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Best Coconut Cake Recipe

This simple and moist coconut cake is triple layered with a luscious coconut cream cheese frosting and garnished with sweet coconut flakes. It’s elegant, easy and perfectly suited for any occasion!

Slice of coconut cake.
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Coconut Cake From Scratch

This recipe for moist and fluffy coconut cake goes out to the coconut lovers because as far as coconut flavor goes, this classic cake delivers just like other favorites like chocolate cake, yellow cake and vanilla cake.

The coconut flavor comes from various sources like coconut milk and coconut yogurt which also adds to the moisture and soft crumb.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Texture: This coconut cake requires the softness of cake flour, creating the most fluffy texture. Combined with rich coconut milk and Greek yogurt, it’s a slice of heaven!
  • Presentation: This stunning cake looks sophisticated enough to be a simple wedding cake or serve at a wedding shower, a baby shower, or any occasion at all.

Moist Coconut Cake Recipe Ingredients

Coconut ingredients on the counter.

Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Cake flour: If you’re not measuring with a kitchen scale, remember to use the spoon and level method for accuracy.
  • Baking staples: You’ll need baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, softened unsalted butter and vanilla extract.
  • Large egg whites: Using just the whites helps keep the cake’s color pure white and provides the fluffy texture we want. It’s easier to separate the whites from the yolks while they are still cold then bring them to room temperature.
  • Coconut flavored Greek yogurt: My favorite is Chobani coconut Greek yogurt with 2% milk fat.
  • Canned coconut milk: Also bring it to room temperature (although, unopened cans of coconut milk need not be in the fridge).
  • Sweetened shredded coconut, grated: Alternatively, you could use unsweetened coconut flakes. I use coconut flakes, rather than desiccated coconut just for added texture.
  • For the frosting: Softened butter, softened cream cheese, heavy cream, coconut extract, salt, powdered sugar, and shredded coconut.

Substitutions and Variations

This easy coconut cake comes with plenty of coconut flavor in the cake, the frosting, and the garnish. However, if you want to dial down the intensity a bit while keeping the cake’s essence, you can use a plain cream cheese frosting instead.

I have a great coconut frosting. It’s slightly different because it calls for coconut milk rather than coconut extract, and doesn’t contain shredded coconut.

You can also do something completely different like adding a homemade lemon curd between the layers. Lemon and coconut are amazing together.

For something a little extra, sprinkle a little toasted coconut on the top of your cake like I do with my tres leche cake, it really adds to the texture!

How to Make Coconut Cake

Showing how to make coconut cake in a 4 step collage.
  • Mix dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, leavening agents, and salt then set aside.
  • Beat the wet ingredients: Beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until the eggs are frothy and hold peaks. Transfer carefully to a small bowl. Use the same mixing bowl to cream together the sugar and butter followed by the yogurt and vanilla.
  • Combine the cake batter: Add 1/2 of the dry ingredients and 1/2 of the coconut milk to the butter and eggs mixture and mix on low. Add remaining dry ingredients and coconut milk and continue mixing (scrape down the sides so nothing gets left behind). Gently fold in the egg whites and grated coconut until just combined.
  • Bake and frost the cake: Divide the batter evenly between 3 cake pans and bake for 20-22 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before turning the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Once the frosting is made, add 2/3 of the frosting between each cake and all around the outside. Finish with shredded coconut.
Spreading frosting onto a coconut cake.

Expert Tips

  • Save the yolks! Use them to make lemon meringue pie.
  • Have any leftover shredded coconut? Let’s make lemon coconut bars or coconut cream pie next.
  • If the tops of your cakes have a raised dome, use a serrated knife to slice the top off so that the layer on top can sit flat on top of it.
  • The cake is done when you insert a toothpick into the middle and it comes out clean.
  • Coconut cream cheese frosting will eventually set, so be sure to decorate with the shredded coconut before it does.
  • If you’re short on time, you could always use a white cake mix or yellow cake mix as a shortcut. Add in the coconut yogurt along with the ingredients on the box.
Getting a slice of coconut cake.

Recipe FAQs

How to store leftover coconut cake?

Keep it out as long as you’re serving it, it’ll be fine. Once everyone is done eating, you’ll want to store it in the fridge, just because of the dairy. Cover it in an airtight container so the cake doesn’t dry out.

Can I freeze it?

If you’re going to freeze it, I recommend doing it before frosting it. Wrap the individual cakes with plastic wrap and freeze them for up to 1 month. Thaw before frosting. You can also wrap individual slices after frosted to freeze.

What if I only have all-purpose flour?

I wouldn’t want you to miss out on this fabulous cake, so go ahead and use it! The rule of thumb is that for every 1 cup of all-purpose flour, you will use 2 Tablespoons less and replace it with 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch.

Can I use this recipe for cupcakes?

You can! Fill a cupcake tin about 2/3 of the way with the cake batter and bake for about 20 minutes. I also have a great recipe for coconut cupcakes with fewer ingredients, which doesn’t include coconut yogurt, but instead uses coconut extract.

Taking a bite of coconut cake on a white plate.

More recipes with coconut to try include coconut macaroons, chocolate coconut balls, or coconut cheesecakes.

More Cake Recipes To Try

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Getting a slice of coconut cake.

Coconut Cake Recipe

5 from 7 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
This moist coconut cake is triple layered with a luscious coconut cream cheese frosting and garnished with sweet coconut flakes. This elegant cake is perfect for any special occasion!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cool time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 12



  • 3 cake pans


  • 3 cups cake flour , spooned and leveled
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 large egg whites , at room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter , softened
  • ½ cup coconut flavored Greek yogurt , I used Chobani coconut Greek yogurt 2% milk fat
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ⅓ cup canned coconut milk , at room temperature
  • ¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut , grated (optional)

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter , at room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese , at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream or milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coconut extract
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut


For the Coconut Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray the bottoms of three 9-inch round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray and then line the bottoms of each with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray and set pans aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until the eggs are frothy and hold peaks. Transfer to a small bowl.
  • In the same stand mixer bowl cream together the sugar and butter using the paddle attachment. Scrape down the sides with a spatula if needed, then add the Greek yogurt and vanilla. Mix until combined.
  • Add ½ of the dry ingredients along with ½ of the coconut milk and mix on low. Add the remaining dry ingredients and coconut milk and continue mixing, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed, until fully combined.
  • Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the beaten egg whites and grated coconut just until combined. Divide the batter equally between the 3 cake pans.
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  • Cool for 10 minutes before turning the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, use a large serrated knife to slice the top of the cake off it has a round dome.

For the coconut frosting:

  • Beat together the butter and cream cheese in a medium bowl using a hand mixer. Add in the heavy cream, coconut extract, and salt and mix until combined. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and continue mixing until the frosting is a smooth and spreadable consistency.
  • Place the first cake layer on a cake stand or cake plate and frost the top using about 2/3 cup of frosting. Place the second cake layer on and frost the top using about 2/3 cup of frosting. Place the final cake layer on and spread the remaining frosting across the top and down the sides of the entire cake.
  • Before the frosting sets, decorate the cake with the shredded coconut. Slice and enjoy!


Calories: 873kcal | Carbohydrates: 112g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 45g | Saturated Fat: 30g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 291mg | Potassium: 237mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 87g | Vitamin A: 1200IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

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