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+ servings

Southern Coconut Cake

This southern coconut layer cake has light and tender coconut cake layers, a creamy coconut filling, and coconut cream cheese frosting. It's a coconut lover's dream come true!
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4.77 from 138 votes


 For the Coconut Cake:

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 ½ cup unsweetened full fat coconut milk , divided (375 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flavoring
  • 3 cups cake flour (340 grams)
  • 2 ⅓ cups granulated sugar (470 grams)
  • 4 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter , softened to room temperature (226 grams)

For the Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese , softened to room temperature (227 grams)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter , softened to room temperature (113 grams)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar , sifted (455 grams)
  • 1-3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk or whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring
  • 1 cup flaked or shredded coconut , toasted (85 grams)

For the Whipped Coconut Filling:

  • 1 cup of the Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting , above
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (250 ml)


To make the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two or three 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper. (See Notes)
  • In a small bowl, lightly whisk together the egg whites, ½ cup of the coconut milk, and coconut flavoring just until combined.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and remaining 1 cup coconut milk and combine on low speed until moistened. Increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add the egg white mixture in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and mixing just long enough to incorporate between additions.
  • Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

To make the buttercream:

  • Beat together the butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar on medium high speed until light and creamy. Add the coconut flavoring and enough coconut milk (or regular milk) to reach a spreadable consistency. Mix until smooth.
  • Spread the coconut on a sheet pan. Toast in a 350°F oven until golden, checking every 2 minutes. Watch it carefully, the coconut will burn fast. Let it cool completely.

To make the Whipped Cream Cheese Filling:

  • With a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream until it starts to thicken. Add 1 cup of the cream cheese buttercream a spoonful at a time while mixing on medium-high speed. Whip to soft peaks.

To frost the cake:

  • Place one cake layer on a cake stand or plate. Cover with some whipped cream cheese filling. Repeat with the rest of the layers. Frost the entire cake with the cream cheese buttercream and cover in the toasted coconut.
  • Chill for one hour before serving. Store in the fridge, cake will keep for several days.
  • This recipe uses one 13.5-oz can of unsweetened coconut milk (plus more for the frosting if you want).
  • The cake can be baked in either 8 or 9-inch pans. You can use 2 or 3 pans, depending on the look you're going for: double layer (2 pans), triple layer (3 pans), or quadruple layer (2 pans, then slice each layer in half). I've had some comments about the batter not fitting in two 8-inch pans. My pans are 4 inches deep and can accommodate a lot of batter. If you have only 2-inch deep pans, use 3 pans or 9-inch pans.
Recipe adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes.


Sodium: 217mg, Calcium: 116mg, Vitamin C: 1mg, Vitamin A: 1255IU, Sugar: 83g, Fiber: 2g, Potassium: 362mg, Cholesterol: 109mg, Calories: 878kcal, Trans Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 32g, Fat: 47g, Protein: 8g, Carbohydrates: 109g, Iron: 1mg
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