Coconut Layer Cake

Total Time

Prep: 30 min. Bake: 40 min. + cooling


16 servings

Updated: May. 11, 2023
This coconut layer cake recipe is my specialty. It's particularly wonderful for wedding or baby showers. —Marilyn Dick, Centralia, Missouri
Coconut Layer Cake Recipe photo by Taste of Home


  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
  • Pecan halves, optional


  1. Place egg whites in a large bowl; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325°. Meanwhile, line bottoms of 2 greased 9-in. round baking pans with parchment; grease paper.
  2. Cream butter, shortening, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda; beat into creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Stir in coconut and chopped pecans.
  3. With clean beaters, beat egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks form; fold gently into batter. Transfer to prepared pans.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks; remove paper. Cool completely.
  5. For frosting, beat cream cheese, butter, confectioners' sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Spread between layers and over top and sides of cake. Top with coconut and pecan halves if desired. Store in refrigerator.

Coconut Layer Cake Tips

How can I turn this coconut layer cake recipe into coconut cupcakes?

To adjust this recipe for cupcakes, keep the oven temperature the same, but reduce the bake time to 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you’re craving even more coconut flavor, check out our top ten coconut desserts.

How do I keep my coconut layer cake from getting dry?

In this recipe, there are two types of fat as well as buttermilk, which creates a deliciously moist cake. To ensure the cake stays extra tender even after slicing, press plastic wrap onto the exposed sponge of the cake. And enjoy the cake within four days. You can also freeze cake, frosted or unfrosted, for up to three months.

What is the best way to slice coconut layer cake?

Because coconut cake is so moist and tender, it can be messy to slice. The best practice for cutting coconut cake is to refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes before serving. This will partially solidify the frosting and cake for a beautiful layered slice. We asked a coconut cake expert for more professional tips on making this classic southern cake a winner.

 Maggie Knoebel, Taste of Home Culinary Assistant

Nutrition Facts

1 slice: 571 calories, 28g fat (15g saturated fat), 96mg cholesterol, 239mg sodium, 75g carbohydrate (62g sugars, 1g fiber), 6g protein.

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