, such as a coconut cream or curd filling between the layers. This adds more coconut goodness to your cake.

Room Temperature Frosting: Make sure your frosting is at room temperature for easy spreading. If it’s too stiff, you can microwave it in short bursts or add a little more coconut milk to achieve the desired consistency.

Time for the Flavors to Meld: Coconut cake often tastes even better the day after it’s made. Allowing it to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight can enhance the flavor as the coconut permeates the cake layers.


Baking a coconut cake is a delightful culinary journey that combines the sweet, exotic flavors of coconut with the art of cake making. Whether you’re an experienced baker or a novice, this tropical dessert is a joy to create and a pleasure to savor.

So, don your apron, gather your ingredients, and embark on a coconut cake adventure that will leave your taste buds and those of your loved ones in sheer delight. Whether it’s a special occasion or a simple craving, a homemade coconut cake is always a welcome treat, bringing a taste of the tropics to your table.



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