Coconut-Topped Oatmeal Cake Recipe

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This is an old-fashioned cake with mass appeal that was passed down from my husband's grandmother. It's a classic for everyone's recipe box. --Tamra Duncan
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 15 min. + cooling Bake: 30 min.
MAKES:12-16 servings
Test Kitchen Approved
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 15 min. + cooling Bake: 30 min.
MAKES: 12-16 servings


  • 1-1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Nutritional Facts

1 serving (1 piece) equals 384 calories, 17 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 58 mg cholesterol, 306 mg sodium, 55 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 4 g protein.


  1. In a small bowl, pour boiling water over oats; let stand for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with the oat mixture, beating well after each addition.
  2. Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter and milk to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat; stir in the coconut, nuts and vanilla. Pour over warm cake. Cool completely. Yield: 12-16 servings.
Originally published as Coconut-Topped Oatmeal Cake in Test Kitchen Favorites 2004 2005, p267

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Reviewed Jan. 24, 2016

"I'm not one to review recipes often, but I had to warn people on this one. Do yourself a favor; skip this one and find the authentic America's Test Kitchen version. I *thought* that's what I was getting here based on my Google search result (sneaky addition of that trademark in the text in this recipe).

It's been a while since I made an oatmeal cake, so I didn't think anything of the ingredients. Wow. So runny; nearly twice as much liquid as the ATC version, and twice as much flour, too. Cloyingly sweet, and even in the first step where it says "cream butter and sugars until fluffy" isn't possible with this much sugar; it turns to sand. The topping was runny as well, not the awesome chunky consistency that the ATC version has. Very disappointed that I didn't catch this before I made the cake! :("

Reviewed Feb. 12, 2015

"This cake is amazing. I added a few tweaks. I used pumpkin pie spice and added a cup of grated apples. I also broiled the topping for approximately 5 minutes. I used toasted walnuts instead of pecans, too."

Reviewed Oct. 24, 2014

"This was excellent cake, everybody loved it. And it stayed so nice and moist for the 3 days it took us to eat it all up. Except for the use of 1/2 cup of an artificail brown sugar blend in place of the cup of brown sugar in the topping, (I ranout of brown sugar) I followed the reciped exactly. I will definitely make this cake again. Next time I'm going to add a couple of teaspoons of instant coffer granules to the oatmeal before adding the boiling water. I think that might give a little bit of coffee taste."

Reviewed Mar. 16, 2014

"The cake was moist and dense, but there was way too much cinnamon. I used less than 1/2 tsp, but it was still too much. Unless you REALLY love cinnamon, I'd suggest being careful."

Reviewed Jan. 6, 2014


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