Coconut Cupcakes


These easy coconut cupcakes get their depth of flavor by using shredded coconut and coconut milk in both the cake and the cream cheese frosting. Ideal for dessert, snacks, bake sales, thank yous, even Easter.

Cake stand with 7 frosted coconut cupcakes, four unfrosted cupcakes on the table, and a bowl of frosting.

We’re all for classic vanilla cupcakes, but sometimes you need something subtle and easy. That’s what we think of these lofty coconut cupcakes made with coconut milk in both the frosting and batter. It makes for a rich, moist coconut cupcake experience.–David Leite

Coconut Cupcakes FAQs

How do I make fluffier cupcakes?

Adding cornstarch to the flour mimics cake flour, which makes for a lighter and more delicate cake.

What’s the best way to store these cupcakes?

The cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day. For longer storage, freeze the unfrosted cupcakes for up to 3 months. Thaw and frost before serving.

How do you fix separated coconut milk?

It’s very common for canned coconut milk to separate, and sometimes shaking isn’t enough to recombine the fat and liquid layers. If this happens, dump the contents of the can into a bowl and whisk until recombined.

Coconut Cupcakes

Cake stand with 7 frosted coconut cupcakes, four unfrosted cupcakes on the table, and a bowl of frosting.

Adding coconut to the batter and the frosting gives these cupcakes an incredible depth of flavor.

Jen Segal

Prep 40 mins

Cook 20 mins

Total 1 hr 15 mins

For the coconut cream cheese frosting

Make the coconut cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and adjust an oven rack to the center position. Line 2 cupcake pans with cupcake liners. Lightly spray the top of the pans with a nonstick cooking spray with flour, such as Baker’s Joy or Pam Baking Spray with Flour, just in case the cupcake tops stick to the pan (don’t worry if the spray gets in the liners).

  • Pour the coconut milk into a medium bowl. (If, when you opened your can of coconut milk, the coconut milk had separated from the coconut cream floating at the top of the can, then you’ll want to recombine them with a whisk or immersion blender.) Add the lemon juice.

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda.

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or beaters, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and then beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

  • Turn the speed down to low and beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of the coconut milk-lemon juice mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining coconut milk–lemon juice mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture and then scrape down the bowl and beat again until the batter is just combined. Quickly mix in the shredded coconut; do not overmix.

  • Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake pans, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, until the cupcakes are set, lightly golden, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean (note that one pan may finish baking before the other). Let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the coconut cream cheese frosting

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), beat the butter and cream cheese until creamy and well combined. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar, and then beat in the vanilla, coconut milk, and salt.

Frost the cupcakes

  • When the cupcakes are completely cooled, use a butter knife or small offset spatula to swirl the frosting lavishly over the top. Sprinkle with the shredded coconut, pressing it gently so it adheres, and serve. (You can frost the cupcakes up to 1 day ahead of time and store them in an airtight container at room temperature.)

Serving: 1cupcakeCalories: 264kcal (13%)Carbohydrates: 49g (16%)Protein: 2g (4%)Fat: 8g (12%)Saturated Fat: 6g (38%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 10mg (3%)Sodium: 99mg (4%)Potassium: 48mg (1%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 38g (42%)Vitamin A: 120IU (2%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 9mg (1%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Originally published June 2, 2018

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


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