Coconut Cake


This is the best Coconut Cake recipe! Coconut pudding mix and toasted coconut flakes are baked into this moist cake mix cake then topped with a coconut cream cheese frosting.

slice of coconut cake on plate held

I love semi-homemade cake recipes. Basically, we’re taking a cake mix and elevating it with additional flavors, mix-ins, and toppings. Because we’re using a cake mix, this coconut cake recipe is perfect for even the most novice baker!

Ingredients

Coconut Cake

  • Yellow Cake Mix – the base for our semi-homemade cake. It’s a great blank slate for all the added coconut flavor.
  • Instant Coconut Pudding Mix – adds coconut flavor and lightens the texture of the cake.
  • Coconut Milk – use full-fat, canned coconut milk for a super moist and coconut-y cake.
  • Eggs – adds structure.
  • Coconut Oil – gives the cake extra moisture with additional coconut flavor.
  • Vanilla and Almond Extracts – adds sweetness and flavor.
  • Salt – cuts the sweetness and enhances other flavors.
  • Shredded Coconut – provides additional coconut flavor and adds a nice, chewy texture to the cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream Cheese – the perfect tangy base for the frosting to cut the sweetness from the cake.
  • Unsalted Butter – provides a rich, buttery flavor and creamy texture.
  • Coconut Milk – thins the frosting while adding additional coconut flavor.
  • Powdered Sugar – our sweetener. Powdered sugar is a great way to add sweetness while creating a smooth texture in the frosting.
  • Coconut Pudding Mix – provides even more coconut flavor!
  • Vanilla and Almond Extracts – adds sweetness and flavor.
  • Salt – enhances other flavors and cuts the sweetness.
  • Shredded Coconut and Chopped Pecans – layered on the top of the cake for added crunch, chew, and texture.
Pro tip
It seems like an aggressive amount of coconut flavored ingredients, but I promise you, it’s just the right amount!

How to make

This semi-homemade cake takes an hour to make from start to finish! Super quick, super easy, and SO DELICIOUS!

  1. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, coconut milk, eggs, coconut oil, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt then stir in 2 cups of shredded coconut.
  2. Pour this mixture into a greased 9×13 baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, place cream cheese and butter then beat with a hand-mixer until combined.
  4. Add in powdered sugar, pudding mix, coconut milk, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt then beat again until combined.
  5. Once the cake has cooled, frost it generously.
  6. Sprinkle evenly with toasted coconut and pecans then serve and enjoy!
Pro tip
Let the cake cool completely before frosting, so it goes on smoothly without tearing up the cake.

What coconut to use

Use sweetened and shredded coconut flakes. The flakes are mixed into the cake batter itself AND used to top the cake after it’s frosted for added sweetness, flavor, and texture.

Should you toast the coconut/pecans?

Yes! I highly recommend toasting the coconut and pecans before using them in this recipe. I LOVE the slightly nutty, caramel-y flavor they both add—and those flavors are just enhanced when they’re toasted. Plus, the crispy, crunchy textures contrast really well with the creaminess of the frosting.

To toast your toppings: preheat oven to 350ºF, spread chopped pecans and coconut in an even layer on a baking sheet, and toast for 2-5 minutes or until the coconut is golden-brown and the pecans are fragrant.

What frosting to use

We’re whipping up a batch of homemade coconut cream cheese frosting for this recipe:

  1. Place cream cheese and butter into a medium sized bowl, then beat with a hand-mixer until combined.
  2. Add in powdered sugar, pudding mix, coconut milk, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt then beat again until combined.
  3. Spread over cooled cake.
Pro tip
If you would prefer a less coconut-y frosting, try my homemade vanilla frosting recipe instead!

slice of coconut cake on plate

How to store

Leftover cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days or in the fridge for 5-7 days.

To enjoy again, let come to room temperature then bake to warm, if desired.

Can you freeze coconut cake?

Yes! Store the unfrosted cake and frosting separately in the freezer for 2-3 months in airtight containers.

To reheat, thaw in the fridge, then serve room temperature.

– Jennifer

Love coconut desserts? Try my carrot cake cookies with coconut cream cheese frosting, these coconut lemon sweet rolls, or these coconut oatmeal cookies.

slice of coconut cake on plate

Print

Coconut Cake

This is the best Coconut Cake recipe! Coconut pudding mix and toasted coconut flakes are baked into this moist cake mix cake then topped with a coconut cream cheese frosting.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cream cheese frosting, easy, toasted coconut
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 16 pieces
Calories 433kcal
Author Jennifer Debth

Ingredients

Coconut Cake

  • 1 (15.25 oz) package yellow cake mix
  • 1 (3.4 oz) package instant coconut pudding mix
  • 1 cup canned full fat coconut milk
  • 5 large eggs room temperature
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature (1/2 cup = 1 stick)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 (3.4 oz) package instant coconut pudding mix *
  • 6 tablespoons canned full fat coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup toasted sweetened shredded coconut **
  • 1 cup toasted chopped pecans **

Instructions

Coconut Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, coconut milk, eggs, coconut oil, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt.
  • Stir in 2 cups coconut.
  • Pour into the prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes (mine was perfect at 38), or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Place cream cheese and butter into a medium sized bowl.
  • Use a hand or stand mixer and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  • Add in powdered sugar, pudding mix, milk, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt.
  • Beat until smooth.
  • Frost cooled cake, then sprinkle evenly with the toasted coconut and pecans.
  • Cut into pieces and enjoy!

Notes

*There’s a slight grittiness from the pudding mix – if you keep beating, it goes away, but regardless, you can’t really tell once you have it with the the coconut, pecans, and cake.

**How to toast coconut and pecans: preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread coconut and pecans evenly onto an unlined rimmed baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 2-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the coconut is golden brown.

Nutrition

Serving: 1piece | Calories: 433kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 265mg | Potassium: 167mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 455IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 1mg

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