Coconut Cake Recipe

coconut layer cake

Coconut cake is a delicious use of coconut. It also lends itself well to easy and attractive decorating with cream cheese icing and toasted coconut flakes.

How to Make Coconut Cake

This coconut cake creates a two-layer round cake. If desired, cut each layer in half to create four layers before assembling and decorating.


  • 2 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 eggs

  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil

  • 1 cup buttermilk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9" round cake pans.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk cake flour, shredded coconut, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
  3. Beat sugar and butter in an electric or stand mixer set on medium until it is smooth, about four minutes. Scrape down the sides occasionally with a rubber scraper.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating between each egg. Continue beating until fluffy, about three minutes.
  5. Add oil in a thin stream, beating constantly, until the mixture is well combined.
  6. Add the dry ingredients in three additions and the buttermilk in two, alternating between dry ingredients and buttermilk, with the mixer on low speed, until combined.
  7. Scrape into prepared cake pans.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick comes out clean, 22 to 28 minutes. Cool on wire racks for five minutes before inverting the cakes onto the racks. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

This icing is the perfect accompaniment for the coconut cake above.


  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)


  1. In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and butter until well combined.
  2. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, alternating with 1/2 tablespoon additions of heavy cream. Beat until combined.
  3. Beat in salt, coconut flavoring, and vanilla.
  4. For a smooth frosting, don't add the shredded coconut. For a shredded coconut frosting, carefully stir in the coconut before icing the cake.

How to Toast Coconut

Decorate the cake with toasted coconut, which has a lovely golden color and toasty flavor. To toast coconut flakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Spread a single layer of coconut flakes or chips (two to three cups) on the parchment.
  3. Bake in a preheated oven until flakes golden brown, five to seven minutes.
  4. Allow the flakes to completely cool.

Basic Cake Assembly

Assemble the cake as follows:

  1. Slice each layer in half to create four layers.
  2. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese coconut frosting between layers.
  3. Add a thick layer of frosting to the top and sides of cake.
  4. Gently press the toasted flakes or chips to coat the top and sides of the frosted cake.

Additional Decorating Ideas

Decorating a coconut cake creates a lovely presentation.

Lemon Curd and Toasted Coconut

To make a coconut lemon cake, spread 1 1/2 cups lemon curd on top of the cake and swirl it with a spatula. Then, press toasted coconut into the sides of the cake as described above.

Toasted Almonds

Toasted almonds also add flavor and pizzazz to a coconut cake. To decorate with toasted almonds:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Spread a single layer of slivered almonds (two to three cups) on the baking sheet.
  3. Toast in preheated oven, stirring and flipping almonds every five minutes, until almonds are browned, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Allow to cool completely before pressing into the sides of the cake.

Shredded Coconut

For a very simple presentation, you can press shredded coconut into the sides and top of the cake without toasting it.

Coquito Nuts or Macadamia Nuts

Coquito nuts are mini coconuts. To decorate the cake, press untoasted shredded coconut into the sides of the cake, and then arrange a ring of halved shelled coquitos or macadamia nuts around the rim of the cake.

A Delicious Cake

Coconut cakes are a perfect special occasion dessert. Family and guests will love your elegantly decorated and flavorful cake.

Was this page useful?
Related & Popular
Coconut Cake Recipe