Coconut Cupcakes

12 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Cooling Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Easy Coconut Cupcakes are tender fluffy cupcakes packed with coconut flavor, plus a coconut buttercream frosting and toasted coconut flakes!

A Layered Coconut Cake is a classic Southern Cake Recipe perfect for special events like baby showers and bridal parties. This cupcake version has all the delicious coconut flavor but in a portable sweet treat great for sharing.

Sabrina’s Coconut Cupcakes Recipe

My Coconut Cupcakes are light, delicate, perfectly sweet and the most delightful summery treat. With their fluffy texture and rich coconut flavor, these cupcakes are sure to be a favorite with family and friends. The best part? They are incredibly easy to make and only need a few simple ingredients, most of them you probably have in your pantry right now!

What makes these so special is that the batter uses mostly whipped egg whites and only one egg yolk, for soft and fluffy Coconut Cupcakes that look almost white. They also have full fat coconut milk and coconut extract so every bite is filled with the light and tropical flavor. The creamy coconut frosting is a standard Buttercream Frosting made with coconut extract and coconut milk for even more coconut flavor. Finally, they get a sprinkle of toasted coconut for an extra special touch.

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  • Butter: Softened butter is going to give you that smooth, creamy consistency for buttery frosting and it also creates more air in the batter for a softer, lighter cupcake.
  • Coconut Milk: Be sure to use canned whole-fat coconut milk, usually in the Asian food section or sometimes near the canned evaporated milk. The cartons of coconut milk for cereal or drinking have more water added to them so they are not going to give the same texture or flavor.
  • Coconut Extract: Coconut extract gives the cake batter and frosting a stronger coconut flavor. 
  • Flour: Coconut cake is supposed to be really light and fluffy, so often it is made with cake flour. However, by adding cornstarch and extra baking powder to all-purpose flour, you get the same effect without buying the more expensive flour.
  • Egg Whites: The egg whites are whipped into stiff peaks and then folded into the batter to give the cupcakes their delicate, airy texture. You want to bring the eggs to room temperature to get the most air and when you mix them into the batter, you just want to stir until the white streaks are gone.
  • Cream of Tartar: Cream of tartar is added to the egg whites to stabilize them and help them hold their shape when whipped and folded into the cake batter.
  • Coconut Flakes: Toasted unsweetened coconut adds some crunch and extra coconut flavor. When they are toasted they get a slightly nutty aroma that is delicious with all the sweet flavors.
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Kitchen Tools & Equipment

  • Muffin Tin: These cupcakes are baked in standard muffin tin. If you want to make mini cupcakes, you can use a smaller pan and reduce the baking time to about 11-13 minutes.
  • Ice Cream Scoop: You don’t want to overfill the muffin cups and an ice cream scoop adds the perfect amount. It also makes all your cupcakes the same size.
  • Stand Mixer: You’ll need either a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer to whip the egg whites into stiff peaks.
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How to Make

Time needed: 1 hour.

  1. Prep for Baking

    Preheat your oven. Grease two muffin pans with butter and line with paper liners. If you haven’t already, toast your coconut flakes. See below the Variations Section for 3 ways to toast coconut flakes.

  2. Cream the Wet Ingredients

    Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, then lower the speed and add coconut milk slowly.Coconut Cupcakes wet batter ingredients in mixing bowl with spatula

  3. Add the Dry Ingredients

    Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, then slowly add to the egg mixture until just combined. Transfer the batter to a large bowl.

  4. Whip the Egg Whites 

    Clean the stand mixer and wipe dry. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter until just combined. Do not stir too much.Coconut Cupcakes mixing egg whites into batter with spatula

  5. Bake the Cupcakes

    Using an ice cream scoop, fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean with moist crumbs.Coconut Cupcakes scooping batter with ice cream scoop into muffin tin

  6. Cool the Cupcakes

    Cool cupcakes in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.Coconut Cupcakes baked cupcakes in muffin tin

  7. Make the Frosting

    Cream the butter on low speed, then start adding in the powdered sugar a ½ cup at a time until fully combined. Increase to medium speed and whip for a couple minutes. Add the coconut extract and coconut milk, then beat until fluffy.Coconut Cupcakes mixed frosting in mixing bowl

  8. Decorate the Cupcakes

    Transfer frosting to a piping bag with a round tip. Pipe frosting in swirling mounds then sprinkle with coconut flakes.Coconut Cupcakes frosted cupcakes arranged on wooden cake stand

Can this be made ahead of time?

You don’t want to prep the batter ahead of time because the egg whites will deflate. However, you can bake the cupcakes and make the frosting and refrigerate them separately for a day or two head of time before assembling. When you are ready to frost the cupcakes, bring the frosting to room temperature then pipe it as usual.

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Nutritional Facts

Nutrition Facts
Coconut Cupcakes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 665 Calories from Fat 288
% Daily Value*
Fat 32g49%
Saturated Fat 22g138%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 71mg24%
Sodium 145mg6%
Potassium 146mg4%
Carbohydrates 95g32%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 76g84%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 668IU13%
Vitamin C 0.3mg0%
Calcium 38mg4%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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What to Pair With Coconut Cupcakes

Fillings: If you want to make filled cupcakes, use a small cookie scoop, about ½ inch wide, to gently scoop out the center of the baked cupcake from the top. Add some filling then spread a thin layer of frosting over the top to seal before frosting as usual. Try fillings like Lemon Curd, Vanilla Pudding, or Strawberry Jam would all taste delicious in Coconut Cupcakes.

Ice Cream: Cake and ice cream are a favorite birthday combo! These Coconut Cupcakes would taste just as good with a scoop of Classic Vanilla as fruity Rainbow Sherbet. For an ice cream drink to wash down your cupcakes, serve them with Strawberry Milkshakes!

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How to Store

Store: Coconut cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you need to store them for longer, you can keep them in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.:

Freeze: If you want to freeze the cupcakes, it’s best to do so without the frosting. Once they are cooled, wrap the individual cupcakes tightly in plastic wrap and freeze in an airtight container for up to 4 months. To thaw, let them sit at room temperature for a few hours and make a fresh batch of frosting.

Three Ways to Toast Coconut Flakes

  1. Stove Top: In a dry skillet over medium-low heat, add up to 2 cups unsweetened coconut shreds. Stir continuously so they don’t burn, and cook for 3-5 minutes until evenly browned and fragrant with a nutty aroma.
  2. Oven: Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and spread 2 cups coconut over the sheet in an even layer. Bake on the center rack for 8-10 minutes. Every couple minutes, check the coconut and shake the pan to brown them evenly and prevent burning.
  3. Microwave: In a microwave safe glass dish, spread the coconut in an even layer over the bottom. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally as it browns, and transfer to a plate to cool when it’s toasted.
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Frequent Questions

What is a substitute for cake flour?

A substitute for cake flour can be made by combining all-purpose flour with cornstarch. To make 1 cup of cake flour, remove 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and replace with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. However, this recipe includes cornstarch to give the same effect of cake flour, so there’s no need to use it or make a substitute.

Is cream of coconut the same thing as coconut milk?

No, cream of coconut and coconut milk are not the same thing. Cream of coconut is sweetened and thicker in consistency, while coconut milk is unsweetened and thinner in texture. Think of it as the difference between sweetened condensed milk and whole milk.

What is the secret to moist cupcakes?

The secret to moist cupcakes is to not over-mix the batter and to add a liquid ingredient such as milk or sour cream. In this coconut cupcake recipe, I use whole-fat coconut milk in the batter and add whipped egg whites to the mixture for an extra light and moist crumb.

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Recipe Card

Coconut Cupcakes

Easy Coconut Cupcakes are tender fluffy cupcakes packed with coconut flavor, plus a coconut buttercream frosting and toasted coconut flakes!
Yield 12 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


Coconut Cupcakes:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 cup whole fat coconut milk
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Coconut Frosting:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar , about 2 pounds
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons whole fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups shredded coconut , toasted


Coconut Cupcakes:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter and line a muffin tin with muffin liners.
  • To your stand mixer with a paddle attachment add the butter and sugar and beat them together until light and fluffy on medium speed, 2-3 minutes, then add in the egg yolk along with the vanilla then lower the speed to low and add the coconut milk until smooth.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt then add the flour mixture to the stand mixer on low speed until just combined then pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl and clean the stand mixer thoroughly and dry.
  • Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until the form stiff peaks then fold them carefully into the batter and pour into the baking pans.
  • Scoop into muffin tin evenly and baked for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let the cupcake bottoms cool completely before frosting.

Coconut Frosting:

  • To your stand mixer on low speed cream the butter then start adding in the powdered sugar in ½ cup increments until fully combined then raise the speed to medium-high for 2 additional minutes.
  • Add in the coconut extract and heavy cream and beat until light and fluffy for an additional minute.
  • Add to a large piping bag with a large round tip.
  • Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with toasted coconut.


Calories: 665kcal | Carbohydrates: 95g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 145mg | Potassium: 146mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 76g | Vitamin A: 668IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 2mg

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Chocolate: Make these taste like Mounds candy by replacing ¼ cup of flour with unsweetened cocoa powder. Frost as usual and drizzle melted chocolate or Chocolate Ganache over the coconut flakes.

Pineapple: For a tropical cupcake, fill the baked cupcakes with Pineapple Topping. You could also brush the baked cupcakes with pineapple juice and add chopped dried pineapple to the batter.

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More Sweet and Delicious Coconut Desserts

Coconut Cupcakes collage of decorated cupcakes with recipe name in blue banner across center

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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