Birthdays are a big deal in my house. They always have been. From the time I was a little girl, I started planning my birthday before Christmas (my birthday is in January).

Now, I’ve somewhat transferred that to planning my son’s birthday and my husband, bless his heart, falls somewhere in there, too.

And this year, I wasn’t big on planning for my husband’s day. I’m not sure why I wasn’t. I just didn’t do much at all. As a matter of fact, you could say I didn’t do enough at all.

And you’d be right.

You could even say I was a pitiful wife for not doing more for him.

And you’d be right again.

So I decided to pull out all the stops and surprise him with a gorgeous birthday cake. He has three favorite cakes — strawberry, caramel, and coconut.

I decided on coconut for this year. It just sounded like a good surprise cake.

Here’s how I made it.

I started with my favorite Butter Cake recipe and then dolled it up with an over the top delicious Southern Coconut Frosting.

Can you say to die for?

Oh my word!!!

Southern Coconut Cake

A simple recipe for coconut frosting that will take your cake over the top!
4.5 from 6 votes

Review Recipe

Print Recipe

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Servings: 24
Author: Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch


Butter Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Southern Coconut Frosting

  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon coconut extract or coconut rum
  • 1 (14-ounce) bag unsweetened coconut flake


Butter Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare 3 9-inch cake pans with shortening and flour.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • Cream butter until fluffy and then add sugar. Cream together for about 8 more minutes.
  • Add eggs, 1 at a time, and cream together after each.
  • Add flour mixture and buttermilk, alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Combine each addition of flour and then turn mixer on high to add air into the batter.
  • Add vanilla and beat well. Turn mixer on high once vanilla has been incorporated for about 10 seconds to lighten batter.
  • Divide among pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until set.
  • Turn out of pans onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely.

Southern Coconut Frosting

  • Whip butter until it reaches light and fluffy stage.
  • Slowly add sugar, beating well after each addition.
  • When all sugar has been incorporated, the butter and sugar will look like crumbles.
  • With mixer set on low speed, add in milk.
  • Then, beat on high speed for few minutes.
  • Add vanilla and coconut flavorings and beat on high speed until the frosting reaches a spreading consistency.
  • If it is too dry, add milk a few drops at a time.
  • If it is too wet, add powdered sugar a few sprinkles at a time until it reaches the correct consistency.
  • Frost cake and then sprinkle with coconut flake.
Have you made this recipe?Tag @addapinch on Instagram or hashtag it #addapinch

I’m hoping he didn’t notice all of the other stuff I didn’t do for his birthday.

And… I sure hope he remembers mine!

Join today for free and start saving your favorite recipes

Create an account easily save your favorite content, so you never forget a recipe again.

Robyn Stone

..where I share sweet, savory and southern recipes, as well as home and garden tips and tidbits of travel.

More about me

47 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Hi there. I commented on your delicious chocolate cake recipe on Saturday (yet never published) … I made it for my husband’s birthday and it turned out great. So now, I have high hopes to make coconut cake for our 1st wedding anniversary. Our wedding cake was an amazing coconut cake and since we did a destination wedding in the Pacific Northwest – we didn’t save any. We just ate it on our travels. Since that chocolate cake recipe was so amazing, I thought I would start my coconut search with you.

    So thanks for both of the recipes!

    1. This recipe is absolutely delicious. This was my very first cake from scratch for my daughter’s birthday. I will definitely use this recipe again. I do have one question, as I am not an avid baker. Since the frosting is made with milk, should I refrigerate the cake over night or is it okay to leave it out?
      Thank you for sharing your gift!

  2. Hi, does the buttermilk serve any special purpose. Can I bake the cake without the buttermilk, also I wanted to bake the coconut cake without any frosting how can incorporate the coconut in the cake recipe.

  3. Just stumbled across this and am making it for Thanksgiving! What kind of milk do you recommend using for the frosting? Thank you!

  4. Can you use cake flour instead of all purpose flour and if so, would i have to omit any of the other ingredients? Thank you

  5. Going to make this cake today and was wondering if it’s like a pound cake texture because I don’t like pound cake textured cakes.

  6. I was looking for a good coconut cake recipe for Thanksgiving and came across this recipe.So I decided to try this one. This is a good recipe ,the cake was delicious and the icing is to die for.Thank you

    1. For cupcakes..15 minutes, check for doneness. no more than 20 minutes and drop the temp to 325° My cupcakes were delicious!!

  7. This recipe sounds good. I want to try it for Christmas eve. I just want to make sure there is enough frosting to frost all 3 layers of the cake?

  8. I’m planning to make this cake for a January 28th Birthday Party for three of my January Birthday friends.
    Could I substitute coconut milk for milk in the batter? A dash of coconut rum in the batter as well as the frosting?
    My very Southern Grandmother would have my very Southern Grandfather bang open a coconut and poke holes
    in her coconut cake and pour that fresh coconut milk over her cake and let it soak in for several days. It was a
    taste of heaven!

  9. I’m going to attempt to make this for my friend’s grandmother. . Sounds delicious. Substituting Coconut milk for milk. Here it goes! Details ……later.

    1. Did you swap out the buttermilk in the cake or the milk in the frosting? I would like to use coconut milk also but I don’t want to mess it up.

  10. Can I make this in a 9×13 pan? If so how little NGOs would you bake at what temp? My church needs a coconut cake for a funeral and I said I would make one.

  11. I made this recipe yesterday (Easter) as cupcakes and it was a big hit. Both cupcakes and frosting were AMAZING.

    Robyn, I’ve made quite a few of your recipes since I found your website a few years ago. Everything I try turns out really good. Your chocolate cake recipe is my parents’ favorite and they always ask that I make it for special occasions. Even my aunt, who normally does not like chocolate cake, loves it. I don’t think I’ve ever commented before, but I want to say Thank You for your wonderful recipes.

    This recipe made about 40 cupcakes. I filled the cups halfway, as they rise quite a bit! And I baked each batch for 20 minutes at 350. I checked for doneness, so other ovens may vary. For those that were wondering how to convert to cupcakes. 🙂

    1. Hi MJ!
      It makes my day to know you and your family are enjoying the recipes! I love this cake – and now you’ve made me crave some cupcakes! 😉 I know they were delicious for your Easter gathering!
      Thanks so much for sharing your cupcakes tip and for the sweet comment! Please give my best to your parents and your aunt!

  12. Made this cake today! It’s really good. A little on the tough side not sure what I did or didn’t do. There is definitely ample frosting for 3 layers. I didn’t use all the frosting the recipe made and I used coconut milk in place of regular milk. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Hi Brandi!
      I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed this cake! Such a delicious family favorite! I’m not sure why it seemed a little tough unless it could have gotten a bit too done, but don’t know for certain.
      Thanks so much! xo

  13. What are you doing when use cream as a verb? I dont know what you mean when you use it in baking, must be something southern. Sounds great though. Thank you.

    1. I hope you enjoy the cake, C.!
      Cream as a verb is a fairly common baking term – but I’m sure I probably throw in some other “southern” phrases here and there on my website. 🙂
      It basically describes softening butter and adding sugar with it and combining until it’s light and fluffy. I hope this helps! Thanks!

  14. This was definitely a hit oh, I use unsweetened coconut milk and use two teaspoons of coconut extract. Do you mind if I share this with my customers? I am a baker. Only if I can post a picture of the results. 😁

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *