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single slice of the best coconut cake on a plate with a bite missing.

The Best Coconut Cake

This is the best coconut cake ever. It has coconut inside the cake, a cream cheese frosting, and then beautifully toasted coconut on the outside. Even people I know who don't like coconut say they love it!
4.96 from 43 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16
Calories 545 kcal



  • 1 box yellow cake mix (432g)
  • 1 small box vanilla instant pudding mix not Sugar Free
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk canned, like Taste of Thai
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • cup sweetened shredded coconut


  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • ½ cup butter room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 tablespoon unsweetened coconut milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup shredded or flaked coconut toasted


To make the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of 3 eight inch round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, mix cake mix, instant pudding, eggs, coconut milk (stir before adding), and oil for about 2 minutes on medium speed. Fold coconut in.
  • Divide and evenly pour between 3 cake pans and smooth the top with a spatula. This becomes about 390g or 13.75 ounces in each pan.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes,or until the cake no longer jiggles and the middle bounces back when very lightly pressed. It should be a light golden brown along the top and sides. Cool for about 15-30 minutes in the pans before putting on a cooling rack.
  • I like to wrap cake layers in saran wrap and freeze before frosting. When ready to make frosting pull the cakes out and let them start to defrost.

To make the frosting:

  • Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth.
  • Add powdered sugar, vanilla, coconut milk and a pinch of salt. Beat just until combined and fluffy. Make sure not to over mix.
  • Add a little bit more powdered sugar or coconut milk as needed to get your desired consistency.

To toast coconut:

  • Melt a teaspoon of butter in a large frying pan. Once melted add coconut and stir over low-medium heat until starting to turn light brown. Be careful not to burn. When finished toasting pour onto a piece of wax paper or paper towel to cool.

To assemble cake:

  • Place one of the cake layers, top side up, on a cake plate or serving stand. Spread a small amount of frosting over the first layer.
  • Place the second cake layer, top side up, on top of the frosting. Repeat spreading a small amount of frosting again over the second layer.
  • Place final cake layer, top side down.
  • Frost the entire cake, top and sides, with a thin crumb coat layer of the cream cheese frosting. Place in the fridge or freezer for about 10-15 minutes to chill.
  • Pull the chilled cake out, and frost the cake with the remaining frosting.  
  • Cover the whole cake with the toasted coconut.


Cakes will have the best results if made with room temperature ingredients. I like to pull my eggs, cream cheese, and butter out of the fridge an hour or two before I start baking. 
Make Ahead Instructions: The frosting can easily be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge in a sealed container. Remove frosting from the fridge an hour before you’re ready to frost the cake, to give it time to come to room temperature.
Freezing Instructions: After baking the cake layers, allow them to cool completely, then wrap them well in plastic wrap and stick each layer in a ziplock freezer bag. They can be frozen for a few months. I usually just pull them out of the freezer once I am starting to make my frosting, or an hour or two before I want to assemble.
I have given both cups and grams as measurements. Grams will be more precise, especially when measuring flour. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, no problem! Just lightly spoon flour into your measuring cup to insure its not packed in there. Light and fluffy is the key.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 545kcalCarbohydrates: 70gProtein: 4gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 16gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 427mgPotassium: 145mgFiber: 1gSugar: 55gVitamin A: 435IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 96mgIron: 2mg
Keyword cake, coconut, cream cheese frosting
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