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Incredible Coconut Cake Recipe

Incredible Coconut Cake Recipe

I found this recipe in a newspaper many years ago and modified it to suit my taste. This is my all-time favorite cake, and my family and friends absolutely love it. —Lynne Bassler, Indiana, Pennsylvania
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 35 min. Bake: 25 min. + chilling YIELD:16 servings


  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2-1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups flaked coconut, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 packages (one 8 ounces, one 3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 4-1/3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 2 cups flaked coconut, toasted


  • 1. Place egg whites in a large bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • 2. Preheat oven to 325°. In another large bowl, beat sugar, butter and oil until well blended. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extracts.
  • 3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Stir in coconut.
  • 4. Add cream of tartar to egg whites; with clean beaters, beat on medium until stiff peaks form. Fold a fourth of the egg whites into batter, then fold in remaining whites.
  • 5. Transfer to three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • 6. For frosting, in a small bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar and extract; beat until smooth.
  • 7. Place one cake layer on a serving plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting and sprinkle with 1/3 cup coconut. Repeat. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake; sprinkle with remaining coconut. Refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 16 servings.

Nutritional Facts

1 slice: 689 calories, 37g fat (21g saturated fat), 123mg cholesterol, 353mg sodium, 85g carbohydrate (64g sugars, 1g fiber), 6g protein .

Reviews for Incredible Coconut Cake

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Reviewed Jul. 23, 2016

"This cake gets 100 stars. Wonderful!"

Reviewed May. 13, 2016

"I made this for the first time this year for Easter and it was a big hit. Even people who were not huge coconut fans loved it! It is time consuming but so worth it. The egg whites make it so light and the toasted coconut is the perfect addition. This is my new favorite cake."

Reviewed Mar. 14, 2016

"Two nights ago my sister asked me to make her favorite cake (coconut) for her. I hadn't made a coconut cake in a long time so I looked for a new recipe and find this one. I have to say that this is one of the best tasting coconut cakes I have made. The cake was moist and tasted great. I did not use cream cheese frosting so I made buttercream frosting. My sister and the rest of my family really enjoyed the cake. I give the cake 5 stars. I am adding this recipe to my collection of recipes."

Reviewed Jan. 25, 2016

"I made the cake according to directions and I didn't like the cake. I found the texture too much like a Little Debbie lunch cake. I didn't like the flavor of cream cheese used as a frosting for a coconut cake. I didn't like all the different extracts used. The different flavors of extract made a very confusing taste for the cake. I gave a 3 star review because, the cake was very pretty. I know many cooks gave the cake 5 stars, maybe for me it was just a matter of my taste?"

Reviewed Jan. 24, 2016

"Like others, I only used 1 cup sugar in the cake batter and I did not add the extra coconut between the layers. It turned out wonderful!!! Rave reviews about how fluffy and delicious it was! My sister-in-law (who is not a coconut fan) even tried a little piece and liked it! I used a separate frosting recipe."

Reviewed Aug. 30, 2015

"I took this cake to a family gathering and everyone raved about it. The cake turned out absolutely beautiful and delicious. The only change I made was to add 1 cup of sour cream instead of buttermilk. The cake turned out moist with coconut flavor throughout. Thanks for sharing this recipe!"

Reviewed Aug. 5, 2015

"Great recipe! I have been a chef for 2 decades and this recipe is simple to follow and you will have bakery grade results. I toasted 2 cups for topping and put 1.5 cups regular in the frosting and it worked out great."

Reviewed Jun. 30, 2015

"This cake was amazing!!! I made it for my mom's birthday and she could not stop raving over how delicious it was! After reading some other comments about it being two sweet, I made two changes. For the coconut flakes called for in the cake batter, I used unsweetened, and for the icing, I used two 8oz packages of cream cheese. I also did not add toasted coconut in between each layer as I felt that was over load. Not to mention in looked absolutely beautiful standing on my cake stand! Can't wait to find another occassion to make it again!"

Reviewed May. 23, 2015

"Loved it and so did my coworkers."

Reviewed Apr. 7, 2015

"i used coconut oil instead of canola oil and this cake was perfect! and heavenly!

my niece wanted lots of frosting so i used 2 8oz pkg of cream cheese and 5 cups powdered sugar, and also added a touch of vanilla to the frosting..... wonderful! of course it is sweet, but that's what it is.."

Reviewed Apr. 7, 2015

"Just a warning: This is a very labor- and time-intensive cake, but well worth the effort. Looks and tastes like it came from a bakery. Made mine with "homemade" cake flour and buttermilk-didn't have the real deal on hand. Cake was still moist and delicious. Followed other reviewers' advice, cut sugar in cake to 1.5 C. Put 1-1/4 C in batter, used another 1/4 C in whipped egg whites to stiffen them up better. Also baked my 8" layers for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. For the frosting, I used an 8 oz package cream cheese and 1/2 stick butter, softened; 1/2 tsp coconut extract; 1/4 tsp vanilla extract; 1 lb box of powdered sugar; 1 c lightly toasted flaked sweetened coconut; some milk to thin frosting. You can toast coconut in about 5 minutes in a Teflon pan. You want to toast the coconut to make the frosting easier to eat-untoasted coconut is quite chewy."

Reviewed Apr. 6, 2015

"The cake sounds wonderful BUT I am unable to save it as after I mark my choice of dessert cake I am cut off and unable to mark save recipe! This happens to me a lot and I am very disappointed! Why does this happen?"

Reviewed Apr. 5, 2015

"This cake lives up to it's name. The cake has such a beautiful appearance. I made it for my grandpa's 85th birthday and Easter dinner dessert. It is a very moist cake. I think next time I will also cut down on the sugar ( I wish I would have read that first). I did use 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese instead of regular and no one knew the difference. I think next time I will also use unsweetened coconut flakes as well. Good find."

Reviewed Apr. 5, 2015

"Outstanding cake! I Followed the recipe exactly and it came out perfect. I did use two full packages of cream cheese just because I love cream cheese frosting. Thank you for sharing"

Reviewed Jan. 14, 2015

"Honestly, I just LOVE this cake. Made it for my husband, who loves coconut, for Christmas. Preparation has quite a few steps (I made 1-2 missteps, but nothing serious). Even only had 2 cake pans, which I had to rush out to purchase on Christmas Eve, but the cake still came out perfect! The batter was creamy, moist and very flavorful. I did not use as much coconut, and added what I did use into the frosting mix - no toasting. Also used Parchment paper in the pans rather than flour/oil - no clean up!

Had to freeze a piece to save for my 82 year old mother who is out-of-state. Coconut cake is one of her loves, and I'm sure she hasn't made one in more than 40 years!
I have shared this recipe with 2 friends and my sister.
Will be making another one for my birthday in a couple of weeks -1/20. Can't wait!!! :)"

Reviewed Dec. 13, 2014

"This is a lovely cake and I got lots of compliments, but there were some changes that I had to make, too. 1C sugar in the batter was plenty! I also put 1/4C sugar in the egg whites to make stiffer peaks without having to worry about overbeating. The flour needed to be increased by 1/2C because my batter "broke" during mixing (I always sift cake flour before measuring). Used 1C chopped sweetened coconut in the batter. The cake baked up a little dry. I will try 350d next time and start checking it sooner. The frosting was too thin, so I used a total of 6 1/2C of sifted confectioner's sugar and had frosting left over. I think every cook will have a different experience."

Reviewed Nov. 22, 2014

"This cake truly lives up to its name. I made it for my daughter's birthday party. She truly loved it. Every year she asks me to bake her a coconut cake and this is the best I've made for her. No more searching for a cake. The only change I made was to cut the sugar down in the batter to 1 cup."

Reviewed Aug. 16, 2014

"This is absolutely a 5-star cake. I didn't use as much sugar as it called for. I followed the recipe except for the sugar and it turned out moist and dense and not crumbly. I made it for an office party and used the new 'better-tasting' vanilla fondant. It turned out just how I have made this cake in the past. This is better than the coconut cake we made in culinary school!"

Reviewed May. 20, 2014

"I made this cake for my Grams 92nd birthday. She said it tasted just like the one her mother used to make, delicious. Everyone loved it and I can't wait to make it again. After reading the reviews about the cake being crumbly I put the flaked coconut through the food processer which made it very fine. I did not put the coconut between the layers. The cake came out perfect!"

Reviewed Apr. 8, 2014

"This cake mellowed after 24 hrs. First day, flavors too strong. I did cut coconut extract in half and doubled vanilla. I used regular buttercream frosting. Great for a fresh make ahead dessert. I cup of chopped sweet coconut and 1.5 cups sugar in batter were plenty! Baked in 9 by 13 pan at 350. Delicious!!!!"

Reviewed Feb. 9, 2014

"I thought the cake was really good. I don't eat coconut cake but I will make this again! Great recipe!"

Reviewed Feb. 8, 2014

"I made a healthy version of the frosting using:

1pkg softened fat-free cream cheese
2/3 cup EV Coconut oil (semi-firm)
4 1/4 c powdered sugar
3 Tblsp plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp almond extract
About 1/2 Tblsp lemon zest
1 cup shredded coconut
Absolutely delicious"

Reviewed Jan. 13, 2014

"Absolutely Fantastic Cake! Thanks for the recipe. This is a keeper."

Reviewed Jan. 7, 2014

"Great. I will put this recipe away for future baking, but I will cut down on the sugar. Way too sweet. But still great"

Reviewed Dec. 29, 2013

"This was my only fourth cake as I recently started taking interest in baking. To start with I only go with easiest recipes with readily available ingredients so I chose this one.. and I must say this is"absolutely incredible cake". I had to adjust the sugar quantity as given is too much for us. I served this cake with chocolate glaze. My husband was blown away by the taste and presentation. Thank you for the easiest and tastiest coconut cake I ever had. Looking forward for more baking adventure..."

Reviewed Nov. 30, 2013

"Amazing, amazing cake. A couple tips that worked out for me 1) Make sure you use cake flour (not all-purpose flour). I think it makes all the difference in the world 2) There's too much sugar in this recipe - add one cup to the cake batter and the rest to taste. I know there's raw eggs in the batter but I tasted it anyway, and didn't end up using the full 2 cups. Keep in mind, the icing is very sweet, and the coconut flakes are usually sweetened as well, so taste it and adjust to your liking. 3) Add 1/2 the amount of coconut shavings to the batter, and skip the coconut between the cake layers. It's too much. Coconut in the batter, coconut in between the layers, coconut on the outside of the cake... 4) Four cups of confectioner's sugar in the icing is, again, wayyy too much in my opinion. I ended up using 2 cups and it was perfect. 5) Refrigerate the cake right away and keep refrigerated until serving. I swear, my guests were freaking out over this cake (in a good way). :)"

Reviewed Nov. 2, 2013

"Delicious! My cake turned out very moist but dense like a pound cake. I am not sure where I went wrong, but maybe my baking soda or powder need to be replaced. Regardless, the cake was HUGE hit! The icing is melt in your mouth good. I added confectioner's sugar to taste for the icing so it leaned more towards cream cheese than sugary sweet. I toasted the coconut to a nutty brown color and it added another dimension of coconut flavor."

Reviewed Sep. 18, 2013

"I forgot to add the egg yolks (just added the whites) and the cake actually turned out light and fluffy and did not crumble like many people commented on. Next time I would probably only add 1/2 the sugar to the icing, or at least add sugar to taste. Once I iced the cake I put it in the fridge so the icing could set and served cold. Really delicious!"

Reviewed Aug. 30, 2013

"Also, too much coconut. I don't think there is a need to put coconut between the layers. I like coconut, but it was too much coconut for me...Remember, there is coconut extract in both the batter and the icing. There is coconut in the batter too."

Reviewed Aug. 30, 2013

"The cake part was the perfect flavor and very moist! The icing was a bit too sweet for me...Instead of putting in 4 1/3 cups of confectioner's sugar, I will taste as I go...I don't like really sweet desserts. This dessert is very rich, so a small slice goes a long way! My cake did not crumble. I chopped the coconut that goes in the batter very well and I only added a cup full of it. Anyway, good starter coconut cake recipe!"

Reviewed Aug. 18, 2013

"If you like coconut - this is the best!"

Reviewed Aug. 11, 2013

"It's really incredible my husband love it and I will make it again , i put only one cup and half of coconut in cake mix."

Reviewed Aug. 11, 2013

"I made this for a friend's birthday, and all 12 partakers were blown away.

I wonder if complainers don't read the recipe carefully. Chop the flaked coconut that goes in the batter for a less crumbly cake. Refrigerate at least 2 hours (and serve it while still cold) so it holds together better. Yes, it was a little crumbly, but with a good thin sharp knife, the cake sliced just fine.
The "2 packages of cream cheese" is misleading if you don't read the part in parentheses: 1 8-oz and 1 3-oz package = 11 oz total. The frosting was excellent - thin enough to spread easily but then set up beautifully in the fridge.
I toasted the coconut for the outer layer until it was a beautiful crispy golden brown, so it looked very different from the photo featured with the recipe above. Wish I could share a pic of my cake - it looked delicious coated with the golden brown flakes all over it, even if it did turn out slightly lopsided. And the flavor was just ideal."

Reviewed Jul. 19, 2013

"I'm sorry but I do not think this recipe is a 5 star cake. I cook cakes often, and this one is way too crumbly when you try to cut it. I believe it's because of the amount of coconut put in the cake mix. Also the icing has a wonderful taste but is too thin, I even tried to put it in the refrigerator , with hopes of thicking it up some. I believe there's too much butter in it. I I think this cake has great potential, but some of the measurements are off and can be adjusted. I will try making this cake again but I will not put two cups of coconut in the cake mix, and I will also cut the butter in half in the icing. I was so disappointed at work when I started to slice the cake and all it did was crumbling apart."

Reviewed May. 5, 2013

"This is the 2nd time I've made this cake. The name on the recipe is "Incredible cake", it lives up to it's name. I didn't have coconut flavoring so I used 1 tea of vanilla & 1/2 tea of almond extract. My family visiting couldn't couldn't believe how wonderful it tasted, this is my go to cake recipe :-)"

Reviewed Apr. 20, 2013

"We had this for bunko--oh my gosh delectable doesn't even describe this cake! It was so good!"

Reviewed Apr. 6, 2013

"I havent tasted it yet so I guess I shouldnt really review quite yet but my icing is really runny. I'm not a professional baker but I have made plenty of stuff in my lifetime so I usually only follow new recipes word-for-word and this one, if I didnt make a mistake, needs altering to the icing. Must be the only one cuz I have not seen any negative comments about the icing"

Reviewed Mar. 31, 2013

"The flavor of this cake is epic. I substituted coconut oil for the canola oil."

Reviewed Mar. 29, 2013

"I just made this cake, mere words can't describe how wonderful it turned out! I made my own buttercream frosting, tinted it light yellow also tinted coconut green. Put green coconut in center of the cake & laid jelly beans in center, it looks like/tasts like it's from a bakery. thank you for such a good recipe :-)"

silly girl
Reviewed Mar. 27, 2013

"question..plain coconut or sweetened"

Reviewed Mar. 11, 2013

"Amazing cake i loved it so much i shared it with my neighbors. My husband is a big coconut fan so he just gobbled it up!"

Reviewed Feb. 24, 2013

"This cake was absolutely delicious. I was worried about it being too sweet but it wasn't. I found the cake to be very moist, but crumbly. It was difficult to cut - it fell apart a bit with each piece. Does anyone know what would cause this? I was wondering if I should substitute all purpose flour, but am afraid that would make it too heavy. Definitely a great tasting cake though. I have made Ina Garten's recipe and this is a million times better."

Reviewed Feb. 22, 2013

"Our whole family LOVES coconut. This is by far, the best cake recipe! Sometimes we put raspberry or strawberry jam between the layers and save the cream cheese frosting for the outside. Soo gooood!"

Reviewed Feb. 7, 2013

"This is absolutely the best cake recipe I have made. I have tried many, many cake recipes to find the most moist and fluffy and flavorful and this on "took the cake"! I want to try the recipe using only the vanilla and/or almond extract. I'm pretty excited about testing out other flavors.

Thanks for sharing!"

Reviewed Dec. 26, 2012

"obviously i didn't find it too sweet, but for the reviews that found the icing too sweet use less powered sugar and you'll be good to go..."

Reviewed Dec. 26, 2012

"my original review did not let me rate this, I give it a 5 stars as well as all my friends"

Reviewed Dec. 26, 2012

"The cake is amazing, very moist and not too sweet. I would not recommend using Pam with flour for the greasing and flouring the cake pans as the cake is really moist and without the flour mine did stick to the bottom...i toasted my coconut alot more than the picture shows as i like the crunchy coconut to all the creamy icing. Everyone loved it!!"

Reviewed Oct. 19, 2012

"I find the cake to be great but the icing is sooo sweet it overpowers the cake."

Reviewed May. 3, 2012

"Very delicious but very sweet. I wouldn't use all the frosting again."

Reviewed Apr. 26, 2012

"Great cake and easy to make. Can't wait to bake it again!!!"

Reviewed Apr. 9, 2012

"Oh my heart, this is amazing! Sooooo good. Made it for Easter and people raved. I used a little less sugar in the frosting, and it was delicious. So moist and flavorful. A little hard to cut because of the coconut in the batter, but not really complaining. ;)"

Reviewed Dec. 1, 2011

"My mom loves a good coconut cake and this recipe got a double thumbs up! Moist and delicious!! Great!"

Reviewed Nov. 26, 2011

"A really beautiful and delicious cake, but the prep time is seriously underestimated. This is an old-school labor of love recipe!"

Reviewed Nov. 24, 2011

"A beautiful, delicious cake, but I think the prep time is significantly underestimated. This is one of those made from scratch, labor of love recipes!"

Reviewed Nov. 23, 2011

"I gave this recipe 5 stars because the taste was incredible(Raw batter as well as baked.), I couldn't stop by husband from eating the batter. The only trouble I had was that the cake crumbled everywhere when I cut into it. Can anyone one help me out and tell me why? It was the first time I ever beat egg whites and I am pretty sure that is what caused the cake to crumble like it did but I would love to see if I can get some other pointers. Would definitely love to make this again."

Reviewed Nov. 23, 2011

"Beautiful cake, and definitely now my go to coconut cake recipe. My husband practically ate the whole thing. It turned out to be an incredibly moist cake, I wouldn't change a thing."

Reviewed Nov. 10, 2011

"Excellent. I created a batch of cupcakes out of this recipe and filled the centre with coconut pie filling then topped with this icing. Incredible!!!!"

Sally K
Reviewed Nov. 8, 2011

"OUTSTANDING! I served it for a small party and it was the hit of the evening. I did not make the bird's nest, but I placed foil wrapped candies on the serving platter around the cake for a festive look. I actually have my second one in the oven now for my daughter's birthday. I "cheated" one day and tried to do this using a box mix but it was just not the same, so don't take a short cut - follow this recipe."

Reviewed Oct. 30, 2011

"Was a delicious cake and presents very well"

Reviewed Aug. 31, 2011

"I baked the cake according to the directions but made a couple of changes. I spread a thick layer of apricot-pineapple jam between the layers and topped it with homemade whipped cream. I sprinkled flaked coconut over the top of the cake. The jam added another dimension to the cake."

Reviewed Jul. 12, 2011

"I made this for a co-worker/friends birthday, i made them as cup cakes they were a hit, everyone keeps asking me for the recipe."

Reviewed May. 24, 2011

"I'm a Kitchen Dad who loves coconut. This is the best cake I've ever had.. and I made it!"

Reviewed May. 12, 2011

"Tasty, rich cake. Was hard for me to bake, but worth the effort. Even Mom liked it! Warning, Very rich, large cake. You want to make sure you have enough people to eat it!"

Reviewed Apr. 23, 2011

"Fabulous cake! Making the 2nd one this week; trial run earlier for Easter. Definately a keeper!"

Reviewed Apr. 21, 2011

" "

Rhonda Colleen
Reviewed Apr. 15, 2011

"I made this delicious cake for our monthly wine party! I literally had to carry the remaining cake out the door with the women following me with forks to eat more!!"

Reviewed Apr. 13, 2011

"This is the best coconut cake recipe that I have ever come across. Definitely a keeper in my recipe book. People were still talking about it over a week later!"

Reviewed Apr. 9, 2011

"Outstanding dessert! Made for my daughter-in-law's birthday. She's a coconut lover. Rave reviews from everyone. Scheduled for repeat performance at Easter!"

Reviewed Apr. 8, 2011

"Very moist and perfect amount of coconut flavor. The icing is incredible. I could eat that alone!"

Reviewed Mar. 30, 2011

"For years I searched for the perfect coconut cake and thought my Italian Cream Cake was the best until I baked this cake Monday evening and have shared it with my hubby, 3 friends and my daughter and son-in-law (who doesn't even care for coconut). They ALL gave it rave reviews and one said it "is to die for". They also asked for the recipe. I followed the recipe exactly (except I didn't make the nest) and it is heavenly."

Reviewed Mar. 28, 2011

"Last week I spent time searching for a really good coconut cake - and now here you've posted one!  It's very similar to the one I made and the icing is Oh So Good!!!  I took mine to my knitting group and everyone loved it.  Thanks for posting this recipe - I'll keep it to try next time!"

Reviewed Mar. 28, 2011

"Rich, dense, and delicious. My whole family loved it."

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