Southern Coconut Cake Recipe


5 from 8 votes
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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

5 from 8 votes
A simple recipe for coconut frosting that will take your cake over the top!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12


Butter Cake

  • 3 cups (360 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (6 g) baking soda
  • pinch (0.4 g) kosher salt
  • 1 cup (226 g) butter, softened
  • 2 cups (396 g) sugar
  • 4 large (200 g) eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup (227 g) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (9.4 g) vanilla extract

Southern Coconut Frosting

  • 1 cup (226 g) butter, softened
  • 8 cups (908 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup (227 g) milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.05 g) vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) coconut extract , or coconut rum
  • 1 (14-ounce) bag (400 g) 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. You can follow my tips for how to tell when your cake is done.
  • 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 flakes.


Store: You can store this coconut cake in the refrigerator for up to one week. 
Freeze: To freeze the cake before frosting, wrap each layer in plastic wrap, then in an airtight freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. 
To freeze after frosting, place the cake on a baking sheet or tray and place it in the freezer for about 4 hours. Once the cake has frozen, wrap in airtight freezer wrap or place in a freezer-safe container and freeze up to 3 months.


Calories: 881kcal | Carbohydrates: 140g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 148mg | Sodium: 390mg | Potassium: 197mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 114g | Vitamin A: 1101IU | Vitamin C: 0.001mg | Calcium: 101mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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!

Robyn xo

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About Robyn

Robyn Stone is a cookbook author, wife, mom, and passionate home cook. Her tested and trusted recipes give readers the confidence to cook recipes the whole family will love. Robyn has been featured on Food Network, People, Southern Living, and more.

5 from 8 votes (1 rating without comment)

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Recipe Review


  1. Happy Baker says:

    Hi Robyn,

    It says this cake serves 12. Are they really generous portions?

    I plan on making this cake, and your ‘Best Chocolate Cake’ for a party.

    The ‘best chocolate cake’ is two 9 inch layers, but says it serves 24. This one calls for three 9 inch layers, but says it serves 12?

    Just wanting to make sure I have enough cake for about 30 people, give or take.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Happy Baker, you can get 24 party size servings from this 3 layer 9-inch round cake. For a party-sized serving, you would cut the cake in 1 1/2 inch wide x 2 inch length slices. I hope this helps.

  2. Marie says:

    5 stars
    Hi Robin. First off I made this cake in December for a coworkers birthday and it was a hit! I wanted to know if I can substitute heavy, whipping cream for the milk for the frosting? I am making it this weekend.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Marie, you can use heavy, whipping cream as a substitute for the milk in this frosting. Hope you enjoy!