Coconut Cake: A towering triple-layer beauty, filled & iced with a fluffy, marshmallow-y frosting, & topped with mounds of sweet shredded coconut.

Tall slice of coconut cake on a pink plate with a gold fork.

Spring!

Can you believe it?? After such a mild winter, it seems that now we are blessed with an early spring. Here at my house, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the crocuses are in bloom.

And of course all that has me thinking about Easter recipes!

I’ve got deviled eggs, pineapple stuffing, quiche Lorraine, and lemon meringue pie on the brain, lol!

So it seemed to me like the perfect time to overhaul my old coconut cake post. This originally published way back in 2016, and it made a big splash!

Most everyone loved it, but I did get a few comments about it being dense (which I don’t always think is a bad thing… ie: pound cake?). So I decided to rework the recipe and create something with a little more of a downy-soft, moist, and fluffy texture.

Boy did I get what I was after!

This coconut cake recipe bakes up light as a cloud and so pillowy! It’s just sweet enough and extra-moist, and it’s perfumed throughout with the fresh, tropical aroma of coconut.

I like to bake it as a tall triple-layer beauty (talk about wow factor!), but it can also be made into a shorter, wider cake, a sheet cake, or even cupcakes.

Topped with a fluffy-sweet meringue frosting and coated in shredded coconut flakes, this simple coconut cake recipe will be the centerpiece of your holiday table. You’ll get rave reviews!

Triple layer coconut cake recipe, baked and served on a white pedestal with a text overlay above reading "Coconut Cake."

HOW TO MAKE COCONUT CAKE?

This is a really easy coconut cake recipe. I’ve adapted it from my classic white cake recipe, and I think you’ll love it!

It’s as simple as mixing your dry ingredients together in one bowl, your liquid ingredients in another bowl, and then combining the two. A lot like a quick bread!

Let’s start with the dry.

Whisking dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

All-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt all go into a big bowl. Whisk everything together, just to get it combined.

Then, whisk your coconut milk, oil, egg whites, and coconut extract together in a smaller bowl.

Whisking wet ingredients together for coconut cake recipe.

For the coconut milk, you’ll want to use full-fat, unsweetened coconut in a can. I especially like the Thai Kitchen brand. Click the link in the recipe card below to order it online.

For the oil, you can use any neutral-tasting oil that is liquid at room temp. Vegetable oil and canola oil are good choices, as is grapeseed oil.

My old recipe called for melted coconut oil, but I think that was actually what was causing the denser texture. So if you like a more pound-cake-y coconut cake, definitely use melted coconut oil! It will give your cake an even coconuttier flavor.

Pouring liquid ingredients into dry, to make coconut cake.

Once all these wet ingredients are well-combined, add them into the larger bowl along with the dry ingredients.

Whisking coconut cake batter in a large glass mixing bowl.

Whisk everything together until smooth, then transfer the batter to your prepared pans and bake!

Pouring cake batter into pans to make a layer cake.

Keep an eye on your cake while it’s baking. You’ll know it’s done when it feels springy and when a toothpick inserted in the thickest part comes out clean.

In my oven this took 40 minutes, but ovens can vary, so I would suggest checking it 5 minutes early just to see. But don’t open the oven door too soon, or your cake could collapse!

Allow the cakes to cool completely, before filling and frosting them.

Icing a coconut layer cake with marshmallow frosting.

Then coat the entire thing in a thick layer of fluffy shredded coconut!

Coating a frosted cake in dessicated coconut.

Do this by holding the iced cake over a big bowl, then just press big handfuls of coconut along the sides and over the top, allowing the excess to fall away into the bowl. You can see just what this looks like when you watch the video in the recipe card below.

WHAT FROSTING TO USE?

For what you see here, I used my favorite marshmallow frosting to fill and ice the cake. To me, coconut and marshmallow go together like bread and butter.

You can find the full step-by-step picture tutorial and recipe here: Marshmallow Frosting.

You could also try 7-minute frosting, which is a classic choice and very similar to this.

And there are lots of other options!

For the prior version of this southern coconut cake, I added a coconut pastry cream filling. Lemon curd would also be a great choice! You could even use chocolate mousse or strawberry jam between the layers.

As for the frosting, you have tons of great choices!

If you prefer something a little less sweet, definitely try this with whipped cream frosting or Swiss meringue buttercream. Cream cheese frosting is another great choice. My easy chocolate frosting would take things in a really delicious direction, and a simple American-style buttercream is always a favorite!

Tall wedge of coconut cream cake, served on a pink glass plate with a white pedestal in the background.

IS COCONUT CAKE HEALTHY?

There are lots of specifics on this in the nutritional info label found within the recipe card below, but I can tell you that this old-fashioned coconut cake is 100% dairy-free!

It is not vegan, however, because it does contain eggs. (Contrary to popular belief, eggs are not actually dairy. Even though they’re often sold in the dairy section, the term “dairy” only applies to milk products.)

And it can be made gluten-free by swapping out the wheat flour for a gluten-free flour blend. Look for one that subs 1:1 for regular flour.

Here are a few good options:

HOW LONG CAN THIS SIT OUT?

It’s fine to leave this cake sitting out at room temperature for a few hours.

The egg whites in the marshmallow frosting are pretty well cooked by the hot sugar syrup. But if you have any leftovers hanging around, it’s probably best to wrap them tightly and keep them in the refrigerator.

They will keep in there for several days to a week.

CAN YOU FREEZE IT?

This cake freezes beautifully. You can bake the layers, allow them to cool, and then wrap them tightly and they will last in the freezer for a few months at least. Fill and frost them while still frozen (this works great btw!) or thaw them in the refrigerator first.

You can try freezing the leftovers too, but depending on what kind of filling and frosting you’ve used, you may not have the best results. Some fillings and frostings don’t hold up well through the freeze/thaw process.

Best coconut cake recipe, baked and frosted with marshmallow frosting and coconut, sliced and served on its side.

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5 from 3 votes
Tall slice of coconut cake on a pink plate with a gold fork.
Coconut Cake
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
 

Coconut Cake: A towering triple-layer beauty, filled & iced with a fluffy, marshmallow-y frosting, & topped with mounds of sweet shredded coconut.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: best coconut cake recipe, coconut cake, coconut cake recipe, coconut cream cake
Servings: 10
Calories: 486 kcal
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, lightly mist three 6-inch diameter cake pans** with non-stick spray, and line them with circles cut from parchment.

  2. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl, and whisk to combine.

  3. Place the coconut milk, oil, egg whites, and coconut extract in another bowl, and whisk to combine.

  4. Add the coconut milk mixture to the flour mixture, and whisk together until smooth.

  5. Divide the batter equally between the 3 prepared pans, and bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part comes out clean (about 35 to 45 minutes).

  6. Cool completely, then fill and frost the cake with marshmallow frosting and coat it with shredded coconut.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

*Full-fat (not lite) unsweetened coconut milk is best.  

**Can also be baked as two 8-inch or 9-inch diameter layers, 24 cupcakes, or one 9x13" sheet cake.  Adjust bake time as needed. 

Nutrition Facts
Coconut Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 486 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 12g75%
Sodium 298mg13%
Potassium 324mg9%
Carbohydrates 83g28%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 56g62%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 67mg7%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Coconut cake recipe served on a white pedestal with shredded coconut.

Coconut cake recipe served on a white pedestal with shredded coconut.

Coconut cake recipe served on a white pedestal with shredded coconut.

Calling all coconut lovers!  This is the cake for you!  A towering triple-layer beauty, with white cake made with coconut oil and coconut milk, coconut milk pastry cream filling, a fluffy, marshmallow-y seven minute frosting, and mounds of sweet shredded coconut.  A beautiful centerpiece to your Spring dessert table!   Naturally dairy-free. 

Best coconut cake ever! So much coconut flavor in every component, and it's completely dairy-free!

It’s about time I gave you guys a coconut cake recipe, right?

It is almost Easter (how did that happen so fast?), and everyone seems to always want coconut cake on their Easter table.  Why is that anyway?  I’ve always wondered…

Well, if coconut is your thing, then this one is sure to please.

Best coconut cake ever! So much coconut flavor in every component, and it's completely dairy-free!

Coconut runs through this recipe on just about every possible level.

For the cake layers, I took my favorite White Cupcake recipe, and swapped out the vegetable oil for coconut oil.  We’re also swapping the buttermilk for coconut milk, and the almond for coconut extract.  The cake is so incredibly moist, and the crumb is so fine, it’s almost creamy.  And the coconut flavor comes through like whoa.

We’re adding a generous layer of coconut milk pastry cream in between each of the three layers.  If you’ve never had pastry cream before, you’ve gotta give this a try.  It’s a lot like vanilla pudding only richer and egg-ier.  Kind of like a creme brulee.  Only coconut.  That’s right, we’re swapping out the dairy milk for coconut milk, once again.  Coconut overload!

Best coconut cake ever! So much coconut flavor in every component, and it's completely dairy-free!

For the frosting, I love a fluffy, marshmallow-y Seven Minute Frosting.  It’s just such a classic, and a perfect compliment to all the coconutty goodness.  Plus it’s dairy-free!

Coat the freshly frosted cake in mounds of shredded coconut.  This is easy enough to do if you just fill a big salad bowl with coconut, and hold the cake above it, pressing handfuls of coconut into the sides and top of the cake, and letting the excess fall away.  If your arm starts to get tired from the weight of the cake, just brace your elbow against your hip.  Pro tip!

Best coconut cake ever! So much coconut flavor in every component, and it's completely dairy-free!

5 from 3 votes
Coconut Cake
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins
 

Calling all coconut lovers! This is the cake for you! A towering triple-layer beauty, with white cake made with coconut oil and coconut milk, coconut milk pastry cream filling, a fluffy, marshmallow-y seven minute frosting, and mounds of sweet shredded coconut. A beautiful centerpiece to your Spring dessert table! Naturally dairy-free.


Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cake, coconut
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 629 kcal
Ingredients
For the cake
For the filling
For the frosting
Instructions
To make the cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Generously mist (3) 6-inch diameter cake pans* with non-stick spray, and line with circles cut from parchment.  
  3. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.  
  4. Add the coconut milk, coconut oil, egg whites, and coconut extract, and mix on low speed until combined.  
  5. Divide the batter equally between the 3 prepared pans, and bake for 26-32 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean.  Cool completely before filling and frosting.
To fill the cake:
  1. Make the pastry cream according to the recipe directions.  Before straining and cooling, stir in the coconut extract.
  2. Place one of the cake layers on a serving plate, bottom side up.  Spread half the coconut milk pastry cream on top, leaving a 1/2-inch margin around the edge.  Top with another cake layer, and repeat, topping with the third cake layer.
To finish the cake:
  1. Make the frosting according to the recipe directions.  Stir in the coconut extract.
  2. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the frosting.  
  3. Gently press the shredded coconut onto the top and sides of the cake.
Recipe Notes

*Cake can also be baked in two 8-inch diameter pans; adjust bake time as needed.

Can also be baked as cupcakes.  Makes 2 dozen.  Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of a cupcake comes out clean.

©Baking a Moment

Nutrition Facts
Coconut Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 629 Calories from Fat 207
% Daily Value*
Fat 23g35%
Saturated Fat 20g125%
Sodium 407mg18%
Potassium 291mg8%
Carbohydrates 101g34%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 74g82%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin C 0.6mg1%
Calcium 34mg3%
Iron 3.4mg19%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Best coconut cake ever! So much coconut flavor in every component, and it's completely dairy-free!