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slice of coconut cake upright on a plate
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4.73 from 22 votes

Coconut Cake

Coconut layer cake made with three kinds of coconut.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time23 minutes
Total Time53 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 slices
Calories: 385kcal


For the cake

  • ¼ cup (½ stick, 57 g unsalted butter) melted
  • cup (80 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (240 mL) canned coconut milk
  • 2 cups (240 g) cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 cups (396 g) granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 1 cup (85 g) shredded sweetened coconut

For the frosting (this is a 1.5 batches of my coconut buttercream)

  • 30 Tablespoons (423 g, 3 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter softened
  • 3 3/4 cups (423 g) confectioners sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream (or canned coconut milk)
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons coconut extract or 5-6 Tbs. coconut milk, or 2-3 Tbs. coconut cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (160 g) sweetened shredded coconut (for decorating the outside of the cake)


For the cake

  • Preheat and prepare pan. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Grease and flour three 8” cake pans. Set aside.
  • Combine wet ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the canned coconut milk, vegetable oil and melted butter. Set aside.
  • Sift dry ingredients. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • Mix eggs, sugar and extracts. In a large mixing bowl, with an electric hand mixer with whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and coconut extract, until thickened and light gold in color, about 2 minutes at medium-high speed. If your stand mixer doesn’t have a whisk attachment, beat for 5 minutes using the paddle attachment. The batter should fall in thick ribbons from the beaters.
  • Alternate dry ingredients with coconut milk mixture. Add dry ingredients alternately with coconut milk mixture to the sugar and egg mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Do not overmix once the last of the dry ingredients mixture has been added. Stir in shredded coconut.
  • Bake. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top feels set, about 25-30 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven, carefully loosen the edges, and allow them to cool for 10 minutes in the pans. Then turn them out of the pan and transfer them to a rack, right-side up, to cool to room temperature.

For the frosting

  • Combine the butter and  (powdered) confectioners sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix on low speed at first, then increase the speed until combined.
  • Add in your heavy cream and vanilla extract, and mix on medium to high speed for 8 minutes until light and creamy. Add in your coconut extract (coconut cream or coconut milk) and salt If not using immediately, store in a container in the refrigerator until ready to use, mix again until light and fluffy.

Assembling the cake

  • Place one cake layer down onto your cake stand. Spread about 1 1/2 cups of frosting onto the cake layer. Top with another layer and repeat with another 1 1/2 cups of frosting. Top with remaining cake layer and spread the remaining frosting onto the outside of the cake. Sprinkle on coconut and lightly press into the sides of the cake so it adheres.


  • Tools: 8-Inch Cake Pans | Baker's Joy |Stand Mixer
  • Make ahead/storage:
      • Fridge: If you have frosted the cake, I like to store the cake in a plastic cake container, and keep in the fridge. I keep it 1-2 days ahead of time.
      • Freezing: I would freeze the cake unfrosted. Once the layers are cooled then wrap carefully in plastic wrap (a few layers) and a final layer of aluminum foil. When ready to enjoy, just thaw at room temperature and frost.
      • At room temperature: You can make the cake layers 2-3 days ahead of time. Leave them unfrosted, and wrap in plastic wrap or tin-foil. Just make sure they are completely cool before doing so.  You can also wrap the cooled cake layers and freeze for up to 3 months if you don't plan to use the layers in a few days. I let them thaw at room temperature before icing them.
      • Frosting: You can also make this ahead of time and leave in the fridge for up to 7 days and re-whip again before using. Or freeze for up to 2 months, thaw overnight in the fridge and re-whip again before using.
  • Different pans:  
    • two 9-inch pans: divide batter between two9-inch pans and bake for 26-30 minutes.
    • Cupcakes: About 18-22  minutes at 350F for cupcakes filled 3/4 full.
    • Bundt Pan: About 60-65 minutes at 350F. You won't need all the frosting.
    • 9x13 pan: Pour the batter into a greased 9x13 pan and bake 40 minutes at 350F.
  • Different buttercream: This would be good with just a vanilla buttercream frosting, or try making a coconut version of my cream cheese frosting.
  • Can I use AP flour instead? AP flour won't give you quite the same fluffy and light texture. You could make a DIY cake flour version where you use AP flour and cornstarch. Again, you won't get quite the same results but it will do in a pinch.
  • Can I use unsweetened coconut? I highly recommend sweetened coconut for the best texture and the added sweetness
  • Can I use regular milk instead? Yes you can use regular milk instead of coconut milk.


Calories: 385kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 288mg | Potassium: 179mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 198IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 1mg