Super Moist Coconut Cake


When I was a wee little girl I spent a great deal of time at my great-grandma Mary’s house while my mom worked two jobs to support me and my sisters. Grandma Mary had a serious sweet tooth and her house was always filled with candy bars and mini pecan pies and one of my favorites, Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cake that she would buy from the frozen section of the grocery store. I would slice off a section and savor its sweet cool coconut flavor. (No wonder I was a chubby kid!) My palate has matured some since those days and the frozen, boxed delight doesn’t hold the same value that it used to, but I still love coconut cake!


This recipe makes a super moist coconut cake that is far from the common cottony fluff of many coconut cake recipes. It has layers of coconut flavor and is not excessively sweet so it pairs beautifully with buttercream and a layer of toasted sweet coconut.


This cake gets its moisture from vegetable oil and coconut milk. The oil creates a light tender crumb and a neutral flavor that lets the coconut shine through. The coconut milk adds liquid and fat for moist tenderness and also provides an earthy, warm, natural coconut aroma.


I used a combination of all-purpose and cake flour for a tender but sturdy texture and a light crumb.


I added a touch of coconut extract to boost the coconut presence and filled it with coconut buttercream. I added a crunchy aromatic sprinkle of toasted coconut which contrasts with the soft texture of the cake and adds a sweet nutty flavor.



I hope you give this delicious cake a try and start forming your own nostalgic memories of coconut cake.

Happy Baking!

Super Moist Coconut Cake


  • 2 cups (14 ounces or 397 grams) granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup (177 ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coconut extract
  • 10 ounces (284 grams) all purpose (plain) flour-2 cups
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) cake flour (*see end of recipe for substitution)-1 cup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups (473 ml) canned coconut milk, shaken


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (177 C) and spray three 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pans with Baker’s Joy or grease and flour.
  2. Combine sugar, oil and eggs in a mixer bowl and beat with the flat beater 30 seconds until combined. Stir in extracts.
  3. Sprinkle in dry ingredients followed by coconut milk and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape bowl half way through mixing time.
  4. Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan and then turn out to a cooling rack. Cool completely, if using immediately, or wrap in two layers of plastic wrap if using later. Frost the cooled cake with your buttercream of choice (I used Swiss Meringue Buttercream with 1 ½ teaspoons coconut extract added) and top with a layer of toasted sweetened coconut (optional).
  5. *If you do not have access to cake flour use 4 ounces (113 grams) self-rising flour reducing the baking powder to 1 ¼ teaspoons and the salt to ¾ teaspoon.




102 thoughts on “Super Moist Coconut Cake”

    1. Thank you! I think coconut oil would be wonderful! Just make sure it is melted but not hot when you mix it with the other ingredients.

  1. hi love your recipes and the real understanding behind them. Could you clarify the protein content of your various flours where you live. Im Australian and our plain flour for general baking is around 9.5 to 10.5 g per100g. SAme for self raising . cake flour is difficult to get. What protein ie gluten level is your plain all purpose and what about cake flour.?I can moderate our flour by substituting some gluten free or cornflour. I also understand there is a difference between northern american grown and southern flours. (have you read cookwise by Shirley Corriher?) Also I think our flours are almost always unbleached and I think this too has an effect on the amt of leavening (ph wise).

    1. Hi Janet, Our plain flour runs around 10% protein content and comes bleached and unbleached. I always use unbleached flour for my recipes so it should be close to what you have access too. Cake flour runs a little lower at around 9% protein content and what is sold here is always bleached. I know there is some difference in wheat flours grown by region and season but what is available is generally unmarked so I couldn’t say for sure where or when mine is from. Yes, you can easily sub 124 g all purpose (plain) flour plus 2 Tablespoons (not sure on that conversion off hand) corn flour/ cornstarch for the cake flour. If you have access to potato starch instead of corn flour it gives a more smooth appealing texture to cakes. I hope that helps!

      1. I know it helps me! Thank you Summer. I do not have cake flour, but do have potato flour, so will try those substitutions. Also, plan to use melted extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil, warmed just enough to melt it. It will add more coconut aroma and flavor, I believe. I too, in yesteryear ate the frozen coconut cake, it was my favorite, and in second place was their German chocolate cake. After becoming vegan, I gave them all up. Looks like I may have found a replacement for the coconut now. (I use Ener-G egg replacer for eggs in recipes) Will give this a go, hopefully before week’s end. Thank you!

        1. That sounds great! I can’t believe I didn’t think of the coconut oil thing before (since I have some on hand)but will have to put it as an option on the recipe. I used it when I made gluten free coconut cupcakes last night and they turned out deliciously. Good luck with your vegan baking. I bake vegan frequently. My neighbor’s son is allergic to eggs and dairy so I understand the challenges. I hope your coconut cake is awesome!

          1. Dear Summer, I’m doing some vegan test baking this week and all the cakes I’ve tried so far taste yucky or have a weird consistency. I was wondering if you could help me, with your deep understanding of baking? I have some clients coming for a tasting the day after tomorrow and am freaking out a little.

            Is there a way I can email you? That would be super incredibly generous – thank you sooo much in advance. Cakey love, Minh (

          2. Hi Summer do you have any vegan recipes’ posts? I searched for vegan but nothing comes up. I love your posts and read pretty much all of them now because you explain the science behind it and I got hooked! Clear and simple to understand.

            Thank you for sharing your way of making Swiss meringue buttercream. Double like! =)

          3. This is one I hope to work on more. Vegan is tricky! The flavors go wacky really easily. Hopefully more info soon!

    2. Hello Janet, I am in Melbourne and have been pleased to find all the major and IGA supermarkets carrying cake flour of late, at 8.7% protein content. The brand is Lighthouse and it is manufactured in Freemantle. Hooray!

  2. I got the chance to make this cake yesterday and it was delicious. I used white chocolate ganache. The cake was sturdy enough to stack and carve in shape of basket for an Easter basket cake. Thanks again for the recipe.

  3. Thanks for this lovely recipe. This cake looks delicious! Could you please tell me if I was to half the sugar would it change the crumb of the cake and also make it less moist. What is the science behind the sugar…. apart from making it sweet 🙂
    Janet you can buy low protein flour easily at Coles! The brand is lighthouse and it comes in a box. Hope that helps

    1. Sugar has a number of roles in a cake. It provides moisture by locking onto water molecules and makes a cake more tender by weakening gluten and egg protein interactions. It also acts to drive air into the cake batter through its microscopically rough crystalline structure. If you want your cake to be less sweet or just to lessen the sugar I suggest increasing the liquid and fat by a bit. Most cake recipes occur in a delicate balance of structure strengtheners and weakeners so you may have to play with measurements a little until you strike the right balance for you. Good luck!

      1. Thanks summer that was great! Is there any ratio that should be used as a guideline so as not to tip the scale/balance, or is too broad and down to personal choice. Thanks again, I really love knowing the science behind the method.

  4. Hi Summer, I made this on Saturday for my husband’s birthday and the family loved it! It was super moist and delish! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I’ll whip up a batch for cupcakes next time. I can’t wait for the white cake recipe :).

  5. Hi summer, I was wondering if this recipe can be made using a deep 4″ cake tin, rather than 3 seperately tins? X

    1. I think this cake would work well baked in a deep tin. It has a slow rise and is sturdy so should not buckle under the added depth. Please let me know if you have success with this 🙂

      1. Hi summer, thank you for your reply 🙂 I baked it in a 7″ x 4″ round cake pan wrapped in 3 layers of news paper for 1hour 40 mins, yes like you say it has a very slow rise but did eventually reach the top of the tin, so definitely a success
        Thank you x

  6. Hi, in your photos the cake looks very white. Is is actually that white, or is it just the processing? My whole-egg cakes normally come out much more yellow-y. It looks so good.

    1. It is actually quite light in color. The photo may brighten it a touch but I did not alter the hues or colors at all.

  7. Hi Summer! I really like your blog, it has tons of great info. I found you throughout Jessica’s blog and I’m so happy I did. I have a question regarding the coconut milk. Can I use the So Delicious coconut milk, sugar free, that come in a carton? I already have that at home so I was wondering. Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Irina! So glad you found me. You can use the So Delicious coconut milk but you may need to scale back on the liquid and add some more oil since this product is lower in fat than canned whole fat coconut milk. You will want to end up with an equivalent number of fat grams as are found in the coconut milk. Best of luck!

  8. Made this cake as the bottom tier for my sons wedding 09.05.14 with raspberry smbc( made raspberry coulis myself … Pesky seeds)tasted awesome so big thank you for the recipe.would love to send pic but not techno savvy enough!

  9. Hi Summer, found your blog thru Jessica, now I’m your follower, love your articles about candymelt. Anyway, can I add cocoa to make chocolate coconut cake? If so, what’s the measurement? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Mirna, I would replace 1/2 cup of the flour with cocoa powder. I think that would make a very yummy variation, like a Mounds bar! Let me know if you give it a try 🙂

  10. I just soooo love this cake! It is a hit everytime I make it…..made it thrice so far…..
    Now I want to achieve the height of around 4 – 5 inches in the finished cake…..Planning to make a 4 tier cake for my son’s bday… problem is that I have just a small oven……can bake only 1 cake at a time……so baking 12 cakes is a kinda pain……is there any way I can make 2 taller layers and torte them for every tier instead of making 3?

    1. I think that would work well with this cake. It is pretty sturdy and should hold up well to being baked in two pans. Good luck!

  11. hello 🙂 i came across your coconut cake and it looks absolutely beautiful i am so excited to try it out. I was curious is there any chance you could send a link to your buttercream icing or tell me how to make it i do have a really yummy one i use but im always you for trying new things:) Thankyou

  12. Hi summer, thanks so much for your reply. Can I add dessicated coconut to this recipe? If yes how many g or oz do you reccomend?

      1. Hi summer, sorry I’m just opting this comment. I tried the cake with the dessicated coconut and it was AMAZING!!! I filled it with a pineapple curd and people couldn’t get enough of it! Thank you so much for this amazing recipe.

  13. Hi summer great recipe here bt im just wondering why mine has holes in the baked cake.. i did not overmix and i used a hand whisk as i always use for oil based cakes..

    1. Hi, I have noticed that I get some holes too in the cake. I think it has to do with the liquid nature of the cake and air pockets trapped in or under that batter. Try giving it a couple of firm whacks on the counter before placing it in the over. This may help dislodge any oversized air cells. I hope this helps. If I can think of anything else I will let you know. 🙂

  14. Hi Summer, we drove over an hour to get to a Trader Joe’s. I saw light coconut milk, and thought of how I would love to make this cake! I just saw one of your earlier comments about So Delicious. I don’t know about that one, but I’m wondering if I can use this light coconut milk. It has : per 1/3 Cup–50 calories and 4 grams of fat. If I look at their comparison to regular coconut milk, it’s quite a bit less fat and calories. Should I just save this can for Indian cooking and get a full fat coconut milk?

    Also, thanks for the comments on potato starch and unbleached flour. I have plenty of both. I didn’t know potato starch would be better to use. I didn’t know KAF unbleached flour would be good for cake; I just use it for breads.

    Thanks so much for your awesome help!!

    1. I used full fat but this cake is so moist that the light should be fine. If you are worried you could add another tablespoon or two of oil. 🙂

      1. Hi Summer,

        It’s been a Long time since I asked you this question. It took a long time to sell our house in Tenn and get back to Los Angeles–where ethnic food is plentiful

        This is a wonderful recipe!!! I made a 2- layer 8″ cake and the rest was cupcakes. I bought two cans of coconut milk, so I had enough left over to do another half recipe. I made cupcakes out of that also.

        Even my chocolate loving husband loves these!!! I am using cream cheese icing because I can keep that in the fridge for awhile and frost as needed

        I wouldn’t recommend keeping the cake on the counter. We woke up one morning and ants all over one of them.

        How long can the simple silky buttercream stay in the refrigerator? That looks like an interesting icing for the cake

  15. Hi Summer..about to try this cake..can i use cream cheese frosting instead? Also..thinking of doubling the recipe and baking in 2 10″ pans instead..will that work? Thanks

    1. I think the cream cheese frosting would be delicious and this should work fine in 10″ pans. This is a pretty sturdy cake with not too much rise so it takes well to adjustments. Good luck!

  16. Hi Summer. I’ve looked through all your recipes and they all look wonderful. I love your educational and crave-inducing posts! I have absolutely enjoyed reading questions and your thoughtful responses. I’m especially happy that you have a coconut cake recipe that I’m dying to try, and will try! I plan on making the Simple Silky Buttercream to frost. Yippy 🙂

      1. Hi Summer. I made the cake with the marshmallow buttercream you posted with the White Velvet cake, and it was fantastic. It domed quite a bit so I had to level the layers, probably because I accidentally added a 1/4 tsp of extra baking powder. Does it dome a lot for you? I wish I could get flat layers every time! Either way, I was planning on taking off the tops for moistness, as per another post on crust vs no crust on cakes. The cake was very moist and perfectly sweet. I used coconut oil instead of the veg oil. The buttercream, soo on point with lusciousness. I felt like I could melt into it and just lie there lol.. and it was mildly sweet, which was perfect for my tastes. Everyone I served it to commented on how great the cake was, with taste and texture. I will definitely be trying more of your cake recipes! I’m hoping to see a green tea (matcha) cake sometime soon! Thank you very much for the recipe!

        1. Thanks Dina, I am glad the recipes worked out well for you. I don’t recall my cakes doming much but if you have that problem in the future you can press on them with a clean towel or paper towel stack to level them out. I will not affect structure much. I know several decorators that use that method. I will be thinking about the green tea cake too! 🙂

  17. Hi have made this before and loved itbutthis time indeed to do a 9 inch round that finishes ( with fondant and filling at 4 inches) .would I be ok to do 2 x9 high in two pans with the quantity in your recipe? Also would this stand up to being baked as a single deep cake?

    1. Hi Janet, I think you would be fine in either the two 9’s or in a deep pan. This is probably my one cake that I could recommend baking deep because its unique sturdy structure will likely hold up to the height increase. Having said that, I have not baked this one deep so if you give it a go let us all know how it goes! 🙂

  18. I bake my mom’s birthday cake every year. She always wants a pineapple coconut cake. This year on her birthday, I am 7 days from having my baby girl, so I have to do something simple. I think I am going to use this cake recipe in a 9×13 and poke and top it according to these directions. I hope it comes out great!!!! I’ll let you know on Wednesday!!!

  19. Hi Summer,
    My oven fits 2 8in x 2in pans perfectly in the same row, so I can’t quite bake 3 8in pans at a time (besides I don’t have an additional pan). My question is that I’ve noticed most of your cakes recipes call for using 3 8inx2in pans – would you be kind to advice if I can use 2 8inx2in instead and torte the cake so that I will have 4 layers with lesser filling in between? Or if I do end up purchasing an additional 8in cake pan and bake it together would I then have to switch the cake pans from top to bottom row vice versa for even baking? My concern is that opening the oven half way during baking might collapse the cake 🙁 Please help!

  20. I’m looking for a coconut cake recipe that is frosted with whipped “cream” topping that can sit out at room temperature. How do you think this cake would taste if I used a whipped “cream” topping like Rich’s Brand Whipped Topping to frost the cake?

    Also, what is the height of each layer? One inch or two?


    1. Hi Jennifer, I am sure it would work and taste great, but I do not have experience with that topping. Each layer is about 1 1/2 inches. Good luck!

  21. Hi Summer I have a question I bought some coconut sugar so I don’t know if I can use some of it or just use the regular sugar I don’t know if he’s going to change the picture of the cake but I don’t know if is it a good idea to do that???? thank you so much and the cake sounds delicious

  22. Hi Summer!! I live in Guatemala and I just tried this recipe. I have been baking cakes for some time now and I must say this is the very best cake recipe EVER. It slices beautifully, the crumb is perfect and the taste is sooo good. My question is: What do I have to do to make a simple vanilla cake with this same texture? What do I use instead of the coconut milk? Thank u!!!

  23. Fantastic recipe, thank you, I tweaked it a little though, used a can of coconut cream that I had and just made up to 475ml with some extra water. Substituted in coconut oil and added a cup of moist coconut flakes. You can’t have too much coconut!

  24. Hai Summer, thank u for this recipe. Just got mine out of the oven and its everything and more. Thanks so much for sharing. Do u have any super moist vanilla recipe as well?

  25. Hi Summer,
    This recipe sounds so delicious, I am going to try it… though have question… can I add sweetend coconut flakes or frozen fresh grated coconut to the recipe (as I have these 2 handy) if yes – how much n will sweetend coconut will make the recipe too sweet?

  26. Hey Summer, I tried making this today as directed and the cake was super dense and the crumb did not match the picture you put up. can you tell me what I might’ve done wrong? Thanks!

  27. I was wondering, could cream of coconut be added to this some how, and if so where and how would I go about adding it? Thanks.

  28. Hi, your recipes are my go to! I’m looking for a coconut cake i can soak in a rosewater syrup. Will this cake be stable enough to withstand a syrup?
    Thank You!

  29. Hi summer I made this recipe and the cake turned out dense and flavorless. I added all of the ingredients correctly, and double checked that i was doing the steps correctly. Has this ever happened to you, and how can I avoid it if i make a new batch?

  30. Hi – this looks delicious! Can you recommend a brand of coconut milk please? My grocery store has creme de coconut and something else but not a can of coconut milk. Do you find this in the Hispanic section? Thanks!

    1. Hi Sydney,
      I’m not incredibly particular about a brand of coconut milk but often use A Taste of Thai or Chaokoh, which are usually easy to locate. Coconut milk is generally found in the ethnic food aisle near Asian foods or in the natural foods area if you grocery store has one. I hope you enjoy this recipe!

  31. Hi Summer, I love your recipes!! I use them whenever I have a special occasion cake to make.
    Do you think I could make this cake using gluten free flour? It’s for the top tier of a wedding cake. Thank you

    1. You are so sweet! Thank you.

      I think this would work well with gluten free flour. The results will greatly depend on the flour you use, they can vary a lot. If you have a gluten-free flour you have consistent results with you should be fine though.

  32. Hi Summer! I. So thankful I found you recipe . It is perfect for a home baker like me. And yet sooo impressive.
    I added some lemon zest and a teaspoon of lemon juice. And I had an hen more moist and superb coconut lemon cake.
    Sendig you Thanks, hugs and love you all the way from Nigeria

  33. I made this recipe as it says precisely and while it was delicious, it domed a LOT. After I used a cake leveler I was left with a 1/2” layer of cake which just wasn’t going to do. I made DIY cake strips using tin foil and damp paper towels and made it again with some other changes as well. The cake did not turn out as white as it looks in the picture the first time. It had a light yellow color to it, so I used 6 egg whites in place of the 3 whole eggs and left out the vanilla extract (in the future i’ll use clear vanilla or a vanilla bean). I used the So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk that comes in a carton and it worked just fine, the cake was incredibly moist. If you look at the nutrition label it is very high in fat (40 out of the 45 calories per serving are from fat). It turned out perfect this way, super white and only a small dome which was easy to level off. I do recommend this recipe IF you use cake strips. If you want it white then use 6 egg whites instead and either no vanilla or clear vanilla extract or a vanilla bean. I am not sure why it looks white in the pictures, it’s definitely pale yellow with three whole eggs. There is nothing wrong with that taste wise but white cake is just more aesthetically pleasing sometimes, especially in coconut cake.

    1. Thank you Marie for the input and suggestions! Ingredient variations can cause big differences in color and it’s always good to know how to get the color you are going for. I agree that it is preferable for coconut cake to be in the white end of the spectrum.

  34. Hi, I made this cake thrice and it didn’t turn out well. First time I made it, I thought it was the oil, I used a different brand the third time but got the same result. I wish I could post a picture of the insides to show you what i mean

    1. I’m sorry Judith! That’s frustrating. The issue may be due to differences in coconut milk brand. Brands can differ significantly and affect the final product. I believe I used Chaokoh brand coconut milk in this cake.

  35. Hi Summer,
    Hope all is well.
    I made this cake today, halved the recipe to make two 6 inch cakes.
    Baked for about 25 – 30 mins @ 177C
    Skewer came out clean.
    Cakes felt and looked hard on the surface. Not light as how cakes are normally.
    When I cut the cooled cake, they looked under baked and heavy.
    The cake was so delicious.
    Do you know where I went wrong?
    should I have baked it for long?
    Is it because I halved the recipe?

    1. Hi Mel, I doubt it was because you halved the recipe. I think the greatest variable in this cake is the coconut milk. Brands can vary in composition significantly. You could try using a light coconut milk or use half milk and half coconut milk to create a lighter texture. This cake does come across as more moist than a typical cake and the texture is a little different, but it should still have a cake-like overall structure.

  36. Hi summer
    Thanks for sharing your recipe. I want to try it out tomorrow but I want to ask before I go ahead.
    Can I add shredded coconut to it?

    1. Sorry I got this response out late! Yes, you could definitely added shredded coconut to the batter. I hope your cake turned out well!

  37. I want to make this cake for a christening. I want to make coconut filling and dulce de leche. Do you have any idea how to do it? Is it really wet or with what sauce could it serve to not feel dry? I will do it in a 24 cm diameter mold, I would need to increase straight. Thank you very much

    1. Hi Maria! This cake is moist but not wet like a tres leches cake. To fill the cake you could make a German chocolate cake frosting and replace some of the sugar and cream with dulce de leche. I don’t feel it needs a serving sauce. It’s moist enough to make that unnecessary. If you need information on adjusting the size, see this Sizing Up post. Best of luck!

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